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Egypt pushes privatization, sells tobacco company stake to UAE buyer

The Egyptian government agreed last year to privatize state assets, boost exports and increase foreign direct investment in exchange for a $3 billion loan from the IMF.
A man rolls a cigarette of processed tobacco leaves, Jalamah, Aleppo province, Syria, Sept. 5, 2023.

The Egyptian government has sold a stake in the tobacco products maker Eastern Company to the UAE’s Global Investment Holding Co., the first foreign sale of a major state asset since agreeing to a privatization program with the International Monetary Fund last December.

Hani Aman, CEO of Eastern, Egypt’s largest tobacco product maker and distributor, confirmed the sale to Reuters in a report published Thursday.

Global Investment bought 30%, or 669 million shares, of Eastern for 16.40 billion Egyptian pounds ($531.60 million), or 24.51 pounds per share. Eastern shares were trading around 27.60 on Thursday. 

Egypt’s cabinet announced in September that Global Investment had agreed to buy a stake for $625 million, acquiring it from the state-owned Holding Company for Chemical Industries, which held 50.95% of Eastern's shares. The cabinet also said that Global Investment would provide $150 million to buy tobacco for production purposes. The government now has a 20.95% stake in Eastern following the sale. 

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