Egypt held interest rates, putting monetary easing on pause for another month as the coronavirus keeps global markets on edge, Bloomberg News reported. The deposit rate will remain at 8.25% and the lending rate at 9.25%, the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee said Thursday in a statement. Ten of 13 economists surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted the decision. The second wave of the pandemic and containment steps “continue to weigh on the near-term outlook,” the MPC said.
Egypt’s central bank has extended two debt relief initiatives for another 6 months which were launched earlier to help companies and tourism firms struggling as a result of the coronavirus’ impact on the economy, Bloomberg News reported. In a statement released on Jan. 3, the regulator said that the move affects companies with bank debt of less than 10 million Egyptian pounds and tourism firms with debts of more than 10 million pounds. The initiative entails removing the names of these firms from blacklists, removes asset restrictions and halts legal action.
Cleopatra Hospital Group, the biggest Egyptian private hospital operator by number of beds, agreed to buy Alameda Healthcare Group’s assets in the country in one of the largest African health-care transactions this year, Bloomberg News reported. The board of Cleopatra has approved the planned purchase, according to a statement yesterday. Cleopatra plans to partially fund the deal by issuing convertible loan notes to Alameda controlling shareholder Fahad Khater. The deal could value Alameda at about $450 million to $500 million including debt.
Egypt expects its domestic reforms to spur private investment whether or not it agrees on a non-financial International Monetary Fund program, a decision that will be made “soon,” Planning and Economic Development Minister Hala El-Saeed said, Bloomberg News reported. “Now is the time for the private sector,” said El-Saeed in an interview in London late Monday, while at a U.K.-organized conference to boost investment in Africa.
Egypt’s government debt surged to around $339 billion in the year to end-December, the central bank said on Tuesday, but economists say the borrowing remains within relatively safe limits, Reuters reported. The government’s foreign debt rose by 16.6 percent to $96.61 billion while domestic debt increased by 20.25 percent to 4.108 trillion Egyptian pounds ($242 billion). Economists say much of the foreign debt is relatively easy to roll over because it is owed to friendly lenders such as Gulf governments or the African Development Bank and the World Bank.
Egypt’s EFG Hermes will expand its debt restructuring and securitisation activities next year, the co-head of its investment banking division said. Hermes is advising on four merger and acquisition (M&A) deals expected in the first half of 2019 as well as a major M&A deal in Saudi Arabia’s health sector due to be completed next year, Mostafa Gad told Reuters. Hermes, the Middle East’s largest investment bank, operates in countries including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan and Jordan, Reuters reported.