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Qatar mulls $2.5 billion in Egypt investments: reports

Published on : 2022-10-20

Dohanews - Qatar is reportedly in talks to buy some $2.5 billion of stakes in several Egypt-based companies as the country grapples with the economic impact of the Ukraine crisis, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

Sources privy to the matter told the news agency that the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) could potentially acquire a 20% stake in Vodafone Egypt from Telecom Egypt Co. in a deal expected to be concluded later this year.

However, the sources were unable to list the other firms as they were not on Egypt’s stock market, read Bloomberg’s report.

Agreements, signings and concerns: key takeaways from Sisi’s visit to Qatar

Vodafone Egypt’s spokesperson Ayman Essam told Bloomber that it was “not officially aware of the deal” while declining to provide further details on the matter. QIA, Telecom Egypt and Cairo’s sovereign wealth fund have declined to comment on the reported deal.

The QIA is the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund and oversees an estimated $445 billion in assets. 

Telecom Egypt, a state-owned entity, had acquired a 45% stake in Vodafone Egypt in 2017 as the UK’s Vodafone Group owns a 54.9% stake in the telecommunications giant.

The report comes weeks after Egypt’s President Abdelfattah El Sisi visited Qatar last month, his first to the Gulf state since the 2017 GCC crisis.

Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani made a similar visit to Cairo on 24 June, marking the second such trip to Egypt since the 2013 military coup. 

The coup saw Sisi seize power from then-leader Mohamed Morsi – the country’s first ever democratically elected president.

The meetings between the leaders signalled the warming of Qatar and Egypt’s ties following the full restoration of ties in 2021 with the Al Ula Accord. 

The historic accord came after Egypt joined Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain to impose an illegal air, land and sea embargo on Qatar over claims that it supported terrorism. Doha vehemently rejected those claims as baseless.

With Egypt scrambling to save its economy in light of the ongoing war in Ukraine, Cairo managed to secure investment deals worth $5 billion during the visit of Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani to Cairo in March.

Egypt’s economic turmoil

Egypt, the world’s top importer of wheat, is among the nations that has been hit by the grain crisis in light of the ongoing war in Ukraine. A total of 80% of Egypt’s imports come from the Black Sea region, at the heart of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The Egyptian government took out a $500 million loan from the World Bank this year and an additional $221 million from the African Development Bank to purchase wheat. 

The country’s economy was already in turmoil, with the currency dropping in value against the US dollar. Inflation in the country hit 15.3% in August in comparison to at least 6% in the same period last year.

Almost a third of Egypt’s population of more than 103 million live in poverty, with families struggling to afford basic necessities as prices of food staples soar. 

Seeking to find a way out of the crisis, Egypt turned to the oil-rich Gulf region and the international Monetary Fund.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Egypt’s foreign reserves dropped to $33 billion from $41 billion in February. The country’s foreign debt reached $158 billion in March, skyrocketing from $37 billion in 2010.

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