Egypt Readies What May Be Its Biggest IPO as Capital Emerges

Egypt plans to take the first steps early next year toward selling a stake in the state company behind its new capital city, in what could be the North African nation’s biggest-ever initial public offering.

The Administrative Capital for Urban Development, a joint venture between the military and the Housing Ministry created to oversee the the multi-billion dollar project, has “very very big assets and a big portfolio of land and projects,” said the company’s head, Ahmed Zaki Abdeen.

“We are in the planning stage now and can start the procedures of choosing advisers and deciding the size of the offering early next year,” he said in a phone interview. “We hope this IPO will be the largest in Egypt’s history.”

The offering will take place on the Egyptian exchange and “very possibly in another international market as well,” Abdeen said. “We are studying this option.”

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said Saturday that the company has 100 billion pounds ($6.4 billion) in liquid assets and as much as 4 trillion pounds in total holdings. Telecom Egypt staged Egypt’s biggest IPO in 2005 when it raised 5.1 billion pounds.

The new administrative capital is one of several mega-projects launched by El-Sisi since he became president in 2014, part of a broader effort to reboot the economy after the uprising a decade ago that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

The new capital east of Cairo represents a three-phase project that envisages transforming a 700 square-kilometer (270 square-mile) swath of desert -- roughly equal to the size of Singapore -- into a modern hub for government buildings, foreign embassies, major companies and featuring Africa’s tallest tower.

The government is preparing to move as many as 50,000 employees to the new capital in December, while a monorail linking the city to Cairo is expected to be ready around the middle of next year, according to Abdeen.

Egypt Readies What May Be Its Biggest IPO as Capital Emerges

About three years ago, the government identified 23 state-owned firms that could be listed on Egypt’s stock exchange or may potentially sell additional stakes. Only one has been offered so far, with the global pandemic contributing to delays.

Egypt’s benchmark stock index mostly underperformed regional and global peers this year, partially reflecting investors’ appetite for the nation’s fixed income over its equities. 

The gauge has gained in the past six days, however, the longest rising streak since January. It rose 1.3% on Sunday to the highest since March.

An offering of shares in the company in charge of the new capital project would “help shore up trading liquidity to unprecedented levels and add yet another heavyweight to the market’s main index,” said Amr Elalfy, head of research at Prime Securities.

Also, it “would help attract new local and international institutional investors, which would add more depth to the market and help reduce volatility,” Elalfy said.

(An earlier version of this story corrected year of Telecom Egypt’s share sale.)

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