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OCI Gains Most in 3 Weeks on Gavilon, Contract Wins: Cairo Mover

March 27 (Bloomberg) -- Orascom Construction Industries rose the most in three weeks after posting the highest amount in building contract awards in almost four years and revealing it was close to selling a stake in Gavilon Group LLC.

Orascom gained 2 percent, the most since March 6, to 255.39 Egyptian pounds at the 2:30 p.m. close in Cairo, valuing the company at 52.8 billion pounds ($8.8 billion). The benchmark EGX 30 Index increased 1.6 percent.

The sale of the company’s 16.8 percent stake in Nebraska-based Gavilon is “imminent,” Chief Executive Officer Nassef Sawiris said by phone today. Orascom had bought a 20 percent stake in Gavilon in 2008 for $340 million to boost its fertilizer and agricultural supply business.

Orascom is also looking to divest a 13.5 percent holding in Nigeria’s Notore Chemical Industries Ltd. which is preparing for an initial public offering. “We can use the money toward growing the company,” Sawiris said.

Orascom secured $1.58 billion in construction contracts in the fourth quarter, including an $810 million agreement to build the Egyptian Grand Museum. That’s the highest three-month total since the first quarter of 2008, it said.

“All the countries we’re operating in are accelerating government infrastructure spending,” Sawiris said, referring to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iraq. The company’s construction backlog will continue to grow, he said.

Fourth-quarter profit fell 34 percent to $122.6 million because of one-time charges including an early debt repayment, the company said today in a statement on its website. That compares with the $172.1 million average of four analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Orascom said it expects to hold a shareholder meeting next month to seek approval for splitting the company in two, separating its construction and fertilizer businesses.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ahmed A. Namatalla in Cairo at anamatalla@bloomberg.net; Alaa Shahine in Dubai at asalha@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Maedler at cmaedler@bloomberg.net

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