Mubarak will swear in the new cabinet on Saturday, officials told Reuters after Nazif finalised a list of ministers which tilts the government further towards economic liberalisation.

"The presidential decree will be issued tomorrow, then the recommended ministers will give their oaths," cabinet spokesman Magdy Rady said on Friday.

A cabinet official, who did not want to be named, gave Reuters a list of names and portfolios that was largely unchanged from the lists previously published by state-controlled newspapers.

The lists showed Nazif had recruited more ministers from the private sector to augment his cabinet, which already contains a core of economic ministers who have spearheaded an economic reform programme for more than a year.

Expanded portfolios

Youssef Boutros-Ghali, the finance minister, and Rachid Mohamed Rachid, a former Unilever executive who headed the foreign trade and industry ministry, have both had their portfolios expanded.

Nazif's cabinet has already slashed taxes, reduced tariff barriers, completed the float of the Egyptian pound and revived a privatisation programme that had ground to a halt.

Mubarak will swear in the new
pro-business team on Saturday

Preliminary reports of the cabinet changes pushed Egyptian stocks up on Wednesday and Thursday.

Housing stocks rose on news that Ahmed el-Maghraby, the former tourism minister, will take over the Housing Ministry.

Nazif gave the tourism portfolio to Zoheir Garrana, a new face in the cabinet whose family firm operates businesses in the sector.

Other fresh pro-business faces include incoming Amin Abaza, the agriculture minister, and the new transport minister, Mohammed Loutfy Mansour.

The prime minister's main focus has traditionally been on managing the economy while the foreign affairs, defence and interior ministers often take orders directly from Mubarak.