Sixty Middle East, European and US shareholders have bought into a new Beirut-based investment company which will finance deals in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Lebanon Invest (Holdings) is based in Beirut, partly to benefit from the tax breaks on offer, shareholders say. It represents another step towards Beirut’s restoration as a regional financial centre.

Lebanon Invest was established with $26.25 million capital at a shareholders’ meeting in Beirut on 24 June. The capital was $1.25 million higher than initially proposed (MEED 22:4:94).

Operational activities – mainly advisory services and management of client funds and investments – will be carried out by a subsidiary, Lebanon Invest SAL. It plans to arrange investment funds from the Gulf, Europe, the US and Lebanese investors resident abroad, targeting real estate, industrial, commercial and tourism opportunities in the three countries.

Lebanon Invest’s founders are Lebanon’s Banque Audi, the Luxembourg-based Capital Trust and Lebanese investor Marwan Ghandour. Saudi businessman Abdullah al-Hobayb has been elected chairman, Raymond Audi vice-chairman and Faisal Kudsi general manager. Kudsi is the Capital Trust representative on the board. Ghandour has been appointed adviser to the company and its subsidiaries.

Leading international shareholders include US brokerage and finance house Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and the Luxembourg-based Kredietbank Luxembourgeoise.

Membership of the 11-member board of directors points to strong Gulf interest, as well as a significant US presence. It includes Al-Hobayb and Waleed Alsaggaf of Saudi Arabia; Audi, Ali Ghandour and JJ Leban, represented by Nihad I Pasha, all of Lebanon; the Netherlands Antilles- registered Questridge Corporation, represented by Sami Khouri; Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, represented by John Chalsty, and Odeh Aburdene of the US; and Mohammed Nasir al-Sayer & Sons and Abdulsalam al-Awadi, both of Kuwait.