Egypt Clinches Biggest Deal Ever With UAE Investing $35 Billion

Egypt Clinches Biggest Deal Ever With UAE Investing $35 Billion

The United Arab Emirates and Egypt agreed on a deal to develop premium land on the North African nation’s Mediterranean coast, with Abu Dhabi wealth fund ADQ saying it will lead a consortium that plans to invest $35 billion.

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(Bloomberg) — The United Arab Emirates and Egypt agreed on a deal to develop premium land on the North African nation’s Mediterranean coast, with Abu Dhabi wealth fund ADQ saying it will lead a consortium that plans to invest $35 billion.

Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly described the plan to develop Ras El-Hekma, an area about 350 kilometers (217 miles) northwest of Cairo, as the biggest deal in his country’s history. ADQ said it expects to attract over $150 billion in investments for the project.

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Speaking on Friday, Madbouly said Egypt is set to get $24 billion in fresh liquidity as a result of the pact. The UAE will also convert its $11 billion of deposits held with the Egyptian central bank to fund the venture, he said. 

The agreement leaves Egypt “very very few steps” away from reaching a new deal with the International Monetary Fund, Madbouly said at the event in the new administrative capital east of Cairo. 

Egypt’s foreign bonds surged on the news to become the best-performing sovereign debt in emerging markets on Friday. The government’s dollar notes due in 2051 soared 4.5 cents on the dollar, a record jump.

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The financing is a boost for Cairo’s efforts to tackle its worst foreign-exchange crisis in decades and may help it in enacting a much-anticipated currency devaluation that would be Egypt’s fourth since early 2022. 

Although the IMF has been urging the step for months, authorities were likely waiting for a substantial influx of foreign currency that would allow them to manage an adjustment without running the risk of overshoot.

Read More: Egypt Talks on IMF-Led Deal Go On With $10 Billion on Table

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Egypt is set to receive 35% of profit from the Ras El-Hekma project, with the Gulf state also agreeing to a joint venture that plans to build an international airport in the area.

The project will include a financial and business district to draw international companies, as well as schools, hospitals, universities, and a large city for yachts and cruise ships, according to the prime minister. Egypt expects to attract 8 million additional tourists after completing the city, he said.

“This deal will be the beginning of correcting the course of the Egyptian economy,” Madbouly said, also calling it “a message of confidence” from the UAE.

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More funding may be on the way for Egypt. It’s also nearing an agreement with the IMF on a deal that could bring in other partners and increase its current $3 billion rescue package, little of which has been distributed, to more than $10 billion.

The IMF delayed two reviews of Egypt’s existing program as it waited for the country to make good on pledges that included enacting a truly flexible exchange rate.

The pact will deepen ties between Egypt and the UAE, of which Abu Dhabi is the capital. The energy-rich Gulf country is a key backer of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, pledging support via investments and other assistance for an Egyptian economy mired in almost two years of crisis.

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“The magnitude of the investment is far greater than what we had been expecting, and the timing far sooner,” said Farouk Soussa, an economist  at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. It “provides an opportunity for Egypt to restore two-way liquidity in the FX market in the coming days and weeks.”

The UAE’s latest wave of financing began in 2022 with a $5 billion deposit in Egypt’s central bank and ADQ paying about $2 billion in deals that included buying about 18% of the African nation’s largest listed lender, Commercial International Bank.

Last year, ADQ spent $800 million on minority stakes in Egyptian Ethylene and Derivatives Co., oil firm Egyptian Drilling Co. and Egyptian Linear Alkyl Benzene, a petrochemicals producer. 

A UAE company bought a 30% stake in Egypt’s largest tobacco company for $625 million, while Egypt and the Gulf country in September signed a local-currency swap agreement worth around $1.4 billion.

—With assistance from Kerim Karakaya.

(Updates with market reaction, deal details starting in fourth paragraph.)

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