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Suez Canal Authority to offload 20% of subsidiary   

Suez Canal, Boat, Transportation, Vehicle Creative Commons
The Canal Company for Mooring and Lights had been placed in a holding company, says SCA head Osama Rabie
  • SCA head says stake sale is experiment
  • Selling or leasing canal is “out of the question”
  • Canal has earned Egypt $9.4bn in current financial year

Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority (SCA) is offering a 20 percent stake in a subsidiary company in line with a government drive to boost the private sector, but selling or leasing the canal is “out of the question”, SCA head Osama Rabie said.

Rabie said the sale of the 20 percent stake in the Canal Company for Mooring and Lights on the Egyptian stock market was an experiment and indicated that there could be more stake sales in the future.

“In principle, we might continue doing this,” he told a press conference.

The Canal Company for Mooring and Lights, which its website says has capital of EGP250 million ($8.10 million), had been placed in a holding company, Rabie said, without giving further details.

He reiterated denials that the canal could be sold or leased.

“It is out of the question to privatise (the canal) or lease it for 69 or 99 years,” he said. “The assets of the authority are owned by the Egyptian people.”

Legal amendments proposed last year for a fund to help the SCA manage its resources triggered speculation that they would open the door to selling stakes in the canal to foreign investors.

It came as Egypt has struggled with sharp financial pressure and an acute shortage of foreign currency.

On Wednesday Rabie said that the proposal for a fund was separate from the issue of selling or leasing any assets.

The canal is a major generator of foreign exchange for Egypt, earning $9.4 billion so far in the current financial year, which ends this month.

Former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nationalisation of the canal in 1956, which led to a failed British invasion, is seen as one of the modern Egyptian state’s major achievements.