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Sunday, 4 April 2021

e-Finance making progress to revive Egypt’s state privatization program

State-owned e-payments firm e-Finance could pull the trigger on its IPO sometime during the second half of the year, Chairman Ibrahim Sarhan told Hapi Journal. The company has wrapped up a final valuation study and completed other necessary procedures and is now waiting for the government committee managing the state privatization program to review the paperwork, Sarhan said.

E-Finance was earlier expected to complete the listing in the first or second quarters of the year, but a hold-up in a fair value report scheduled to be completed at the end of January delayed that plan. The IPO was originally slated for the end of 2019, before the government kicked all upcoming state IPOs into 2021, citing unexpected delays, and then further into 2021.

The time is right: The dust is now settling after “unfavorable conditions” (read: covid-19) in public markets set back the listing, Sarhan told the newspaper today. The company has been waiting for signs of a recovery, he says.

E-Finance’s EGX debut would piggyback on momentum from several listings that are coming up after a long period of inactivity. Another state-owned company expected to make a hotly-anticipated debut on the exchange is Banque du Caire, but we’re yet to hear more on the offering, which could take place by the end of 2021. As for the private sector, higher education management company Taaleem is set to begin trading on Wednesday, after seeing high demand from retail investors last week, and leading cosmeceutical and nutraceutical player Macro Pharma will start trading on 19 April as it wraps up another IPO. Those IPOs are among a total of five or six that could hit the exchange this year, EGX boss Mohamed Farid expects.

In the meantime, e-Finance is ramping up investments in three core projects: The first is a plan to set up E-Tax, a EGP 100 mn JV with the Finance Ministry to provide services and tech solutions to companies and authorities as Egypt transitions toward an electronic tax system. The second involves applying for a license from the CIT Ministry’s ITIDA to establish a new EGP 15 mn company to provide e-signature services, while the third involves building and operating an electronic ticketing system for Egypt’s railway at an initial investment cost of EGP 230 mn.

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