BARCLAYS is set to expand its network of banks in Egypt despite the country’s economic woes and other European banks selling its Egyptian assets.
Although the downfall of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 has not led to the flourishing Egyptian economy that many had hoped for, Barclays is set to open several new branches later this year to add to the 50-plus outlets it currently owns.
The expansion comes after both BNP Paribas and Societe Generale sold their Egyptian businesses at the end of last year. BNP Paribas sold its 95 per cent stake in its operations in the country to Dubai’s Emirates NBD for $500m (£329m) in December, shortly after Societe Generale offloaded its Egyptian subsidiary to Qatar National Bank for $2bn. Since a popular uprising ousted Mubarak in 2011, Egypt’s economy has suffered from a slump in tourism and a lack of foreign investment.
The Egyptian pound has lost nine per cent of its value against the dollar since late December, when the central bank brought in a new system of dollar auctions that allowed the currency to weaken.
Omar Baig, consumer banking director at Barclays Egypt, told Bloomberg that the bank may consider buying other lenders if the right opportunity arises. “Our view about Egypt in the long term still remains that it’s a place where we want to be and we want to be a significant player,” he said, adding that Barclays will expand by around 10 per cent in the country this year.