Eastern Co to grow tobacco in Ethiopia

February 3, 2010

tobaccoCAIRO, Feb 3 (Reuters) – Egypt’s cigarette monopoly Eastern Company (EAST.CA) is negotiating with the Ethiopian government to buy 10-20 hectares of land for growing tobacco, the daily al-Mal quoted its chairman as saying.

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous state, has been looking to expand its agricultural investments in east Africa. Last month the prime minister sent a committee to investigate growing wheat in Uganda.

Eastern Company will buy the land and seek the expertise of international companies to cultivate the crop. Among companies it is considering partnerships with are Universal Corp (UVV.N), Alliance One International (AOI.N) and a British group.

“Eastern Company will enter into an equal partnership with one of these companies, once an agreement is made, to begin benefitting from its expertise in the field of tobacco cultivation,” al-Mal quoted Nabil Abdel Aziz as saying.

Procedures for receiving the land and agreeing with a company could take up to a year, the paper cited Abdel Aziz as saying.

Eastern Company was not immediately available for comment.

Shares in Eastern Company were up 1.3 percent at 129 Egyptian pounds by 1032 GMT. (Writing by Shaimaa Fayed; Editing by David Holmes) ($1=5.471 Egyptian Pound)