Egypt launches first bid round for cigarette production - letter from companies

FILE PHOTO: A man smokes a Cleopatra cigarette, produced by Eastern Company SAE, at a cafe in Cairo, Egypt October 23, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt has invited tobacco companies to bid for a license to manufacture cigarettes, according to a letter that several companies sent to the prime minister, in a move that could end a decades-old monopoly by the state-controlled Eastern Company.

Four companies who were invited to bid said the license’ s conditions were too narrow and asked the prime minister to halt the bid round until they could be made fairer.

The bidding deadline is in April, and the license will be issued in July, industry sources said.

Reporting by Ehab Farouk; Writing by Patrick Werr; Editing by Aidan Lewis