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Wednesday, 8 February 2023

El Said calls on Qataris to invest + ADQ said to be mounting rival bid to QIA’s Vodafone Egypt acquisition

Arms wide open for the Qataris: Planning Minister Hala El Said again invited Qatari business leaders to step up their investments in Egypt during talks in Doha yesterday, according to the state-run Qatar News Agency. Members of the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) called for the creation of a fund that would see Qatari businesses partner with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt to channel investments into target sectors. The Madbouly government is currently evaluating a number of projects that will be presented to private investors in both countries, El Said said. The visit comes more than three months after a QBA delegation visited Egypt to assess investment opportunities.

We know some of the targets: Qatar’s Al Kuwari Group has reportedly bid to acquire the Ramses Hilton for USD 320 mn. Meanwhile, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) has been in talks since September 2022 to acquire a 20% stake in Vodafone Egypt from Telecom Egypt. The QIA’s Maha Capital is also angling for majority stakes in two state-owned container terminal operators: Port Said Containers & Cargo Holding Company (PSCCHC) and Damietta Container & Cargo Handling Company.

Qatar now reportedly has a rival for Vodafone Egypt: The QIA and Telecom Egypt are not seeing eye-to-eye over how much of VFE should be on the table, Asharq Business reported yesterday, citing two sources it says are familiar with the matter. The wealth fund is said to want to acquire TE’s entire 45% stake in the company, but the Madbouly government doesn’t want to cede more than 25%, the people reportedly said.

ADQ has entered the chat: That’s left room for Abu Dhabi wealth fund ADQ to start negotiations for the company, according to Asharq. A source told us back in September that ADQ was interested in the company, as is the Saudi wealth fund.

PSCCHC-DCHC talks are also moving slowly over how much is for sale: The Transport Ministry was reported last month to be reluctant to meet the QIA’s demands for majority ownership of the two container terminal operators. Sources reportedly told Al Mal that the government wants to keep control of the companies and expressed hope that the Qataris will agree to acquire minority stakes.

Progress has been slow: Government officials have been inviting Qatari business leaders to invest in Egyptian projects for months, but talks have dragged on without any agreements. The country’s sovereign wealth fund last year deposited USD 4 bn at the Central Bank of Egypt while it negotiates to acquire stakes in major companies. It was reported in November that the fund was still doing due diligence and finalizing agreements. The country pledged to provide USD 5 bn in central bank deposits and investment to support Egypt through the current economic crisis.

A Gulf tour: El Said is on a Gulf tour with SFE CEO Ayman Soliman to promote investment opportunities in Egypt, and have met with Omani and Bahraini officials this week, according to statements by the Planning Ministry.

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