EGYPT – Egypt has received offers from investors to purchase shares in the National Company for Producing and Bottling Water (Safi) as part of a broader initiative to relinquish control of some firms of the National Service Products Organization (NSPO), which is subordinate to the Egyptian Armed Forces.

Egypt plans to offer as much full ownership in a mineral-water company and an oil firm currently held by the military, Wataniya Petroleum, pressing ahead in seeking private investment for businesses that President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has said could be more open to the public.

Safi was established in 1996 in Siwa Oasis, and it owns four factories, one of which is for the water industry, another for olive oil production, the third for pickled olives production, and the fourth is a salt production complex.

In 2020, the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (TSFE) picked Wataniya and Safi to be offered to the private sector as a first phase, with the initial public offerings (IPOs) to be launched eventually on the EGX.

Planning Minister Hala El-Saeed had initially told Al Jazeera that Egypt was targeting, offering up to 100% stakes in these companies to both local and foreign investors in the first quarter of 2021.

Egypt, which started a sweeping economic reform program about seven years ago, has been reworking to revamp and re-energize state-owned companies and attract foreign investors who have so far largely been attracted to the North African nation’s debt market and energy industry.

The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (TSFE) will help promote the chosen companies and could also invest in some of the stakes.

“We are targeting anchor investors to partner with the fund to acquire these assets, and the fund aims to hold a minority stake with a view to a future IPO to a wider investor base,” its chief executive officer, Ayman Soliman said in an interview.

In remarks to CNBC Arabiya, Soliman explained that some investors have expressed interest in buying shares in Wataniya and Safi through Egypt’s stock exchange (EGX) under the government’s IPO program but did not specify a percentage.

Soliman explained to CNBC Arabiya that the TSFE intends to raise its capital after assessing the assets of the Misr Insurance Holding Company (MIHC), which has been recently included under the umbrella of the TSFE. The MIHC has enormous assets that will double the TSFE’s assets value; he added.

Soliman said Egypt’s state-owned assets are capable of attracting investors despite the ongoing global crises.

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