EGYPT – Egypt has announced plans to sell a minority stake in state-owned Banque du Caire in an initial public offering (IPO) worth about $500 million.

The bank’s chairman Tarek Fayed said that the financial institution intended to float the IPO in mid-April provided investor interest holds up in the face of the coronavirus.

The bank is part of a revived programme of selling shares in a long list of state companies that was announced three years ago but has faced repeated delays.

According to Ahram online, if successful, the minority stake sale would be Egypt’s biggest sale of state assets since 2006.

“Our plan is to go with the IPO by mid-April, but it depends on the market conditions. For us, if you’re talking about the readiness of the bank, we are very ready,” Chairman Tarek Fayed said in an interview.

Fayed said that despite the challenge of Corona Virus, his trip overseas  confirmed a continued investor interest.

“The appetite is still strong. But nobody knows what could happen in the next 10 to 15 days,” Fayed said.

He further said that he was in discussions with a couple of cornerstone investors whose guaranteed participation to strengthen the offer.

The Bank chairman also revealed that multilateral development institutions would also be involved at an early stage.

According to Fayeed, the privatization programme allows the Bank to go up to 45%. He however, noted that the main objective is to raise funds in the vicinity of US$500 million.

“So if we translate the $500 million into a percentage this could leave us in the range of 20% to 30% of the float of the bank’s ownership,” Fayed said.

Fayeed explained that, of this, $50 million to $75 million would be sold to one or more anchor investors.

Banque du Caire is owned by state-owned Banque Misr, which in the mid-2000s took over Banque du Caire’s nonperforming loans in exchange for assets.

With assets of 183.4 billion Egyptian pounds ($11.70 billion) at the end of 2019, Banque du Caire ranks sixth or seventh among Egyptian banks.

Egypt in 2008 came close to selling Banque du Caire to the National Bank of Greece, but the deal never closed, partly because of a backlash against privatisations.

The last sale of state assets on a similar or larger scale was in 2006, when Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo bought 80% of Bank of Alexandria for $1.6 billion.