Regime Change at Egypt’s EFG Hermes

The chief executives of Egypt’s biggest investment bank, EFG Hermes, have been quietly replaced as the bank attempts to clean up its image ahead of a potential takeover from Qatari firm Qinvest, three sources close to the matter have said.

Hassan Heikal and Yasser El Mallawany, who were last year charged with alleged insider trading alongside the sons of the former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, are still “technically on board but have been removed from the executive function,” said one investment banker close to the bank. Mr Heikal and Mr El Mallawany are still getting a paycheck but remain in their positions only on paper, the banker said.

EFG Hermes denied any changes were made. The changes have not yet been officially announced and Mr Heikal and Mr El Mallawany are still employed as CEOs at EFG Hermes.

[caption id="attachment_1329" align="alignright" width="144"]Yasser El Mallawany Yasser El Mallawany[/caption]

Karim Awad and Kashif Siddiqi, who were last year announced as the new co-CEOs as part of the Qinvest takeover, are now running the bank, a second banker said.  They were head of Investment Banking and head of Asset Management respectively.

Under Qinvest deal, Mr El Mallawany and Mr Heikal were to leave on completion of the transaction that would see Qinvest take control of the bank.  But the deal has stalled because of delays in getting government approval in some Arab countries, according to a statement from EFG in January.

Mr Heikal, who has been living in London for at least a year, is now “pursuing other opportunities” and is “definitely not involved in the running of EFG,” a third source said.

A registry form at the Dubai International Finance Centre in the United Arab Emirates, where EFG Hermes is also registered, lists Mr Awad and Mr Siddiqi as the new directors.  Mr Heikal and Mr El Mallawany are listed as former directors, ending their position in June 06 2013, just 7 days after the case of alleged insider trading was brought against them in Cairo.

In addition, EFG Hermes main website also suggests changes at the helm.  As of February 16, the website title Karim Awad as Co-chief executive of the investment bank, and lists him first in the ranking on the profiles page. But this change was made only a week ago, when the website had described him under the old title of  head of investment banking.

[caption id="attachment_1330" align="alignleft" width="210"]Hassan Heikal Hassan Heikal[/caption]

The change is subtle, but indicates a significant shift in the bank’s executive management.

EFG has seen a sharp drop in its market value since the turmoil of the 2011 uprising in Egypt, partly because of its association with Gamal Mubarak, son of the former Egyptian president who owned a stake in its private equity business.

A further shadow was cast over EFG when its two co-chief executives, Mr Heikal and Mr El Mallawany, were among the nine alleged to have made an illegal profit of more than 2 billion Egyptian pounds ($331 million) through corrupt stock exchange transactions last May. The case is ongoing.




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