Italian asset manager Azimut has agreed to purchase 100% of Egyptian peer Rasmala Egypt Asset Management from Rasmala Group.

Set up in 1997, Rasmala Egypt focuses on conventional and Sharia-compliant portfolio management. The business, led by Ahmed Abou El Saad, oversaw $474m in assets at the end of November 2018.

The firm tends to local sovereign institutions, international sovereign wealth funds, pension plans, public banks and HNWIs.

The deal marks Azimut’s first foray into Egypt, a country that the firm believes offers a “significant opportunity”.

Reasons include the country’s fast growing demographics, relatively low urbanisation level, and relatively low market capitalisation of the economy.

Rasmala Egypt will be rebranded to Azimut Egypt Asset Management upon deal completion.

Azimut chairman Pietro Giuliani said: “The investment in Egypt confirms our commitment in expanding our MENA and Turkey regional footprint which will see Azimut as the first global asset manager with investment teams on the ground in Dubai, Cairo and Istanbul with an oversight on markets which we expect to attract significant interest from global investors.

“This investment will also enable Azimut to capitalise on its integrated financial advisory model in a sizeable retail market carrying exciting prospects in the medium term. It marks the first move of the Group in Africa, a vast region offering unique untapped opportunities for product management and distribution expansion.”

Rasmala was founded in 1999 and is listed on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange. In 2018, its AuM was $1.7 billion. The investment manager focuses primarily on the Middle East with its main exposure to GCC market.