By Davide Barbuscia
DUBAI (Reuters) - Banque Misr, Egypt’s second largest bank, has mandated Citigroup (C.N) to arrange a $500 million syndicated loan, banking sources said, the latest sign of a pick-up in interest among international banks in lending to Egyptian borrowers.
Misr's debt facility follows a $600 million loan being syndicated among banks for National Bank of Egypt, the country’s largest lender.
Other deals in the Egyptian bank market include a loan of up to around $700 million for Egyptian Electricity Holding Company and three loans recently raised by Telecom Egypt with a combined value of around $900 million.
Such loans are being seen as a sign of returning confidence among international lenders in the Egyptian economy, where business conditions are slowly improving under a three-year IMF loan program tied to fiscal and economic reforms.
Banque Misr could not be reached for comment, while Citi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Before November 2016, when the central bank allowed the Egyptian pound to float, Egyptian banks could only access foreign liquidity through central bank auctions, rather than the interbank market.
While the move has improved Egyptian banks’ access to foreign currency liquidity, they still need to bolster their hard currency buffers to face requirements accrued before the currency floatation.
National Bank of Egypt is syndicating its planned $600 million loan with HSBC, Standard Chartered, Citi, Emirates NBD, Bank ABC, Rakbank and Commercial Bank of Qatar.
Telecom Egypt’s loans were mostly backed by United Arab Emirates banks, while the loan for Egyptian Electricity is being arranged by Credit Suisse and HSBC, banking sources told Reuters earlier this month.
(Editing by Alexander Smith)