Egypt’s Citadel swings to 2010 loss on writedowns

Egyptian private equity firm Citadel Capital swung to a net loss last year after it wrote down the value of underperforming oil and gas assets, the company said on Wednesday.

Citadel also said it had not received any direct acquisition offer. Traders had cited market talk on Tuesday that a Dubai-based firm may be eyeing Citadel, which had pushed up the share price.

Citadel said it made a consolidated net loss of US$241.7 million. It did not give a comparative figure, but last year it reported net profit of $38.6 million.

The company said two oil facilities it was involved with were sitting on "very substantial" reserves but technical challenges had stalled efforts to start production, prompting the firm to take a conservative stance towards the operations.

"Both oil and gas platforms will continue to operate, and management is supportive of efforts to reach a technical solution that will allow reserves to be brought into production," Citadel said.

The portfolio net asset value of Citadel's principle investments fell 29 percent from the first half of 2010 to US$857.8 million due to the oil platform impairments.

Assets under management grew 9.9 percent to US$4 billion.

"Management has also opted to refrain from providing guidance on the value of Citadel Capital's asset management business as a result of the current lack of visibility on the fundraising and exit climate," Citadel said.

The company said it was pursuing regulatory approval for a 1 billion Egyptian pound (US$168.3 million) rights issue at par value of 5 pounds per share. Egypt's market watchdog had rejected its request to carry out the capital increase.

It said it would take steps to minimize the impact of Egypt's popular uprising that unseated President Hosni Mubarak.

"Obviously challenges remain. Against that backdrop, we have called the rights issue to secure additional liquidity to support our growth even as we see exits delayed by 12-18 months," said Chairman Ahmed Heikal in the statement.

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