CAIRO, (Reuters) – Egypt’s Arabiyya Lel Estithmaraat bought an 85 percent stake in the historic Omar Effendi department store chain, the private investment firm’s chairman said on Thursday.
Mohamed Metwalli gave no price for the deal which is likely to attract public interest after the chain was sold by the state to Saudi Arabia’s Anwal in 2006 in a 589.5 million Egyptian pounds ($102.1 million) deal.
The Egyptian media has repeatedly accused the government of selling national assets too cheaply.
Metwalli said Arabiyya Lel Estithmaraat, which specialises in financing infrastructure, real estate and industrial projects, planned to update the chain, which operates about 80 stores throughout Egypt.
The store was founded in 1856 as Orosdi Back and has long dominated the retail sector. It changed hands and acquired its current name in the 1920s before being nationalised in 1957.
An Egyptian state-owned firm holds 10 percent of the shares, while the remaining 5 percent is owned by the World Bank.
Egypt, the most populous Arab state of around 78 million people, aims to return its economy to levels of growth of 7-8 percent seen before the global financial crisis and expects the private sector to play a major role.
Gross domestic product (GDP) grew at 5.1 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2010.
Arabiyya’s shares closed up 9.6 percent on Thursday after the deal was announced.