Syria open to foreign banking investors

Syria is offering foreign investors a majority stake in its private banks as the country pushes ahead with efforts to boost economic reforms and move away from its socialist legacy.

The move also comes as Syria steadily sheds its image as a radical in the political arena, with ties warming up with countries such as the United States, France and Saudi Arabia.

Central Bank Governor Adib Mayala said that under a January 4 banking law the maximum capital stake for foreign investors was being raised to 60 per cent from the current 49 per cent.

"It is an important measure which will boost the capacity of Syrian banks," Mayala said.

Private banks were authorised in Syria under a law passed in 2001 – a year after President Bashar Al Assad replaced his late father Hafez Al Assad at the head of the country – but with Syrian nationals holding the majority stakes.

That law was part of efforts by the younger Assad to push for reforms and a market economy in Syria.

 

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