Dubai: EFG-Hermes is considering opportunities to expand into new frontier markets and aims to build a “leading non-bank finance house” in Egypt, at a time when billionaire Naguib Sawiris is aiming to challenge the investment bank’s dominance in the most populous Arab country.

The biggest publicly traded Arab investment bank is looking for ways to diversify sources of revenue through expansion into markets that include Africa, Chief Executive Officer Karim Awad said in an interview in Dubai on Sunday. The Cairo-based company has a “very healthy” pipeline of possible initial public offerings to manage in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, he said.

Awad’s remarks come as Sawiris, an Egyptian who made his fortune in the telecommunication industry, expands into financial services with the purchase of Egypt’s Beltone Financial and CI Capital. The combined entity will be Egypt’s second-largest investment bank, the billionaire said in an interview in Cairo on Sunday.

Sawiris “participation in the financial sector is a good sign of the prospects this industry would have in the medium-to- long term,” Awad said. The bank’s current strategy will help it maintain market share and remain the largest in the region, he said.

Lebanon’s Asset:

EFG-Hermes has offices in 7 Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Jordan, according to its website. In Lebanon, it owns a 63.7 per cent majority stake in the commercial bank Crédit Libanais.

Awad said that EFG’s investment in Crédit Libanais was a “dollar hedge” amid Egypt’s foreign-currency shortage, in response to a question about Lebanese media reports that a number of investors were interested in the stake.

“There is absolutely no pressure to do something, but again if we get the right value for it we will do something,” Awad said, declining to confirm of deny investor interest.

EFG-Hermes shares fell 0.6 per cent to 7 Egyptian pounds at 11:26am in Cairo, valuing the company at £4.3 billion ($550 million.)