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15 January 2020

Lebanon's Bank Audi set to sell its Egyptian unit, says CFO

In December 2019, S&P Global downgraded Bank Audi to ‘selective default’ after the Lebanese central bank rationed dollars and local lenders-imposed limits on withdrawals and the movement of funds abroad.

Bank Audi operates around 50 branches in Egypt/Bloomberg

by Kudakwashe Muzoriwa

The Chief Financial Officer of Bank Audi said that the Lebanese bank is considering selling its Egyptian unit after receiving interest from lenders, indicating a possible strategy rethink as Lebanon grapples with a financial crisis.

Reuters reported that Bank Audi is also proceeding with an equity increase which Banque du Liban (BdL) instructed all Lebanese banks to implement to help weather the economic crisis, the country's worst in decades.

Tamer Ghazaleh, Bank Audi’s Chief Finance Officer, said that the bank is doing the equity increase and independently considering discussing with parties selling Bank Audi Egypt at the right price.

Since Lebanon's crisis began, Bank Audi has received several calls from investment bankers trying to support us if we want to sell foreign assets as a way of increasing the capitalisation and liquidity of the Lebanese operation, said Ghazaleh.

Lebanon’s biggest lender by assets held informal talks with institutions that are seeking to expand their operations in Egypt or enter in the north African country, however, Bank Audi has not made a decision.

Ghazaleh said that Bank Audi operates around 50 branches in Egypt with total assets of $4.4 billion at the end of September 2019.

Lebanese lenders have tightened restrictions on the movement of capital as one of the world’s most indebted countries struggles with its worst economic crisis in decades.

BdL instructed banks in November 2019 to raise their Common Equity Tier 1 capital, a key measure of financial strength, by 10 per cent through cash injections by the end of the year and a further 10 per cent by 30 June 2020.


RELATED STORIES: S&P Global Lebanon crisis Banque du Liban Bank Audi





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