Investment funds ‘safest’ bet, says HC

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CAIRO: HC Investments and Securities will manage the Misr Al-Mostaqbal investment fund, an idea that stemmed from calls by young Egyptians to support the stock market after its almost two-month closure earlier this year.

The fund, whose name translates into “Egypt, the future,” will accept investments from individuals of as little as LE 10, as a way of propping the stock market through this transitional period — which has been marked by the fluctuating performance of stocks.

“After the revolution, we noticed a lot of citizens willing to invest as little as LE 100 in the fund just because they care about Egypt and they had fears for the country’s economy,” said Adel El Wali, HC executive director and manager of the fund.

“Right now, people might be scared to invest,” said El Wali. “We want to assure the people that investment funds are the safest, easiest, and most secure way to invest in Egypt today.”

Hussein Choucri, chief executive officer of HC, added that over the next three months, the company plans to launch three more projects in Egypt in collaboration with Arab investors.

“There are three deals that we have in mind to help our economy move forward,” Choucri said. “They are currently worth about LE 1 billion, this shows that investors still have confidence in the Egyptian market.”

Choucri also added that these new deals show that people should not just stand by the sidelines until the situation improves.

Calling the decision to start this fund a “national goal,” El Wali emphasized that this fund was especially designed for Egyptians who wanted to help boost the country’s economy with what they can contribute.

After Egypt’s 18-day popular uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak on February 11, the country’s economy took a hard hit.

During the revolt, businesses were at a standstill, banks closed, and even after Mubarak was forced out of power, the Egyptian Stock Exchange closed for about two months.

“As soon as the stock market opened, we realized that we need to get to work,” said Omar Radwan, chief operating officer.

The fund waives usage costs or fees for the first year, only one share can be bought by each investor, and people cannot sell the share that they bought for an entire year, in order to encourage buying not selling. Fund returns are also exempt from taxes.

With these measures, the fund aims to open possibilities for Egyptians and non-Egyptians alike who want to invest.

“This is also a great opportunity for new and young investors to enter the market and the world of stocks this year,” El Wali said.

El Wali points out that this will allow buyers to take advantage of the “good” prices during this period as well. The drop in the market is seen by some investors as an ideal time to hunt for bargains.

HC also hopes to comfort investors by clearing up any “misconceptions” that overwhelm everyday Egyptian citizens when it comes to investment funds.

“People may think that this investment, however much it is, won’t decrease, it is going to change,” El Wali said. “Any investment can be risky, but with this new fund, you are not only investing for your future, but for Egypt.”

“From small to large investments, this is for anyone who wants to invest in Egypt after the revolution,” said El Wali. “The fund is open to foreign investors, Egyptian companies, or even individuals who wish to purchase shares.”

There are about six banks in Egypt where people can go and purchase shares in the fund, including Commercial International Bank (CIB), Al Watany Bank Egypt, Arab Bank, and most recent, Al-Ahly Bank.

According to El Wali, chairman of the Egyptian Stock Exchange Mohamed Abdel Salam is currently promoting the fund in New York, the UAE, and several other countries around the globe as part of an investment road show.

Overseeing 10 investment funds, HC has been in Egypt since 1996 and is currently the largest Investment Securities Company in Egypt.

Wali pointed out that despite the hardships the Egyptian economy is currently facing, there are diverse opportunities including tourism, agriculture and resources that will continue attracting investors from all over the world.

“In order to be ahead, we have to act now in order to boost the economy and return to the previous economic state that we are at before the revolution,” Choucri said. “We have to reach out to investors now, while all this is happening, we can’t just isolate ourselves from the world’s market.” 

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