Egypt is a prime example of how you need a different mindset in complex countries. Two years ago, we would have just heard tales of woe and people struggling to keep basic operations running. Now, it is beginning to work again. But for how long? These countries have cycles: it is important not to despair during the difficult periods, and not to get carried away during the good ones.
For the time being, FX is readily available and most people are managing to get cash out.
International banks have a thin presence on the ground, so it is advisable to work with local ones, including banks from other Middle Eastern countries or the Gulf. These may not have the most sophisticated products or the best technology, but they are improving and they have an appetite for the region, and their capabilities are improving.
Hedging is a challenge, due to poor liquidity in the markets – but this situation is improving.
In many cases, companies are finding they get the best results in Egypt, either through running offshore or US dollar based businesses, or by going fully onshore with local shareholders, and transferring in activities from elsewhere to maximise local talent and available cash.
Overall, I think this is a good example of how a country which has been in a very difficult situation can improve. But I think there is a danger that our discussion may become too much of a point in time debate. Do we expect things to turn down again in the future (I do, but not for a few years). And, if so, what are we doing to prepare the company for that?
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