x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Investor confidence now a rarity

Four months after Egypt's upheaval, investor confidence is a rare commodity. But the market has not suffered as badly as some feared.

When protestors gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square to demand that their president leave, a different battle was playing out just around the corner. One group of angry day-traders took to gathering outside Egypt's stock exchange on a daily basis.

They wanted the market to remain closed while the upheaval went on, for fear of losing their money if the bourse reopened. A second group, separated from the first by a military tank, called for an immediate re-opening.

For two months they fought it out until the regulators and listed companies decided to take the plunge and open the doors again.

Now, four months on, investor confidence is a rare commodity. But the market has not suffered as badly as some feared.

"You sometimes think that everything is in a constant state of chaos," said Sherif Salem, a fund manager at Invest AD. "But then you get earnings going up and companies like Electrolux buying Egyptian companies," he said.

Mr Salem pointed to the latest sales results for Ghabbour Auto, a publicly listed Egyptian car dealership.

"Their sales of Hyundai cars have gone up this year, which means people are buying cars. It's easy to focus on Tahrir as the site of many problems, but there are normal lives going on outside this place," Mr Salem said.

Analysts say that for any real stability to return to the market, Egyptian investors must see clarity in the political situation.

Ann Wyman, the head of emerging markets research at Nomura, wrote in a recent research note that the trial of the former president, Hosni Mubarak, scheduled for next month could be "another lightening rod".

business@thenational.ae