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Lebanon shrugs off the global crisis

The turmoil is a factor delaying capital markets plans rather than a disruption. Banks continue to profit from government debt refinancing, and upcoming privatizations should attract more foreign investment. Elliot Wilson reports.

PRECIOUS FEW BANKING markets have survived the worst of the global credit crunch with their reputations intact, yet some are emerging largely unscathed. Perhaps surprisingly, one of those is that of the Lebanese Republic, a nation of traders with a proud history and a predisposition toward hard graft and financial acumen. Investment bankers from Beirut and Dubai to London and New York are gearing up for a series of wide-scale privatization deals that will systematically unshackle Lebanon’s throttling state control once the worst of the global turmoil is over, starting with the telecoms system and including everything from local carriers to the massively profitable domestic gaming industry.

"The financial crisis has not been bad for Lebanon"

Adel Afiouni, Credit Suisse

Adel Afiouni, Credit Suisse

"The financial crisis has not been bad for Lebanon – rather, it has underlined the solidity of the domestic banking sector," says Adel Afiouni, co-head of global securities for the Middle East and North Africa at Credit Suisse. "When global markets are fully back to normal we will also see many of the local banks completing local IPOs and issuing GDRs in London."

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