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IFC to Promote Bank Corporate Governance in Lebanon


In Washington,DC
Corrie Shanahan

Phone:+1 (202) 473 2258
Email:
cshanahan@ifc.org


Beirut, May 25, 2005 -The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has joined the Association of Banks in Lebanon in holding a workshop to mark the launch of the Lebanon Bank Corporate Governance Survey. The survey is a comprehensive review of corporate governance practices in the country’s banking sector. It will be managed by IFC’s technical assistance facility, the Private Enterprise Partnership for the Middle East and North Africa.

The survey will investigate how Lebanese commercial banks incorporate corporate governance principles in their operations, particularly in terms of arrangement for supervisory and management boards, disclosure and transparency policies, protection of shareholders' rights, and internal controls. The survey will also review the current regulatory framework for corporate governance in Lebanon and identify areas for improvement.


IFC and the Association of Banks in Lebanon believe that the survey will provide important feedback for the local banking community and government authorities. The eventual objective of the survey is to help establish a locally-owned agenda for corporate governance in Lebanon’s banking sector. IFC believes that sound corporate governance practices contribute to sustainable economic development by enhancing the performance of the banking sector and by increasing its access to capital.


Sami Haddad, IFC’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, said, “The project should significantly improve corporate governance standards in the Lebanese banking system, which is a pillar of the country’s economy. This effort will also promote Beirut's position as one of the region's leading financial centers.”


Dr. Joseph Torbey, chairman of the Association of Lebanese Banks, added, “The Association of Banks in Lebanon has been involved since the early 1990s in implementing international financial standards and codes, including the Basel Recommendations and international accounting and auditing standards, especially those related to audit committees and transparency disclosures.”


The Association of Banks in Lebanon, established in 1959, is a professional industry organization whose mission is to serve and defend the interest of its member banks and to promote them on the domestic and international markets. It works to improve the competitive structure and operations of the Lebanese banking industry and has 61 active member banks and seven representative offices of foreign banks.


The Private Enterprise Partnership for the Middle East and North Africa (PEP-MENA) is IFC’s technical assistance facility supporting private sector development in the region.  It focuses on improving the business-enabling and regulatory environment; strengthening the financial sector; promoting the growth of small and medium enterprises and their support services such as business organizations and consulting firms; helping restructure and privatize state-owned enterprises; and developing viable private sector and public-private partnership projects, especially in infrastructure.



The mission of IFC (
www.ifc.org) is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY04, IFC has committed more than $44 billion of its own funds and arranged $23 billion in syndications for 3,143 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY04 was $17.9 billion for its own account and $5.5 billion held for participants in loan syndications.