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HomeWorldEFG Hermes bid in doubt as holders baulk at price

EFG Hermes bid in doubt as holders baulk at price

Billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ second bid for a stake in Egypt’s biggest investment bank EFG Hermes hung in the balance as shareholders agreed to sell just under half of the shares sought.

Sawiris’ New Egypt Investment Fund together with Beltone Financial had offered 16 Egyptian pounds ($2.24) per share, or $257 million, for a 20 per cent stake in EFG. This was below a fair price at 22.93 pounds determined by a financial advisor appointed by EFG Hermes.

A deal of this size would help revive Egypt’s equities market after years of stagnation following the 2011 overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

But analysts had been doubtful the deal would succeed given the bid price being 30 per cent below the fair value. Beltone has said it wanted the full 20 per cent or nothing.

“The (Beltone) board is meeting to discuss whether to agree to buying the offered amount or not,” said a source at the bank who asked to remain anonymous.

Beltone had previously said the offer would be withdrawn unless it gets the full 20 per cent, but the bank can still ask the financial regulator to approve its buying a smaller stake.

“The amount is not small. I believe the bid consortium will accept it,” said Mohamed El-Naggar of El Marwa Brokerage.

“I expect him (Sawiris) to buy whatever is being tendered at 16 pounds per share. It’s a big enough stake. This would make him one of the biggest shareholders in EFG currently,” said Allen Sandeep, head of research at Naeem Brokerage.

Sawiris is one of Egypt’s highest-profile business tycoons and his family own the Orascom group of companies. He spent most of last year out of the country, but after last year’s ousting of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi he said he would spend in Egypt “like never before”.

The bid consortium attracted offers for 54.4 million shares, or around 9 percent of EFG Hermes’ outstanding shares, at 16 pounds, traders said citing bourse data.

Sunday was the last day of the offer period.

EFG Hermes in 2012 agreed on a deal with Qatar’s QInvest to spin off part of its assets to create an investment bank with operations spanning the Middle East, Africa and Turkey. But the deal fell through as did another previous Sawiris-backed offer.

The government of Dubai owned 11 per cent of EFG Hermes as of the end of March, making it the biggest shareholder, according to Thomson Reuters data. EFG has a free float of about 67 per cent.

The bid offer said that New Egypt Investment Fund would buy 17.82 per cent, while Beltone planned to acquire 1.09 per cent and Beltone Capital Holding would acquire another 1.09 per cent of EFG Hermes.

Shares in EFG Hermes closed up 2 per cent at 15.55 pounds, while Beltone’s shares rose just under 4 per cent to 30.50 pounds.



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