CEO: EFG Hermes eyes Egypt renewables investments, leasing business

Egyptian investment bank EFG Hermes is studying investments in renewable energy and hopes to start a leasing business in its home country within months as it looks to take advantage of improving economic sentiment.

Chief Executive Karim Awad said on Sunday that EFG hopes to launch a leasing business during the first half of 2015, subject to regulatory approvals, as the opening move in a number of new expansion projects for the bank, which could lead to extending its business into sub-Saharan Africa in time.

"We want to expand (our private equity) business and we're looking very actively into Egypt today and the renewable sector," Awad told Reuters on the sidelines of a media event hosted by the bank.

Egypt aims to build solar and wind power plants in the next three years with combined capacity of 4,300 megawatts, President Sisi said in January, three months after EFG announced a deal to buy 49 percent in wind power firm EDPR France for $208 million.

EFG also wants to expand its operations, which include brokerage, asset management and advisory services, in the Gulf region and consolidate its leading position in its home market.

This includes listing companies on the Egyptian bourse, where it is currently advising Orascom Construction on its spin-off and dual-listing in Egypt and Dubai and Emaar Misr, the Egyptian arm of Dubai developer Emaar Properties.

"It's an extremely positive sign," said Awad of the new listings. He declined to say how many deals the bank was working on but said all were in interesting sectors including food and beverages.

Egypt's economy is showing signs of picking up after being damaged by political turmoil in recent years, with difficulties accessing hard currency and energy shortages among other problems, and has begun economic reforms under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The government hopes an investment conference later this month will attract billions of dollars of foreign money to help develop the economy, and EFG is expecting to play a key role in both attracting cash and putting its own money to work.

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