The 2016 annual survey of the world’s top 1,000 commercial banks was released last month by The Banker magazine. In this edition, Lebanon’s top ten banks all made the list, up from nine banks last year. The Banker is considered the reference for ranking banks since 1970. It provides a yearly list of the world’s leading 1,000 banks, based on criteria of financial strength, performance during the calendar year, and stability on the market.
On the international front China continued to dominate although it has slowed down from previous years with four of its major banks among the top ten ranking. The number one ranked bank in terms of Tier 1 capital was China’s ICBC, followed by the China Construction Bank in the second place. The US followed shortly with JP Morgan Chase at the third place as well as Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fardo respectively in the sixth, seventh and eighth positions. In terms of total profits, the top five countries were respectively: China, the US, Japan, France and Canada. Notable as well were the European banks’ continuing difficulties with Greece, Cyprus and Portugal among the top four least profitable countries.
The Lebanese banks, on the other hand, did relatively well this year. Bank Audi led the way for Lebanese banks, this year like the previous, coming in the 350th spot. Bank Audi was followed in the rankings by BLOM Bank (364th), Fransabank (521st) , Byblos Bank (526th), BankMed (573rd), Bank of Beirut (594th), Société Générale de Banque au Liban – SGBL – (659th), Banque Libano-Française (676th), Crédit Libanais (828th) and BBAC (975th). While the 2015 edition showcased the notable entry of SGBL among the top 1,000 ranking, this year was BBAC’s turn to make it to the list. A good piece of news for last years’ new entrant , SGBL, is its increase in ranking by six spots compared to last year—from the 665th position in 2015 to its current rank in 2016. BBAC’s entry is also a re-affirmation of the strong and ever-growing banking sector in Lebanon.
Looking beyond Lebanon to the Arab world, 85 banks made the top 1,000 list this year. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) led the way in number of banks, with 20 UAE banks listed in the rankings. This was followed by Saudi Arabia with 12 banks and Lebanon with 10 banks.
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