‘We’ve stabilised the bank and made some healthy profits from banking activities,’ says Albert Kittaneh, BMB’s chief executive officer. ‘The IPO [initial public offering] markets in the US and the UK are beginning to come back, and as we made sound investments we’ve not been heavily impacted by the falling stock markets.’

He says the bank has a string of other potentially profitable private equity investments planned before the end of the year.

Despite weak financial performances in the last two years – BMB posted losses of $16 million and $57 million in 2001 and 2000 respectively – the bank’s balance sheet remains healthy. ‘Our capital adequacy ratio is over 17 per cent and we are in the process of converting $20 million of our $30 million of subordinated debt into preferred shares,’ says Kittaneh.

Other plans include the establishment of a securitisation programme for BMB’s private equity portfolio.

‘As the positive first-quarter figures proved, we’ve turned the corner and the second-quarter figures will reinforce this in the minds of our customers and shareholders,’ says Kittaneh. ‘And we’ve done this despite a comparatively negative environment. You can still make money in bear markets.’