Bank of Beirut CEO urges diaspora to invest in Lebanon


23 May 2015

BEIRUT: A leading Lebanese banker Friday called on Lebanese businesses abroad to invest 5 percent of their profits in Lebanon’s private sector to stimulate the economy.

“I call on the Lebanese diaspora to invest 5 percent of the net income they are making in the private sector in Lebanon and turn the country into a hub for the manufacturing of computer chips and software programs which will [be realized] at a very low cost for investors,” Salim Sfeir, the chairman and CEO of Bank of Beirut, told the participants in the Lebanese Diaspora Energy 2015 conference.

He stressed that such initiatives would encourage Lebanese youths to get attached to their homeland.

Sfeir also shed light on the state of the Lebanese economy and banking sector.

“Despite all the challenges and problems surrounding Lebanon, the country was able to achieve reasonable economic growth. Inflation also remained under control,” he added.

Sfeir said the public debt is 118 percent of the GDP but 50 percent of the debt is in Lebanese pounds.

He also underlined the importance of remittances from Lebanese expatriates which reached $8.9 billion in 2014, or 20 percent of the GDP.

Sfeir added that total assets of Lebanese banks reached $175 billion in 2014 compared to only $10 billion in 1992 while customer deposits reached $153 billion. Meanwhile, private equities of banks stood at $16 billion compared to $200 million in 1992.

After praising the efforts of Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, Sfeir highlighted that Bank of Beirut has become an international lender that operates in 11 countries and on four continents.

“The consolidated balance sheet of Bank of Beirut has now reached $15 billion after it was $48 million in 1992,” the banker explained.

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