Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE) is the second oldest stock market in the region; it was established in 1920, by a decree of the French Commissioner. Initially, trading was restricted to gold and foreign currencies. In the early 30s, trading was expanded to encompass shares of private companies set up under the French mandate to operate and manage some public services and sectors (railways, communications, post…). It was then tantamount to privatization. Some of these corporate securities and shares were listed on both BSE and Bourse de Paris at the same time.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Lebanese economy witnessed a significant activity; various industrial, banking and services companies listed their stocks on the BSE, thus prompt it at the forefront of the regional markets, totaling 50 listed bonds.
In 1975, at the onset of the security turmoil in Lebanon, the trading activity in the BSE draws back and was conclusively halted in 1983. The suspension extended until 1996.
In 1994, the prevailing stability and security in the country induced the Lebanese government into appointing a new administrating committee to re-launch the BSE. The committee set up a new internal bylaw, re-structured and streamlined mechanisms and trading systems, with the collaboration of the Bourse de Paris. A new electronic trading system (automated order) was set in place, based on the fixing price instead of the traditional OTC voice brokers.
On January 22, 1996, the BSE re-launched the trading activity in its hall, following a thirteen-year compulsory suspension.
In June 1999, a cooperation agreement was signed between BSE and Bourse de Paris in order to replace the outdated fixing system and to provide BSE with a state of the art electronic trading system, the NSC-UNIX-EURONEXT, allowing for a continuous trading.
On October 12, 2000, the BSE adopted a new temporary trading system, based on a combined continuous-fixing price trading, until the new European NSC-UNIX –EURONEXT system is set.
Another important amendment was introduced to the BSE bylaw in 2000, allowing to list and trade new forms of securities on BSE: GDR (Global Depository Receipt), investment funds shares, preferred stocks, priority shares and any other tradable derivatives.
In 2002, the BSE moved its headquarters to the Lazarieh building in Down Town Beirut (Solidere).
On July 7, 2003, the BSE launched the new European trading system designed by the European capital markets software “Atos Euronext” market solutions, branded NSC-Unix-EURONEXT
By the end of 2006, the BSE launched a new REMOTE TRADING SYSTEM, allowing the brokers to trade with the securities listed on the BSE “remotely” from their own offices.
On February 13, 2008, the BSE decided to approve the use of E-trading on the BSE via the internet, and that exclusively through the authorized brokers at the stock exchange.
On March 23, 2009, the BSE launched a new version of an advanced trading system known as NSC UNIX V3 PLUS based on the PAM system that was developed by NYSE EURONEXT to replace the old version NSC UNIX V3 based on the TAK system which was used by the BSE since July 2003.
In August 2011, the Lebanese parliament endorsed a new Financial Markets Law that resulted in the creation of a Capital Market Authority that aims to regulate and supervise the activities of capital markets in Lebanon and to create an adequate legal framework conductive to the development of the Lebanese Financial Markets. This new law previews the establishment of a Financial Market Court to adjudicate financial matters, and the restructuring of the Beirut Stock Exchange with a view to transfer its ownership to the private sector.
In March 2014, the Beirut Stock Exchange signed an agreement with Euronext, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intercontinental Exchange Group (NYSE: ICE), for the implementation of a new trading application platform that support the expected growth in equity listing and the entry into new asset classes in the Lebanese markets.
In September 2017, the Lebanese Council of Ministers approved the formation of the Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE) SAL, a joint stock company that will replace the current BSE. The share capital of the new bourse, fixed at LBP 100 million divided into 100 thousand shares with a nominal value LBP 1,000 per share, will be first owned by the state and at a later stage will be offered to the private sector. All rights and obligations of the present bourse will be transferred to the new company. The first Board of Directors of the newly established bourse that will be in charge, until the shares of the BSE SAL are sold to the private sector, will comprise seven members; two from the existing board of the exchange, three executive boards from the CMA and two members from the Ministry of Finance.