Shuaa Capital is assessing potential acquisitions in Egypt’s financial services industry as the Dubai-based firm seeks to become one of the country’s five largest brokerages as soon as this year.
Shuaa, whose brokerage is ranked 18th in Egypt by market share, has applied for investment banking and asset management licenses, Chairman Jassim Al Seddiqi said in an interview in Cairo on Monday. The expansion could also be through hiring more people, he said.
“Now is the time to invest in Egypt,” Shuaa Chief Executive Officer Fawad Tariq Khan said in a separate interview. “Valuations are right, the opportunities are interesting and macroeconomic opportunities are right.”
Shuaa is among a number of foreign companies seeing opportunities in Egypt as the government seeks to overhaul the economy to attract investments and create jobs, helped by a $12 billion International Monetary Fund programme.
Steps to remove currency restrictions and slash fuel subsidies at the end of 2016 helped attract billions of dollars in inflows, though most of the money went into high-yielding local-currency debt. Egypt’s benchmark EGX 30 Index for stocks has also surged about 70 per cent since the currency float.
Khan said the biggest concern in Egypt is whether authorities will push ahead with the remainder of its economic program. The government plans to sell stakes in several state-owned companies, with the initial focus on banks and oil companies.
The IMF has lauded Egypt’s economic program, even as the removal of most currency restrictions caused the pound to lose half its value against the dollar and sent inflation soaring beyond 33 per cent. That rate has since eased significantly, with officials saying it’s on track to reach 13 per cent by the end of the year.
Shuaa, which is controlled by Abu Dhabi Financial Group, has said it plans to expand its capital markets business in the Middle East following a return to profit for the investment bank.
The company’s shares jumped as much as 4.6 per cent before trimming gains to trade at Dh1.11 at 12:10pm in Dubai.