Republic New York Corp. has upgraded its Beirut representative office into a regional banking office for the Middle East.
A spokesman for Republic National Bank of New York said the move was primarily aimed at overcoming the difficulties of dealing with the time difference between New York and Beirut.
"This will give us easier access to our customers and vice versa," said a spokesman for the bank in New York.
Republic's Middle Eastern activities revolve mainly around trading and correspondent banking.
As part of the shift in responsibilities, the bank has transferred Hani Elsabeh, executive vice president in charge of Middle Eastern operations, to Beirut.
Republic has maintained a representative office in Beirut since it was founded in 1966, and is the third U.S. bank to recently add or expand offices in the region.
In February, Bank of New York obtained approval from the central bank of the United Arab Emirates to open a representative office in Abu Dhabi. And Citicorp last month disclosed that it is planning to expand into consumer banking in Egypt. Citicorp has two branches in Egypt, where it is heavily involved in trade finance.