Thursday, 2 April 2020

Total covid-19 cases leap to 779

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

We do not recall the last time we were this grateful for Thursday to have rolled around. There’s lots of news for you folks this morning below, after which we wish you a productive workday and a blessedly relaxing weekend.

But first:

SMART POLICY- Pushing back the deadline to file and pay taxes. The Federation of Investors’ Associations is calling on the government to postpone until 1 July the deadline for companies to file and pay income taxes. The federation is also saying companies should be allowed to delay paying social insurance and state-owned utilities for a six-month period, Al Mal reports. Hassan Allam Holding co-CEO Hassan Allam told us yesterday that the government should delay payment of 2019 taxes “until December … We’re seeing this in other countries that pay taxes in April, like the US, which has delayed payments until July.” Allam noted that he isn’t calling for a full tax holiday, but a delay to give businesses extra cash in difficult times. Companies have until the end of this month to file taxes.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT- As you head into the weekend, we offer a reading that kept us up at night and then something lighter to take your mind (momentarily) off of it:

You need to reassess what a “bad’ scenario looks like and what a “good scenario” might be for your business in the coming 21 months (that’s the rest of this year and next). We think the odds are good that few of us have been sufficiently aggressive in planning “good” and “bad” scenarios.

The CEOs and c-suite execs we speak with day in and day out feel we’re at something of a tipping point. We have a few days to a few weeks to prepare for either a gradual recovery or more pain, and it’s hard to tell which way it will break.

If we’re on the upswing, we need to remember the lesson of Chinese factory owners: First, their biggest concern was when they could get people back to work in their idle factories. They then found it was harder than expected to get factories up and running again — and then reality set in: Many of their export markets aren’t buying, because they are on covid lockdown. And changes in consumer behaviour “post-covid” are still making businesses’ heads spin — even as they face news that other parts of the country are now being locked down.

So, the reading? This piece by veteran NYT economics writer Peter Goodman compellingly suggests that the global recession is going to be long-lived and quite deep. Egypt has unquestionably escaped the worst — so far — of both covid and the economic damage that it has wrought in Europe and the United States. But even if the virus passes through leaving us relatively unscathed, we’re enmeshed in this thing called the global economy.

The antidote? Parents of a certain age will remember Samuel L. Jackson’s reading of the children’s book (really, parents’ book) Now go the F**k to Sleep. He’s back now reading the sequel: Now Stay the F**k at Home (watch starting here, or rewind to see Jackson’s interview with Jimmy Kimmel.) Sadly, network censors bleeped out the good bits.

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COVID-19 IN EGYPT-

Egypt’s total number of covid-19 cases leapt to 779 overnight with 69 new cases yesterday, the Health Ministry said in a statement. The ministry also confirmed six new deaths from the disease, bringing the death toll to 52. A total of 179 patients are now reported to have fully recovered, while another 221 appear to be on the path to recovery after having tested negative for the virus. The ministry added that 94% of cases were people over 50 years’ old, with 22% aged between 50-59. Some 61% of the cases were men, while women so far account for just 39% of cases.

Virus “under control” -Madbouly: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said that Egypt’s covid-19 outbreak is “under control” in a video conference call with the country’s governors, a cabinet statement said. He called for strict adherence to the government’s curfew and precautionary measures as well as the free movement of delivery trucks.

Some private hospitals are reportedly turning away people with respiratory problems. The Health Ministry has called on private hospitals to seal off wards for the isolation and treatment of covid-19 patients after it found that a number of hospitals had turned away people with respiratory problems and directed them to public facilities, a local press report claims.

The Industry Ministry has announced a ban until 17 June on exports of personal protective equipment and other key medical supplies including ethanol and disinfectants, the local press reports.

Pharma manufacturers need to have on hand a six-month supply of their meds for the domestic market before exporting, the head of the Egyptian Council of Pharma Exports Maged George tells the local press. Manufacturers have argued that maintaining a six-month inventory of all their products is unnecessary because production capacity is sufficient to cover both local market needs and exports, the report adds.

Evacuation flights are bringing home citizens, and they need to sign pledges to go straight into quarantine. Some 87 people returned on an EgyptAir flight from France yesterday, while another flight brought folks back from the United States. Passengers were only allowed to board after signing an undertaking to quarantine themselves on arrival. Immigration Minister Nabila Makram has previously said the government is prioritizing boarding for those stuck abroad on tourist visas.

Returnees who have already arrived home unprepared for quarantine may be able to get some relief from the Tahya Masr fund, reports Al Masry Al Youm. Information Minister Osama Heikal later clarified that the decision only applies retroactively to those that have already arrived and were caught unaware by the mandatory quarantine. Citizens returning home now are told in advance of the requirement and cannot board flights (above) unless they agree to abide by it.

The Tourism Ministry is setting up a hotline for workers to report layoffs, according to the local press. The ministry is meanwhile working on a request to the Madbouly government for emergency funds to cover near-term industry payrolls, Egyptian Tourism Federation Vice President Asim Wahid told Al Shorouk.

Restaurants and shops who rent at state-controlled tourism sites will get a rent holiday until the covid-19 crisis is over and the sector comes back to life, the domestic press reports. The Sports Ministry is giving a similar rent holiday to businesses in youth centers.

More than EGP 43 bn has now been invested in the new high-interest savings certificates launched by the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr the NBE said yesterday. More than EGP 30 bn has been put into the certificates issued by the NBE and Banque Misr has issued around EGP 13.4 bn worth. The two state-owned banks began offering the one-year 15% bonds on 22 March to discourage people from putting their savings into USD as the EGP comes under selling pressure.


Our friends at CIB and EFG Hermes have joined a social media challenge to raise funds for 10k families affected by the covid-19 pandemic. The #Goodwill_Challenge (تحدي_الخير#) was started by Banque Du Caire in cooperation with the Egyptian Food Bank to urge businesses to do their part to help vulnerable families. Amr El Ganainy, CIB’s institutional banking chief, tagged Palm Hills boss Yaseen Mansour after pledging a donation from CIB, while EFG Hermes CEO Karim Awad tagged Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait- Egypt.

You can watch Amr (watch, runtime: 00:41) and Karim (watch runtime: 00:29) or look for more under the tags above.

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ON THE GLOBAL FRONT-

Trump signs USD 2.2 tn aid package into law: President Trump signed the USD 2.2 tn emergency economic package into law after the bill gained House approval yesterday, Reuters reports. The historic legislation, quickly put together to support the economy as it almost certainly heads into recession, passed almost unanimously.

It speaks volumes that the passage of the bill — the largest financial bailout in US history — was almost entirely absent from the front pages of the global press yesterday, as covid case counts, market turmoil, medical warnings and lockdowns ate up column inches.

Confirmation that tns of USD are about to flood into the pockets of businesses and consumers across the US wasn’t enough to stop stocks from sinking into the red. US stock indexes fell more than 4% yesterday as the reality of an extended lockdown intensified concerns about the fate of corporate profits and dividend payouts. More US states issued stay-at-home orders after Trump warned of a “painful” two weeks ahead, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested that the outbreak may not peak until the end of April. This sent the S&P 500 falling 4.4% — the biggest daily drop in two weeks. The Dow Jones and Nasdaq followed suit, both closing the session down 4.4%.

Mohamed El Erian has some advice if you need to roll the dice and get back into the market Those looking to take a long position should divide it over five instalments, El Erian said on CNBC’s Squawk Box yesterday. Acknowledging the lack of sophistication with the strategy, El Erian said this is the safest way to enter the market right now as it is impossible to predict how the dynamics are going to play out.

As Saudi Arabia shows no sign of backing down in the oil price war, we could soon be entering the topsy-turvy world of negative oil prices, analysts say: Landlocked crude producers may soon have to start paying to offload their oil as global demand enters an unprecedented slump, CNBC reports. Goldman Sachs analysts warned earlier this week that while seaborne crude will remain in positive territory, the covid-19 shock is “extremely negative for oil prices and is sending landlocked crude prices into negative territory.”

For KSA, you reap what you sow: Despite contributing to the drop in oil prices by ramping up production, Saudi could be setting itself up for long-term disaster, President of Transversal Consulting Ellen Wald writes in a Bloomberg opinion piece. Saudi wanted to increase demand for its oil and assert its dominance over the global oil industry, but seems to have miscalculated just how low prices could go.

Saudi isn’t the only one ramping up production: US oil companies have also pushed output to near record levels of 13 mn bbl/d despite plunging demand, CNBC reports.

This morning’s dire economic prediction is brought to you by Blackrock MD Amer Bisat, who said yesterday that he expects the global economy to contract by 11% during the first half of 2020, Reuters reports. “To put this in context, this will be worse than the contraction that we saw in 2008, it will be worse than the one that people estimate happened during the (1918) Spanish flu,” he said. “It won’t be as bad as the (1930s) Global Depression, which is a significantly worse contraction, but it will certainly be the second-worst economic shock that we’ve seen globally.”

Europe may have written off a V-shaped recovery, but it could be getting the next best thing: The eurozone and the UK will likely see a “tick mark” recovery after a sharp downturn in the coming months, economists at Berenberg said yesterday, according to CNBC. Rather than a so-called ‘V-shaped recovery’ — where a sudden downturn is followed by a rapid surge in activity — Europe will take around two years to return to pre-covid levels of economic growth, they said.

Gulf states may not even get that: Oil states in the Gulf may witness an ‘L-shaped’ recovery for years after the crisis, Bloomberg Economics’ Ziad Daoud has said, suggesting that non-oil growth will push lower due to reticence of governments to spend due to the oil price crash.

M&A is at an 11-year low amid the market turmoil with share prices plummeting and executives more focused on saving their own companies than buying others, the Financial Times reports. M&A activity last week reached USD 12.5 bn, the lowest weekly total since April 2009, and the sharp decline in activity is expected to continue in the short term, according to Citigroup.

The risky asset class known as collateralized loan obligations (CLO) has plummeted in value this month, leaving several big banks left hanging for USD bns of debt, the Financial Times reports. The market for the derivatives — a key source of funds for businesses with speculative-grade credit ratings — has all but evaporated amid the covid-19 outbreak, which is set to leave investment banks holding bns in toxic assets.


BACK ON THE HOME FRONT-

It’s interest rate day: Ten of 11 analysts we surveyed expect the Central Bank of Egypt will leave rates on hold when its Monetary Policy Committee meets later today. This is the first meeting since the central bank delivered an historic 300 bps cut last month at a surprise meeting; that cut brought rates back down to pre-float levels. The overnight deposit rate is now at 9.25% and the lending rate is at 10.25%.

The government will review petrol prices today or on Sunday at the latest, Al Mal reports, citing unnamed government sources. Petrol prices are allowed to move up or down 10% when the committee meets every three months, moving in the same direction as global oil prices. The oil ministry has said that reports on social media that prices had already changed are false, Youm7 reports.

News triggers triggers to keep your eye on as April starts.

  • PMI figures for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will land (doubtless with a thud) on Sunday, 5 April.
  • Foreign reserves figures for March will be released on or around Sunday, 5 April.
  • Inflation figures for March are due on Thursday, 9 April.

How the markets are looking today: China and South Korea are in the green, while Hong Kong and India are all solidly in the red this morning. Futures suggest that European markets look set to open down, while the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq are presently projected to open in the green.

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*** We’ve never asked you for a penny, but we’re doing so today — not to put a coin in our pocket, but to help the folks at the Breathe campaign raise funds to acquire ventilators the nation needs as the number of covid-19 cases rises.

The Breathe Campaign is raising funds to purchase mechanical ventilators for Egypian hospitals. The campaign, a pilot project by charity startup Humankind with the aid of the Egyptian Cure Bank, has created a star-studded campaign featuring public figures including Yosra, Amina Khalil and Naguib Sawiris simply inhaling and exhaling. You can keep up to date with the campaign on Instagram and check out the ad here (watch, runtime: 1:08).

Want to make a contribution? Hit up the Egyptian Cure Bank, Fawry or the FawryApp or check out the description section of the Youtube page for other options.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Daily covid-19 update: Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan covered the Health Ministry’s daily covid-19 update, which reported 69 new cases and six new deaths. The total number of cases confirmed in Egypt is now 779 and 52 people have died from the virus so far. Twenty-two people were discharged from hospital yesterday after testing negative, bringing that figure to 179 people (watch, runtime: 4:21). Yahduth Fi Misr’s Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 3:30) and Min Masr’s Amr Khalil (watch, runtime: 5:09) also covered the statement.

Rent exemptions for vendors at tourist sites: Al Hayah Al Youm’s Hossam Hadad covered the Supreme Council of Antiquities’s decision to exempt all cafeterias and bazaars at museums and archaeological sites from paying rent until the covid-19 crisis ends and tourists return (watch, runtime: 2:19).

Quarantine for repatriated Egyptians: Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan covered the government’s decision requiring citizens returning from abroad to sign a contract acquiescing to be quarantined for 14 days. The location of quarantine is determined by the Health Ministry, with travelers covering the expense. Anyone refusing to sign the contract will not be allowed to board the flight (watch, runtime: 7:12).

Tourism sector to lose bns -El Anani: Yahduth Fi Misr's Sherif Amer spoke with Tourism Minister Khaled El Anani who said that the tourism sector will lose bns because of the state’s preventative measures against covid-19. He added that public health is of greater importance and that the measures will be worth it to protect Egyptians (watch, runtime: 4:34).

Pyramid lights up for healthcare workers:El Anani also told Amer that the government had projected the words "Stay at home… Thank you to those who protect us" onto the Khufu pyramid in Giza in recognition of the work that doctors and health workers are doing to combat the virus (watch, runtime: 4:34).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

The EGP has so far weathered the global storm. What’s next? Egypt appears to have “weathered the worst of the capital flight [from emerging markets, prompted by covid-19] while keeping its import cover largely intact … and avoiding a non-orderly depreciation,” Renaissance Capital head of MENA research Ahmed Hafez writes in a note out yesterday.

The EGP has fallen just 1% to 15.69 against the greenback since late February, a period in which most emerging market currencies have plunged to multi-decade lows. RenCap now sees the EGP easing to a familiar EGP 17.00-17.50 against the greenback, and notes that “on the upside, we could see foreigners coming back to the debt market (assuming one-year CDS drops another 50-75 bpts) as investors seem to be changing their stance globally.” Capital Economics, meanwhile, suggested in a note earlier this week that that’s the result of the central bank guiding the market. The consultancy sees policymakers allowing the EGP to weaken over time, cautioning that an overvalued EGP will “further weigh on Egypt’s external competitiveness.”

The central bank’s policy response to what’s going on right now is a delicate balancing act. The bank needs to maintain an interest rate that is low enough to give the government room to maneuver in its policy response (without blasting its fiscal deficit target). Low rates also encourage savers and businesses to put capital to work rather than leaving it parked in high-interest deposits. But on the flip sides, rates need to be high enough to keep the twitchy carry trade engaged amid a global meltdown.

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M&A WATCH- First Abu Dhabi Bank pushes ahead with Bank Audi Egypt acquisition: First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) is proceeding with its attempt to acquire Bank Audi’s Egypt arm undeterred by the economic upheaval caused by the covid-19 pandemic, Al Mal reports, citing an unnamed source with knowledge of the matter. The Emirati bank is continuing due diligence, having received the greenlight from the Central Bank of Egypt in February. A senior executive said in February that the bank will make a final decision about whether to go ahead with the acquisition in the second quarter.

Background: Bank Audi was reportedly in talks with three banks to sell its unit in Egypt to exit the country amid the ongoing banking crisis in Lebanon. This came just a few months after the Lebanese bank looked close to acquiring the National Bank of Greece’s (NBG) Egypt arm.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Marakez seeks USD 135 mn IFC loan to set up malls in Egypt, pay off debt: Marakez for Real Estate Investment is in talks with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for a USD 135 mn loan to finance expansion plans in Egypt, the IFC said. Fawaz, Salman, and Abd Al Hamid Al Hokair — who fully own Marakez through holding company Fawaz AlHokair Group — plan to invest USD 45 mn in four new unspecified shopping malls. The brothers will spend the remaining USD 90 mn to pay off a loan they had taken from another of their subsidiaries, Fas Energy, to finance the first and second phases of Mall of Arabia.

Rameda Pharma has acquired a generic anti-inflammatory molecule, according to a statement (pdf). The unnamed molecule, which relieves pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, osteoarthritis and other chronic ailments, would have been among Rameda’s top-10 selling products had it been in its lineup in 2019. An independent market research firm suggested the molecule generated revenues of EGP 71 mn last year based on its retail price. “With this agreement, Rameda gains access to a new, fast-growing therapeutic area that has displayed a 5-year CAGR of c.41% between 2015 and 2019,” the company said.

Background: Rameda had flagged the acquisition of new molecules as being high on its priority list for the use of proceeds from its 2019 IPO.

FinMin to issue EGP 610 bn in treasuries this quarter: The Finance Ministry is planning to issue EGP 610 bn (c. USD 38.74 bn) of treasuries in 2Q2020 to close the fiscal gap, according to data seen by the press. The government’s outstanding balance of treasuries (EGP-, USD-, and EUR-denominated) owed to debt investors stood at EGP 1.67 tn at the end of September, according to the latest central bank monthly statistical bulletin.

Gradual pivot to longer tenor: The quarter’s issuances will include EGP 22.5 bn-worth of three-year bonds, EGP 24.5 bn-worth of five-year bonds, EGP 19.5 bn worth of seven-year bonds, and EGP 21.5 bn worth of 10-year bonds (roughly 14% of the total). This will help the government achieve its goal of shifting to long-term debt to drive down the annual servicing bill to 20% of GDP as part of a four-year debt control strategy.

Government borrowing is going to come at a higher price: Yields in the primary market have shifted only marginally since the central bank made its record 300 bps rate cut in March. Rates on short- and long-term bonds have fallen at most by 80 bps as investors demand a higher return on investment amid sustained risk off sentiment and increased nerves over the government’s fiscal position.

Egypt is among 18 countries being investigated by the US for dumping aluminium in the US market. Reuters reported yesterday that the US Commerce Department had opened an investigation into whether the countries had dumped aluminium products and whether four of them had unfairly subsidized their exports. The report doesn’t mention Egypt by name, but last month a petition filed by the US aluminium industry named Egypt among the list of 18 countries accused of dumping alloy aluminium sheet.

The US will place tariffs on any products found to be unfairly subsidized or dumped, the Commerce Department said, according to Reuters.

EFG Hermes topped the EGX’s brokerage league table in March with a market share of 27.3%, according to EGX figures (pdf) . CI Capital came in second, holding a market share of 9.2%, followed by Pharos (6.9%), Beltone (4.6%), Arqaam (4.3%) and Pioneers (3.4%).

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The Macro Picture

Emerging markets flock to the IMF for help as covid-19 brings looming economic crisis: Eighty-five countries have recently approached the IMF for emergency assistance, driven by record capital outflows, plummeting oil prices, a dearth of tourism, and reduced demand for exports, the Financial Times reports. Developing countries are facing a dire situation, with current levels of foreign reserves nowhere near enough to support them through the crisis. The IMF has estimated their total financial need at a “very conservative” USD 2.5 tn, and said they would still need at least another USD 700 bn even after exhausting their reserves.

Egypt and other EMs could struggle to meet their external funding needs, if cross-border travel stops, remittances fall, oil prices stay low and portfolio outflows continue, according to Morgan Stanley. Because of this, the government is keeping all its options open and is considering asking the IMF for new funding if the situation deteriorates further, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said earlier this week.

Debt relief is desirable, but badly-needed funding will only come about through political will. The IMF and the World Bank have issued calls to suspend debt repayments, but analysts say the bigger question of how to free up funding needs momentum that may not exist while developed countries are preoccupied with handling the covid-19 crisis. The IMF has restored its full USD 1 tn lending capacity, and the UN is pushing for a further USD 1 tn to be made available through special drawing rights (SDRs), and an extra USD 500 bn to be set aside for emergency health services and social relief. But some of these processes are lengthy and cumbersome, and will only happen if these international bodies — and their wealthiest member states — begin to prioritize supporting EMs.

Spotlight

Spotlight on Majid Al Futtaim’s strategy to cope with covid-19 disruption: Like so many businesses across the world, Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) has been put in a tight spot by the onset of covid-19. Over the past weeks, the company has shut its leisure, entertainment, and cinema venues to curb the risk of infection and reassigned employees from these businesses to its Carrefour business, which remains operational.

We sat down with MAF Properties CEO Ahmed Ismail to get the lowdown on how the company plans to navigate the crisis. Edited excerpts from our conversation:

Enterprise: Talk us through the steps Majid Al Futtaim has taken on the property side to address the fallout from the covid-19 outbreak.

Ahmed Ismail: It's very difficult to pretend that it's business as usual in these difficult and unprecedented times. Our four shopping centers — City Center Alexandria, City Center Maadi, City Center Almaza, and Mall of Egypt — were expected to attract nearly 50 mn visitors this year. Then there’s somewhere around 40k employees who work in the shops within these centers, not to mention the suppliers coming in and out. We took a number of preemptive and protective decisions such as restricting travel, encouraging people to work from home, as well as disinfecting our offices, malls, and facilities on a daily basis.

We then moved to restrict trading hours for shopping centers and retail activities before the government imposed its overnight curfew. However, we realized that the curfew didn’t impact foot traffic at our centers, so we decided it was the responsible long-term move to close down our shopping malls, with the exception of Carrefour, pharmacies, and some other essential outlets. In these conditions, especially in the run-up to Ramadan, Carrefour and pharmacies are obviously very important to keep running. Interestingly, we invested a while ago in some innovations at Carrefour such as scan and go, which is now proving to be very popular now that people are looking to make contactless shopping.

During this period of closure, we’re suspending rent for our tenants. This gives them much-needed operational and financial breathing room. We’re also working on reducing all our operating costs in terms of utilities and other expenses, and these savings will be passed on to our tenants through reduced common-area and facility charges.

E: That’s a pretty big break to commit to for a potentially long time.

AI: We're doing what we think is right. We want to make sure that, at least financially, everyone can weather the storm. Perhaps more importantly, we want to ensure that we can reopen in a strong and sustainable way in partnership with our retailers. There’s a balance to be maintained in a situation like this between being grounded in the reality of what’s happening and trying to look ahead and think about the day when things go back to normal and you reopen. If you don’t work with your tenants through these tough times, that day may not be very successful because they might not have the capacity or the trust in the relationship to reopen with the strength you’d like to see.

E: How long do you expect to keep these measures in place?

AI: We’re monitoring the situation to reassess and adjust as matters unfold on almost a daily basis. This is completely uncharted territory, so it’s very difficult to make any predictions. We’re fortunate to have a strong balance sheet that is BBB rated, which is investment-grade, and that gives us financial breathing room.

E: You’ve said that 99.5% of your staff in Egypt are Egyptians. What does work look like now for these staff members on the ground?

AI: We have staff who used to work at our leisure and entertainment centers — Vox Cinemas, Magic Planet, and Ski Egypt — who have been redeployed to Carrefour either in-store or on the online fulfillment side. Carrefour saw an uptick in customer demand during the first three weeks of March, with daily online sales jumping 50% m-o-m.

E: How difficult was this transition for such a large workforce?

AI: We started by implementing very strict work from home and work location policies, which was a fairly smooth transition because we already had tech infrastructure in place from before. Redeploying staff required teaching them some technical skills such as packing bags and cashiering, which are fairly easy to teach if people come from a common understanding of what the company is all about.

The redeployment was a voluntary choice for our staff. We have committed to keep paying our staff their full salaries during the crisis so far, so they were presented with this route as an option, not an obligation. People were welcoming of the idea because it was a good chance for them to grow their skills and exposure to different parts of the business, especially on the e-commerce and online fulfillment side.

E: It’s hard to predict anything, but what are feasible steps businesses and the government can take in the short term to address the current situation?

AI: The government can only do so much. Between the economic stimulus packages and the various public health orders that were issued, that's as far as the government can go. I think that the rest of the responsibility really rests with the community. Large employers, private sector players who have labor-intensive businesses like ourselves have a responsibility to bear in making sure that they partner with the government and help the community in terms of awareness. They have to make the right decisions to ensure that the community weathers this challenge and emerges safe and sound.

Egypt in the News

The only story of note about Egypt this morning in the international press is a Reuters piece on our response to covid-19. The newswire reports that healthcare workers are coming under increasing pressure in under-resourced hospitals despite hefty allocations in last year’s budget and the government’s economic relief package deployed in the wake of the outbreak, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile, the UAE’s the National notes that Coptic worshippers are turning to online masses and Sunday school over Zoom as churches remain closed to promote social distancing.

Energy

Tharwa to drill 7 new wells in 2020

The Tharwa Petroleum Company will drill seven new exploration wells in 2020, the Oil Ministry said in a statement. Tharwa president Amr El Leithi said that the company will also secure six new concessions and enter into joint ventures with Total, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Shell this year. Tharwa owns concessions in Siwa, and the Western and Eastern Deserts, and drilled eight exploration wells in 2019 yielding around 6.8k bbl/d.

Automotive + Transportation

Egypt receives second batch of General Electric locomotives

General Electric delivered the second batch of 20 railway locomotives purchased under an agreement signed in 2017, according to a cabinet statement. Under the agreement, GE is financing and supplying 100 new locomotives and refurbishing 81 others at a cost of USD 575 mn, but Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir is quoted in the statement saying that the agreement is worth USD 602.05 mn and covers 110 locomotives. The US company was contracted to build the first 50 locomotives and deliver them in five batches, the first of which was received in December last year.

Banking + Finance

MEDAF Financial Leasing granted license to begin operations in Egypt

The Financial Regulatory Authority has granted MEDAF Financial Leasing, the subsidiary of investment holding group MEDAF Investments, a financial leasing license, the company’s chair told the local press. The company’s activity is likely to be delayed by covid-19 and will probably start in 2Q2020.

EIB approves EUR 90 mn SME credit line to Banque du Caire

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has approved a EUR 90 mn credit line to Banque du Caire for SME loans, EIB’s Cairo office head Alfredo Abad said, according to the local press.

Other Business News of Note

Go Plus considering holding company to oversee RFID car sticker system

Systems developer Go Plus is considering setting up a holding company to manage the RFID electronic car sticker system the company recently developed for the government, a source in the company told Al Mal. The Interior Ministry recently required car owners to attach encoded stickers to windshields in a move that followed amendments to the Traffic Act. Go Plus was contracted to supply 10 mn of those stickers by the end of June as part of a EGP 720 mn five-year project that will also see the company set up data centers and toll gates able to read the stickers on highways.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.69 | Sell 15.79
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.70 | Sell 15.80
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.68 | Sell 15.78

EGX30 (Wednesday): 9,425 (-1.8%)
Turnover: EGP 610 mn (2% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -32.5%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 ended Wednesday’s session down 1.8%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended down 1.8%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were EFG Hermes up 1.6%, Porto Group up 1.2%, and Credit Agricole up 1.1%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Juhayna down 9.8%, Ibnsina Pharma down 5.1% and CIRA down 4.9%. The market turnover was EGP 610 mn, and local investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net short | EGP -280.3 mn
Regional: Net short | EGP -0.9 mn
Domestic: Net long | EGP +281.2 mn

Retail: 38.5% of total trades | 40.6% of buyers | 36.3% of sellers
Institutions: 61.5% of total trades | 59.4% of buyers | 63.7% of sellers


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PHAROS VIEW

Notes from the covid economy: Pharos takes a look at how the telecom, tech, auto, textile and logistics sectors are responding to the pandemic.

The telecom sector is a rare ray of light for an economy coming under increasing amounts of stress. Internet service providers and mobile companies will likely see revenues increase as school and university closures, social distancing and the curfew cause a rise in data consumption, Pharos says.

And fintech may also come out of the pandemic a big winner: The central bank has waived fees and commissions on transfers made through mobile wallets and introduced daily limits on cash withdrawals and deposits. This will likely increase the usage of e-payment platforms, and companies offering basic services (for example bill payment) should see a “solid transaction flow,” Pharos says. If the outbreak causes serious problems for the economy and impacts consumer spending patterns, e-payment companies may see transaction volumes for entertainment and amusement fall. Read the full note covering telecoms and tech here (pdf).

Auto companies under pressure: Local auto distributors have said that monthly sales will contract “significantly” in March after the Interior Ministry suspended vehicle licensing for a month and the government reduced working hours as a precautionary measure against the virus. Price cuts and/or promotional offers to boost demand are likely if lockdowns are extended. On the bright side, the central bank’s 300 bps rate cut and the freezing of debt repayments for six months are positives that mitigate the impact due its favorable effect on car loan repayments, Pharos says.

Textile exporters are facing a global and local demand shock: The textile industry is struggling as global importers halt new orders and amend existing orders. Firms that are heavily reliant on raw materials from China are suffering the most from the disruption to supply chains, and are trying to secure at least one month of inventory. Factories could also face labor shortages due to precautionary measures taken by the state. Local demand is also likely to fall after the government closed retail stores at night and on weekends. Read the full note on the auto and textile sectors here (pdf).

The virus is wreaking havoc on logistics firms which are facing simultaneous supply and demand shocks as governments resort to export controls, shut down industry and place restrictions on movement. Logistics firms are having to raise prices amid downwards pressure on cargo and container volumes, longer waiting times and higher storage costs. Read the note here (pdf).

Read the Pharos View published earlier this week on the industrial, real estate, and food sectors here (pdf).

***


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Calendar

2 April (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

2-4 April (Thursday- Saturday): Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research (GFHS2020) under the theme “Future in Action,” new administrative capital, Egypt.

12 April (Sunday): House of Representatives covid-19 recess ends.

12 April (Sunday): Western Easter Sunday.

12 April (Sunday): Court session for a lawsuit against Amer Group and Porto Group by Syria-based Antaradous for Touristic Development.

13 April (Monday): Earliest date on which suspension K-12 and university instruction is set to be lifted.

15 April (Wednesday): Suspension of international flights to / from Egypt expires.

15 April (Wednesday): Earliest date by which restaurants, gyms, nightclubs, museums and archaeological sites will reopen.

16 April (Thursday): New deadline for individuals to file their tax returns to the Egyptian Tax Authority.

17-19 April (Friday-Sunday): IMF, World Bank will hold virtual Spring Meetings.

19 April (Sunday): Court session for Arabia Investments Holdings’ lawsuit against Peugeot.

19 April (Sunday): Coptic Easter Sunday, national holiday.

20 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim, national holiday.

23 April (Thursday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

25 April (Saturday): Sinai Liberation Day, national holiday.

28-29 April (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

12 April (Sunday): Court session for a lawsuit against Amer Group and Porto Group by Syria-based Antaradous for Touristic Development.

5-7 May (Tuesday-Thursday): AFSIC – Investing in Africa, London, United Kingdom.

14 May (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

23 May (Saturday): An administrative court will look into an appeal by steel rolling mills to overturn a government’s decision to place import tariffs on steel rebar and iron billets. The hearing was postponed from 22 February 2020.

23-26 May (Saturday-Tuesday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

June: Circular Economy Summit, Egypt, venue TBA.

4-6 June (Thursday-Saturday): 2020 Africa-France Summit, Bordeaux, France.

9-10 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

17-20 June (Wednesday-Saturday): 2019 Automech Formula car expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo.

30 June (Sunday): June 2013 protests anniversary, national holiday.

25 June (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

28-29 July (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

30 July-3 August (Thursday-Monday): Eid El Adha (TBC), national holiday.

13 August (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

20 August (Wednesday-Thursday): Islamic New Year (TBC), national holiday.

15-16 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

24 September (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

24 September- 2 October (Thursday-Friday): El Gouna Film Festival, El Gouna, Egypt.

6 October (Tuesday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

29 October (Thursday): Prophet Mohamed’s birthday (TBC), national holiday.

November: Egypt will host simultaneously the International Capital Market Association’s emerging market, and Africa and Middle East meetings.

4-5 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

12 November (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

15-16 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

24 December (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

25 December (Friday): Western Christmas.

1 January 2021 (Friday): New Year’s Day, national holiday.

7 January 2021 (Thursday): Coptic Christmas, national holiday.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2018 Enterprise Ventures LLC.