29 September 2009
Citadel Capital, the region's leading private equity firm controlling investments of more than US$ 8.3 billion, presented today at the 15th Euromoney Egypt Conference. The firm was lead sponsor of Cairo's premier financial gathering that each year brings together senior government figures, private investors and other business leaders.
"Egypt has weathered the financial crisis better than many anticipated or forecasted," said Marwan Elaraby, Citadel Capital Managing Director, speaking on the conference's opening panel. "It was good to see growth move up quarter-on-quarter in 2009 and particularly encouraging to see resilience across a number of sectors.
Softening external demand will likely temper growth, but a combination of consumer confidence and government spending have allowed Egypt to continue to grow in a challenging climate. The keys now are for government to extend and institutionalize its reform program to further spur growth and for leading banks to extend their lending to qualified private-sector borrowers of all sizes, particularly SMEs."
Ahmed El Houssieny, Citadel Capital Managing Director, served as moderator of the conference's Creating Industry Leaders panel, which examined case studies of how Citadel Capital turns national players into regional industry leaders. "Like almost all global investors, Citadel Capital chose last year to nurture its investments through the worst of the crisis," said El Houssieny, "but we are seeing growth opportunities again and we expect that the coming years could set the stage for continued investment in the kind of industry roll-ups at which Citadel Capital excels."
The panel used case studies of the firm's integrated foods (Gozour) and cement production (ASEC Cement) platform investments to see how the intersection of opportunity, unique competitive advantages, people and capital can turn national players into true regional industry leaders with presentations from Gozour Foods Chief Executive Officer Mohamed El-Rashidi and ASEC Cement Chief Executive Officer Giorgio Bodo.
"Gozour is moving forward with its plans to vertically integrate production from agriculture to store shelves," said El-Rashidi. "The idea is to consolidate the local sector, benefit from scale, and internalize production to gain some insulation from price volatility and to build strong, trusted brands."
On the same panel, Bodo outlined ASEC Cement's plans for regional expansion. "ASEC Cement is building the capacity to supply the region's underserved markets that benefit from natural advantages that should make the local cement sector a global leader. Cement is necessary for any long term development and benefits from production's broad move to emerging markets. Building industry leaders on these kinds of compelling, secular trends is ultimately the role of successful regional investors and business leaders."
Citadel Capital is the leading private equity firm in the Middle East and North Africa. The firm focuses on building platform investments throughout the region in select industries through acquisitions, turnarounds, and greenfields executed via Opportunity Specific Funds. Citadel Capital's 19 OSFs now control Platform Companies with investments worth more than US$ 8.3 billion in 14 industries, including mining, cement, transportation, food and energy. Since 2004, the firm has returned more than US$ 2.2 billion in cash to investors, more than any other private equity firm in the region.