Egypt: Bank consolidation takes new turn
SocGen's move on big local player signals confidence in the run-up to Egypt's first open presidential election
| Posters of president Hosni Mubarak filled Cairo
last month as campaigning for Egypt's first
ever multi-candidate presidential election in
early September gathered pace. Mubarak
has expressed interest in seeing further
privatization of the country's largest banks
Société Générale's mid-summer swoop to take control of the state's remaining shares in Misr International Bank (MIBank) showed that business confidence remains strong in Egypt's latest phase of reforms, less than a month before an unusual contested presidential election and only weeks after terrorist attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh. SocGen, which has an €14 billion loan portfolio in emerging markets, beat French rival BNP Paribas to take a 67.9% stake. It said it planned to bid for more MIBank shares, to take its stake to between 75% and 100%. The purchase already makes SocGen Egypt's biggest private lender, with some 50,000 existing retail customers and 800 corporate clients.
Such is the positive mood about Egypt that the MIBank stake – mainly held by Banque Misr, the second largest of Egypt's big four commercial banks – attracted blue-chip bidders including Barclays Bank and the ambitious Bahrain-based Ahli United Bank.