Egypt’s NSGB falls as QNB offer deadline extended

Egypt’s National Societe Generale Bank slumped after the country’s regulator extended Qatar National Bank’s stake purchase offer deadline to Feb. 20, weighing on Cairo’s bourse, while Gulf markets were mixed in lackluster trading.

NSGB fell 5.7 percent, taking November losses to 15.8 percent, after rallying for the last four months on stake purchase talks.

Societe Generale is nearing the sale of its majority stake in NSGB to QNB, sources familiar with the matter said earlier this month. If concluded, the Qatari bank would be obliged to offer to buy out minority shareholders.

Along with minority shareholders’ stake in the lender, the deal value is about $2.6 billion.

Shares in QNB closed flat on Doha’s index, which was also little moved.

Cairo’s index dipped 0.8 percent to finish at 5,439 points, slipping back towards Tuesday’s 12-week low after a strong rally on Wednesday, as the momentum faded from a tentative loan deal with the International Monetary Fund.

“The market found some support close to 5,300 and rebounded with thin volumes that confirm the weakens of the buyers,” said Mohabeldeen Agenda, head of technical analysis at Cairo’s Beltone Financial. “We might see a very minor rebound towards 5,500, where bears are likely to appear again and push the index downwards to break below the current support zone.”

Egypt said on Tuesday the $4.8 billion IMF deal included an agreement to rein in its state budget deficit with measures including tax changes targeting the wealthy and more careful spending on subsidies intended to help the poor.

Citadel Capital gained 0.8 percent after saying it had agreed with Qatari investors to import liquefied natural gas into Egypt from mid-2013.

“Citadel’s news is positive but, in the long-term, everyone is waiting for Citadel’s exit scenario from any of its investments,” said a Cairo-based trader who asked not to be identified.

Citadel’s managing director said last month there are no immediate plans to float any of its companies but is looking at selling at least three non-core assets as it struggles to recover losses due to falling asset values.

In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai’s bourse slipped after two sessions of gains and volumes dropped to a two-week low as investors were little encouraged to increase their market exposure despite a ceasefire in the Gaza-Israel conflict.

The emirate’s index ended 0.2 percent lower, heading back to Monday’s seven-week low. About 55 million shares traded, the lowest total since Nov. 7.

A ceasefire between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers took hold on Thursday after eight days of conflict, although deep mistrust on both sides cast doubt on how long the Egyptian-sponsored deal can last.

“Markets right now don’t have much of a catalyst going for them – given the major political overhang on asset values, which affects investor sentiment,” said Haissam Arabi, chief executive and fund manager at Gulfmena Investments. “We might see valuations remain attractive if things don’t change.”

Shares in Nasdaq Dubai-listed Depa pared some of Wednesday’s gains, tumbling 14.8 percent, after builder Arabtec said it had acquired a 24.3 percent stake in the interior contractor.

Depa surged 47 percent on Wednesday on talk of a big buyer.

Shares in Arabtec slipped 2.1 percent, extending November’s losses to 11.2 percent. The stock has declined in recent months on delisting worries after Abu Dhabi fund Aabar Investments increased its stake in the firm.

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