Egypt wealth fund seeks Gulf partners to lure investments

(Bloomberg) –Egypt’s sovereign wealth fund is looking to more oil-rich Gulf countries to drum up foreign investment, as the Arab world’s most populous nation presses on with the next phase of its planned economic revamp.

After launching a $20 billion investment platform with the United Arab Emirates, Egypt’s fund is now setting its sights on Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman as partners, its chief executive officer, Ayman Soliman, said in an interview in Dubai.

The partnerships could take several forms “including setting up investment platforms or funds,” Soliman said. Talks with Oman are at the most advanced stage, and could be completed by the end of 2019, and Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have “an appetite to invest in Egypt.”

Egypt’s first sovereign wealth fund, which was established last year with paid-in capital of 5 billion pounds ($310 million) and 200 billion pounds authorized capital, comes as the government tries to revive the nation’s economy. That bid began in earnest in 2016 with the devaluation of the pound and the securing of a $12 billion, three-year loan from the International Monetary Fund.

The fund is looking to tap into under-utilized state assets and attract investors in several key sectors. It targets managing as much as 60 billion pounds worth of assets, some of which it will own.

Partnerships, such as the one for an investment platform reached with the U.A.E.’s Abu Dhabi Development Holding Co., are key to realizing that goal.

“We want to replicate that sort of partnership with Oman, Saudi and Kuwait,” Soliman said, adding that the talks now are on how “we can collaborate.”

Projects under the UAE platform will be handled via a 50-50 partnership, unless otherwise agreed, and the entity will start with companies in the banking and non-banking financial sectors, as well as agribusiness and petrochemicals, Soliman said. The two sides may also invest in greenfield projects.

Read: Egyptians Are in Deeper Fiscal Hole as Economic Program Wraps Up

Egypt will offer assets, including land, buildings and existing companies, and has access to liquidity, while the UAE will provide funding.

Soliman said the fund, which has seen investor interest from the West, Asia and Egypt, and is planning an Asian roadshow, will have access to more than 90 companies and assets owned by the National Investment Bank, “We can acquire some of them and manage others depending on our choice of financial structure and agreement with investors,” he said.

Those who “made money over the past two years in the fixed income trade are now looking for alternate means of investing in Egypt,” including in corporate bonds and equities, he said. “We want to capture that appetite by offering products.”

Soliman also said:

  • The fund has access to four of eight state pharmaceutical companies and plans to offer them as partnerships
  • Infrastructure fund could be launched in early 2020, “once we have solid commitment from investors about that plan”
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