The Industrial Development Authority had invited bids from companies to acquire a licence which would have allowed the winning bidder to produce 15 billion cigarettes a year. However, four companies, including Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco (BATS.L), argued the winner would have an unfair market advantage. The amended terms will now allow the winning bidder to produce 1 billion cigarettes a year. Furthermore, a rule saying the Industrial Development Authority would not be offering any other licenses after the tender for a decade was scrapped, according to Reuters.
In Egypt, the cigarette industry contributes around EGP 60 billion (USD 3.8 billion) to government funds each year and the new rules could mark an end of the monopoly by the state-controlled Eastern Company (EAST.CA), which has a 70 per cent market share.