UPDATE 1-Egypt's c.bank to offer $800 million at forex auction on Wednesday

Tue May 21, 2013 2:08pm EDT

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CAIRO May 21 (Reuters) - Egypt's central bank said on Tuesday it would offer $800 million to banks at an exceptional auction of foreign currency on Wednesday to cover the country's strategic import needs.

The auction will be the central bank's second exceptional sale of foreign exchange. In April, it sold $600 million to pay for wheat, meat, cooking oil and other essential imports.

The bank said it would hold its next regular foreign exchange auction on Monday. The next regular auction had been due on Wednesday.

"In addition to its regular weekly auctions, the central bank is going to hold an exceptional auction on April 14 ... where banks are required to apply with the amounts of their client's outstanding import needs," it said in a statement on its website.

The central bank introduced the regular foreign exchange auctions at the end of December in an effort to stave off a currency crisis triggered by political unrest.

Egypt is undergoing more than two years of political and economic instability that saw its foreign currency reserves lose more than $20 billion since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Wednesday's auction will be held for banks with clients importing staple commodities such as tea, meat, poultry, fish, wheat, oil, milk, beans, butter and corn, the central bank said in a statement on its website.

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