With government privatization of the nationalized industrial sector well under way, the 1980s–90s were a period of considerable investment activity in Benin. In the financial sector, Rasmal Finance, a Swiss banking interest backed by American Express and Citicorp; Ecobank, based in Togo and correspondent for the Midland Bank; the Bank of Africa, a Malian financial interest; and the Banque Internationale de Bénin, a Nigerian consortium, have operated in Benin since 1989.
Rothmans-UK invested in the formerly state-run cigarette factory. An American private investor has entered the steel industry, manufacturing reinforcing bars and roofing materials. While current oil reserves are negligible, investments in further exploration possibilities offshore have been considerable. Formerly state-owned cement, auto parts, and stationery supply operations have also been privatized. La Beninoise (brewery) brought US $13.7 million; Sotraz (public transportation), brought US $73,752. In terms of legislation, Benin adopted an investment code in 1990 designed to attract private sector investment. The Beninese government requires that nationals partly own privatized companies.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Benin has been steadily increasing since 1997, rising from $26 million in 1997 to $131.2 million in 2001.
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