File - FRANSABANK branch in Irbil, Saturday, March 29, 2014. (The Daily Star/HO)
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Lebanese banks hope to take early lead in Iraqi marketA number of Lebanese lenders are following in the footsteps of their peers and opening new branches in Iraq to service a market where state-owned banks account for 86 percent of assets and 69 percent of credits. Compared to a 55 percent average for the MENA region, private sector loans remain a small business for banks in Iraq, at a mere 6 percent of GDP as of 2012, according to a report by Byblos bank – the first Lebanese lender to establish branches in Iraq, opening in 2007 .The approximately 900 bank branches that exist in Iraq serve a population of 33 million, equating to just one branch per 36,000 people.
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