Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said on Monday he expected the privatisation of Banque du Caire to raise more than $1.6 billion in a public auction that would be open to foreign bidders with no restrictions.Nazif’s government aims to put up for auction 80 percent of the state-owned bank in six to nine months, and float another 15 percent on the stock exchange up to a year later.
The auction of the country’s third-largest state-owned bank would follow last year’s sale of 80 percent of Bank of Alexandria to Italy’s Sanpaolo — which has since become Intesa Sanpaolo — for $1.6 billion.
“Bank of Cairo is a little bit larger than Bank of Alexandria, so it should come at least higher in terms of privatization receipts,” Nazif told Reuters after speaking at a conference on business development in the Mediterranean.
Despite some controversy in Egypt about having foreigners control the bank, Nazif said he would not impose any restrictions on the bidders.
“It’s going to be an open competition,” he said.
In announcing the privatisation of Banque du Caire on July 9, the government said it was looking for a strategic investor with banking experience.
Banque du Caire Vice-President Mohamed Kafafi later told Reuters he had not yet received any expressions of interest for the bank, saying it was still too early.