Foreign investors bid for 30 percent stake in Egypt's largest tobacco producer

Ahram Online , Tuesday 22 Aug 2023

A majority shareholder in Egypt's largest tobacco producer Eastern Company has received offers from foreign investors for the acquisition of up to 30 percent of its stake in the company, according to a bourse statement on Tuesday.

Cigarettes. Ahram Gate.
Cigarettes. Ahram Gate.


Eastern Company said that the state-owned majority shareholder, Chemical Industries Holding Company (CIHC), is studying the offers, adding that "there’s a negotiation with these investors to choose the best one, as the implementation of the deal is linked to conducting due diligence."

According to news reports, Japan Tobacco International is one of the investors considering the deal.

The deal is a part of Egypt's plans to offer stakes in 32 state-owned companies to strategic investors under the country's commitments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Eastern Company stated.

Based on the stock's most recent close price, CIHC owns EGP 44.37 billion ($1.4 billion), or 50.95 percent of Eastern Company's total capital.

The Eastern Company's employees' union and South Africa's Allan Grey Equity Fund each own 5.2 percent of the company, with the remaining 9 percent freely traded on the Egyptian Exchange. 

In the first nine months of FY2022/23 (which concluded in March), Eastern Company reported a net profit of EGP 5.29 billion, an increase of 24 percent annually from EGP 4.25 billion.

The privatization programme is part of Egypt's commitments under its $ 3 billion loan programme with the IMF.

However, the IMF loan deal is currently facing challenges since the first review, originally scheduled to be completed on 15 March, has not been conducted yet.   

Egypt seeks to accelerate the implementation of the IPO programme to finalize the first and second reviews of the deal, which  Morgan Stanley expects to be conducted in the coming months. 

The nation is struggling with a $17 billion financial imbalance through 2026 and a local shortage of US currency liquidity.

Meanwhile, the state assets sale programme has until now generated around $2 billion.

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