Talaat Moustafa Falls as Madinaty Court Case Drags: Cairo Mover

Talaat Moustafa Group Holding, Egypt’s biggest publicly traded property developer, fell to the lowest level in more than a month as a land ownership dispute drags on longer than some investors anticipated.

Shares of the Cairo-based company declined 3.1 percent to 4.09 Egyptian pounds, the lowest since Dec. 12, at the close in Cairo. That brings the three-day retreat to 8.5 percent and values the company at 8.44 billion pounds ($1.3 billion). The benchmark EGX 30 Index fell 0.8 percent today.

A case against Talaat Moustafa’s ownership of Madinaty, its biggest land asset, has been referred to a different court to hear appeals from both sides starting April 16, Chief Financial Officer Jihad Sawaftah said last week. As much as 45 percent of the undeveloped portion of the land may be revalued, he said, as the company seeks to hold on to the 33 million square-meter plot it purchased from the government in 2005.

“Investors had built positions based on a positive outcome but now they’re finding out they may have to wait as long as September for a resolution,” Ankur Khetawat, a real estate analyst at Cairo-based CI Capital Holdings who has an overweight recommendation on the stock, said by phone. The shares hold “some value at this price level but the overhang is still there.”

The land has been the subject of a court dispute for more than two years. Hisham Talaat Moustafa, the company’s former chairman, told Egypt’s Illicit Gains Authority he paid money to a former housing minister to facilitate the company’s acquisition of Madinaty land on the outskirts of Cairo, news website Mubasher reported last week, citing judicial officials it didn’t identify. Sawaftah denied the allegation last week.

Eight analysts recommend investors buy the shares, while three say to hold it, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Talaat shares have gained 29 percent over the past year, compared with a 44 percent surge for the EGX 30 Index.