Algeria plans bank privatisations as oil money dries up

The economic hit men are coming

Source: ENCA

Algeria plans to allow its dominant state banks to list on the local stock exchange to help develop its financial markets and diversify sources of funding after the oil price slide, a senior financial official said.

The plan will open the door for foreign investors to acquire controlling stakes in banks, reversing a rule requiring Algerian firms to keep a majority shareholding in any partnership with foreigners, the official told Reuters.

Algeria’s six government-run banks account for most of the sector’s assets.

French companies such as Societe Generale and BNP Paribas have the strongest presence among foreign-owned banks already working in the country.

OPEC member Algeria’s economy has been largely based on a state-run and centralised system since its independence from France in 1962 and it remains reliant on an energy sector that still provides 60 percent of its budget.

But the oil price drop since 2014 has put Algeria under financial pressure, forcing the government to trim spending and search for alternative financing sources.

The era of $100 a barrel is over. We have no choice but to change our policy,” the official said, asking not to be named because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

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