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Exclusive: Egypt considers floating two state banks - central bank governor

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s central bank is studying the possibility of offering shares in two state banks in initial public offerings, Governor Tarek Amer told Reuters on Tuesday.

People and vehicles are seen caught in a traffic jam in front of the Central Bank of Egypt's headquarters in downtown Cairo, Egypt, December 21, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Amer said the offerings would not include state bank giants National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr and that the central bank may offer a stake in one of its ventures to a strategic investor. He did not elaborate.

“We are studying taking a couple of banks to the stock market for capital increases, diluting around 20 percent,” he said.

The central bank is also considering “offering a stake in one of its ventures to a strategic investor”, Amer added.

Egypt owns vast swathes of the economy, including three of its largest banks - National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, Banque Du Caire - along with much of its oil industry and huge parts of its real estate.

The Central Bank of Egypt owns 99 percent of United Bank of Egypt and about 50 percent of the Arab African International Bank.

Earlier, the presidency said Egypt plans to list shares in state-owned banks and companies on the stock market, in a move aimed at jump-starting investment and boosting economic growth.

Egypt’s economy has been struggling to recover since a popular uprising in 2011 drove foreign investors and tourists away. Years of political instability has hit growth in the Arab world’s most populous state and halved its currency reserves.

The country’s benchmark index, the EGX 30, has already fallen 15 percent since the start of 2016, wiping 43.5 billion Egyptian pounds ($5.56 billion) off its value.

“The coming period will witness offerings of parts of the capital of successful Egyptian companies and banks on the bourse,” said presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef.

The statement follows a meeting between President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and ministers to discuss the stock market’s decline.

Egypt owns vast swathes of the economy, including three of its largest banks along with much of its oil industry and huge parts of its real estate.

The statement did not specify which banks or sectors would be offered.

The last time state-owned companies were listed on the exchange was in 2005 when shares of Telecom Egypt, the state’s landline monopoly, and oil companies Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals and AMOC were floated.

The chairman of the stock exchange, Mohamed Omran, said the move may increase investment and market liquidity and send a strong signal that the government was focused on building up its capital markets.

Last year three major companies floated on the exchange -- cake and biscuit maker EDITA, real estate firm Emaar Misr and Orascom Construction.

There are around 270 companies listed on the bourse and about 500,000 investors, of which between 80,000 and 100,000 are active. Documents seen by Reuters earlier showed there were 15 companies waiting to sell shares.

Reporting by Ehab Farouk; Editing by Michael Georgy and Katharine Houreld

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