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Beltone Inv Bank may Gain Middle East Market

Beltone Financial, established in 2002, has operations in Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Libya and New York. The worst global economic crisis since World War II has reduced demand for oil in developed economies and slowed growth in China and India. Gulf Arab business confidence rose in the second quarter as optimism grew that company profits would improve, HSBC Holdings Plc said in a survey June 21.

<a onmouseover="return escape( popwOpenWebSite( this ))" href="" target="_blank">Beltone Financial, an Egyptian investment bank with $4.2 billion under management, plans to expand its presence in the Middle East within a year as stock markets in the region recover.

“I would be surprised if in the next 12 months we at least are not in one more country,” Chairman <a onmouseover="return escape( popwSearchNews( this ))" href="">Aly El Tahry said in an interview at his office in Cairo yesterday. He declined to name the countries that the company was targeting.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark stock index, the <a onmouseover="return escape( popwQuoteShort( this, 'SASEIDX:IND' ))" href="">Tadawul All Share Index, has gained 15 percent this year, according to Bloomberg data. <a onmouseover="return escape( popwQuoteShort( this, 'DFMGI:IND' ))" href="">The Dubai Financial Market General Index has risen 9.7 percent and Egypt’s benchmark <a onmouseover="return escape( popwQuoteShort( this, 'EGX30:IND' ))" href="">EGX30 index 21 percent over the same period.

Beltone’s investment banking unit has executed transactions valued at 14.1 billion Egyptian pounds ($2.5 billion) this year, according to the company’s monthly report released in June. The volume of transactions in 2008 was 20.8 billion Egyptian pounds, the report said.

“We should see some very acceptable, exciting returns in the regions because it’s extremely well positioned for growth,” he added.

Beltone Financial may expand through acquisitions or new investments, El Tahry said. The bank will probably offer research, brokerage and investment-banking services.

“It doesn’t make sense just to have sales and trading operations without having investment banking and research,” he said.

The risk of defaults among regional banks or major real estate firms has “definitely gone down” after governments and central banks intervened to shore up the financial system, El Tahry said.

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