Egypt’s Beltone to sell stake in brokerage Auerbach in 2020

Staff at Beltone Financial’s HQ office in Cairo, Egypt. (Reuters)
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Updated 13 January 2020

Egypt’s Beltone to sell stake in brokerage Auerbach in 2020

  • Beltone believes a sale will help it return to profitability this year after losses since it bought the Auerbach stake in 2016
  • The company, which has branches in Europe, United States and the Middle East, aims to become Egypt’s second biggest brokerage this year

CAIRO: Egyptian investment bank Beltone Financial Holding plans to sell its 60% stake in New York-based brokerage Auerbach Grayson & Company to help stem losses, the bank’s chief executive said on Monday.
Beltone, controlled by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, believes a sale will help it return to profitability this year after losses since it bought the Auerbach stake in 2016, Ibrahim Karam told Reuters.
“Although it (Auerbach) helps us with a presence in more than 120 markets, the losses that come from it are big. We have a plan to deal with it that will be finalized before March,” Karam said in an interview in his office overlooking the Nile.
The board of directors had authorized him to negotiate the sale, he added.
Beltone reported losses of 14.3 million Egyptian pounds ($900,000) in 2017, 82.4 million pounds in 2018 and 66.5 million pounds in the first nine months of 2019.
The company also plans in 2020 to enter Gulf and African countries, expand its non-banking financial activities and manage the initial public offering of a big private company on Egypt’s stock exchange, Karam said.
Sawiris bought Beltone Financial in November 2015 for about 650 million pounds. It now has 13 subsidies specializing in investment, asset management and securities.
“We will enter the markets of UAE and Saudi Arabia within 2020. We will have a different model in Saudi Arabia to avoid the mistakes of others,” he said, without elaborating.
“We aim for non-banking financial activities to represent 30-40% of the company’s revenues within the three years until 2023,” he added.
Beltone received approval from the Egyptian regulator to launch new non-banking financial activities in 2020, including financial leasing, mortgage financing and consumer financing. It later plans to begin other activities such as micro-finance, insurance and factoring.
The company, which has branches in Europe, United States and the Middle East, aims to become Egypt’s second biggest brokerage this year, Karam said.
Beltone in 2019 was fourth among Egypt’s 131 brokers by value of trades, according to the Egyptian stock exchange. It had a market share of nearly 5%, Karam said.


Big oil feels the heat on climate as industry leader promises: ‘We will be different’

Updated 22 January 2020

Big oil feels the heat on climate as industry leader promises: ‘We will be different’

  • Trump singles out ‘prophets of doom’ for attack
  • Greenpeace told the Davos gathering that the world’s largest banks, funds and insurance companies had invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal

LONDON: Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg slammed inaction over climate change as the global oil industry found itself under intense scrutiny on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The teenage campaigner went head to head with US President Donald Trump, who dismissed climate “prophets of doom” in his speech.
She in turn shrugged off the US president’s pledge to join the economic forum’s initiative to plant 1 trillion trees to help capture carbon dioxide.
“Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough,” Thunberg said. “It cannot replace mitigation. We need to start listening to the science and treat this crisis with the importance it deserves,” the 17-year-old said.
The 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum was dominated by the global threat posed by climate change and the carbon economy.
The environmental focus of Davos 2020 caps a year when carbon emissions from fossil fuels hit a record high, and the devastating effects of bushfires in Australia and other climate disasters dominated the news.
Oil company executives from the Gulf and elsewhere are in the spotlight at this year’s Davos meeting as they come under increased pressure to demonstrate how they are reducing their carbon footprint.
“We are not only fighting for our industry’s life but fighting for people to understand the things that we are doing,” said Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental, the US-based oil giant with extensive oil operations in the Gulf. “As an industry when we could be different — we will be different.”

‘Planting trees is good, but nowhere near enough,’ activist Greta Thunberg told Davos. (Shutterstock)

She said the company was getting close to being able to sequester significant volumes of CO2 in the US Permian Basin, the heartland of the American shale oil industry which is increasingly in competition with the conventional oil producers of the Arabian Gulf.
“The Permian Basin has the capacity to store 150 gigatons of CO2. That would be 28 years of emissions in the US. That’s the prize for us and that’s the opportunity. People say if you’re sequestering in an oil reservoir then you are producing more oil, but the reality is that it takes more CO2 to inject into a reservoir than the barrel of oil that it makes come out,” Hollub said.
The challenge Occidental and other oil companies face is to make investors understand what is happening in this area of carbon sequesteration, she added.
The investment community at Davos is also looking hard at the oil industry in the face of mounting investor concerns.
Greenpeace told the Davos gathering that the world’s largest banks, funds and insurance companies had invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal. It accused some of these groups of failing to live up to the World Economic Forum goal of “improving the state of the world.”