Egypt's Orascom TMT lends Beltone 1 bln pounds to acquire CI Capital

Reuters , Tuesday 8 Mar 2016

Naguib Sawiris
Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris (Reuters)

Egypt's Orascom Telecom Media and Technology has enough cash to lend 1 billion Egyptian pounds ($128 million) to its subsidiary Beltone Financial to buy local investment bank CI Capital Holding, its chairman said in an interview with CNBC Arabia due to be aired later on Monday.

OTMT, which has interests in media, technology and cable businesses as well as energy, transport and logistics, is expanding into financial services and plans to merge Beltone Financial, which it bought for almost 650 million pounds, with CI Capital.

"We have the liquidity," said Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris when asked if OTMT could afford to make the loan to Beltone Financial.

Last month OTMT had said Beltone Financial would buy CI Capital, a subsidiary of Egypt's largest listed bank Commercial International Bank (CIB), while CIB said it had accepted an offer from Orascom Telecom to buy CI Capital for 924 million pounds.

Sawiris is also looking at potential investments in transportation and infrastructure. "We have an opportunity coming up soon in that sector," he said in the interview.

The food and agriculture industries also present opportunities, he said.

"We are considering acquiring a sugar factory or two that are in a bad situation. They have a large inventory and don't know how to get rid of it. This situation has been going on for five or six years," he said.

Egypt's economy has been struggling since the popular uprising in 2011, since when foreign investors and tourists have deserted the country, leading to a plunge in the country's foreign currency reserves, from $36 billion in 2011 to around $16.5 billion in February.

But the government has been resisting a devaluation of the pound, even though the black market rate for the dollar has worsened in recent weeks, hovering around 9.50 pounds last week, compared with the official rate of 7.7301 pounds.

Sawiris said that the fixed rate was contributing to the financial crisis.

"When the market says that the dollar is around 9 pounds then that is how much it is worth ... You will not get foreign reserves as long as you wait and keep it fixed at an imaginary price," he said. 

*This story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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