Solidere says share value is "secure" * Real estate projects continuing * Demand not falling, property prices to rise * Company has no liquidity, debt problems * Continue to build on profits for 2009 By Yara Bayoumy BEIRUT, April 3 (Reuters) – Lebanon’s largest company real estate developer, Solidere (SOLA.BY)(SOLB.BY), remains confident about the future of the company, in spite of recent falls in its share price, a top company official said. Solidere’s A-share traded at $15.50 on Friday, a fall of 60 percent since its July 2008 peak of $40. "There is no doubt that Solidere’s share, in spite of the share drop… its value is secure," Mounir Douaidy, Solidere’s general manager and chief financial officer said in a speech at an economic conference in Beirut. "And it will definitely bounce back in the coming period to reflect the real value of assets." Douaidy also said that Solidere’s projects outside of Lebanon are continuing. Solidere International, partly owned by Solidere, and the UAE emirate of Ajman are jointly developing the $60 billion Al Zorah project. "We have no liquidity problems, we have no debt problems, we have very sound portfolio of sound receivables. We have a solid balance sheet," Douaidy said on the sidelines of the conference.

The real estate sector in the Gulf, especially Dubai, has been hit by falling property prices, and developers have slowed or canceled projects. Thousands of redundancies have already been slashed in the once-booming sector in Dubai. Douaidy, however, said Solidere had not been hit by falling demand in real estate in Lebanon. "The element of demand basically comes to a large extent from inside Lebanon, or from Lebanese expatriates… Therefore the demand is there and permanent." Goldman Sachs said on Wednesday that the UAE real estate market is likely to remain under pressure in the near term due to weaker economic activity, slower population growth and tight liquidity

Douaidy said he also expected property prices to rise: "The reason why prices have not fallen in Lebanon goes back to the nature of developers, who generally fund a large part of their projects’ cost from downpayments of first buyers.

"Therefore they have the ability and readiness to wait and hold on to their prices until they get the desired price, especially in light of permanent demand."

Solidere reported 2008 first-half net profit of $83 million, a 37 percent rise, and has said it expected its full-year profit to surpass 2007’s $156 million.

Asked about the company’s outlook for 2009, Douaidy said:

"We will continue to build our profits and good results as we go forward and I think the potential is always there."

(Editing by Simon Jessop)

BEIRUT (Zawya Dow Jones)–Lebanon’s central bank governor said Thursday that the country’s economy grew by 4% in the first two months of the year and that its banks should avoid any exposure to the global financial crisis.

In a speech given to delegates at a banking conference in Beirut, Riad Salame said that the central bank’s foreign exchange reserves have grown to $21 billion, excluding gold and other assets.

"Lebanon won’t be negatively affected by the global credit crisis," he said in a copy of his speech seen by Zawya Dow Jones. "This is mainly due to the fact that banks in Lebanon have no toxic assets and were merely doing commercial banking without leverage."

Salame said that the country’s gross domestic product grew by 4% in the first two months of the year and that the central bank has bought $5 billion in U.S. currency since the global financial crisis intensified in October.

-By Mirna Sleiman, Dow Jones Newswires, 0097143644966,

Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Co.

Dewey & LeBoeuf has advised on one of the largest non-U.S. voluntary debt exchange offers, advising as the Lebanese Republic issued nearly $2.4 billion in new bonds.

The deal, which is intended to help increase the country’s financial flexibility and extend its debt maturity profile, saw Dewey advise a consortium of banks including Byblos Bank, Credit Libanais and Credit Suisse Securities (Europe) through a team headed by London corporate partners Louise Roman Bernstein and Camille Abousleiman.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised the government of Lebanon, with London-based corporate partner Mark Trapnell leading the team.

The deal saw the Lebanese Republic offer to exchange all of its outstanding dollar and euro denominated Eurobonds maturing in 2009 for new longer-dated securities, with $1.65 billion and 211 million euros ($284.2 million) of bonds exchanged. In addition it has issued around $450 million of new bonds.

Abousleiman said: "The significance of this deal is in its value, which we understand reflects the largest voluntary debt exchange ever done outside the U.S., as well as a very high participation rate. The timing of the transaction and the ability of the Republic to raise a large amount of money in difficult conditions, both show the underlying resilience of the Lebanese economy."

Earlier this year Abousleiman and Bernstein advised Byblos Bank on its London Stock Exchange listing of shares.

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