Foreign Investors eyeing Egypt despite political uncertainty

Reuters, Wednesday 12 Jan 2011

With analysts expecting domestic demand as well as economic growth to hike, foreign investors are likely to eye Egypt in 2011

Investors are likely to pour more funds into Egypt in 2011 as a strengthening economy and attractive yields outweigh a fragile social backdrop and uncertainty ahead of a presidential election.

Egypt's main stock index rose 20 percent in the past six months even as soaring food prices hit the poor, sectarian tension grew and the country held parliamentary elections marred by accusations of fraud and bullying.
A church bombing in the northern city of Alexandria killed 23 people at New Year and sparked angry protests by Egyptian Christians demanding more protection from Islamist extremists.
Egypt's benchmark index wavered in the days after the attack before rallying to an eight-month high on Jan. 5.
Explaining that strength, analysts point to accelerating economic growth and a broader shift to emerging market risk prompted by quantitative easing in the United States and lingering uncertainty over economic recovery in developed nations.
That also seems to override uncertainty over whether President Hosni Mubarak, 82, will run for a sixth term in office in September. He has no deputy or obvious successor.
"We do not believe that either the run-up to the presidential elections or any overhang from the parliamentary elections will impact economic policy -- focusing on supporting growth," said EFG-Hermes in a research report.
The investment bank gave Egypt an "overweight" rating, saying domestic demand should continue to strengthen this year due to faster credit growth and rising investment.
Election rules and the opposition's weakness make it virtually impossible for anyone but the ruling National Democratic Party's (NDP) candidate to win in September.
Mubarak has not said if he will run for another term that would take him to 89, but ruling party officials say he is their natural candidate. Mubarak has no clear successor and has denied talk that his son Gamal is being groomed for power.
His three decades in office have fostered a stable business environment but the strength in a system that revolves around one man is viewed by some as a weakness as post-colonial Egypt has no precedent of a voluntary handover of power.
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