News in Briefs

Daily News Egypt
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Mediterranean ports closed for bad weather

Reuters reported that the Egyptian port of Alexandria and nearby Dekheila port closed on Monday because of high winds and waves, the state news agency Mena said. The port authorities close the entrances to the ports during bad weather to prevent accidents. The agency said heavy rain on the Mediterranean coast had flooded some Alexandria streets, disrupting traffic. -Agencies

HSBC Egypt to pay LE 49.5 dividend

Reuters reported that the shareholders of HSBC Bank Egypt approved a dividend of LE 49.5 ($9.02) a share for the year 2007, the bank said in a statement to the stock exchange on Sunday.

The dividend represents a payment of about LE 600 million to HSBC Group, which owns about 94.5 percent of the shares in HSBC Bank Egypt, a company official said. The statement, which did not give a date for the dividend payment, said the distribution, which will amount to a total of LE 632 million, will not include subscriptions to a rights issue in January.

The shareholders meeting on Thursday also approved an employee bonus worth LE 90.55 million, 10 percent of the 2007 total net profits of the bank, the statement added. -Agencies

Rules on tendering hospitality projects tightened

The Development Authority for the tourism sector in Egypt confiscated 26 tracts of land intended for tourism projects, reported Business Intelligence Middle East.

According to Khaled Makhlouf, head of the Tourism Development Authority, the decision was a result of the inability of the investors to meet agreed-upon deadlines.

Makhlouf announced that the tracts – 17 on the Red Sea, five in Ain Sokhna, three in Ras Sidr and one in Aqaba Bay – will be re-offered to new investors once the paperwork is finalized. According to Makhlouf, the decision will allow the authority to meet its plan to add 15,000 hotel rooms annually.

“With the intention of ensuring only serious investment proposals are tendered, the authority has imposed strict regulations that force investors to adhere to predetermined time schedules for completing their projects. If these schedules are not met, the land under development will be confiscated and returned to the Development Authority, said a press statement.

To date, 69 tourism projects have been granted initial approval from the Development Authority and will be located outside city limits. These projects will host an estimated 11,768 hotel rooms and 855 tourist housing units, with a total investment cost of LE 20.8 billion.

During 2007, the Ministry of Tourism issued final approval for 45 tourism projects, providing 13,520 hotel rooms and 4,970 tourist housing units with total investment estimated at LE 3.5 billion.

Makhlouf added that in 2008 the Development Authority will focus on large development projects that he believes will be more beneficial to long-term development of the sector.

Hesham Zaazouu, first undersecretary, stated that Tourism Minister Zohair Garana had not signed on any new licenses since taking office. In local daily Al-Alam Al-Youm, Zaazouu said that Garana is awaiting final modifications to the law governing tourism company operations – which is still under review by the Shoura Council – before issuing any license. -BI-ME

Leap in 2007 food, chemicals, industrial exports

Minister of Trade and Industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid has met with the heads of export councils to discuss the 2008 export plan. At the meeting the various council heads reported on the export results for each of their sectors in 2007, reported Business Intelligence Middle East.

Tarek Tawfik, head of the Food Products Exporting Council, revealed positive figures for 2007 with LE 7 billion in food exports, an overall increase of 38 percent over 2006 levels, said a press statement. The chemicals sector also grew, reported Waleed Helal, undersecretary of the Chemical Production Export Council, with exports reaching LE 14 billion in 2007. Ahmed Helmy, head of the Furniture Export Council, said the furniture production sector has grown 48 percent since 2006.

The leather sector continued this trend with a significant increase in exports and value-added local production, while the medicine sector also saw double-digit production growth over the past 12 months.

Looking to the coming year, Rachid discussed support and financing programs directed at local exporters that will be based on studies conducted by the export council in each sector. To be eligible to receive support, exporters must have definitive plans to increase their exports and their competitiveness in target markets, said Rachid.

On the stock exchange

Orascom Telecom Holding sent a press release concerning reports in the Financial Times suggesting the possibility of the company eventually merging with a western telecoms group. Orascom confirmed the rumor, but has not specified Western Telecom Group as reported. The Housing and Development Bank with Delta Rasmala Company are set to establish a joint venture company operating in the field of issuance and management of investment funds with a paid in capital of LE 10 million.

Upper Egypt Contracting has denied plans to acquire El Mahmodia Company, but said that the acquisition of a stake in a company that works in the same field is still under study by the board of directors.

In a press release, Oriental Weavers said that the company will announce at the end of February 2008 the detailed plan for the establishment of a new factory with an area of 190,000 square meters. -Case

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