Govt considers appeal of order to return privatized companies to state

The Egyptian government is considering an appeal of a decision that ordered the return of three privatized companies to the state, Finance Minister Hazem al-Beblawy said Saturday.

In September, the Administrative Judicial Court ordered the return of the companies, nullifying the privatization deals. The companies had been sold to Egyptian and foreign investors at prices that were less than their value, as part of a privatization program.

The three companies are El-Nasr Boilers and Pressure Vessels Manufacturing, sold in 1994; Tanta Flax & Oil, sold in 2005; and Misr Shebin El Kom Spinning and Weaving, sold in 2006.

Beblawy told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Saturday that the government was considering the appeal – to be filed at the Supreme Administrative Court – for a number of reasons, including the fact that some investors have become apprehensive of the investment climate in Egypt.

He said there are difficulties in returning the companies to the state because some companies were sold to more than one investor after their original sale.

He denied any link between the appeal and the lack of government liquidity or resources with which to reimburse the company owners.

Meanwhile, a source said that on Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmy summoned the heads of the companies charged with returning the three subsidiary companies, namely Tanta for Linen, Shebin for Spinning and Steam Boilers. At the meeting, Selmy discussed appealing the court order after facing great difficulty in the recovery process.

According to the source, the three holding companies informed Selmy and Prime Minister Essam Sharaf of their intention to appeal. The source said it was expected that the matter would be resolved within the coming two days.

The source went on to say that the state was headed toward this step as the recovery of these companies requires huge amounts of money, which the state treasury cannot handle, not to mention the necessary liquidity to begin operating the companies once again.

The source described the move as a “necessary obligation” despite the likelihood of public outrage, especially within the labor circles within these companies.

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