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By Ahmed Aboulenein
CAIRO, July 16 (Reuters) - Egypt's Manpower Ministry ordered the closure of leading market research firm Ipsos's business in the country, citing workplace health and safety violations, a ministry decree dated June 20 showed.
The decree was made public by local media late on Saturday. The spokesman confirmed its authenticity to Reuters. He said Cairo local authorities had not yet carried out the order.
"As of June 20, 2017, Ipsos Egypt for Consulting Services is to be shut down completely for not carrying out a natural disasters assessment and not making a contingency plan to protect the building and employees in case of a disaster," stated the decree.
Ipsos, a global market research firm headquartered in France, conducts audience research on Egyptian television networks and provides the results to advertisers.
Egypt's Interior Ministry last year warned citizens against taking part in surveys conducted by foreign media organisations, saying it was a threat to national security.
An Ipsos official in Egypt who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed the closure order on Sunday but said the company would not comment publicly on the matter.
"What I can tell you is we have no work safety violations whatsoever, these are all false claims," he told Reuters.
Ipsos officials in France were not immediately available for comment.
The company had been criticised by pro-government talk show hosts and state-aligned newspapers, which accuse it of sympathising with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, links to foreign intelligence agencies, labour law violations and tax evasion, all of which it denies.
The media organisations say Ipsos misrepresents their ratings, showing them to be lower for political reasons, which the company denies. In parliament last month, MPs in the pro-government majority coalition called Ipsos reports biased. (Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Additional reporting by Mathieu Rosemain in Paris; Editing by Susan Thomas)