Egypt’s Sisi names Hassan Abdalla as caretaker cbank head

Cairo (Reuters) – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Thursday appointed Hassan Abdalla as caretaker governor of the central bank following the surprise resignation of Tarek Amer, the presidency said.

Amer resigned on Wednesday, just over a year before the completion of his term with the country mired in a currency crisis. 

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, foreign investors pulled billions out of Egypt, and the central bank allowed the currency to depreciate by about 15% in March and in recent months gradually weaken further.

Abdalla, whose appointment drew positive initial reactions, was head of state-owned media giant United Media Services. His previous positions include managing director of Cairo-based Arab African International Bank from 2002 until 2018.

He was also among bankers and government officials who supported liberal economic policies implemented in the early 2000s.

“Sisi stressed the need to develop monetary policies in line with global economic variables and work to provide various sources of foreign currencies,” the presidency said in a statement.

He also stressed “the need to work on providing the appropriate climate for investment.”

Abdalla takes the caretaker position as Egypt negotiates for fresh financing from the International Monetary Fund, which last month said Egypt needed to make “decisive progress” on fiscal and structural reform, arguing for greater exchange rate variability.

Hisham Ezz al-Arab, former Chairman of Commercial International Bank (CIB), described Abdalla as “rational” and someone who “understands the international market.”

“He has a challenging mission,” he said. “But… many very respectable people in the market will help him, if our help will be needed,” Ezz al-Arab added.

Wael Ziada, head of investment company Zilla Capital, said Abdalla supported foreign direct investment and communicated well with foreigners.

A monetary policy committee due to meet later on Thursday, was expected to raise overnight deposit rate by half a percentage point according to analysts polled by Reuters prior to Amer’s resignation.