Egypt’s CIB: Transfers abroad well below estimates

Egypt's Commercial International Bank (CIB) said on Tuesday the amount of money its clients transferred abroad because of political unrest was only 25 percent of what it had been preparing for.

Banks had been bracing for huge transfers as foreign investors and Egyptian businessmen fled from the political uncertainty that has gripped Egypt since anti-government protests erupted on 25 January.

Traders said investors transferred hundreds of millions of dollars out of the country on 26 and 27 January, prompting the central bank to shut the country's banks for a full week.

The central bank has once again closed banks following a series of strikes by workers angered by low wages and poor working conditions and emboldened by the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak on Friday.

"The transfers abroad were way below our forecasts and expectations. They were only around 25 percent of our early estimates," CIB Chairman Hisham Ezz El Arab told Reuters, without giving figures.

Currency traders said more capital flight could be coming once the country's stock exchange reopens after having been closed since 27 January.

"I think this news on transfers should be taken with a pinch of salt, since the bourse has been closed since the beginning of the crisis," a currency trader based outside of Egypt said.

Ezz El Arab said the central bank had not put pressure on his bank to buy treasury bills at auctions over the last two weeks. Analysts had expected that Egypt's political unrest would dampen demand for T-bills.

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