Egypt-based investment bank EFG Hermes is looking to expand to Central Africa through organic growth and acquisitions.

“We are trying to increase our geographical print and will consider any opportunities that surface, particularly in our investment and commercial banking business,” says chief executive Yasser al-Mallawany. The bank has $600m under management in Egypt.

EFG Hermes has a few mandates to advise on initial public offerings (IPOs) this year. “If equity markets remain solid we should see two or three IPOs soon, one of which will be in the Gulf, the others in Egypt,” he says. He refused to reveal the companies or sectors.

Speaking about the region’s market, Al-Mallawany says: “The Middle East is very vibrant and has the potential to grow, but governments will need to make political changes. Egypt and Qatar will be the most promising markets.” The firm is closing its private equity fund for Syria.

Qatar’s growth will be driven primarily by its aggressive construction plans for the World Cup in 2020. Egypt’s markets are opening up and have grown by 5 per cent in the past year. He pointed out Iraq as a lucrative emerging market for venture capitalists, “but it is too soon for private equity”.

 “The region requires massive amounts of infrastructure and income needs to be diversified in order to attract investment,” says Al-Mallawany.