Syria gives EFG-Hermes investment banking licenses

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CAIRO: Syria has given investment banking licenses to a Syrian unit that EFG-Hermes is setting up, the Cairo-based investment bank said on Monday.

The licenses are for advisory and corporate finance, research, securities brokerage and asset management, the bank said in an emailed statement. They do not include underwriting.

"EFG-Hermes is currently establishing EFG Hermes Syria L.L.C. with a paid-in capital equivalent to $5 million in order to begin operations on the Syrian market as soon as possible," the statement said.

EFG said in early March it was opening a Syrian office and launching a $250-$300 million private equity fund to take advantage of recent Syrian liberalization measures.

The bank sold its 28 percent stake in Lebanon’s Bank Audi for $913.4 million earlier this year after it failed to reach agreement on increasing its holding.

EFG said the Syria operation would be a partnership with Syrian businessman Firas Tlass, who will own 30 percent.

Another Egyptian investment bank, HC Securities and Investment, received a license to operate in Syria in February, while Pioneers Holding set up a Syrian affiliate in 2007.

Seven years ago, Syria relinquished its monopoly of the banking sector which was nationalized along with much of the economy after the ruling Baath Party took power in 1963.

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By Reuters
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