Saudi Arabia invests $1.3bn in four Egyptian firms

CAIRO: The Saudi Egyptian Investment Co (SEIC), owned by Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Public Investment Fund (PIF), has bought minority stakes in four Egyptian companies for $1.3 billion, Egypt’s planning ministry said on Wednesday.

The companies are Abu Qir Fertizilers and Chemical Industries, Misr Fertilizers Production Company, Alexandria Container and Cargo Handling, and payments firm E-Finance for Financial and Digital Investments.

Egypt is one of the fastest-growing economies in the Middle East and North Africa, the PIF said in a separate statement. “The acquisitions are in line with SEIC’s objective to invest in promising sectors.”

Egypt’s government announced in April it was seeking to attract investments of $10 billion in each of the coming four years, part of a programme to increase private participation in the economy.

Egypt has been grappling to finance its budget deficit amid high interest rates, a weak currency and broad investor wariness of emerging markets, particularly after the U.S. Federal Reserve began raising interest rates and the Ukraine war pushed up commodity prices and reduced tourism revenue.

Saudi Arabia has already provided billions in support since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in 2014. The United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait this year all promised to increase their investments in Egypt.

The Egyptian stock exchange, without mentioning the buyer, listed just over $1.3 billion in block trades on Wednesday.

These included 462.2 million shares in state-controlled E-Finance for 7.50 billion Egyptian pounds ($393 million). In October, 257.8 million shares, or 23.5% of the company, were sold to private investors in a initial public offering.

Another 57.3 million shares of Misr Fertilizers Production Company (MOPCO) sold for 7.10 billion Egyptian pounds and 250.1 million shares of Abu Qir Fertilizers for 7.27 billion Egyptian pounds.

Some 298 million shares of Alexandria Container sold for 3.02 billion Egyptian pounds.