Billionaire Bids to End Egypt Bourse Row With Beltone Stake Sale

  • Sawiris selling investment bank stake to end canceled trades
  • Success depends on whether investors join sale, Mubasher says

Naguib Sawiris

Photographer: Diego Levy/Bloomberg

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris is selling some of his investment bank in a bid to ease the institution’s more than six-month spat with the country’s stock exchange.

Sawiris’ Orascom Telecom Media And Technology Holding filed a request to the Egyptian stock exchange to sell a 7 percent stake in Beltone Financial Holding, according to Osama Rashad, Beltone’s corporate finance and investor relations director. That would increase the amount of the company trading on the exchange to about 12 percent. The company hopes this will help end multiple share trade cancellations by the bourse, Rashad said by phone.

“There’s a good chance that increasing the free-float would stop trade cancellations,” said Amr Elalfy, the Cairo-based global head of research at Mubasher Financial Services. “It depends on whether new shareholders subscribe to the sale or not. It isn’t guaranteed.”

Beltone earlier this year filed a lawsuit against the heads of the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority and stock exchange in a bid to stop the cancellation of trading in its shares, while the regulator has referred 12 people to general prosecution for stock manipulation. It also blocked the company’s acquisition of investment bank CI Capital in a dispute centering on a violation it says Sawiris committed while restructuring OTMT.

The company will sell the stake at 12.56 Egyptian pounds per share to increase Beltone’s liquidity and widen its shareholder base, Rashad said. The investment bank was trading at 13.40 Egyptian pounds at 2:12 p.m. in Cairo on Thursday. OTMT’s stake after the sale will drop to about 74 percent.

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