January 19, 2015 / 9:30 PM / 3 years ago

Nestle plans to invest $138 million in Egypt in next few years

A bird flies past the logo at the headquarters of world food giant Nestle in Vevey October 16, 2014. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

CAIRO (Reuters) - Swiss food giant Nestle plans to invest about 1 billion Egyptian pounds ($137.93 million) in Egypt in the next few years and believes economic reforms could deliver results, its regional CEO said on Monday.

Political and economic instability triggered by the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 have not discouraged Nestle from investing about the same amount in the years since then.

“Certainly the kind of investments we have made over the last three to four years are the kind of vision that we would have for this market also going forward,” Suresh Narayanan, its North East Africa Region CEO, told Reuters in an interview.

Nestle aims to invest in manufacturing, new products and the nutrition and health industries, he said.

Food is seen as a fast-growing sector in Egypt, the most populous Arab nation with 90 million people.

A flurry of mergers have boosted activity on the Cairo bourse, suggesting growing international interest in the country as the economy starts to pick up again.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief toppled Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in 2013 and then went on to become elected president, has taken bold steps, such as easing fuel subsidies, that have won praise from foreign investors.

While Narayanan said it was important for Egypt to gain greater stability, Nestle and other companies seem more focused on the government’s promise to make life easier for investors.

Egypt has said it will introduce a new investment law by March that will create a one-stop shop for foreign companies frustrated by bureaucracy.

“I believe the steps that are being talked about in terms of improving the investment laws, improving the laws of labor, improving the overall friendliness that the country has towards investments, all augurs well,” said Narayanan.

“It is a long road. Miracles are not going to happen in days or weeks.”

Other food and beverage retailers such as Coca-Cola Co, PepsiCo and Saudi Arabia’s Almarai have announced investments worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Egypt.

(Corrects word in paragraph 2 to “instability”)

Editing by Andrew Roche

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