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Egypt to delay sale of state company shares until Sept

May 8, 2022 at 1:37 pm

A man counts Egyptian pounds at currency exchange shop in downtown Cairo. [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]

Egypt will delay the planned offering of shares on the stock exchange of a number of state companies until after the summer vacation, Public Enterprise Minister Hisham Tawfik told Reuters on Saturday.

The government had planned to offer shares in four to six companies in the fiscal year ending next month, but the minister said the sales would now begin in September, without giving details.

Egypt has been searching for foreign exchange since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted investors to pull billions of dollars out of its treasury markets, leading the central bank to devalue the currency by 14% on March 21.

It has been negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for more than a month for a financial support package.

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Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said on Saturday the government was working on ways to attract more investment, including “participation by the private sector in state-owned assets”.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last month ordered the government to draw up a programme to attract $40 billion in private participation over the next four years.

This would include listing army-owned enterprises on the exchange by year-end and the sale of stakes in some state-owned companies.

The government announced in 2020 it was offering two military companies, Wataniya Petroleum and bottled water maker Safi, for sale, but neither transaction has yet been completed.

Abu Dhabi’s state holding company ADQ last month bought shares worth $1.85 billion in five publicly traded Egyptian companies.

They included stakes in Commercial International BankCOMI.CA, electronic payments company Fawry FWRY.CA, Alexandria Container & Cargo Handling Co ALCN.CA, Misr Fertilisers Production Co (MOPCO) and Abu Qir Fertilisers and Chemical Industries ABUK.CA.

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Planning minister Hala al-Said said in January Egypt aimed to sell stakes in state companies every month or two after an initial public offering (IPO) of state payments firm e-Finance for Digital and Financial Investments in October showed strong appetite from institutional investors.

The government late last year sold a controlling stake in Arab Investment Bank to Egypt’s EFG Hermes HRHO.CAin November and shares in Abu Qir.

The government said in 2018 it would offer minority stakes in 23 state companies in a plan to raise up to 80 billion Egyptian pounds ($4.33 billion), but the programme has been repeatedly delayed due to weak markets, legal hurdles and the readiness of each company’s financial documentation, according to government officials.