UBAF Bank has chosen Beirut as the site for its first overseas office. The representative office, which should open in late September, will be headed by Meguerditch Bouldoukian, a former deputy governor of Banque du Liban, the central bank. It will concentrate on developing business in Syria, Jordan and the Palestine self-rule area as well as in Lebanon itself.

‘We chose Beirut because we felt that the country is on the threshold of rebuilding its economy on an open-market basis,’ says Peter Taplin, chief executive of the London-based bank. ‘We think it likely that Beirut will become an important regional financial centre again.’

Sixty international investors recently bought into Lebanon Invest, a new Beirut-based investment fund that will finance deals in the region (MEED 15:7:94). In the past year three French international banks, Banque Indosuez, Banque Paribas and Credit Lyonnais, have made moves to establish operations in Beirut and International Nederlanden Bank (ING-Bank) has been authorised to set up a fully managed branch (see Lebanon).

UBAF’s balance sheet for last year improved, partly on the back of its operations in the region. In 1993, letter of credit confirmations rose $176 million to $458 million, largely due to two Syrian deals.

UBAF Bank is an international commercial bank specialising in international payments and trade finance. It is owned by Libyan Arab Foreign Bank, Midland Bank, Central Bank of Egypt, Bank al-Maghrib and Banque Exterieure d’Algerie.