Qalaa Mulls Sale of Food Businesses to Hasten Return to Profit

Qalaa Holdings, the Egyptian investment company seeking a return to profitability, is considering the sale of its food businesses after receiving interest from potential buyers.

Qalaa hired EFG-Hermes Holding SAE to advise on the possibility of divesting from confectioner Rashidi El-Mizan and packaged milk producer Dina Farms, the Cairo-based investment company said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday. The move will accelerate debt reduction and allow the company to focus on businesses it regards as central, including its energy projects.

“This will hasten our return to profitability, which we would now anticipate in 2015 as opposed to next year,” Chairman and Founder Ahmed Heikal said in the statement. He didn’t identify potential buyers.

Qalaa, formerly known as Citadel Capital, has investments in the Middle East and Africa and has been disposing of assets it views as not central to its plans. Qalaa has said it will focus on energy, cement, transportation, agrifoods and mining as it pursues its transition from a buyout firm to an investment company.

Heikal’s firm is working on a $3.7 billion oil refinery in Cairo, which it expects to provide half the diesel Egypt now imports once it is operational in 2017. Qalaa is also undertaking a storage and bunkering project in the Suez Canal and power generation projects by its unit TAQA Arabia.

Qalaa in December reported that it had narrowed its third-quarter loss to 59.6 million Egyptian pounds ($7.9 million) from 137.5 million pounds a year earlier. Revenue climbed to 1.73 billion pounds from 1.27 billion pounds.

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