Business History


Personal Background

Roger Tamraz is an international banker and venture capital investor who has had an active international business career since the early 1960s.

Mr. Tamraz was born in Cairo, Egypt to Lebanese parents, and grew up speaking fluent English, French and Arabic.

His early schooling was at the prestigious English School in Cairo. He subsequently attended the American University in Cairo, a PhD program at Cambridge University, and the Institut Européen d’Administration (INSEAD) in Fontainebleau, France. He concluded his education by earning an MBA degree from Harvard Business School in 1966. His classmates at Harvard included many future leaders in Western and International governments and businesses.

Private equity investor who specializes in banking reorganization and restructuring:

– Take over, running and re-build of the largest bank in Lebanon, Intra Bank, which had gone bankrupt. Became the Chairman & the Chief Executive Officer of the surviving entity, Intra Investment Company, one of the major sovereign wealth investment companies in the Middle East, and ran it very successfully for a number of years.

– Former CEO of an allied major Lebanese commercial bank, Credit Libanais, which he developed to total assets of $10 billion.

– Acquisition of Bank of the Commonwealth, Detroit, Michigan, a bank with $1.25 billion in assets and 50 branches throughout Michigan, the weakest of that state’s major banks. As such, it was a problem for all of the major United States regulatory agencies, which included the Federal Reserve System (FED), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the State of Michigan banking regulators. Held the position of majority shareholder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, worked closely with all three regulators over a number of years to solve the bank’s problems, and it was eventually given a 100% clean bill of health. At that point, with the regulators’ agreement and encouragement, merged into Comerica Corporation, a large nationwide bank holding company, number 36 in size nationally, with $71.7 billion in assets and a net worth of $7.7 billion.

– Became Comerica’s largest single individual shareholder following this transaction.

– Former partner with Société Générale in Frab Bank and former founding partner of Bank of America in Egypt.

Mr. Tamraz served for many years as a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University in Cairo, where he endowed a number of named scholarships for Egyptian students of exceptional promise. Mr. Tamraz was nominated as Governor of the Central Bank in 1988.

Played a key role in negotiations for the withdrawal of occupying foreign forces during the 1980s.

He is also active in other private investment and charitable giving.

Business History

Downstream – Tamoil Corporation and related Affiliates:

Netoil founded and built Europe’s Tamoil Corporation by purchasing and combining all of the Italian assets of Amoco (Standard Oil Company of Indiana) and of Texaco Corporation (1,000 service stations each), starting in the 1980s. With 100% ownership, Netoil expanded the company to 3,000 service stations, three refineries, an extensive pipeline distribution system and a refining capacity of 255,000 barrels of oil per day. Tamoil today has annual sales of $20 billion and a market capitalization of $6.3 billion. The company operates in Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.

Transportation – Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (TBC) Pipeline / Upstream – Turkmenistan Oil and Gas Properties:

Considered as “one of the great engineering endeavours”

In the early 1990s, after the Soviet Union loosened its grip on Central Asia, Netoil – through one of its companies: Oil Capital Ltd. (OCL) Inc. – was the originator of the 1,100-mile Baku-Ceyhan pipeline project, which now moves one million barrels per day of Caspian Sea crude oil to the Mediterranean Sea and thus to world markets. Netoil negotiated and signed the original pipeline right-of-way transit agreement with the Government of Turkey. This agreement was essential to the success of the project, which was eventually completed by BP after its purchase of Amoco, with which Netoil had been cooperating in the Central Asian area. During this period, Netoil also acquired development rights and equity ownership positions in Turkmenistan’s Blocks I (offshore) and III (onshore) two of that country’s major oil and gas producing properties. (Block I was later farmed out to Malaysia’s Petronas.) These fields have reserves of 13 trillion cubic feet of gas and 700 million barrels of oil, with 1,400 working wells, and currently produce two billion cubic feet per day of natural gas.

Meurice Hotel Group, Paris, France

In the early 1980s, Netoil became 100% owner of the Meurice Hotel Group in Paris, which owned the Meurice, Prince de Galles and Grand Hotels, as well as the famed Café de la Paix. At the time, the 1,000 rooms of these three hotels comprised 25% of all the luxury hotel rooms in Paris. The properties were sold to Grand Metropolitan Hotel Corporation of London in the mid-1980s.

Intra Investment Company

Intra Investment Company, one of the major sovereign wealth investment companies in the Middle East, was created by Netoil. Mr. Tamraz served for years as its chairman and chief executive officer. The major shareholders of the company are the governments of Kuwait and Qatar.

Bank of the Commonwealth

In 1976, Netoil moved into United States financial markets with its acquisition of Bank of the Commonwealth, a billion-dollar Michigan-based bank with 50 branches. Mr. Tamraz was the Chairman. Netoil strengthened and expanded the bank until 1983, when it was merged into the founding of Comerica, Inc., now one of the largest super-regional U.S. bank holding companies. The merger made Netoil the largest single shareholder in Comerica, which currently has assets of $64 billion and a market capitalization of $5.6 billion.

Middle East Airlines

MEA is Lebanon’s national flag carrier, and has been flying since the 1950s. Mr. Tamraz was the Vice-Chairman of the airline for a number of years, with special responsibility for its finances, banking relationships and aircraft purchases.

Transportation – Suez-Mediterranean (SUMED) Pipeline in Egypt:

Considered as “one of the world’s greatest engineering feats”

In the 1970s, Netoil conceived, financed and built the well-known 200-mile long Suez – Mediterranean (SUMED) Pipeline in Egypt, a pipeline designed to run parallel to the blocked Suez Canal, which had been closed since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Using Bechtel Corporation as prime contractor, the pipeline, comprised of two parallel 42-inch lines, was opened in 1978 with a capacity of 1.6 million barrels per day. Completion of an additional pumping station in 1994 increased capacity to its current 2.5 million barrels per day.

Saudi Arabian Methanol Project

Netoil conceived and financed the Itochu-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries chemical methanol plant project, the largest in the world, in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, during the 1973 oil crisis. It continued subsequently for many years as strategic consultants to Itochu senior management, especially on Middle East energy operations. The methanol project included a five-year, 100 million barrel preferential crude oil supply contract for Japan that was signed with the Saudi government during the 1973 oil crisis.

Chantiers Navals de la Ciotat (CNC)

Netoil acquired ownership of CNC, the second-largest shipyard in France, in the early 1970s. This company was one of the early pioneers in the construction of LNG vessels for oceangoing natural gas transport, and also specialized in submarines, patrol boats and other military platforms. In addition, the yard constructed very large crude carriers (VLCC5) and conventional bulk cargo vessels for the civilian maritime industry.


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