Egypt sees surge in share offerings, testing market

Central Bank of Egypt's headquarter is seen in downtown Cairo, Egypt September 18, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 18 September 2018
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Egypt sees surge in share offerings, testing market

  • Public share sales first in more than a decade
  • International volatility could deter investors

CAIRO: A surge of new shares offerings over the next few months will test whether Egypt can withstand emerging market contagion after currency crises that rattled Turkey and Argentina last month.
The government hopes offerings in five state-controlled firms already trading on the stock exchange will help trim its budget deficit.
Five private companies planning initial public offerings (IPOs) by the end of the year which could spur investment and private-sector growth, which has been moribund since Egypt’s 2011 uprising. A sixth private company plans a rights issue.
Economists say international participation would help appetite among local investors but international market volatility may be chasing them away.
“A realistic good scenario is that you stick to your timeline and you’re able to sell your entire pipeline of offerings at very compelling valuations,” said Wael Ziada, head of investment company Zilla Capital.
“A bad scenario is that if there is a deep, deep crisis in emerging markets, you may have to pull some of these offerings,” said Ziada, former head of research at EFG Hermes, Egypt’s biggest investment bank.
The Japanese brokerage Nomura this month listed Egypt as one of seven emerging market countries, including Turkey and Argentina, at risk of foreign exchange rate crises.
An economist at an Egyptian investment company said the government’s sudden push to sell shares after a hiatus of more than a decade was stretching the ability of banks managing the offerings and the appetites of investors.
“You have to do the research, test the market, do the marketing and do a road show,” said the economist, who declined to named. “The government should be staggering the offerings.”
Egypt is working on selling shares in at least 23 state-owned companies over the next few years. Analysts say much of the state sector has been suffering heavy losses and companies need major management overhauls and modernization.
The government on Monday it said it would offer five of these in the coming three months. It will start in October with a 4.5 percent stake in cigarette maker Eastern Company and a 20 percent stake in Alexandria Mineral Oils Company (AMOC).

TEN BILLION TARGET
The government is hoping the sales will help it reduce its budget deficit to 8.4 percent of GDP in the year to June 2019 from 9.8 percent last year.
Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said last week the government had budgeted 10 billion Egyptian pounds ($560 million) in revenue from share sales between now and June 30, when the current fiscal year ends.
“However, if we can get more we will be happy,” he said.
At the same time, private companies are hoping to benefit from an improved macroeconomic climate after IMF-backed reforms and an increase in tourism revenues and natural gas production.
Mohamed Elakhdar, Beltone Investment Banking’s managing director, estimated that the private offerings would reap more than 10 billion Egyptian pounds — a similar figure to expected revenue from state company sales, but over just three months.
Beltone is managing the IPOs of leasing company Sarwa Capital and textiles company Giza Spinning and Weaving and a rights issue for a third company
“Appetite, yes. There is, I believe,” said Hany Farahat, senior economist at Egyptian investment bank CI Capital.
“The key challenge is related to the process, how these transactions have to be structured and marketed to investors. This is what could make them a big success or failure.”
Another round of IPOs — both private and government — is expected in the first six months of 2019.
“We’re on a road show right now. The demand we’re seeing has been fairly healthy,” said Beltone’s Elakhdar told Reuters. “People are viewing Egypt differently than the rest of emerging markets.” ($1 = 17.8600 Egyptian pounds)


US Energy Secretary discussed Iran sanctions with Iraqi officials

Updated 11 December 2018
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US Energy Secretary discussed Iran sanctions with Iraqi officials

  • Perry spoke at a Baghdad hotel where he was attending a US chamber of commerce event alongside Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban
  • The United States has restored sanctions targeting Iran’s oil industry as well as its banking and transport industry

BAGHDAD: US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Tuesday he had discussed his country’s sanctions against Iran with Iraqi energy officials and signalled an intention to step up US private sector investment in Iraq.
Perry spoke at a Baghdad hotel where he was attending a US chamber of commerce event alongside Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban.
The United States has restored sanctions targeting Iran’s oil industry as well as its banking and transport industry.
Baghdad, an ally of both Washington and Tehran, is seeking US approval to allow it to import Iranian gas for its power stations.
Iraqi officials say they need more time to find an alternative source than a 45-day waiver granted to it by the United States.
“Sanctions were mentioned in meetings this morning,” Perry said without providing details.
He added that his attendance was sending a strong message of US commitment to Iraq’s economy and energy sector and that he recognized the challenges faced by Iraq’s government when it comes to rebuilding oil infrastructure destroyed during the war against Daesh militants.
“This is a different administration that will move with speed to develop an energy sector that best serves the citizens of Iraq,” Perry said of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s new government.