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Ministry of Culture’s Tourism Sector Celebrates Bahrain’s 40th National Day

Ministry of Culture’s Tourism Sector Celebrates Bahrain’s 40th National Day

2284Manama : The Ministry of Culture, Tourism Sector began their celebrations for National Day yesterday with a live performance by the Mohammed Bin Faris Band at the Bab Al Bahrain Souq. The traditional band performed national songs to mark the occasion, bringing together a crowd that included shoppers who joined in the festivities.

The Ministry of Culture Tourism sector will also hold two more live performances in continuous celebrations for this, Bahrain’s 40th National Day. A live performance by the 13th Note Jazz band will take place today and tomorrow from 4:30pm- 7pm at the Bab Al Bahrain Souq to mark this auspicious occasion.

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2191Bahrain:  Internationally acclaimed speaker and executive coach, Tom Flatau, briefed Capital Club Members how they could revolutionise their ability to achieve a profitable outcome in every business transaction by simply applying the techniques of negotiation, when he presented a seminar entitled “Become a black belt negotiator” at the Capital Club recently.

During the presentation, Mr Flatau introduced the 5-step process to negotiate and successfully achieve a win-win outcome.   The five steps include: preparation and planning, discussion to find out what the other party requires, structure a deal that suits both sides, trade by refining the requirements and finally complete the deal with confidence for a long-term mutually profitable relationship. He shared a number of useful tips for the Capital Club Members during the session.

Mr. Flatau said that most managers and middle managers should know the 5-step process that helps effective negotiation to resolve situations when there is a conflict between the two parties. The aim of win-win negotiation is to find a solution that is acceptable to both parties, and leaves them feeling that they have won.

As Bahrain’s premier private business club, the Capital Club offers a place to relax, celebrate or network in exclusive surroundings, on the uppermost floors of the iconic Bahrain Financial Harbour. It regularly hosts social and business gatherings to facilitate networking among Members and to foster an environment of learning from some of the world’s most respected leaders.

The Club offers an array of benefits to its Members including bespoke dining options, world class gourmet cuisine, a library and meeting rooms with state-of-the-art audio visual facilities. It provides a luxurious and chic atmosphere unrivalled in the Kingdom.

Membership is by invitation only with various packages for Bahrainis and expatriates. It offers international privileges through affiliation with more than 250 clubs worldwide.

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Bahrain urges five Islamic banks to merge next year

Bahrain urges five Islamic banks to merge next year

2124Bahrain’s central bank has urged five Islamic banks to merge early next year as it seeks to strengthen the banks’ capital bases, a senior official said on Sunday.

Under the plan, Al Salam Bank would merge with Bahrain Islamic Bank, while CAPIVEST, Elaf Bank and Capital Management House would merge with each other.

Bahrain Islamic Bank and Al Salam announced in August that they were in merger talks to form Bahrain’s largest Islamic lender with assets of BD1.7bn ($4.5bn).

“We pushed for that because it is positive, it will strengthen their capital and balance sheets,” Ahmed Abdul Aziz al-Bassam, director of licensing and policy at the central bank, told Reuters, referring to both mergers.

The mergers are awaiting approvals by shareholders, he said, adding: “We expect it to take place in the first quarter 2012.”

Bassam was speaking on the sidelines of an Arab Monetary Fund meeting on banking supervision in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Standard & Poor’s is reviewing credit ratings on 50 banks in the Middle East and North Africa under a new set of criteria, a senior S&P executive told Reuters. Last month, the agency classified Bahrain’s banks as the riskiest in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Bassam also said Bahrain’s central bank had granted in-principle approvals for two Geneva-based investment houses as well as a Hanover-based reinsurance company to set up offices in the country, which was hit by political unrest earlier this year. He declined to name the companies before a formal announcement.

“This indicates European financial institutions are willing to be in the Middle East looking for business,” he said.

“Those financial institutions think long-term. What happened in Bahrain was only for a couple of months, what they call the Arab Spring.”

Bahrain will soon set up an internal committee to study the readiness of banks to implement the Basel III global banking standards, Bassam said, adding that banks were unlikely to face problems as they were adequately capitalised.

Asked about the main risks that Bahrain’s banking system was facing, he said: “The liquidity risk and also the capital. For us, what is happening in Europe is not that much of a problem.”

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Bahrain Airport Company Hosts Banquet in Honour of British Airways

Bahrain Airport Company Hosts Banquet in Honour of British Airways

232Manama, Bahrain, 04 December 2011: Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) held a dinner banquet at the Capital Club on Wednesday (30th Nov) in honour of Ms. Denise McGregor, Head of Customer Services and Operations (Europe, Africa, Middle East, South America, UK) for British Airways (BA). As an established and valued partner of BAC, the company hosted British Airways management and senior figures in the industry and society, as part of its ongoing strategy of cementing relationships and bolstering partnerships at home and beyond.

Speaking at the dinner, Mr. Gordon Dewar, CEO of BAC said: “We are delighted to host this dinner in honour of the role played by British Airways, represented by their delegation headed by Denise McGregor, today. We are continuously seeking to build on our already solid relationship with British Airways, and to recognize BA’s contribution to the development of Bahrain which supports the strong relationship the Kingdom has have with the UK. We are committed to continue providing the very best support and services to British Airways and all our partners, and I am confident our relationship will go from strength to strength.”

Ms. Denise McGregor, commented, “I am thrilled to be here in Bahrain today with one of our most respected partners, Bahrain Airport Company, and I would like to thank them for hosting this event and for their continuous support and this long-standing partnership. We are committed to Bahrain and the role played by BAC, and we extend our appreciation for their efforts in providing us with the best services and facilities. Bahrain has always been a very special destination for us, in fact our inaugural Concorde service in 1976 was to Bahrain. We remained in the region throughout the difficult times, which clearly shows our commitment. We welcome the plans for expansion of Bahrain International Airport and are proud to be a part of the journey to raise passenger numbers from 9 million to 13.5 million annually.”

The dinner was also attended by a number of senior officials including H.E. Lain Lindsey, British Ambassador to Bahrain; at; Captain Abdulrahman Al Gaoud, Undersecretary for Civil Aviation Affairs; Brigadier Zuhair Al Absi, Ministry of the Interior, ; Nicola Smith, Regional Customer Service Manager (Middle East in addition to BAC Board Members, management and guests.

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2Manama, Wednesday 30 November 2011: Bahrain’s Reload Consulting Services WLL  (Reload Consulting), which specialises in digital information security services, today signed agreements with global Indian Information Technology (IT) companies Secure Matrix and Prism Informatics Ltd, which will pave the way for the provision of leading information security services and IT solutions in Bahrain and across the region.

Through the landmark agreement with Secure Matrix, an information security consulting firm, Reload Consulting Services WLL will act as the local provider and new business development arm for the Indian company, initially in Bahrain and subsequently across the Gulf region. Under the agreement, Reload Consulting will benefit from Secure Matrix’s global expertise as it expands its offering focused on protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information, principally for private sector businesses, and provide customised information security training for public, private and education sector entities.

Furthermore, under the agreement Secure Matrix and Reload Consulting will create the Kingdom’s first Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT). The CERT facility will benefit from the expertise and knowledge of Secure Matrix to create a comprehensive emergency response facility including a security coordination centre, online monitoring and logging infrastructure and, most importantly, provide appropriate action on detection of any potential threats, such as cyber-attacks. 

Through the second agreement, Prism Informatics Ltd, which is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), will work with Reload Consulting to design and deliver technology solutions for the manufacturing, retail, education, pharmaceutical, banking, engineering and construction industries in Bahrain.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Manama, Bahrain, Ahmed Husain, Managing Director of Reload Consulting Services WLL said: “This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for Reload Consulting; with the expertise and knowledge of both Secure Matrix and Prism Informatics Ltd, two leading multinational companies in the field of e-security and IT consulting services, we will be able to significantly expand our IT support services whilst providing world-class information security services to companies of all sizes in Bahrain and across the region.”

A recent study by EMC IT group in Europe found that almost three-quarters of firms and public sector organisations were “not very confident” they could fully restore their networks following an IT failure and over half admitted they had lost data or suffered systems downtime in the past 12 months. Ahmed Husain added, “By working with us, businesses in Bahrain can rest assured that their IT infrastructure, and most importantly their data, will be safe.”

Explaining the firms’ decision Mr Sachin Gajjar, Chief Operating Officer of Secure Matrix India Private Limited, and Mr. Saurabh Dani, Promoter Director, of Prism Informatics Ltd said: “Bahrain is renowned as a leading regional financial services hub with over 400 financial institutions, and a mature ICT industry with a favourable business environment. Furthermore Bahrain offers an excellent location as a practical base to access the growing markets of the neighbouring Gulf states, therefore it was a natural choice to decide to enter in to this venture with a Bahraini company, and Reload Consulting is the ideal partner”.

Welcoming the announcement, Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa, Chief Executive of the EDB said: “This is a real boost for the ICT services industry in Bahrain. And the decision by Secure Matrix and Prism Informatics Ltd to invest in Bahrain demonstrates the continued confidence in Bahrain. The decision is great news for the Bahraini economy and underlines our continuing attractiveness as an investment destination.”

These partnerships were initially discussed and progressed at Gitex Technology Week 2011 Dubai, the region’s leading ICT expo, earlier this year. Reload Consulting attended as part of Tamkeen’s Tarweej scheme to showcase their hi-tech products and services. “Tarweej”, Tamkeen’s Growth Assistance scheme provides financial support to businesses in Bahrain to cover the cost of participation in leading local, regional, and international exhibitions. The event provided the opportunity to network and exchange expertise with decision makers from around the region as well as exploring possible international business partnerships.

Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa added, “We are delighted we were able to support Reload Consulting through the Tamkeen programme and will continue to not only support businesses within Bahrain but also those investing in Bahrain.”

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Batelco credit ratings seen as prelude to M&A

Batelco credit ratings seen as prelude to M&A

2392Bahrain Telecommunications (Batelco) has said it had received its first public credit ratings, paving the way for the former monopoly to issue investment-grade bonds.

Fitch has given Batelco an issuer default rating of “BBB-” and a stable outlook, while Standard & Poor’s has assigned “BBB-” long-term and an “A-3″ short-term foreign and local currency ratings and a negative outlook.

“These ratings will further enhance our ability to diversify our sources of funding should we seek to secure future financing from debt or capital markets,” Batelco chief executive Shaikh Mohamed bin Isa al-Khalifa said in an emailed statement.

Debt-free Batelco had a cash and bank balance of $230m as of September 30.

“The only reason to issue bonds would be for an acquisition,” said Nishit Lakhotia, telecoms analyst at Securities & Investment Co (SICO) in Bahrain.

“That doesn’t mean Batelco will soon be coming out with a bond issue - telecoms acquisitions in this region take a long time and there’s no guarantee they will succeed.”

In September, Batelco and Kingdom Holding scrapped their joint $950m bid for a quarter-stake in telco Zain Saudi more than six months after initial terms were agreed due to disagreements over the latter’s debt guarantees.

Batelco had a 37 percent of Bahrain’s mobile subscribers in 2010 and fierce domestic competition from units of Kuwait’s Zain and Saudi Telecom Co is pushing the Bahraini operator to look abroad for growth.

Batelco also has interests in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, India, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, with these providing about a third of revenue in the first nine months of 2011, while it has reported declining profits for six straight quarters.

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Bahrain’s maritime industry implementing global standards for development and regulation

Bahrain’s maritime industry implementing global standards for development and regulation

2356Manama : The Kingdom of Bahrain reaffirmed its commitment to implementing the highest global standards for its maritime industry at a key meeting in London yesterday.  Shaikh Daij bin Salman Al Khalifa, Undersecretary for Port Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Chairman of the General Organisation of Sea Ports spoke at  the 27th Assembly of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) held in London on 21st November 2011, highlighting key initiatives being undertaken by the Kingdom  to further develop its shipping and ports sector.

In his address, Shaikh Daij said: “The Kingdom of Bahrain has been working tirelessly towards realising its goal of establishing Bahrain as the preferred transshipment hub in the region, focusing on the development of its maritime and logistics infrastructure.  This is in keeping with the rich maritime heritage of the Kingdom and with the long-term Bahrain Economic Vision 2030, which, among other things, envisions the creation of a world-class infrastructure that effectively links Bahrain to the global economy.”

“Bahrain is the proud signatory on a number of IMO conventions, and adheres strictly to the IMO standards and best practices that have been adopted, and have included several provisions in our new and modern Maritime Code, which is now in advanced stages of the legislative process. We view this as part of our responsibility to the international maritime committee, and believe that it has played a significant role in establishing the Kingdom of Bahrain as a maritime leader both in the region and abroad.”

“The new Bahrain Maritime Code will include effective and more stringent measures to combat the rising perils at sea, including piracy and all threats to marine life.  As an active member of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), Bahrain co-ordinates its efforts with its fellow GCC countries and other neighbors in all matters relating to navigational safety, regional security and protection of the environment,” he added.

Shaikh Daij went on to applaud the significant role played by the IMO since its inception, from safeguarding the interests of the global shipping industry and the welfare of the seafarers, to providing governments with assistance in modernizing their national maritime codes.   He added that Bahrain has always endeavored to support the IMO in all of its initiatives to raise global safety and environmental standards.

Shaikh Daij highlighted some of Bahrain’s accomplishments in improving its maritime practices in line with IMO practices.  These accomplishments include becoming the first country in the entire Middle East to implement Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT), advocating the integration of the GCC systems into a Co-operative Data Centre (CDC) and participating in the Voluntary IMO Member States Audit Scheme (VIMSAS).  Bahrain has also welcomed the latest amendments to the Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping (STCW) Convention, and Shaikh Daij reaffirmed the GOP’s commitment to do everything within its means to stop fraudulent use of certificates and promote the high standards of training and certification. 

Demonstrating this commitment, the GOP recently launched the Maritime Education Fund to provide scholarships to local nationals interested in pursuing higher education degrees and certifications in maritime-related fields including sea-going training.

In appreciation of the IMO’s various initiatives and measures in combating the increasing menace of piracy, Shaikh Daij also told the attendees of the range of activities that Bahrain had organised to commemorate World Maritime Day in September of this year.  “One of the maritime-themed activities we held was an industry  seminar entitled: ‘Addressing Piracy’, which highlighted the fact that piracy is not a problem just for the governments and the shipping industry, it is a threat that affects every household as piracy leads to massive increases in marine insurance premiums, which are naturally passed on to the consumers by the shipping industry in the form of the increased cost of goods.

“Continued and increased public awareness and well co-ordinated international action led by the United Nations will help wipe out this menace.   Bahrain will continue to cooperate fully with the IMO and will wholly support all international efforts in the fight against piracy for the good of the international maritime industry and the many mariners who sacrifice so much regularly.”  

Shaikh Daij went on to request that the IMO concentrate efforts on compliance and consolidation rather than on creating new roles, and suggested that, if possible, the IMO should dedicate 2012 or 2013 to consolidation and compliance of IMO instruments.

On behalf of the Government of Bahrain, Shaikh Daij paid tribute to Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, the current Secretary General of IMO, for his excellent service to the member states and the maritime community at large, and wished him continued success in the future.  He added that Bahrain looks forward to working with the new Secretary General, the new IMO Council and all IMO member states, forming an effective team to take the organisation forward and continue to achieve incredible results and bolster the global maritime heritage to new heights.

Two senior officials from the GOP, Mr. Essa Yateem, Assistant Director General for Maritime Affairs, and Mr. Bader Al Mahmood, Head of Port Operations, accompanied Shaikh Daij on the delegation.

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2334Berlin, 22 November 2011:  The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) launched a new International Placement Programme (IPP) for young Bahraini graduates and professionals this week during its business development roadshow to France and Germany.  The new programme, to be overseen by Tamkeen, will provide young Bahrainis with the opportunity to become immersed in a new language and culture while providing practical, long-term work experience in one of Bahrain’s key trading partners.

The IPP seeks to create a cluster of young Bahraini professionals with international experience working in the home markets of key international companies worldwide including French and German companies.   During the first five months of the programme, the candidates will learn the local language before taking on a work placement with one of the corporate partners to this initiative.   The objective of the programme will be for candidates to gain the necessary expertise and skills to take on challenging positions within the companies’ Bahrain operations on their return to the Kingdom.

Speaking at Gala dinners in Paris and Berlin where the IPP was launched, Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa al-Khalifa, EDB Chief Executive said:  “Bahrain prides itself on the investment already undertaken in education and skills training.  Already, we are recognised for the highly skilled workforce we offer to international companies looking to base operations in the GCC.  However, improvements can still be made.  The IPP will provide a fast track for talented Bahrainis and enable our international business partners based in Bahrain to draw on an ever wider talent pool.”

Tamkeen CEO, Mahmood Al Kooheji said:  “The IPP provides opportunities to young Bahrainis to gain international work experience, skills and professional knowledge which they can use to great effect on their return to Bahrain.  It will enable them to gain a cross-cultural understanding on business demands and help develop a global perspective ever necessary in the competitive and interdependent international marketplace.  Tamkeen will provide funds and oversee this programme in conjunction with local educational establishments and international private sector partners.”

To date GSE, Groupe-6, Unanime and Technal of France, and Hochtief, RMA and BASF of Germany have all signed up to the programme.  Further companies are due to confirm over the coming days.  Placements are expected to incorporate a range of professional disciplines, including banking, finance, accounting, ICT, architecture and engineering.

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Kingdom of Bahrain’s Ministry of Works Deploys Infor EAM

Kingdom of Bahrain’s Ministry of Works Deploys Infor EAM

2322Manama, Bahrain, –  Infor, a leading provider of business application software serving more than 70,000 customers, today announced the  implementation of its Enterprise Asset Management System (EAM) at the Bahrain Ministry of Works. Infor EAM, which is being deployed over 16 months by Infor channel partner Intertec Systems in association with United Technology, helps establish efficient use of long lived public infrastructure assets within the Kingdom of Bahrain whilst optimizing service delivery and minimizing costs. 

News Points

•Infor EAM will help provide a complete asset registry by integrating all of the information relating to sanitation engineering, roads and building assets that are constructed, operated and maintained by the Ministry of Works. The solution will manage the Ministry’s public infrastructure assets through its entire life cycle – from design to retirement.
•Infor EAM will help keep the Ministry of Works’ engineering departments, equipment, and facilities available, reliable, and safe; meet the Ministry’s compliance and service goals; cut inventory levels, purchasing costs and energy use, and improve staff productivity. 
•Core to the success of the project is the integration of data between the best-of-breed technologies used by the Ministry. The integration work involves using web services between the four key business software applications: Infor EAM, Rolta OnPoint (GIS), IBM’s Enterprise Document Management System (EDMS) and Oracle’s Enterprise Project Management Information System (PMIS).
•Implementation to include secure single sign on, and the effective use of mobile and handheld devices for remote maintenance management in order to maximize productivity of staff.
Ministry of Works Quote:

“The Ministry requires a wealth of information to ensure successful running of all the sanitary, road and building management assets in the Kingdom necessary to serve some 800,000 people. The integrated solution is a complete infrastructure asset management system with GIS, providing us with greater capabilities and flexibility across our departments,” said Hisham Yousif Sater, Director, Information Technology (ITD), Ministry of Works, Bahrain. “We can locate and personalize reporting of KPIs to include content from systems throughout the Ministry. Ultimately we have a complete financial, engineering and operational view of our operations across all our departments where before only information silos existed.”

What Infor says

“Infor EAM will help The Ministry of Works to manage its capital assets, predict reliability problems, prevent them and plan alternatives,” said Paul Hammond, General Manager, Infor in the Middle East. “Being a large government entity, the Ministry of Works requires proper allocation of its assets to help prevent hidden surprises within its operations. The Ministry will be able to monitor and manage the use and performance of its assets to gain better insight and control of them.”

Additional Resources

•Infor EAM   -
•Ministry of Works Bahrain  -
•Intertec -

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Al Baraka Banking Group Joins BFX’s Bait Al Bursa Segment

Al Baraka Banking Group Joins BFX’s Bait Al Bursa Segment

2286Manama, Bahrain – : The Bahrain Financial Exchange (BFX), the first multi-asset exchange in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, is pleased to announce that Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG), a well-known leading international Islamic financial group, has become a registered user of Bait Al Bursa, the Islamic finance division of the BFX.

The BFX Bait Al Bursa’s offerings come at an appropriate time where the Islamic market is eager for new pioneering and innovative products. e-Tayseer, Bait Al Bursa’s Murabaha liquidity management platform, is designed to make Al Baraka Banking Group scheduling and execution of their Murabaha transactions more streamlined and afford its users the benefit of reduced trade life-cycle and manual paperwork procedures resulting in savings of time and cost in executing the transactions. Additionally, it also offers a secure online environment with identifiable Shariah-compliant underlying assets located in the GCC region.

Mr. Adnan Ahmed Yousif, President & Chief Executive & Member of the Board of Directors of ABG stated: “We are very pleased with our decision to become a registered user of Bait Al Bursa. Our group will benefit greatly from the advantages of its first product e-Tayseer which we trust will further strengthen our Murabaha dealings efficiencies and we wish the BFX as a whole all the best in delivering their future plans.” He added: “Innovative and pioneering initiatives like e-Tayseer will add-up to the efforts of the Islamic finance industry to achieve higher levels of excellence and sophistication.”

Mr Abdul Rahman Al Baker, Executive Director - Financial Institutions Supervision at CBB said: “We are delighted with the partnership between the Bahrain Financial Exchange and the Al Baraka Banking Group which we believe will benefit and improve the current method of conducting the Murabaha transactions by the Al Baraka Banking Group. Such innovative contributions by the BFX and the ABG will result in the further development of the Islamic Finance industry. The Central Bank of Bahrain supports such initiatives as they help in achieving greater transparency and improved efficiency in the liquidity management process between the Islamic financial institutions.”

Mr. Arshad Khan, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the BFX and the BFX Clearing and Depository Corporation (BCDC), said: “We welcome Al Baraka Banking Group and we take pride in partnering with such a reputed and leading Islamic financial institution. The participation of ABG on the e-Tayseer platform is a significant accomplishment for the BFX. We believe that both the ABG and the BFX share similar business principles and we look forward to working closely in the future.”

e-Tayseer, the first of its kind in the MENA region, is a fully automated platform for transactions in the supply, purchase and sale of assets for facilitating Murabaha transactions. e-Tayseer allows suppliers to place their assets onto the platform ready to be purchased by financial institutions. Financial institutions can then purchase these assets and conduct Murabaha transactions with counterparties to fulfil their liquidity management requirements in a secure online environment. e-Tayseer offers various Shariah-compliant assets located in the MENA region as well as globally, where all processes are automated end to end.

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