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Egypt’s leader named veteran financier Hassan Abdalla as acting central bank governor, as the country faces increasing pressure on its currency while seeking a deal with the International Monetary Fund.

Abdalla replaces Tarek Amer, who resigned on Wednesday and was appointed an adviser to President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. No reasons were given for his departure, which ended a dramatic tenure that began in 2015.

The chairman of the United Media Services group, which owns many of Egypt’s most popular newspapers and TV channels, Abdalla previously held senior positions over many years at the Arab African International Bank, which was jointly established with the central bank. He was named a senior official at Egypt’s central bank in 2018, and is also the founder of Panther Associates, a financial advisory firm.

Abdalla’s posting was announced Thursday by the presidency, hours before the central bank’s latest interest-rate decision is due. El-Sisi has asked him to develop monetary policies that keep pace with global economic challenges, create a positive investment climate and diversify Egypt’s sources of foreign exchange, according to the state-run Ahram Gate website. 

The economy of the Arab world’s most populous nation is battling with the spillover effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Inflation is running at a three-year high, with the country struggling to lure back foreign investors who pulled some $20 billion from the local debt market this year.

Pressure is also mounting on Egypt’s pound, even after it was devalued by about 15% in March. The government has been seeking a new loan from the IMF, which favors a more flexible exchange rate. 

Bloomberg Economics estimates the currency may have to fall about 23% to help the economy adjust and reduce Egypt’s funding gap.

Abdalla holds degrees in business administration from the American University in Cairo, according to his LinkedIn page. He has been on the board of the London Stock Exchange since 2004 and a member of the board at the Institute of International Finance from 2006 to 2012, it says.

(Update with El-Sisi’s comments and background on acting governor starting in third paragraph.)

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