What Is the Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE)?

The Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE) is the primary stock exchange in Lebanon. It is one of the oldest stock exchanges in the Middle East, established in 1920.

When the BSE got its start, trading in the region mainly consisted of gold and currency transactions. Trading activity on the exchange increased in the 1950s and 1960s with the listing of various banking and industrial firms along with bonds. Today, the exchange offers a wide variety of security products.

Key Takeaways

  • The Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE) is the primary stock exchange in Lebanon. 
  • The Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE), one of the oldest stock exchanges in the Middle East, was established in 1920.
  • The BSE consists of three types of markets: the official market, for companies incorporated for more than three years and with at least $3 million or equivalent in capital; the junior market, for younger companies with capital or equivalent of $1 million; and the over-the-counter market, for Lebanese companies with capital or equivalent of at least $100,000. 
  • The BSE is open for trading Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Understanding the Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE)

The Beirut Stock Exchange is a public institution run by a committee including a chair, a vice-chair, and eight members appointed by the Minister of Finance and the council of ministers. Each committee serves a four-year mandate.

The committee is responsible for managing, regulating, and developing the markets in accordance with Lebanese law. This includes providing adequate information on listing companies and issuers so that trading can be fair and informed, with all traders treated equally. The committee also protects the interests of all investors trading on the exchange and monitors the activities of all listed companies.

All BSE members are Lebanese joint-stock companies (SAL) registered with the secretariat of the commercial register. Investment banks must have a minimum capitalization of $10 billion LBP. Brokerage firms are required to have $1 billion and financial institutions must have $2 million LBP capitalization. In April of 2021, one U.S. dollar was equal to 1,513 LBP.

Trading on the BSE

The BSE consists of three types of markets. The first is the official market, which is for companies incorporated for more than three years and with at least $3 million or equivalent in capital. The junior market is for younger companies with capital or equivalent of $1 million. The over-the-counter market is for Lebanese companies with capital or equivalent of $100,000. Shares of companies on the over-the-counter market are traded without being listed on the BSE.

The Market Capitalization of the BSE is $7.07 billion as of late April 2021.

The BSE provides information for potential investors to help them begin trading on the exchange. The BSE requires a person to first open a security account with a broker authorized through the exchange. The investor then issues a check to the broker including the amount they wish to invest and any brokerage fees or deposit securities. Once this is completed, the investor can then order the broker to buy or sell a security listed on the exchange, including the number of shares and the price they’re willing to pay or accept.

The BSE is open for trading Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Brokers also trade electronically during these hours, rather than in person.