>Upheaval will lead to “faster-growing Egypt” says Citadel Capital – AltAssets

Posted on February 4, 2011 by

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The political and social upheaval currently raging across Egypt will lead to “a more stable and faster-growing” Egypt, according to Cairo-headquartered private equity firm Citadel Capital.



 The Egypt-listed firm said that none of its staff had been injured in the Egyptian protests against President Hosni Mubarak, or in the other shockwaves reverberating across North African and parts of the Middle East.

Citadel also called for a stronger democratic process and accelerated reforms.

Following the riots in Tunisia three weeks ago, which saw former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali deposed, protesters in Cairo and across Egypt have taken to the streets to demand Mubarak’s resignation.

Events came to a head on Monday night, when anti-government protesters clashed with pro-Mubarak supporters, many of whom are said to be linked to the government or the military. Since then, more than 1,500 people are said to have been injured in clashes involving rocks, knives and petrol bombs.

The Egyptian protests are the most visible in a wave of unrest sweeping across the Arab world, including the collapse of the Lebanese government after all ten opposition ministers and a presidential appointee resigned. Also affected are Yemen, where President Ali Abdullah Saleh promised not to seek re-election, and Jordan, where King Abdullah sacked his government this week.

Sudan is also facing upheaval, after a referendum calling for sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country to be split in two, and a spate of anti-government protests taking place across the country.

Even before the protests, the Middle East was a tough sell for private equity fund managers, according to Citadel co-founder Hisham El-Khazindar.

“The challenge is that the MENA region is really an emerging market within emerging markets. As a whole, it would constitute the sixth-largest economy in the world However, it is not a homogenous market, and very few people look beyond its role as the world’s largest energy exporter.

“As a result, we have found that attracting international LPs to invest in the region has been challenging. The MENA region is likely to attract about $1.5bn in new institutional private equity commitments in 2010 and at this level it would be close to the bottom of the chart for traditional emerging markets capital raised, perhaps just above Russia,” he told AltAssets.

It is unclear what the end result of the protests will be, or the impact of the political volatility on one of the firm’s flagship projects, a $3.7bn refinery being developed as a public-private partnership between Citadel and the Egyptian government.
Read more of our interview with Hisham El-Khazindar and managing director Stephen Murphy here.

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Posted in: Middle East