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Fransabank Group at a Glance

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A leading financial and universal banking player, Fransabank Group offers sophisticated and tailored retail, commercial, corporate, investment and international banking products that meet the evolving needs of the societies it serves, through its 144 branches in 9 countries across the world, namely in Lebanon, France, Algeria, Syria, Belarus, Cyprus, Sudan, Libya, and UAE (Abu Dhabi) and shortly in Iraq.

On December 15, 2011, Fransabank Group celebrated its 90 years anniversary. Established since 1921 in Lebanon and listed first amongst registered banks, Fransabank Group enjoys today the ranking of a top four leading Lebanese financial group. Celebrating more than 90 years of financial legacy in its mother land, Lebanon, Fransabank Group also has the largest local branch network with 111 branches spread all over the Lebanese territory; this is in addition to a total of thirteen Banking and Non-Banking Subsidiaries and Associates in the same market. Fransabank Group succeeded in positioning itself as a forward-looking, trustworthy, dynamic, innovative, creative, and socially responsible leading financial group.

With its clear vision and leadership, the perseverance of its dedicated, loyal and dynamic human capital and the synergy of its human, financial, and technological capitals within the group’s entities, the internationally awarded Fransabank Group sets the pace for yet another era in its promising growth history and carries the torch of “Excellence in Customer Service.” With Fransabank’s corporate slogan “Tomorrow Starts Now”, tomorrow’s accomplishments are the results of today’s well-prepared plans and actions.
Financial Highlights
Fransabank Group’s main business indicators have registered yet another record performance in 2011, in spite of the overall slowdown in the economy, exceeding the average growth indicators of the Lebanese banking sector and those of our peer banks’ groups.  Fransabank’s net profits reached USD 155.32 million, an increase of 6.57% as compared to 2010. Total assets reached USD 14.44 billion, an increase of 17.97% as compared to end of 2010; customers’ deposits reached USD 11.74 billion, an increase of 16.45% as compared to the same period of 2010 and net loans and advances to customers reached USD 4.43 billion, and of course, this has earned Fransabank Group one of the highest growth rates in net loans and advances to customers for 40.88% in 2011.
Fransabank Group’s increase in financial indicators, for 2011 over 2010, was markedly higher than that of the Alpha Group of Banks, as follows:  For net profits (Alpha Group 1.16% – Fransabank 6.57%), total assets (Alpha Group 12.01% – Fransabank 17.97%), customers’ deposits (Alpha Group 12.17% – Fransabank 16.45%), and  loans and advances to customers (Alpha Group 18.59% – Fransabank 40.88%).
*Alpha Group of Banks in Lebanon comprised 12 banks as at 31.12.2011, each with customers’ deposits equal or greater than USD 2 billion.
International & Local Awards

Fransabank Group’s achievement over the years reflected its leading role in the development of the economies where it operates. Fransabank initiatives, know-how and expertise in multiple financial fields were recognized and awarded.

In 2012, Fransabank Group was selected for five prestigious international awards by pre-eminent international magazines, the Banker, part of the Financial Times Group, the World Finance and Global Banking & Finance Review.

The Banker granted Fransabank SAL (Parent company) one award and Fransa Invest Bank SAL (the investment arm) two awards. These awards are: the “Deal of the Year 2012 Awards for the Middle East” and for the Highly Commended Banker Award for “Deal of the Year 2012 – Bonds: Sovereigns, Supras and Agencies – Middle East”.

The World Finance magazine awarded Fransa Invest Bank “The Best Investment Bank, Lebanon – 2012 Award”. This award comes in recognition of Fransa Invest Bank’s vision and commitment towards providing outstanding banking services to its clients, and adopting international best practices in the delivery of reliable and trustworthy investment banking services.

The Global Banking & Finance Review online magazine awarded Fransabank Group – the best banking Group in Lebanon 2012.
At the retail business level, Fransabank won the “Best Contactless Innovation Award” for its innovative MasterCard PayPass Card, during the “Smart Card Awards Middle East 2012” that was organized by Terrapin in the UAE.
For its proximity to customer’s strategy, Fransabank won the “Widest national Outreach Award 2010” from the Lebanon Opportunities Magazine within the Lebanese National Achievement Awards for Banking. It was also selected by the same publication for the “Best New Retail Product Award” for its revolutionary Energy Loans launched in 2010.
Socially Committed Group
At Fransabank Group, we believe that Corporate Social Responsibility is about making a contribution to sustainable development and society through creating long-term value for our shareholders, customers, employees and other stakeholders. This means putting our Corporate Principles into practice and considering not only the economic, but also the social and environmental impacts in all our decisions. We have founded our social responsibility strategy and activities on three main principles:
•    to promote effective public-private partnerships
•    to promote economic development
•    to enhance civil society’s aspirations
Our corporate responsibility strategy is shaped by the increasing need to ensure effective stakeholder relations, to fulfill the socioeconomic needs of the communities in which we conduct our business and the wider social, economic and environmental requirements whenever we exist and operate. This translates into a diverse range of social and corporate activities that advocates Fransabank’s image as a credible, solid, innovative and sustainable contributor to the overall economy.
To date Fransabank Group has successfully demonstrated a leading role in supporting various sectors and promoting the best standards in social responsibility. Although this has already earned the Group an exemplary place at the heart of the country’s corporate landscape, our corporate responsibility activities continue to drive our momentum and deliver the inspiration to pursue so much more in the years to come.
For Further Information, kindly contact:
Marketing Research Department
Tel: 01-340180/8
Fax: 01-344251
Email:  [email protected]
www.fransabank.com

Banking

Take on more risk or taper? BOJ faces tough choice with REIT buying

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Take on more risk or taper? BOJ faces tough choice with REIT buying 1

By Kentaro Sugiyama and Leika Kihara

TOKYO (Reuters) – The Bank of Japan (BOJ) is under pressure to relax rules for its purchases of real-estate investment trusts (REITs) so that it can keep buying the asset at the current pace, highlighting the challenges of sustaining its massive stimulus programme.

The fate of the rules, which limit the central bank’s ownership of individual REITs to a maximum of 10%, could be discussed at the BOJ’s review of policy tools at its March 18-19 meeting, with an industry estimate putting nearly a third of its REIT holdings at close to the permissible threshold.

Given Japan’s fairly small REIT market, the BOJ may struggle to keep buying the asset unless it relaxes the ownership rule or accepts REITs with lower credit ratings, analysts say. The BOJ currently buys REITs with ratings of AA or higher.

“There’s a good chance the BOJ could tweak the rules for its REIT buying at the March review,” said Koji Ishizaki, senior credit analyst at Mizuho Securities.

The issue underscores the tricky balance the BOJ faces at the March review, where it hopes to slow risky asset purchases without stoking fears of a full-fledged withdrawal of stimulus aimed at weathering the prolonged battle with COVID-19.

As part of its stimulus programme, the BOJ buys huge amounts of assets such as exchange-traded funds and J-REITs.

It ramped up buying last March to calm markets jolted by the pandemic, and now pledges to buy at an annual pace of up to 180 billion yen ($1.68 billion).

The BOJ last year bought 114.5 billion yen worth of J-REITs, double the amount in 2019, bringing the total balance of holdings at 669.6 billion yen as of December, BOJ data showed.

The surge of its portfolio has led to the BOJ owning more than 9% for some REITs. An estimate by Mizuho Securities showed the BOJ owned more than 9% for seven out of the 23 REITs it held as of January, including Japan Excellent and Fukuoka REIT.

The BOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The central bank normally does not comment on policy, besides public speeches and briefings by its board members.

BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has said the review won’t lead to a tightening of monetary policy.

But many BOJ officials are wary of relaxing rules for an unorthodox programme like J-REIT purchases, which critics say distorts prices and exposes the bank’s balance sheet to risk.

“Unless markets are under huge stress, it’s hard to relax the rules,” said an official familiar with the BOJ’s thinking.

($1 = 107.0200 yen)

(Reporting by Kentaro Sugiyama and Leika Kihara; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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German watchdog puts Greensill Bank on hold due to risk concerns

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German watchdog puts Greensill Bank on hold due to risk concerns 2

By Tom Sims and Tom Bergin

FRANKFURT/LONDON (Reuters) – Germany’s financial watchdog warned of “an imminent risk” that Greensill Bank would become over-indebted on Wednesday as it imposed a moratorium on the lender making disposals or payments.

BaFin’s move is another blow to the bank’s owner, Greensill Capital, which said on Tuesday it is in talks to sell large parts of its business after the loss of backing from two Swiss asset managers which underpinned key parts of its supply chain financing model.

Greensill, which was founded in 2011 by former Citigroup banker Lex Greensill, helps companies spread out the time they have to pay their bills. The loans, which typically have maturities of up to 90 days, are securitized and sold to investors, allowing Greensill to make new loans. Greensill’s primary source of funding came to an abrupt halt this week when Credit Suisse and asset manager GAM Holdings AG suspended redemptions from funds which held most of their around $10 billion in assets in Greensill notes, over concerns about being able to accurately value them.

Two sources told Reuters on Wednesday that SoftBank-backed Greensill Capital is preparing to file for insolvency, adding that the sale talks were with U.S. private equity firm Apollo.

Greensill and Apollo did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Greensill’s insolvency preparations, which were earlier reported by the Financial Times, or on the sale talks.

Japan’s SoftBank, which has invested $1.5 billion in recent years in Greensill, also declined to comment.

BaFin said an audit found that Greensill Bank could not provide evidence of receivables on its balance sheet purchased from mining tycoon Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance. GFG did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on BaFin’s findings.

“The moratorium had to be ordered to secure the assets in an orderly procedure,” BaFin said in a statement, adding that the Bremen-based bank would be closed for business with customers. It declined to elaborate.

Greensill Capital said in a statement that Greensill Bank always “seeks external legal and audit advice before booking any new asset.”

CASH RETURN

Greensill Bank had loans outstanding of 2.8 billion euros and deposits of 3.3 billion euros at the end of 2019, rating agency Scope said in an October report, which did not detail the bank’s exposure to GFG.

The bank is a member of the Compensation Scheme of German Banks which means deposits up to 100,000 euros ($120,740) are protected. The German regulator said withdrawals were not currently possible, but gave no further detail in a statement.

Prosecutors in Bremen said earlier they had received a criminal complaint from BaFin regarding Greensill Bank, but did not provide further details on it.

In Britain, meanwhile the financial regulator took action against GFG’s own trade finance arm Wyelands Bank. The Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority said it had ordered Wyelands to repay all its depositors. It said in a statement that it had been engaging closely with Wyelands, but did not say why it had taken the action.

GFG said Wyelands, which had over 700 million pounds ($979 million) of deposits according to its latest annual report, would repay deposits and planned to “focus solely on business advisory and connected finance”.

A GFG spokesman declined to comment on the BoE statement.

Credit Suisse said on Wednesday it is looking to return cash from its suspended funds dedicated to supply chain finance, which is a method by which companies can get cash from banks and funds such as Greensill Capital to pay their suppliers without having to dip into their working capital.

“Given the significant amount of cash (and cash equivalents) in the funds, we are exploring mechanisms for distributing excess cash to investors,” Credit Suisse said in a note to investors on its website.

Credit Suisse said that more than 1,000 institutional or professional investors were invested across its funds.

($1 = 0.8282 euros)

($1 = 0.7153 pounds)

(Reporting by Tom Sims and Patricia Uhlig in FRANKFURT and Tom Bergin in LONDON; Additional reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Oliver Hirt in ZURICH; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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Banking

Britain to review surcharge on bank profits

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Britain to review surcharge on bank profits 3

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s finance minister Rishi Sunak has said the government will review the surcharge levied on bank profits, in a bid to keep the UK competitive with rival financial centres in the United States and the European Union.

Sunak said in his Budget statement on Wednesday he was launching the review so that the combined tax burden on banks did not rise significantly after planned increases to corporation tax.

Leaving the surcharge unchanged would make UK taxation of banks “uncompetitive and damage one of the UK’s key exports”, the government said in its Budget document.

Changes will be laid out in the autumn and legislated for in the forthcoming Finance Bill 2021-22, the document said.

The surcharge on bank profits raised 1.5 billion pounds for the government in 2020, the document showed.

It is separate to the more lucrative bank levy on bank balance sheets, which raised 2.5 billion pounds.

(Reporting by Iain Withers, Editing by Huw Jones)

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