The London branch of Lebanon’s Beirut Riyad Bank is planning to expand its private banking and trade finance operations prior to applying for a UK banking licence. Among recent changes, Alex Wishart has been appointed as the bank’s London-based regional manager, Beirut Riyad said on 15 August.

Wishart is expected to oversee Beirut Riyad’s eventual application for incorporation in the UK as a full bank subsidiary, regulated by the Bank of England (central bank). Beirut Riyad has planned incorporation in the UK since before the introduction of the EU’s second banking directive in January 1993 (MEED 15:1:93). Details of the incorporation plan have still to be unveiled and an application is not expected before 1995.

Wishart plans to redefine the bank’s European operations and market strategy: ‘We are focusing on banking related to individuals, either providing private services or trade finance.’

Trade finance already forms an important element of the bank’s business, with an emphasis on servicing the expatriate Lebanese community and especially business in West Africa. Wishart is looking to expand Beirut Riyad’s range of clients and markets for letters of credit and other trade instruments.

Wishart, a member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland, came from the London-based Harrods Bank.