The Central Bank of Egypt is the government regulatory body responsible for setting and co-ordinating monetary, credit and banking policies
The Financial Services sector in Egypt
In May 2011, the UK government added Egypt to the list of top 20 key High Growth Markets in
the new UKTI strategy.
The Central Bank of Egypt is the government regulatory body responsible for setting and co-
ordinating monetary, credit and banking policies. It supervises firmly all foreign and local banks
working in Egypt, which explains how this sector managed to escape the worst impact of the
financial crisis. All bank transactions (letter of credit or transfers) during commercial deals are
secured and guaranteed internationally.
The financial services sector is a key component of the economy. The reforms undertaken in the
past six years, in particular, have transformed the financial landscape and have partly helped
shelter Egypt from financial contagion during the global crisis. The sector holds untapped
potential in retail and commercial banking, insurance, mortgage finance and equities. Public-
Private-Partnership (PPP) provides an opportunity for British companies to bid for the projects as
well as for legal and consultancy work.
There are opportunities for UK companies in the Egyptian financial services sector in the
The Egyptian banking sector has a lot of growth potential with its supportive regulatory
environment, low penetration levels (only 10% of the population have bank accounts) and low
loan-to-deposit ratio (about 50%). Small and medium enterprise lending and retail banking are
growth opportunities in the market.
Insurance premiums amount to about 1.1% of GDP leaving huge scope for growth. Growth in
the life insurance business outstrips the non-life and much of this growth is driven by foreign
Given the low penetration levels, the market has a huge potential to grow but it also faces a
number of challenges including low awareness levels, and lack of skills, particularly actuaries.
Future market expansion will depend on reform of the health insurance and micro-insurance
segments, the pension system and re-launch of bancassurance, which was stopped in 2009.
The Egyptian Exchange (EGX) is one of the highly regulated and most open securities
exchanges in emerging markets with a strong core of diversified sectors. It is also one of the
deepest in the region, with the most complete set of legislative, institutional and technological
structures and the highest rate of compliance with international principles.
Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority.
Member firms are classified according to the activities they are licensed to perform. All
securities intermediaries can undertake cash transactions and over the counter trading. Other
activities such as margin trading, short selling, electronic trading, intra-day trading and primary
dealers require a special permit.
Nile Stock Exchange (NILEX)
An important milestone for the Egyptian market was the launch of a small cap bourse. Nilex, the
first small cap market in the MENA region, was launched in October 2007 to give small and
medium enterprises access to capital.
Trading on Nilex actually started in June 2010. Currently there are 20 companies listed. Nilex
will provide growth opportunities for SMEs, which account for nearly 90% of Egypt’s GDP.
The Egyptian housing finance sector is growing but it remains underdeveloped with mortgages
representing less than half a percent of GDP.
Total mortgage lending reached LE4 billion ($666m) in June 2010, from LE16 million ($2.6m)
in June 2005. About 47% come from mortgage finance companies and 53% from banks.
The average interest rate for a mortgage is about 12.4%. There is also a mismatch between real
estate demand and supply. While there is demand for housing among the middle-to-lower
income segment of the population, much of the properties developed were targeted at the high-
Mortgage lending has a huge potential to grow and the country’s demographics (over 50% of the
population below 25 years old) ensure there will be steady demand but there is a need for long-
term, cheaper credit. The development of a strong bond market and securitisation will be crucial.
Legal & Professional services
The legal market in Egypt is dominated by a few full-service firms. There are approximately 122
prominent legal firms operating in Egypt. Most firms are small, employing 10 lawyers or fewer.
Major firms tend to be based in the big cities of Cairo and Alexandria with a smaller but growing
number in other expanding cities of Egypt.
There are a few professional services firms leading the advisory services in Egypt. Assurance
Services for listed firms is a major business in Egypt and a main driver in the economy,
particularly influencing the financial sector and the advisory sector. The large professional
services firms dominate the advisory services operation in Egypt. Audit work for listed firms
remains a steady income stream. The 4 big multinational names are KPMG, Ernst & Young,
PriceWaterhouseCoopers & Deloitte.
International firms do not have a strong presence on the ground, with the exception of Trowers &
Hamlins in association with Nour Law Office, SNR Denton – formerly Denton Wilde Sapte –
and DLA Matouk Bassiouny, which all practice in collaboration with local practitioners.
Opportunities in the Egyptian market for law firms include Corporate Finance, M&A
compliance, Banking regulatory reform, Infrastructure Projects, Construction, Commercial
Contract Law, Dispute Resolution, intellectual property and overseas listings.
Latest export opportunities in the Financial and Professional Services sector
Latest export opportunities in Egypt
Getting into the market
Egypt is an attractive market that can offer major business opportunities to informed traders and
investors. Trade and investment between the UK and Egypt is promising. However it is not
always an easy market. A successful entry into Egypt will be determined by the quality of the
information and advice upon which the decision to enter is based. Continued success is also
dependent upon the ability to navigate the laws and practices of Egypt.
The Egyptian market requires careful study and a sustained sales effort. There is strong
competition from other exporting countries. Price and credit terms are a deciding factor when
obtaining contracts, though quality is increasingly important. Back-up servicing facilities and the
supply of spare parts is also important.
Having a local partner can be vital to successful penetration of this market. There are several
reasons for this. Firstly, given the continuing bureaucracy, a local partner can shepherd the
foreign business through the delays and obstacles. Secondly, foreign companies require a local
agent to bid for government tenders. Thirdly, as the Egyptian market becomes more
sophisticated there is a growing demand for after sales service, which a local agent can
British companies wishing to develop their business in the Egyptian market are advised to
undertake as much market research and planning as possible in the UK.
More about doing business in Egypt
Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke
market research and support during overseas visits through our chargeable Overseas Market
Introduction Service (OMIS).
To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists
in country - or contact your local international trade team.
ξ John Franck, British Embassy Cairo. Tel: (00202) 2791 6000 or email:
Wafaa Saad, British Embassy Cairo. Tel: (00202) 2791 6000 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to
overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.
Latest events in the Financial and Professional Services sector
Euromoney - The Egypt Conference
25 - 26 Sep 2012
More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters