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Will Telecom Egypt stake sale help country achieve IMF reforms?

An expert said it was "unclear” whether the sale helped solve Egypt’s “key problem” of accessing hard currency.
A picture taken on Oct. 31, 2017, shows advertising billboards in Cairo for "WE," a new mobile service from Egypt's state-owned company Telecom Egypt.

On Sunday, the Egyptian Finance Ministry announced the sale of a 9.5% stake in the North African country’s state-owned telecoms company for 3.75 billion Egyptian pounds ($121.4 million) — a move signaling that the government is moving forward with its national privatization program.

Some 162.2 million shares in Telecom Egypt were sold at 23.11 Egyptian pounds ($0.75) each in a subscription that was 3.11 times oversubscribed, the ministry said. Another 0.5% of the shares are being offered to Telecom Egypt staff until May 25.

The sale is not a privatization, as the government will still own 70% of the company. The ministry did not say what proportion of shares were sold domestically and which were sold to international buyers. 

Egypt’s national debt has been ballooning — $224.79 billion in 2022, up from $193.94 billion the previous year. The Ukraine war sent inflation sky-high and increased the cost of importing essential grains and fertilizers, causing foreign investors to flee and the Egyptian pound to tank by around 50% against the US dollar.

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