Banque du Liban et d’Outre-Mer SAL Lebanon’s largest bank in terms of assets and customer deposits, became the latest Lebanese bank to apply for a license to establish operations in Syria’s free trade zones.
Fansabank, Société Générale Libano-Européenne de Banque, and Banque Européenne pour le Moyen-Orient (BEMO) already have received permission to operate in the free zones.
Byblos Bank, Bank of Beirut and the Arab Countries and Crédit Libanais are also in talks with the General Organization for Free Zones (GOFZ) to obtain licenses. The banks are also required to get the approval of the Central Bank of Lebanon.
Syrian authorities have required banks to provide at least $10 million in capital for their main branch in Syria before being granted a license. An additional $1million is required for each branch.
The banking sector in Syria has been under state control for the past four decades and lacks the basic financial products of a modern economy such as loans, teller machines and credit cards.
Total assets in the Syrian banking sector stood at about $5 billion compared to more than $43 billion in Lebanon. ― ( Lebanon Invest )