Lebanese banker buys Colorado Springs bank as part of U.S. expansion

The Chairman and CEO of Société Générale de Banque au Liban (SGBL) Antoun Sehnaoui has bought the Pikes Peak National Bank in Colorado Springs, according to a spokesperson.

Sehnaoui is new the chairman of the Colorado-based bank and plans to use it as a hub for expansion across the United States.

He entered negotiations for the acquisition two years ago as an opportunity to expand around the world.

“(It’s an) excellent opportunity based on the bank’s solid management under an experienced, professional leadership team,” Sehnaoui said in a statement.

Currently, the bank has three locations around the Colorado Springs area with total assets held at almost $89 million. The bank has about 30 employees.

Antoun Sehnaoui is also a film producer of over 40 films (imdb.com)
Antoun Sehnaoui is also a film producer and avid collector of the arts. (File photo/Imdb)

Sehnaoui was born in Lebanon in 1972 and moved to the United States during the Lebanese Civil War to study International Finance and Banking at the University of Southern California.

RELATED: British-Lebanese banker now executive vice-chairman of Swiss Bank UBS

He returned to Lebanon and set out to make the country “once again the banking, finance, media and tourist hub of the Middle East.”

Sehnaoui has been credited ten times as a film producer for Lebanese movies, including the Oscar-nominated foreign film The Insult.

Chinese company to fund renovation of railroad from Tripoli to Syria

A Chinese construction company will soon submit a proposal to finance the reconstruction of a railway from the city of Tripoli to the Lebanese-Syrian border, the Daily Star reported.

Eliana Ibrahim, president of the China Arab Association for Promoting Cultural and Commercial Exchange, told the Daily Star the project was in the initial stages, and she could not name the company.

Lebanese Economy Minister Raed Khoury recently attended the Arab States Cooperation Forum hosted by China and received positive feedback about future Chinese investment in Lebanon.

Chinese foreign Minister Wang Yi met with several of his Arab counterparts, including Raed Khoury of Lebanon (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China)
Chinese foreign Minister Wang Yi met with several of his Arab counterparts, including Raed Khoury of Lebanon (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China)

The railroad would provide a route to transport goods from Syria to a port on the Mediterranean Sea and help solidify Chinese involvement in the region for years to come.

RELATED: Beirut’s airport to receive simulation technology from New Zealand

This comes three days after the President of China Xi Jinping pledged $1.6 billion in financial aid to countries in the Middle East, that included Jordan, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

British-Lebanese banker now executive vice-chairman of Swiss Bank UBS

British-Lebanese banker Paul Raphael is now an executive vice-chairman of the Swiss multinational investment bank UBS, a source told finews.asia.

According to the website, UBS said it was discussing options to terminate Raphael earlier in the year but he made a comeback. He will now be Head of Europe and Emerging Markets for the company.

The 56-year-old banker is fluent in Arabic, French, Portuguese, and Spanish and English. Raphael received a bachelors in Economics from the University of Maryland and a Master of Science in Management from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Raphael is now the head of Head of Europe and Emerging Markets at UBS Wealth Management (finews.com)
The latest move marks a dramatic shift from news reported earlier this year (finews.com)

Paul Raphael previously served as a managing director for Credit Suisse and Merill Lynch. His experiences include Chairman of Central Europe, Middle East and Africa & Head of IBD for the Asia-Pacific Region.

A spokesman for UBS did not confirm or comment on the story.

Report: Arab newspaper Al-Hayat closes office in Lebanon

Pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat closed its office in Beirut Saturday in an effort to cut costs and downsize its operations, Agence France-Presse reported.

The Saudi-owned news organization was founded in Lebanon in 1946, and survived multiple bombing attempts before the Lebanese Civil War forced its shut down in 1976.

The newspaper reopened its Beirut offices in 1988, but was quickly bought out by Saudi Prince Khalid bin Sultan.

After 30 years in business, a source told AFP the office closed this weekend as a result of downsizing and “financial reasons.”

“This closure is part of a decision to close all foreign bureaus for financial reasons and transfer the headquarters to Dubai,” the source told AFP.

Al-Hayat shut down its office in Beirut. (File photo)
Al-Hayat shut down its office in Beirut. (File photo)

Al-Hayat has been experiencing changes in its news operation since the beginning of 2018, when the newspaper closed its main headquarters in London and moved to the Gulf.

The newspaper stopped printing in Lebanon, and could soon change its operation to serve readers in the Gulf only, AFP added.

Al-Hayat was founded by journalist Kamel Mroueh, who was later assassinated, as a daily Arabic newspaper.

The newspaper’s Beirut office employed about 100 people.

Two Lebanese women among Forbes top 10 entrepreneurs in Middle East

Forbes Middle East recently released a list of the top 10 women entrepreneurs in the Middle East that “have championed the most innovative ideas and received the most external funding” in 2017.

Two women from Lebanon made the list at numbers 6 and 9!

The list included women of Arab origin based in the Middle East who were “making waves” in their respective industries.

Nadia Moussouni, named number 6, is the co-founder of her startup Energy 24 that raised $3 million.

Founded in 2011, Moussoun’s Beirut-based startup seeks to create alternative energy storage and generators and currently consists of two technicians, plus four technicians on contract basis.

Nadia and co-founder Antoine Saab (Executive Magazine)
Nadia and co-founder Antoine Saab (Executive Magazine)

RELATED: Carla Haddad: From 14-year-old model to ‘Dancing with the Stars’ celebrity

At number 9, Loulou Khazen Baz raised $1.8 million for her startup Nabbesh.

Founded in 2012, Baz’s startup is the Middle East’s first online freelance work marketplace.

Loulou previously won the TV show “The Entrepreneur” in 2012 for the Nabbesh idea and oversaw the planning of new startups in the healthcare, education and technology sectors.

You can check out the full list, by clicking here.

JOBS: Emirates now hiring crew members in Lebanon

A major global airline is looking to add more Lebanese talent to its crew. The Emirates airline will be holding a career fair in Lebanon for two days in an effort to fulfill demand in the region.

The Dubai-based airline is looking for “open-minded, helpful, friendly and service-oriented” candidates to spend the day speaking to recruiters on July 3 and July 6.

  • July 3: Burj on Bay Hotel in Kfar Yassine, Lebanon starting at 8 a.m.
  • July 6: Mövenpick Hotel in Beirut starting at 8 a.m.

For both dates candidates are expected to bring their most recent resume (CV) and a photograph.

RELATED: Lebanese man wins $1 million jackpot at Dubai Duty Free for the second time

Two more open recruiting days in Beirut and Jouneh are scheduled for August. The specifics have not been announced.

This is the airline’s latest push to capture the market of Lebanese expats that travel to Lebanon every year.

On March 29, the airline’s flagship double-decker plane made its first appearance of an eventual service route to Beirut’s Rafic Hariri airport.

Emirates A380 made its first landing in Beirut this year (Emirates Media centre)
Emirates A380 made its first landing in Beirut this year (Emirates Media centre)

For more information about requirements and the selection process, visit their website here.

Lebanese man wins $1 million jackpot at Dubai Duty Free for the second time

Lebanese expat Musleh Mousa Hassan won the top prize of the Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire lottery during the latest draw for the second time in six years.

The June 2018 drawing took place at the Dubai International Airport. The first time Hassan won the top prize of $1 million was in November 2012.

According to Dubai Duty Free, he is the tenth Lebanese citizen to win the jackpot since it was created in 1999.

Musleh Mousa Hassan won $1 million in Dubai Duty Free drawing for the second time. (Dubai Duty Free)
Musleh Mousa Hassan won $1 million in Dubai Duty Free drawing for the second time. (Dubai Duty Free)

Hassan is a a 73-year old corporate manager of an insurance company. He was born in Lebanon, but lives in Dubai.

In a statement, he thanked the Dubai Duty Free store for the good luck — twice in six years!

“I remember when I first won $1 million in 2012 — I was over the moon, and winning again .. is just truly an unexpected surprise,” Hassan said. “Thank you, Dubai Duty Free for my amazing second win.”

After Hassan was declared the winner of the top prize, an additional three luxury vehicles were given away by the duty free store to French, Indian and Pakistani citizens.

WATCH: Lebanese man wins $1 million at Dubai Duty Free:

Casino du Liban expects $10M in profit in 2018: Casino president Khoury

Casino du Liban president Roland Khoury projected the net profits for the establishment to be over $10 million for the fiscal year of 2018.

In 2017, the casino rebounded after Khoury took over with a $3 million profit after years of experiencing losses, the Daily Star reports.

The casino is majority owned by the government through the Intra Investment Company and is managed by London Clubs International, a subsidiary of Caesars Entertainment Corporation.

Casino Lebanon

As a result, the establishment pays lots of taxes on most of their games inside. Khoury said “We pay nearly $40 million in taxes on the slot machines.”

He called on tax reform in the country so that the casino will be able to better compete with casinos in Cyprus and around the world.

Despite his grievances, many analysts have noted that the expected revenue for 2018 is promising given the small size of Lebanon’s population and where a significant percentage of people do not gamble.

Fiber-optic Internet coming to Lebanon, Ogero Chairman says

Plans to introduce fiber-optic Internet in Lebanon are in the works, the leader of Lebanon’s state-run telecommunications firm confirmed Tuesday in a tweet.

Imad Kreidieh, the chairman of Ogero Telecom, tweeted that the Audit Bureau of Lebanon has approved the company’s plan to install fiber-optic cables across the country.

According to the Speedtest Global Index, as of April 2018, Lebanon had the third slowest ‘Fixed Broadband’ speeds in the world.

Fiber-optic Internet could soon come to Lebanon. (Stock photo)
Fiber-optic Internet could soon come to Lebanon. (Stock photo)

Experts believe the installation of fiber-optic cables in the country will establish a better Internet and TV infrastructure and greatly increase the average Internet speeds.

Fiber-optic is considered one of the fastest forms of receiving Internet.

Google Fiber, for example, promises speeds of 1 GBit/s while traditional cable maxes out at around 200 MBit/s.

Lebanon’s wind power industry attracts bids from 40+ companies

Lebanon is attracting international interest from 42 companies to develop up to 300 megawatts of wind power, according to Windpower Monthly magazine.

The country’s Ministry of Energy and Water has received expressions of interest from 42 companies in 20 countries, including Denmark, France and Germany.

According to Windpower Monthly, the wind power projects would be located in Akkar, the Bekaa Valley or Southern governorates.

Lebanon is expected to launch the main bidding process during the International Beirut Energy Forum in late September 2018.

Windpower Monthly reports the companies include Ramboll in Denmark, Dongfang Electric in China and ACWA Power in Saudi Arabia, among others.

Lebanon gave the go ahead for 200 megawatt projects in 2017, with a tender introduction to wind power starting in 2013.

The country is still in the early developmental procedures of wind power. Lebanon aims to source 12% of its electricity and heat from renewables by 2020.