Egypt's Suez Cement says profit transfers hit by currency crisis

CAIRO, March 7 (Reuters) - Suez Cement, which is 55 percent owned by Italian firm Italicementi, is struggling to transfer shareholder profits out of Egypt because of a foreign currency crisis, the Egyptian firm said on Monday.

Egypt has been struggling to revive its economy since a 2011 uprising drove major sources of foreign currency such as foreign investors and tourists away.

Pressure for a devaluation of the pound has been building but the central bank has kept it fixed at 7.7301 pounds per dollar. The bank has been trying to conserve hard currency by prioritising its use for the imports of essential goods.

“The company has faced some challenges in transferring shareholder’s profits abroad, which is estimated around 50 million euros ($54.8 million), as a result of the foreign currency crisis in Egypt,” Suez Cement Managing Director Bruno Carre said in a statement.

The statement did not say which period the 50 million euros in profit covered and a company spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

In an attempt to fight a currency black market, the central bank has also imposed restrictions on cash deposits, leaving many businessmen unable to access dollars for imports and resulting in goods piling up at ports.

In recent weeks airlines operating out of Egypt have complained that they have been unable to repatriate earnings. The Civil Aviation Ministry later said the central bank had agreed on payment schedules with those carriers.

$1 = 0.9129 euros Reporting by Ehab Farouk; writing by Asma Alsharif; editing by David Clarke