Byblos Bank Europe (BBE): A Niche Bank Getting Bigger and Better

Belgium’s BBE has old-school values and a modern take on operational excellence.

In the global arena of international finance, always aspiring to broader reach, there exist beacons of expertise spreading the light of operational excellence, speed, convenience and availability.

Byblos Bank Europe (BBE)

Byblos Bank Europe (BBE)

Founded in 1976, Byblos Bank Europe (BBE) achieves all this via a profound understanding of its client base — and an enviable position among the niche banks in Europe’s emerging markets. It has built on a heritage of international trade finance, differentiating itself from the competition by its intercontinental experience.

BBE connects organisations seeking local insights with specialist knowledge of the ever-changing dynamics of international commerce. With banking licences to operate in Belgium, France and the UK, BBE considers its international team its most vital asset. This makes it feel “at home” in the markets it operates in, facilitating personal dialogue and continuing its role as a “listening ear for the needs of its clients and network”.

Trade finance is at the core of BBE operations, an integral component of its business. Local knowledge cultivated by BBE over the years has served its clients well across Europe. The bank takes rightful pride in that.

“Being recognised as the Best International Trade Finance Bank in Europe for two consecutive years (2022 and 2023) is testament to our unwavering commitment to our clients and our mission,” says CEO and MD Victor van der Kwast. “The heritage we carry is not just due to the passage of time. We have made our bank’s name synonymous with reliability and proficiency in London, Paris and Brussels.”

“Hard work has brought BBE to its present position, braced for growth with a focus on day-to-day operations, actions, and delivery. The core pillars of BBE are client-centricity, striving for growth via solid governance and management, and fostering a culture of innovation.”

BBE saw 2023 as a pivotal year, taking many strides. The primary focus is investment in optimisation, structure and digitalisation in Europe, positioning BBE on the international map for digitally driven products and services — combined with the personal touch. BBE is building on its efficiency, the proximity to its network, profitability, and scale.

The bank maintains momentum by leveraging the “digital, yet personal” concept to its greatest advantage. The official mantra: “Get it right — first time, every time.”

Hard work has brought BBE to its present position, braced for growth with a focus on day-to-day operations, actions, and delivery. The core pillars of BBE are client-centricity, striving for growth via solid governance and management, and fostering a culture of innovation. The DNA is visible in the creative way BBE integrates the digital aspect of its personal- and proximity-based solutions into the client base.

The bank continues to diversify through expansion and focus; BBE’s comparatively modest size does not allow it to be all things to all people. “We are selective and focused,” says van der Kwast. “BBE positions itself as a focused financial institution bucking the prevailing trend of extensive de-risking and stepping away from emerging markets.

“BBE’s strategic focus is on being a bridge with European and emerging markets,” the chief executive says, “with a defined risk-appetite for clients and parties in various countries. This allows us to fill the need for a European-based bank in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.”

BBE believes that its position can provide benefits that extend beyond growth and client satisfaction. Integrating ESG considerations into operations has put it at the forefront of its priority areas, underscoring a focus on long-term value creation and responsible business conduct. “BBE has started to reflect on its business activities and its impact in the markets it operates,” says van der Kwast “We help businesses to conduct their trade activities. This drives our responsibility to facilitate counterparties’ activities by providing internationally acceptable services.”

This includes engaging with countries in a manner that goes beyond the transactional, fostering sustainable and responsible relationships. “Filling that gap is what BBE has achieved, while adding value to it.” This is especially true as BBE engages in short-term deals and is mostly focused on consumer goods and essential food and agriculture products, and relevant services in its trade-finance operations.

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