The Business Year

Lebanon is located in a region marred with tensions, forcing most Lebanese construction companies to adopt a wait-and-see approach.

Michel Zovighian

Chairman & CEO, Sehnaoui Plant Group of Companies

Since Lebanon is a small country, it has a volatile economy of which the construction sector is a major part. However, at BERM, we were fortunate to maintain a certain continuity in our line of business because we provide a specialized service. Not many engineers currently specialize in structural engineering design, as they seek higher-paying engineering jobs elsewhere. We still work on some Lebanese and MENA projects and also back them up with projects in Asia and Africa. It is easy to design something expensive; however, we provide a more profitable and efficient design, which is why we have repeated business. In Lebanon, we have residential projects, museums, hospitals, and even factories. We also design and oversee the execution of a new glass factory; the current trend is to bottle dairy in glass and not plastic. All factories require a structure to perform these activities, and we deal with the design of these structures, making us one of the main go-to companies

Karim Joseph Yared

Owner, Société Jean Yared & Fils sal

We operate in Lebanon, Nigeria, and Qatar and to a smaller extent in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. We have a branch in Syria, though it is currently idle, and a partner in Jordan. The market that will shoulder the most growth in 2019 will be Nigeria, a market with a population of 180 million which generates its own momentum particularly in infrastructure. The collapse of the market there in June 2014 has opened opportunities for new Nigerian contractors. In Lebanon, we have confirmed orders though we have not yet received the down payment, which clearly means there is a situation of wait and see. Moving forward, we want to reposition ourselves in Saudi Arabia and keep an eye on Syria. We are also keen on expanding to West Africa. We want to focus on environmental products, namely the recycling of concrete and water. From a revenue perspective, I do not expect anything remarkable in 2018, though our efforts in 2018 will have a great impact.

Maroun Helou

President, Maroun Helou

Over the past three years, the Lebanese market has gone through a period of consolidation as 2015 was a tough year for the steel market. Many players in the market reduced their imports because they had to purchase raw materials from China in advance. In addition, prices of raw materials were decreasing, sometimes by USD100 per ton, resulting in businesses reducing imports. In comparison, we have a steady weekly demand, and we never speculate because a large portion of our sales is retail. The cost of debt is expensive in Lebanon. There are infrastructure problems where if one is delivering by truck, for example, they will deliver less per day because of congestion. Moving forward, we would like to be optimistic as Lebanese people have always been tenacious; the problem is young people leaving the country to find jobs elsewhere. We need to create an environment where they feel economically secure in order to truly reconstruct the country.

Rodolphe Mattar

General Manager, Bureau D’Études Rodolphe Mattar (BERM)

The construction business in Lebanon has been suffering for the past few years due to economic crisis. However, we expect things to get better, since we went through successful discussions with France, the World Bank, and the international community, and we look forward to seeing some change and having more reconstruction in Lebanon’s public sector. Abniah is a construction company with a mission to implement construction projects including structure and interior design. We are executing many residential buildings, complexes, and towers and recently started the MEA Green Office Building within the airport. Abniah has been accredited with the ISO label for its reliability and well-accomplished performance. The future depends on developments in the region. Lebanese human resources are in high demand; therefore, many Lebanese leave to work abroad because of lack of opportunities in Lebanon.



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