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Egyptian banking: Moving in the right direction

Bank of Alexandria privatization process started.

Egypt’s central bank is confident that the privatization of Bank of Alexandria will be completed by the end of the year. It will be the first time that one of Egypt’s big state-owned lenders will be sold, according to officials at the central bank. The sale is crucial to furthering the banking industry’s reform process.

“The sale is very important, “says Tarek Amer, deputy governor at the central bank.

“It will be a new milestone in Egypt.”

The government plans to sell between 75% and 80% of the bank to a strategic investor through lead adviser Citigroup. Another 5% will be made available to the bank’s employees, while 15% to 20% will be sold to the public through an IPO on the Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchange. Prospective buyers include Barclays, BNP Paribas and Calyon. Bank of Alexandria is Egypt’s fourth biggest and has total assets of $6.9 billion or 5% market share.

The bank was supposed to be sold last year but the process was delayed. Although further delays cannot be ruled out, the government is inviting bids for the bank and should have a good idea of the level of interest in coming weeks.

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