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EBRD says Egypt investment to begin before year-end

LONDON: The new head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said Monday that the lender hoped to begin investing in Egypt before the end of the year.

The EBRD last month launched its first investments in emerging Arab democracies, approving three projects in Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco -- but it had given no details on Egypt.

After years concentrating on investment partnerships with private-sector firms across the former Soviet bloc, the EBRD agreed in May to invest a total of 1.0 billion euros ($1.3 billion) across north Africa and the Middle East.

"On Egypt, it's very simple, the reason for the delay ... is simply because there was a political situation in June, July and August," EBRD president Suma Chakrabarti told a London press conference on Monday.

"We didn't really have anyone to talk to at the time, as the government was being re-formed. Presidential elections took place and a new government then had to be formed."

"That's the only reason for the delay. Actually there is a good pipeline of projects being developed in Egypt," he said, adding that the first project would likely come "in November" or "certainly" towards the end of the year.

Chakrabarti, a former top British civil servant, was elected four months ago as the head of the EBRD.

He stressed that the bank wanted to make progress in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia before considering further expansion into nations like Libya.

Questioned if the bank had other nations on the radar, Chakrabarti replied:

"Not right now, but there's always three or four countries that want to have conversations with us about being involved in the EBRD -- whether it's with regard to business or membership."

"No, there isnt any great push at the moment. What would not be surprising (was) if Libya wanted to talk to us about it. And we would obviously have a conversation.

"But I'd just like to get off the ground in the four countries that we are in -- Egypt next -- because it's really important to do well first, from a managerial perspective."

The bank was formed in 1991 to help former Soviet bloc countries such as Hungary, Kazakhstan and Russia to switch and adapt to a market economy.

 
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