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Citadel Capital still open to potential sale

Reporting by Louisa Bojesen; writing by Kiran Moodley
Citadel Capital open to potential company sale

Africa's largest private equity group, Citadel Capital, could still be open to a potential sale of its business, according to the firm's managing director and co-founder Hisham El-Khazindar.

Two years ago, Citadel was in talks with Abraaj Capital, a Dubai-based private equity company, about the latter buying a stake in the Cairo-based firm. However, the talks did not amount to any deal as an agreed price could not be reached.

On Wednesday evening, however, when asked by CNBC whether he would still be interested in the sale of Citadel, El-Khazindar said, "There's always a price for something, yes."

(Read more: Egypt needs a technocratic government: Citadel Capital)

He added that he was still focused on expanding Citadel's business in the meantime: "I think what we're doing right now with capital-raising is essentially doubling up on our commitment to Africa and to Egypt in particular, and taking a longer-term view strategy, rather than a shorter view one. So you can never say never in these things."

Citadel currently has over $9 billion in investments across Africa and the Middle East, and recently announced plans to move away from its private equity roots and transition into an investment company.

In September, Citadel obtained regulatory approval to go ahead with a $528 million share issue.

(Read more: Looking for a good investment? Consider Egypt: Finance minister)

"Our view as to how navigate this coming period is we require more focus," El-Khazindar told CNBC. "We need to focus on a narrower set of industries and opportunities, particularly the ones where we feel we've built great businesses." He said the company will focus on five key sectors: energy, transport, agrifood,mining and cement

Discussing the $528 million influx, El-Khazindar said that the firm saw "an opportunity to build really large pan-African, pan-regional plays in those industries. We see a competitive landscape that is pretty empty."

El-Khazindar was at pains to stress the need for investment strategy in the North African region, which has been politically volatile in the three years following the "Arab Spring", to be based on a longer-term time frame. He said that transitioning the period into an investment company gave them the scope to focus on a 10-15-year period, rather than one of five to seven.

(Read more: Scenes from theturmoil in Egypt)