Egypt’s loan market is having a good start to the year. Several corporate deals have already been launched or completed, including a $290m loan for EgyptAir, a $250m loan for Egyptian Drilling Company and a $160m loan for Orascom Hotels.
A $2bn export financing loan for Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation is also being arranged and bankers in the country say -several other sizeable deals are planned.
By contrast, the Gulf loan market has stalled. Bankers there say the market will be virtually dead in the first quarter of 2010. The bitter taste left by Dubai World’s request in November for a standstill on repayments on $22bn of its debts has sapped banks’ confidence and enthusiasm for making fresh loans to UAE firms.
Dubai has been the driver of the region’s finance market and almost all the banks in the GCC are exposed in some way to its problems. Borrowers in other Gulf markets can probably secure loans, but even they will need strong state backing to persuade bankers it is worth the risk.
The problem is not just that the potential for defaults has scared the banks off. Banks are also suffering from the impact of the huge provisions they have had to make for bad loans, which has reduced the amount of money they now have to lend.
Egypt, on the other hand, has been relatively well insulated from the vicissitudes of the global economy – something that has served it well during the financial crisis. The local banking sector is stable and is not overly exposed to real estate. What is more, the country has continued to report economic growth.
International banks that are looking to deploy capital and are wary of firms in the Gulf will increasingly look to other emerging economies with the potential for high growth. Egypt is well placed to capitalise on this trend.