Egypt Lifts Ban on Billionaire Sawiris' Investment Banking Firm

(Bloomberg) -- Egypt lifted the suspension on Beltone Financial’s investment banking unit, ending curbs on the firm controlled by billionaire Naguib Sawiris over alleged irregularities in the handling of an initial public offering last year. The shares climbed in Cairo.

The Financial Regulatory Authority’s deputy head Khaled El-Nashar said the decision came after Beltone’s parent, Orascom Investment Holding, last year bought 30 percent of Sarwa Capital -- the firm whose IPO triggered the suspension. Beltone also agreed to other measures, compensated investors who had complained about Sarwa’s private placement and paid 16 million Egyptian pounds to reconcile with the regulator, he said.

There was an agreement in the FRA that “you don’t need to push more than this,” El-Nashar said. “I don’t think that this will happen again in the Egyptian market.”

Sarwa’s IPO last year sent shudders through the market, with the shares dropping over 18 percent in its trading debut. Days later, Egyptian officials decided to delay the planned offering of additional stakes in some state-run companies -- a key part of the government’s economic program. Officials later said the Sarwa IPO had raised fears that the state offerings wouldn’t be well received.

Beltone, which had filed appeals, confirmed that the suspension had been lifted. El-Nashar said that a criminal complaint against the company had also been dropped.

Beltone shares advanced as much as 9.9 percent in Cairo, before trimming the gains to 8.7 percent as of 10:40 a.m. local time. They are up 28 percent this year.

Egypt Lifts Ban on Billionaire Sawiris' Investment Banking Firm

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