Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court has annulled the 2006 sale of state-owned department store Omar Effendi to Saudi Arabia's Anwal United Trading Company.
The court rejected appeals submitted by Anwal head Gamil Al-Kanbit, along with National Bank of Egypt and Audi Bank, against a 2011 ruling by the State Council’s Administrative Court which annulled the Saudi businessman's purchase of 90 percent of the iconic Egyptian chain and restored it to public ownership.
The sale of the struggling public sector company for the controversial price of LE589.5 million, was invalidated on grounds that it had violated Egyptian law as it was done through direct order rather than a public auction, a judicial source told Ahram Online.
The ruling was also based on Al-Kanbit's laying off of thousands of Omar Effendi employees following his acquisition of it, which violated the terms of the sale's contract.
The verdict should help restore to public ownership the iconic chain, which was established in 1856, and is still plagued by large debts.
Since the January 2011 revolution which toppled the three-decade old regime of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian courts have issued over 11 rulings invalidating privatisation deals made under the ousted regime, with dozens of other lawsuits still in the courts, according to activist lawyers who maintain the deals were corrupt.