Sawiris backs $257m bid for EFG Hermes stake
Cairo, June 5, 2014
Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris is backing a $257 million bid for 20 percent of investment bank EFG Hermes, sources said, in what could be a sign of revived investor appetite in Egypt after more than three years of economic stagnation.
EFG Hermes is one of the biggest investment banks in the Middle East and a deal to buy a major stake in it could indicate revived interest in Egypt's equity market after years of depressed activity since the 2011 revolution.
Sawiris is one of Egypt's highest-profile business tycoons and his family own the Orascom group of companies. He spent most of last year out of the country, but after last year's ousting of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi he said he would spend in Egypt "like never before".
In a statement on Thursday, investment bank Beltone Financial said it and a group of investors were seeking 20 percent of EFG Hermes for 1.84 billion Egyptian pounds ($257.3 million), or 16 pounds per share, confirming what two sources familiar with the matter earlier told Reuters.
Beltone said it would take 1 percent of EFG Hermes, but did not say who the other investors were. The sources said they included Sawiris.
Egypt's Financial Supervisory Authority said in a statement an offer had been submitted to buy 20 percent of EFG Hermes's shares. It said an entity called New Egypt Investment Fund would buy 17.82 percent, while Beltone planned to acquire 1.09 percent and Beltone Capital Holding would acquire another 1.09 percent.
It did not say who was behind New Egypt Investment Fund but the two sources who confirmed Sawiris's involvement in the deal told Reuters that the fund is affiliated with him.
Sawiris declined comment and a source at EFG Hermes told Reuters on condition of anonymity the firm had not received details of any offer.
"No one spoke with us at Hermes to make an offer to buy ... But we welcome any investor who has solvency such as Sawiris and wants to invest in Hermes with around $250 million," the source said.
One source familiar with the matter said the 20 percent stake was not a final figure. "The numbers are still not confirmed but it is around 20 percent," the source said, adding: "EFG always separates ownership from management so it will not have an effect on the way the company is run."
The sources said that the transaction would not involve the issuance of new shares. -Reuters