Egypt’s Beltone to issue bonus shares, raise capital

Egypt's Beltone Financial Holding's unveiled a one-for-two stock dividend plan as part of a two-stage capital increase programme of up to 242 million Egyptian pounds ($33.9 million) to fund growth in its financial services business.

An initial capital increase of 41.83 million Egyptian pounds was approved by shareholders on Sunday night, the financial services company said in a statement.

That will see the company issue free shares to shareholders instead of paying cash dividends. Existing shareholders will receive one bonus share for every two shares held.

After that, Beltone plans a rights issue to raise 200 million Egyptian pounds, the top end of its previously suggested range of 100-200 million.

"We are targeting completion of the (first phase of the) capital increase through the free distribution to existing shareholders within two to three weeks from now," said Osama Rashad, head of investor relations at Beltone.

"The target completion date for the rights issue is in the first half of January," he said.

Egypt's stock market regulator approved the fundraising earlier this month.

With more than 200 staff, Beltone's activities include brokerage, asset management, investment banking and private equity operations. Foreign operations include offices in Dubai and London.

Beltone Chairman Aladdin Saba told Reuters last month his company planned to invest 300 million pounds next year to expand domestic operations because it believed the worst of Egypt's economic instability had passed.

Egypt's economy has been battered by three years of political upheaval since a 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak after 30 years in power.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government has made a raft of long-awaited economic reforms that have helped boost flagging investor confidence.

Beltone's earnings have slumped since last year, when they were inflated by one-off gains such as a property sale. Consolidated net income tumbled 84 percent from a year earlier to 11.0 million pounds in the first half of 2014.

Earlier this year, Beltone implemented a five-to-one share split to boost trading in its shares and widen its investor base.

Beltone shares closed on Sunday at 18.61, up 1.6 percent.

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