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French Version

Jordanian banking magnate Shoman dies at age 94

Jordanian banking mogul Abdul Majeed Shoman, whose Amman-based Arab Bank was considered a pillar of Jordan's economy, died Tuesday at the age of 94.

King Abdullah II immediately gave instructions for the Palestinian-born Shoman to be laid to rest in the royal cemetery in Amman, a statement said.

The funeral is to take place after mid-day Muslim prayers today when Shoman's body will be taken from the Arab Bank headquarters in western Amman to the cemetery.

"Jordan has lost today one of the most important builders of the national economy who largely contributed to building and founding the Arab and Jordanian banking sectors," the statement said.

As news of Shoman's death emerged, Arab Bank stocks fell 2 percent on the Jordanian stock market, but closed 0.1 percent higher on Monday at 46.9 dinars ($66), a bourse official said.

Born in Beit Hanina, Palestine, in 1912, Shoman graduated from New York University earning a masters in economics and banking affairs. He returned home to work alongside his father, Abdel Hamid Shoman.

The elder Shoman opened the first Arab Bank in Jerusalem in 1930. In 1948, when Israel was created, the bank, then a listed company, moved to Amman.

Abdel Majeed Shoman took over after his father's death and was credited for expanding the bank by opening 378 branches in 27 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Today, nearly 4,000 shareholders, mostly Arab, own the bank, one of the most important financial institutions in the Arab world with total assets of more than $34 billion at the end of June 2004.

In November 2003 the Riyadh-based Oger Saudi Oger Ltd, a company owned by the assassinated former Lebanese premier, bought 11 percent of Arab Bank.

Last year the Arab Bank was the target of lawsuits from the relatives of Americans killed in terror attacks in Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories. They charged that the bank facilitated the flow of funds from Saudi Arabia to Palestinian "terrorists" or their families.

The Arab Bank - buoyed by an all-clear from Jordan's Central Bank - denounced the reports as totally unfounded. However, it later closed its New York branch saying "the climate of operating in the United States at present is not expedient with the bank's strategy and vision." Before his death Shoman was director of the board of the Arab Bank and chairman of several of its branches, including one in Switzerland, as well as chairman of various other financial institutions.

He likewise chaired the Amman-based Abdel Hamid Shoman Foundation named after his father which promoted culture and education, providing needy students with scholarships.

Amman,19July2005
Redaction
The Daily Star


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