Egypt outlines broad plan to sell state assets

Egypt outlines broad plan to sell state assets

15 May    Finance News

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CAIRO — Egypt outlined on Sunday a wide array of state assets that it will offer to private investors, part of a government plan to fully withdraw from certain sectors of the economy as it seeks to attract $40 billion in investment over the next four years.

Egyptian Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said he wanted private investment to rise to 65% of the country’s total within three years, up from around 30% at present.

“We will offer projects to the private sector in electric vehicles, data centers, networks for oil and gas and expansion of gas liquefaction plants, communication towers, and wind power,” Madbouly said at a news conference.

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It will also eventually open up renewable energy projects, desalination plants, education and banking assets to private investment.

The government has been talking about selling state assets for years, announcing in 2018 that it would offer minority stakes in 23 state-owned companies. The program has been repeatedly delayed due to weak markets, legal hurdles and the readiness of the companies’ financial documentation.

It faces a rising budget deficit, increased borrowing costs and a depreciating currency, all compounded by a higher wheat import bill and declining tourism revenue following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The government will publish a document by the end of the month outlining the sectors from which it would withdraw completely or partially or where it would remain as owners, Madbouly said. It would leave some sectors within three years.

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President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last month ordered the government to draw up a program to attract $10 billion in “private participation” over each of the next four years.

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Madbouly said the government had already identified $9 billion in assets that would be monetised and another $15 billion that it would quickly begin preparing to offer.

“Those combined are more than the target for the first two years,” he said. Among the assets that would be sold on the stock exchange by the end of 2022 were shares in 10 state companies and two military companies.

Egypt’s seven biggest ports will be put under the umbrella of one company and a number of its most prominent hotels merged into another, with shares in both to be sold on the stock market to “widen their ownership and the governance of their management.”

Also up for partial sale or private management contracts are transport projects the government is now implementing, including a monorail system, a high-speed and an electric train.

Madbouly also told reporters the government aimed to decrease total debt to 75% of gross domestic product in the next four years from 86% currently, and its budget deficit to 5% from 6.2%. ($1 = 18.2800 Egyptian pounds)

(Reporting by Momen Saeed Atallah, Yasmin Hussein and Moataz Mohammed; Writing by Patrick Werr Editing by Gareth Jones, Peter Graff and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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