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Cablegate: Investor Inexperience Fuels Telecoms Ipo Boom

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS CAIRO 009072

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR NEA/ELA AND EB/CIP
USTR FOR SAUMS/AUGEROT/MCHALE/NEUREITER
USAID FOR ANE/MEA MCCLOUD
COMMERCE FOR 4520/ITA/MAC/ANESA/TALAAT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ECPS EINT EINV ETRD KGIT EG
SUBJECT: INVESTOR INEXPERIENCE FUELS TELECOMS IPO BOOM

REF: CAIRO 06163

Sensitive but Unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

1. (U) On November 29, the GOE began its long-awaited
divestiture of 20% of Telecom Egypt (TE), with an initial
public offering of 10%, or 170 million shares, on the Cairo
and Alexandria Stock Exchange (CASE) sold to individuals, and
the additional 10% being sold to institutions. After several
weeks of press speculation that the market boom was leveling
off due to profit taking in advance of the sale - i.e., as
investors needed liquidity to invest in TE - the IPO met with
an immediate rush for subscriptions and became a major topic
of conversation on the cocktail circuit. So far, with the
IPO to close on December 7, and with investors anticipating a
steady rise in share value, indicators suggest that there
have been requests for 440 million shares; experts expect the
actual allocation to range between 30-40% of the requests.
The private placement portion of the divesture for
institutions, according to press, has also been
oversubscribed by 5-10 times the available shares.

2. (SBU) Enthusiasm for the IPO certainly suggests optimism
about Egypt's general economic prospects. However, contacts
in both the telecoms and financial sectors worry that some
investor exuberance is misplaced, particularly from small and
less sophisticated investors. TE currently holds a monopoly
over fixed-line communications that will expire at the end of
2005, after which it will face marketplace competition -
including from companies offering Voice over Internet
Protocol (VoIP) technology, which will permit international
calls at half the cost of inflated TE landline calls. TE
currently makes nearly 30% of its profit on international
calls, and domestic calls are heavily subsidized.

3. (SBU) More experienced investors reportedly will dump
their TE holdings soon to turn a quick profit. Newcomers,
thus, may lose money in a sell-off in the next few months,
though news reports optimistically suggest that the share
value will gain 15% immediately upon the opening of trade in
its shares, on Dec. 14, on CASE and through Global Depository
Receipts (GDRs) on the London Stock Exchange.

4. (SBU) Comment: At a luncheon two weeks ago, the head of
locally-prominent EFG Hermes Holdings noted that the bull
trend on CASE over the last few months was deceptive, as
investment in relatively transparent companies had slowed,
while investment in companies about which investors knew
little had driven the market upward. He suggested this meant
that market newcomers were diving in without full knowledge.
Certainly a well-known brand like TE would appeal to new
investors. End comment.


RICCIARDONE

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