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Monday, 6 June 2022

SFE pushing ahead with stake sales to strategics, courts Gulf investors as it lines up new hotels company for high-profile sale –Soliman

Sovereign Fund of Egypt head Ayman Soliman gets credit for being a straight shooter this morning after telling Bloomberg Asharq in an interview yesterday that stake sales are likely the order of the day for the state’s privatization program in the foreseeable future. Volatility in global markets thanks to near-perfect storm of spiraling commodities prices and rising interest rates means conditions are not ideal for new public offerings. Instead, he said, the SFE thinks there’s a window for private sales to strategic and other anchor investors.

What’s coming down the pipe? The Madbouly government has been planning to sell part or all of as many as 10 state-owned and two military-owned companies this year and has previously signaled that it is open to both stake sales and IPOs, all depending on market conditions and individual investor interest. The government has suggested it also open to offering stakes to strategics before selling down additional stakes later via public offering. All of this comes amid a new privatization push after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said his administration aims to bring in some USD 10 bn in fresh investment in each of the next four years through the sale of state assets.

NEW HOTELS COMPANY UP FIRST?

The government could sell a stake in the new hotel company to a private investor, Soliman told the business newswire. The state is currently working on merging seven or eight state-owned hotels into a single entity, and was initially looking to sell a 25% stake in the firm through an IPO on the EGX.

The Saudis could be buying: The Saudi sovereign wealth fund is “very keen” on investing in the new hotel company, Soliman said. The Public Investment Fund (PIF) said in March that it was looking to invest USD 10 bn in Egypt’s healthcare, education, agriculture and financial services sectors as part of a USD 15 bn package to support the economy.

Other Gulf wealth funds are interested, too: The SFE is marketing investment through partnerships with other Arab sovereign and investment funds, “many” of whom are interested in the hotel company, Soliman told Hapi Journal, adding that multiple investors could come on board as partners with the SFE.

The state is in the process of choosing an investment bank and financial advisor to manage and advise on the sale, with an eye to tap at least the financial advisor in a matter of weeks, Soliman told Hapi.

Gulf sovereign funds are getting more involved in the Egyptian economy: Abu Dhabi wealth fund ADQ invested USD 1.8 bn in five EGX-listed companies in April, while the Qatar Investment Authority said it would invest USD 5 bn.

REMEMBER- The state is also planning to offer a 20-25% stake in Egypt Aluminum (EgyptAlum) to a strategic investor, potentially also an Arab sovereign fund.

ALSO FROM SOLIMAN-

The SFE will look to bring private investors into a new green fund next year, Soliman told Hapi. The fund, which will manage climate-friendly projects, will be launched with minimum initial capital of EGP 2 bn.

Green hydrogen will be key to the fund: The main assets in the fund will be the SFE’s share in green hydrogen projects that are expected to be finalized at COP27, Soliman said. Global companies have inked more than USD 10 bn worth of preliminary agreements for green ammonia and hydrogen projects in Ain Sokhna in the past three months alone.

Is this the SFE’s planned renewable energy sub-fund? The SFE had been working on launching a sub-fund that would hold assets related to national projects in wind, solar, and hydro. The Madbouly government had been reportedly planning to transfer ownership of the assets of both the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) and the Hydro Power Plant Executive Authority (HPPEA) over to this new sub-fund, which will manage investments in climate-friendly projects.

ALSO IN THE WORKS- Net zero data centers. The SFE is conducting feasibility studies with unnamed US firms to build carbon neutral data centers for international cloud computing service providers, and plans to launch the project ahead of the COP27 summit in November, Soliman said.

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