Merrill Lynch International, the global giant in financial management and consulting, opened an office in Amman last week, as part of efforts to capitalize on privatization plans in the Kingdom.
With more than 200 offices in 20 nations across the world, Merrill Lynch opened its newest Middle-East location at Queen Alia airport, raising its Mid-East office number to 5. Lebanon, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain also have Merrill Lynch offices.
The advisory giant, with corporate assets hitting $1.8 billion in 1999, is expected to conduct feasibility studies and to offer consulting services that would greatly aid mergers and business activities for the Kingdom's corporations, Jordan Times reported. Further, Merrill Lynch Jordan is expected to also provide other services such as debt securities, brokering, investment banking, financial planning, research and securities underwriting to both private and public institutions.
Merrill Lynch Chairman of the Board of Directors, Winthrop Smith Jr. announced that the company is eager to conduct operations in the Kingdom, and that it is optimistic about the nation's economy. "Jordan's economy is moving forward, and is expected to reach a growth rate by 2.5 per cent in the year 2000," remarked Smith at a press conference.
In recent years, Jordan has recognized the need for an increased proactive role in the private sector to attain continued recovery and economic growth. However, the Kingdom's two-phase economic privatization program has not yet made heavy progress according to economic experts. Efforts to ease the government's monopoly on most of the Kingdom's economic sectors include the privatization of the Jordan Telecommunication Company (JTC) and Royal Jordanian Air. Plans are underway to privatize the National Potash Company (NPC). Merrill Lynch is the financial consultant of the Jordan Telecommunication Company's privatization program, and has conducted extensive research in the Kingdom over the past several years. The International Financial advisor was instrumental in the sale of 40% of the JTC in early 1999.
A 'physical' Merrill Lynch presence in Jordan is expected to help other local companies transform into private organizations. Merrill Lynch International's profits during the first quarter of 2000 grew by 75 per cent compared to the equivalent period in 1999.
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