CedarBridge Partners, the Dubai-based private equity (PE) firm seeking to almost double assets under management this year, is targeting investments in Egypt as political turmoil and a slumping currency reduce asset prices.
"People who never thought of selling are seriously thinking of selling their businesses so they can keep their money on the side," Imad Ghandour, managing partner at the firm, said. "Egypt is becoming more attractive with the devaluation. People are looking short term, they are afraid. That creates an opportunity."
The Egyptian pound has depreciated 8.6 per cent since the central bank started auctioning dollars on December 30 to limit the currency supply and conserve dwindling foreign reserves. Protests and sporadic violence have persisted in the most populous Arab nation more than two years after the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak.
CedarBridge, established in late 2010 and seeking to raise a further $50 million, focuses on education, health care, transport and retail in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. The company, which typically invests between $1 million to $10 million in a company, has two educational investments in Egypt, including CIRA, the largest chain of private schools and is looking to make another investment in Egypt this year.
"You have to know where you are going and not overexpose yourself to currency devaluation risk," Ghandour said. "The worst case is a business model where the revenue is based in Egyptian pounds. So you have to be careful."
Egypt still has no elected parliament and a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund has been delayed as the government backtracked on budget cuts. Tourists and investors have fled the turmoil, draining currency reserves and causing the economy to grow at the slowest pace in two decades.
time of oman