CAIRO: An Egyptian court ruled against the sale of government land to Talaat Moustafa Group, Egypt’s biggest listed developer, but the government vowed to appeal and said building on the land near Cairo would continue.
The court ruled on Tuesday that the New Urban Communities Authority, a body under the housing ministry, broke the law by selling land directly to the Arab Company for Projects and Urban Development, a Talaat Moustafa unit, and not opening it up to bidding.
Talaat Moustafa said the sales contract was sound and the authority would appeal the ruling.
Ahmed El-Maghrabi, the housing minister, said the ruling did not mean the contract would be cancelled, or that the firm would stop work on its mixed-use Medinaty project, the state news agency said.
"The ruling to annul does not mean ending the contract, or stoppage, or suspension of the company’s execution of the project," state news agency MENA quoted El-Maghrabi as saying.
In a statement following the court decision, the developer said: "The authority will honor its commitments and the company will implement its commitments to its customers."
Judge Hassan Sayed Abdel Aziz said the ruling applied to a 2005 contract and annex for the 8,000 feddans (8,304 acres) on which Medinaty will sit.
The flagship project, which according to the firm’s website will include homes, hotels and a golf course, is underway, with some sales completed and construction started on parts of the development.
Talaat Moustafa said the dispute was with the authority and not its unit.
The case was brought by Hamdy El-Desouki, who had argued he had not had the chance to bid on the land and it should have been offered at auction.
Ahmed Mekky, a judge and vice-chairman of a Cairo appeals court, said the decision could be appealed in the Supreme Administrative Court, whose ruling would be final.