Bank of Beirut and the Arab Countries (BBAC) traces its origins to an alliance forged in 1956 between three prominent investment magnets, the late Toufic Assaf - entrepreneur, industrialist and politician, the late Nashaat Sheikhelard - financier and businessman, and the late Jamal Shehaiber - financier and trader, when the three partners recognized Lebanon’s need for a different kind of banking services and practices. The bank is registered on the Beirut Commercial Registry under number 6196 and on the Lebanese List of Banks as number 28. The first branch opened in Lebanon’s capital Beirut, on Allenby Street at the heart of Beirut City Center. Toufic Assaf was named Chairman and General Manager, and so he remained until 1996.
Founded on unmatched banking services, the following decades witnessed a tremendous growth and a remarkable progress, with a reputation to have majorly enhanced Lebanon’s banking sector, and provided communities with comprehensive dynamic financial services.
In 1977, the bank is already a landmark financial institution, with its headquarters relocated to Clemenceau, a most prominent trade and business district in Beirut. Through acquisitions and organic growth, the bank evolved to become one of Lebanon’s largest banking institutions, maintaining exceptional level of personalized services and responsible financial solutions, committed to building long term and dedicated relationships and sustainable and dynamic services.
In 1986, the bank made its first move beyond the Lebanese territory to open a first limb in Cyprus – a major milestone in the life of the bank and its development.
10 years later, on May 6th 1996, the bank witnessed the sad loss of the Chairman and General Manager Toufic Assaf. The dearest and most treasured venture was entrusted to his son, Ghassan Assaf, to act in the capacity of Chairman of the board, holding his father’s flag and following his sturdy steps.
The underlying principles of the predecessors that have made the bank a most thriving and prosperous financial institution will be the same values that served the second generations. Chairman Ghassan Assaf continued to implement the same high level of integrity and accountability, the strong belief in the dignity of the communities and the most dynamic and integrated business solutions.
In 2000, as part of an assertion to the bank’s innovative approach, Bank of Beirut and the Arab Countries shortens name in a rebranding push, to become BBAC. Shortening the name helped define what the bank has become while preserving the traditional values and identity behind its original naming, as a full-service commercial bank.
In 2001, BBAC reached an 80% purchase agreement with Capital Insurance and Reinsurance. Since that agreement, the bank’s in-store banking model has extended in geography and partnerships at an unprecedented rate.
The following years marked Lebanon’s booming economy and investment opportunities as Beirut gradually regained her earlier pre-eminence as an industrial center, a gateway between East and West and a seaport. Consequentially, prospects seemed even more promising – supported and sustained by the bank’s clear strategy and business development.
The 2006 marked a major achievement in the life of BBAC: the issuing of preferred shares of 50 million USD to raise Capital to 77 billion LBP – an anticipated step forward, after BBAC has expanded beyond traditional savings and loans, offering up a slate of investment products, financial advisory services and real estate lending.
The 2007 witnessed a landmark development in BBAC’s history when the bank contracted with IBM to implement an integrated business intelligence solution designed to help the bank move the business forward by increasing its efficiency and profitability while reducing risk, at the same time providing higher value services to the clients. Through this daring move, BBAC became the first bank in Lebanon to adopt a full financial risk and management solution based on the latest technology and thus achieve compliance with Basel II.
Growth continued and a number of new branches were opened in Lebanon to reach thirty-four branches countrywide. In 2009, BBAC made its second commercial banking move outside of Lebanon by opening a regional branch in Erbil, Iraq. This strategic move brought BBAC’s network to an expanded footprint - the bank’s flagship throughout the Middle East and Western Asia.
Once again leading the way in the field of information technology, BBAC became in 2010 the first bank in Lebanon to acquire an integrated core banking solution of Misys BankFusion Equation and Opics Plus with the aim of increasing revenues and enhancing operations. This initiative pushed BBAC to stay ahead of its competition and forge ahead in the market based on innovative technology.
Despite the milestones that BBAC managed to reach, the bank did not consider statistics as the only measure of its achievements. BBAC also cared about making a positive difference by remaining committed to corporate social responsibility and adopting it as an integral part of the its culture. In light of that and in 2011, BBAC championed the case of women’s rights by being the first bank in Lebanon to welcome mothers and acknowledge their right to open a bank account for the benefit of their minor children through the “Mother Account”.
The beginning of 2012 marked the climax of all developments: the issuance of preferred shares of 80 million USD to raise Capital to 157.016 billion LBP.
All through the years, BBAC’s journey advanced along the way with one all-pervading distinction: “Caring” - one of the greatest values of life and the most powerful business advantage. Integrated into BBAC’s business model as a core value, “Caring” functioned as an infrastructure for trust, faith and reliance. It dictated the need to identify opportunities, assess customer’s needs and ensure a proper alignment of investment. “Caring” was the quest to create high social and economic values, an insight that opened doors to pioneering ideas – a creative and well established corporate social responsibility and sustainable business.
In September 2012, BBAC joined hands with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in a unique partnership on the 'Live Lebanon" initiative; they collaborated in order to empower disadvantaged citizens to achieve their goals, regardless of sect or religion. With a strategic approach to social contribution, the partners helped rural and under-served communities by implementing much-needed development projects; the issues they covered ranged from health and economic development, to youth and the environment.
The bank's efforts have been recognized when it received the Social Economic Award 2013 in the 'Rural Development' category for Live Lebanon initiative in an event supported by the Lebanese Central Bank.
Today, BBAC provides a full range of banking and financial solutions to individuals and corporations through an extensive network of sixty-seven ATMs and forty-two branches comprising thirty-nine domestic branches, three international branches, one in Cyprus - Limassol and two in Iraq - Erbil and Baghdad, in addition to a representative office in the United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi.