Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Busy news day: ADQ’s buying spree, Alabbar’s love of our real estate industry + lots from the IMF and World Bank

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

Happy Tuesday, everyone. As we slide toward the end of the week, you’ll want to keep the “rain” warning in context if you’re in the nation’s capital: Our favourite weather app is (so far) predicting around 1 mm worth of sprinkles tomorrow. But this weekend could be a different story, with about 5 mm of rain in the forecast for Saturday and 2-4 mm predicted for Sunday.

Also: A reminder that next week is a short workweek — we’re all off on Thursday, 29 October in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday. Our plan is not to stray far from home: Line up some recipes with the NY Times’ Cooking app and make some good food with our regular weekly delivery of amazing stuff from Sara’s Organic Farm. Read lots. Maybe see if there isn’t something on which to binge on Netflix or AppleTV+ — Ted Lasso seems just about mindless enough, it’s getting universally great reviews and dude’s moustache game is strong.

SIGN OF THE TIMES- The IMF has downgraded its 2020 forecasts for the Middle East and Central Asia, predicting a 4.1% contraction in its latest regional economic outlook compared to the 2.8% it projected in April. The situation is looking less dire in the Gulf, where the IMF now sees a 6% contraction in the cards, an improvement from the 7.1% slump it forecast in July (provided that governments continue to focus on public spending to offset falling oil revenues).

Egypt is the only country in the Middle East expected to avoid contraction in 2020. We have more on this in Last Night’s Talk Shows and a related World Bank report in Speed Round, below.

In the meantime:

It’s Egyptian-German Renewables Day, which will see seven major German energy and industrial companies in attendance, the German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce (which is hosting the event) said in a statement.

Cairo Water Week continues today through Thursday. The annual event, which kicked off on Sunday, is semi-virtual this year.

Voters abroad will begin casting their ballots tomorrow to elect a new House of Representatives, kicking off the multi-stage process that will see the first wave of voters at home going to polling stations this coming Saturday (24 October).

Reminder: If you want to vote outside Egypt, you need to register on the National Elections Authority’s website before going to cast your ballot.

Folks voting here at home can find their polling station by putting their national ID number into the same website.

Furniture expo Le Marché begins this Thursday, 22 October and will run until Sunday, 25 October at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.


The Health Ministry reported 123 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 127 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 105,547 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 10 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 6,130. We now have a total of 98,314 confirmed cases that have fully recovered.

The government is ready for an anticipated second wave of infections, but remains fiscally prudent to ensure the impact on the economy remains contained, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib last night. Maait noted that the FY2020-2021 state budget has ramped up allocations in key areas to handle the pandemic — and that the in-the-works SMEs Act will help bring the parallel economy kicking and screaming into the light to contribute to formal GDP growth (watch, runtime: 2:11).

The global case tally surpassed 40 mn yesterday as Europe and the US struggle to contain a renewed surge in cases, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally.

Much of the developing world is unprepared for the rollout of a vaccine, with almost 3 bn people living in areas still unable to keep vaccines refrigerated and sterile, the Associated Press reports.

Are we going to ditch quarantines for travelers? The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is working with the World Health Organization to set up a testing system to replace compulsory quarantines in an effort to revive the ailing airline industry, according to Bloomberg. The system would ideally involve cheap tests before departure and fully open borders between countries with similar levels of covid risk.

International migration has slumped to an unprecedented level: The issuance of new visas and permits fell by a record 46% y-o-y in the first half of 2020 due to the pandemic and its economic consequences, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said yesterday.

enterprise

SIGN OF THE TIMES- Pity the bankers. Commercial bankers may end 2020 by joining the investment bankers crying in their teacups rather than toasting the new year with champagne to celebrate fat bonus cheques. Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have all warned staff that bonuses for high-flyers may not keep pace with their performance as the businesses have “booked huge loan loss charges to prepare for a surge in defaults as the pandemic ravages global economies.” The also don’t want to waive their largesse in the face of citizens, regulators and politicians who haven’t had a wonderful 2020, the Financial Times suggests.

Tech firms led by their founders are beating those led by outsiders in both profit growth and share performance this year, according to a Reuters analysis. Heavyweights including Jeff Bezos’ Amazon, Reed Hastings’ Netflix and Elon Musk’s Tesla saw their share prices double so far into 2020, compared with a modest 7.8% gain for the wider S&P 500. Profit growth in founder-led companies also came in at 30% over the past five years, nearly five times a 6.7% recorded by manager-led firms, says the newswire.

The big problem facing central banks: How to wean markets off the deluge of cheap money. The world’s key central banks are increasingly facing what Mohamed El Erian calls a “no-exit” scenario as the question of how to unwind the USD tns of stimulus without freaking out the markets begins to focus minds, Bloomberg says. The surge in corporate and sovereign debt will make it difficult for the Federal Reserve to raise rates while the rapid expansion of the Treasury market may force the central bank, which is currently buying USD 80 bn of Treasuries a month, to maintain its bond-buying program over the long term.

Pressure will increase if vaccines are successfully deployed next year and the global economy starts to recover, with asset bubbles and accelerating inflation a likely outcome if central banks are unable to rein in the stimulus, Bloomberg says.

Other international stories worth knowing about:

  • OPEC plans further oil output cuts amid “anemic” demand and a second wave of covid-19 (Bloomberg)
  • Sudan could get off the US list of state sponsors of terror if it coughs up USD 335 mn to benefit American victims of terror, Agent Orange has tweeted.
  • Eurozone countries are trying to spend their way out of the covid crisis, sending budget deficits up almost tenfold to a combined EUR 1 tn (Financial Times)
  • NASA has tapped Nokia to build a lunar 4G network and will eventually launch 5G there, too. NASA plans to have a “sustainable” human presence on the moon by 2028. Maybe we’ll get 5G around the same time as the moon does? (CNBC)

US ELECTION WATCH- The final US presidential debate on Thursday could be less chaotic than last month’s shouting match now that organizers have decided to mute each candidate’s microphone when the other is delivering their opening remarks, Reuters reports. The interruptions will be allowed to resume after the first 15-minute segment.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

It was a busy night on the airwaves last night, especially for Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi, who covered everything from an upcoming IMF review to disburse a second tranche of the USD 5.2 bn standby arrangement, to the upcoming House of Representatives election.

MENA economies will only start to a robust economic recovery once a covid vaccine is available, but governments need to continue doing what they can to support their economies until then, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia department Jihad Azour told Lamees in a conversation about the fund’s regional economic outlook report. For Egypt, Azour stressed the importance of sticking to its economic reform program, which he noted is a key reason we entered the crisis on relatively strong footing and allowed us to be the only country in the region that is expected to escape a recession this year. Shoring up the country’s social safety net through programs such as Takaful and Karama, as well as encouraging private sector investment, should also be top priorities for the government to be best-positioned for the post-covid recovery, Azour said.

The first of Egypt’s two reviews under the IMF’s USD 5.2 bn standby arrangement (SBA) is scheduled “within weeks,” Azour told Lamees. The review is a precursor to the disbursement of the second tranche of the SBA, of which Egypt has already received USD 2 bn (watch, runtime: 20:39).

In other news from the IMF, economist and former investment minister Mahmoud Mohieldin has been elected as the next executive board member of the fund, succeeding former Egyptian prime minister Hazem El Beblawi, Lamees said. Mohieldin — who is currently the UN Special Envoy on financing the 2030 development agenda — will represent Egypt and the Arab Group on the IMF’s board. All 11 Arab countries nominated Mohieldin for the job, Lamees noted (watch, runtime: 3:23).

Emaar’s Alabbar is bullish on our real estate market: Egypt’s real estate market is poised to stage a speedy recovery next year as investment conditions are expected to improve, Emirati businessman and Emaar Real Estate Chairman Mohamed Alabbar told Lamees. Alabbar noted that Egypt is one of Emaar’s most profitable markets, alongside the UAE, leading the developer to remain bullish on the country’s prospects (watch, runtime: 3:00).

House elections abroad: Expats who have registered to vote in the House of Representatives elections (which kick off abroad tomorrow) can mail in their ballots to avoid crowds at embassies, Emigration Minister Nabila Makram Ebeid told Lamees (watch, runtime: 7:17). Meanwhile, National Elections Authority head Lashin Ibrahim said that the authority has judges in place to monitor the vote and has pandemic-related precautionary measures in place for voters and judges alike, Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa noted (watch, runtime: 7:43).

A team of Egyptian archaeologists unearthed a new tomb at Saqqara filled with colorful, sealed sarcophagi buried more than 2.5k years ago as well as a collection of wooden statues, cabinet said in a statement. Supreme Council of Antiquities Secretary General Mostafa Waziri detailed the discovery and noted that five museums will be inaugurated over the next few weeks in separate conversations with Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal (watch, runtime: 11:41) and El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 9:16).

Speed Round

INVESTMENT WATCH- Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund ADQ Holding will invest USD 1 bn in retailer LuLu’s Egypt expansion, the fund said in a statement. The non-binding agreement will see the Abu Dhabi-based retailer establish up to 30 hypermarkets and 100 mini markets, as well as logistics hubs and distribution and fulfillment centers in an expansion that is expected to create 12k jobs. “The phased roll-out of multiple retail stores would provide significant socio-economic benefits to local communities across the country,” said ADQ CEO Mohamed Al Suwaidi, stressing the fund’s commitment to investing in Egypt. ADQ — which in April acquired an almost 20% stake in LuLu for USD 1 bn — set up a USD 20 bn investment fund with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt last year to invest in a range of sectors including food, agriculture, mobility and logistics, and healthcare.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about LuLu’s investment plans: LuLu is one of the largest retailer in the Middle East by turnover and has been planning to invest USD 1 bn since at least July, when it opened its second hypermarket in Egypt, an EGP 180 mn branch in Sheraton. Internal Trade Development Authority (ITDA) head Ibrahim Ashmawy said at the time that the company would make the investments over a three-year period but the company has never publicly acknowledged the plans until now.

Everyone wants a bite of Lulu: Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is reportedly also in early stage talks to acquire an undisclosed stake in Lulu’s operations.

ADQ has been on an acquisition spree as of late, acquiring a 22% stake in Aramex as well as a USD 2.1 bn stake in Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. alongside the Abu Dhabi Pension Fund. ADQ has also been keen to expand its food and agriculture investments, looking to acquire a stake in global agriculture trader Louis Dreyfus (the “D” in the “ABCD” big-four global commodities players) and is eyeing a majority stake in Egyptian meat and poultry business Atyab.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Proparco has committed USD 11 mn to Egypt- and SME-focused private equity fund LCP II, the French Development Agency’s investment arm said in a statement. The investment will help mid-cap companies in Egypt access long-term financing, which the statement says is “all the more important in a period of economic downturn” amid the covid-19 crisis. Proparco’s contribution is part of a c.USD 142 mn first closing for the fund, which is managed by Egyptian private equity outfit Lorax Capital Partners. The fund saw commitments from other LPs including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the Egyptian American Enterprise Fund. Lorax is targeting a USD 250 mn final close for LCP II.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Egypt will invest EGP 36.7 bn in green projects during the current fiscal year, accounting for around 14% of its investment budget, Planning Minister Hala El Said said during a conference on the government’s sustainable development plans, according to Al Mal. Some 691 projects worth EGP 447.3 bn will receive funding, she said. The government aims to dedicate 30% of its investment budget to green projects in FY2021-2022, she added.

Egypt has been flouting its green credentials as of late: Egypt held the region’s first green bond issuance last month, raising USD 750 mn in a sale that saw strong appetite from international investors. The proceeds have been allocated to more than five major projects in transport, water, and waste-management. The government has a USD 1.9 bn portfolio of green projects, including clean transportation, renewable energy and sustainable water management. It is also in talks with foreign investors to launch new wind and solar projects projected to generate 2 GW of power and could set a more ambitious energy strategy that would see renewables accounting for 60% of the country’s electricity by 2035.

M&A WATCH- Bahrain’s Ithmaar Bank has acquired its subsidiary Faisal Investment Bank of Bahrain’s shares in Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt, taking its holdings to 14.03%, according to an EGX filing (pdf). While the bank didn’t disclose the size of the stake or value of the acquisition, Mubasher has Ithmaar’s pre-transaction holding at 9.33%, suggesting the bank purchased a 4.8% stake in Faisal.

Background: The transaction comes as Gulf banks facing low growth in their home markets are looking for more exposure to Egypt’s fast-growing banking sector. Their targets of choice are largely the local arms of Lebanese banks, which are under pressure in their home market. Egypt’s vast unbanked population as well as the effectively unexplored potential of SME lending offer GCC banks opportunities for expansion their home markets lack. Emirates NBD and Bahrain’s Bank ABC are expected to make offers for Lebanon’s Blom bank in the coming weeks, while First Abu Dhabi Bank is reportedly in talks for the acquisition of Bank Audi.

Egypt’s economy will return to pre-pandemic growth rates in FY2021-2022 -World Bank: The World Bank is the latest addition to a growing chorus of voices expecting Egypt to be the only country in the MENA region to record positive economic growth amid the pandemic. In its latest MENA economic update, the bank said it sees real GDP growing at a 2.3% clip this fiscal year, which ends on 30 June 2021 (a downward revision from the 3.7% growth the bank forecasted for the fiscal year in an April report). However, the economy is still expected to quickly rebound to pre-pandemic levels in FY2021-2022, during which the economy is predicted to eke out a 5.8% real growth rate.

READ THE REPORT: Tap or click here for the landing page or download directly here (pdf). You can also check out a press release on the report here.

If it wasn’t for covid-19, Egypt’s economy would have expanded by 5.5% in FY2019-2020 and 5.9% in FY2020-2021, according to forecasts the bank made before the outbreak. This means the pandemic-induced slowdown effectively slashed Egypt’s economic growth by half. Still, the slowdown was less sharp than that of the overall MENA economy, which is expected to contract 5.2% this year and grow at 1.9% in 2021, according to the report.

…and on poverty rates: The rate of individuals making less than USD 3.2 a day in Egypt is forecast to rise to 30.5% by the end of 2020, up 6.4 percentage points from projections of 24.1% before the pandemic. The proportion of those making USD 5.5 or less, meanwhile, could increase to 73.8% from 68.9% in a year without covid as poor households struggled to continue working amid lockdown measures, according to World Bank calculations. Overall, 41% of the workers interviewed in a survey said they stopped working altogether sometime during the pandemic, but 9% of the country’s households were beneficiaries of cash transfer programs Takaful and Karama, which the government expanded since March, the bank said. In a census by state statistics agency Capmas in June, more than 26% of surveyed households said they were not working and 55.7% reported working fewer hours per week since the outbreak.

Egypt got brownie points for its response to the pandemic, including measures from the CBE (such as expanding industry stimulus), the government tapping debt markets with May’s USD 5 bn eurobond issuance, and officials ensuring a sufficient supply of food amid the pandemic (here and here). The bank also took note of GAFI’s recent approval of 30 new projects to be set up in CPC Egypt for Industrial Development’s investment zone and authorities encouraging the manufacture of medical supplies and food commodities.

Background: We had more yesterday on what other global institutions, including the IMF, are penciling in for Egypt’s near-term economic growth.

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REGULATION WATCH- Consumer finance companies will get an additional six months to complete their licensing and bring their operations in line with the new Consumer Credit Act, the FRA decided, according to the local press. Companies must submit a timeline outlining their plans by 31 October, and will have until 18 March to complete their paperwork. The legislation, which was passed by the House of Representatives in February, introduced a regulatory framework for the sector governing the establishment of new consumer finance companies and operations.

From the Department of the Obvious: Egypt could see sharp upticks in unemployment if waves of GCC expats return to the country, according to a report by the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies (ECES) cited by Al Shorouk. In an optimistic scenario, the ECES sees unemployment increasing in 2H2020 to 13.4% in the foreseeable future should 1 mn expats (or 14% of all Egyptians working abroad) return from Arab countries where they are currently employed. Under a more pessimistic scenario where 25% or more of our expat base loses their jobs, the report sees unemployment scaling up to close to 19% during the same period. Nearly 9.5 mn Egyptians live abroad, 6.2 mn of whom are in a GCC country, according to the latest census.

But the data says the labour market apocalypse predicted in the early days of covid isn’t happening: Remittances from Egyptians working abroad, which is a major source of hard currency, have also increased so far into the year, rising to USD 17 bn in the first seven months of the year from USD 15.7 bn in the same period in 2019, suggesting that, for the most part, expats aren’t in a crunch yet.

Where things stand now: Egypt’s official unemployment rate edged up to a near two-year high in the second quarter of the year, fuelled by the covid-19 lockdown here in Egypt. Unemployment could face further pressure in 4Q2020, when data is expected to reflect new graduates entering the labor force, ECES said in its report. IMF forecasts in April (pdf) see the official figure rising to 11.6% by the end of the ongoing fiscal year in June 2021.

Egypt will manage 90% of its imports and exports electronically by January 2021 in a bid to speed up customs clearance, increase trade flows, and improve Egypt’s ranking in the Logistical Performance Index, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in a statement. Logistics centers in Cairo as well as East and West Port Said are now operational, with Alexandria expected to follow suit next month, and Damietta and Dekheila in November and January respectively, he said.

Expedited clearance times: Maait said that the Ain Sokhna and Port Said ports should be able to process imports through customs in under three days by the end of this year, with the rest of Egypt’s ports catching up by the end of 2021. A task force — which will consist of representatives from the Customs Authority, the General Organization for Import and Export Control, and others — will be present at land and sea borders and will follow a strict protocol of checks to allow for the expedited clearance of goods. He added that the government’s new one-stop-shop customs system should be operational in Egypt’s main ports by the end of June 2021.

A refresher on the new Customs Act: The legislation was passed earlier this year to allow for expedited clearance of goods, increase penalties for violations, and expand the powers of customs clearance agents. Tap/click here for more.

The Russian Industrial Zone (RIZ) is expected to be up and running in 2022, provided final talks to establish the zone are completed next year, Russia’s ambassador to Egypt Georgy Borisenko said in an interview with Al Akhbar. As many as 32 Russia-based companies are interested in setting up factories and “major” silos in the RIZ, and can begin production at that time if the negotiations are finalized, Borisenko said. Egypt is requiring that 90% of the zone’s workers be Egyptian and that products exported from the zone to countries sharing freetrade zones with Egypt carry the “made in Egypt” tag, Borisenko added. The RIZ was previously expected to go online in 2020 and draw in investments of nearly USD 7 bn.

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Enterprise Explains

Every investment bank in Egypt wants to be a non-bank financial services player — and plenty want to start with factoring. The latest entrant is Prime Holding subsidiary Prime Fintech, whose Endorse arm is spinning up factoring, financial leasing and consumer finance offerings. Mervat Erian, Prime Fintech’s CEO, suggested factoring is a “much needed and very much underplayed” form of finance in Egypt. If you concede that the formal banking system has basically refused to extend real (traditional) finance to small businesses, we agree.

So we know lots of investment banks have NBFS arms that want to offer factoring. But what is factoring, exactly?

Think of it as the second-oldest profession. In the simplest possible terms? Let’s say y ou’re a business with uncollected receivables (invoices your clients haven’t paid yet). You sell those invoices at a discount to a third party — called a factor — who goes on to collect them instead of you. You get money today by clearing out your accounts receivable, and the factor makes a profit.

It’s usually a relatively expensive form of financing, but if the company wants to receive up to 80% of the value of the accounts receivables quickly, rather than waiting for the length of the credit terms to receive payment, factoring could be the way to go.

Who benefits the most? It’s particularly useful for companies that conduct a large portion of their sales through accounts receivables, who might experience cash flow shortfalls if their short-term debts exceed their sales revenue. By purchasing the customer’s debt, the factor provides the company with the working capital to continue trading. This is particularly valuable for rapidly growing companies that need plenty of access to cash. It also transfers the risk of default — the risk that the customer won’t pay the accounts receivables — to the factor.

And how does it work? A factor charges a factoring fee in exchange for quickly releasing funds to the company selling the receivables. This fee is a percentage of the receivables, with the rate depending on industry, the volume of receivables being collected, how long the receivables have been outstanding, and most importantly the creditworthiness of the customers paying the receivables. If the factor believes the risk of default is high, the fee charged to the company selling the receivables will be higher, while if the default risk is low, the factor fee will be lower too.

Going further:

  • YouTube econ channel Marketplace has an easy to digest explainer here.
  • This piece from the Wall Street Journal explains how small businesses can use factoring for cash flow.
  • What are the risks? Bloomberg has an overview.

Egypt in the News

Leading coverage of Egypt in the foreign press: Some 50 US lawmakers have signed a letter urging Egypt to release what they call prisoners of conscience. Al Monitor was among the publications taking note, while Haaretz columnist Zvi Bar’el shares his memories of long-time left-wing activist Amin El Mahdi. Tabloids, meanwhile, are highlighting social media reaction to a viral video of the Egyptian police academy’s graduation ceremony (Daily Mail | Daily Star | Sputnik | Yahoo).

We all have that friend who never texts back and apparently so did the Ancient Egyptians, who regularly wrote angry letters to their friends scolding them for not staying in touch, according to letters found in the village of Deir El Medina, Jstor Daily reports. In other archaeology news, UK structural experts at Cintec to save the 4,600 year-old Bent Pyramid from crumbling got some attention from the National.

Finally: An Egyptian has broken the Guinness World Record for the oldest professional football player, reports Reuters. 75-year-old Ezz El Din Bahader broke the record previously held by 73-year-old Israeli goalkeeper Isaak Hayik.

Worth Listening

Middle-aged entrepreneurs and folks dreaming of starting their own business will want to tune in to Making it, our interview show on building a great business in Egypt to hear the story of Fawry founder and CEO Ashraf Sabry. Fawry has shined during the pandemic as demand for contactless payment spiked amid lockdowns and health and safety concerns. The company debuted on the EGX in 2019, and earlier this year became the first Egyptian tech company to hit a market cap of USD 1 bn. Over 29 mn customers across the country use the platform to pay their bills.

You already have a podcast app on your iPhone tap or click here to listen using it. Or you can listen on our website | Google Podcast | Anghami | Omny. We’re also available on Spotify, but only for non-MENA accounts. Subscribe to Making It on your podcatcher of choice here.

Worth Watching

How China and Russia are using vaccines to exert soft power: While in the US and Europe the vaccine dash has been largely driven by the private pharma companies, China and Russia have adopted a state-led approach, giving the government say over development and export decisions. A parallel (and less glamorous) version of the space race, Beijing and Moscow have been scrambling to release a vaccine ahead of their Western rivals, fast-tracking the regulatory process to the consternation of health experts. That headstart could pay dividends, argues the Wall Street Journal (watch, runtime: 06:11), potentially handing the powers political sway, financial leverage, and global prestige as the saviors of the pandemic. China is distributing vaccines to neighboring countries in a bid to make peace over past border disputes while Russia is targeting oil-rich countries in the Middle East to expand its trade and energy links.

Egypt is in line for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and is testing China’s vaccine locally: Egypt inked an agreement with Moscow to distribute 25 mn doses of the vaccine through Pharco while a Chinese-developed vaccine is currently in phase three clinical trials in Egypt. Western analysts have raised concerns over the efficacy and safety of both vaccines, but over 50 countries have put in early requests for the shots.

Energy

Egyptian-Saudi electricity project tender results to be announced in 1H2021

The Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) will announce the winner of the Egyptian-Saudi electricity interconnection project tender in the first half of 2021, the local press reports, citing sources at the company. EETC expects to complete analysis of the technical bids in December. Companies that have submitted offers include ElSewedy Electric, Hyundai, China’s State Grid Corporation, Swedish NCC, Indian firms L&T and Kalpataru, and America’s KES. The USD 1.6 bn project was originally supposed to go live this year but was pushed back to 2023 due to Saudi Arabia’s USD 500 bn futuristic city project, Neom. The cable routes extend 25 km across the sea bed, and will allow the two countries to exchange up to 3 GW.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt’s farmers call for cotton subsidies as low prices bite

Cotton traders are demanding the government provide subsidies to farmers worth EGP 200-300 per qintar to offset the low prices created by the new public auction system, reports Al Mal. Member of the Egyptian Cotton Union Mahmoud Farouk said prices had been driven down to an average of EGP 1.8k per qintar, compared to a range of EGP 1.8-2.1k in 2019. The new system, which has seen private-sector companies purchase nearly 40k qintars since its introduction in September, is being used in Fayoum, Beni Suef, Beheira and Sharqia before being rolled out across the country next year.

Manufacturing

1.6k industrial units allocated to small investors

More than 1.6k units in seven industrial zones were allocated to SMEs and young investors by the Trade and Industry Ministry on Sunday, according to Youm7. Units are available for rent or sale.

Health + Education

Four banks offer EGP 800 mn to support EIPICO cancer treatment project

The Egyptian International Pharmaceutical Industries (EIPICO) has received four offers from banks to provide a EGP 800 mn loan to part finance its cancer treatment project dubbed EIPICO 3, Chairman Ahmed Kilani told Al Mal. The EGP 1.2 bn (pdf) project is the first of its kind in Egypt and will produce medical products to treat cancers and hormonal s

ICMI to produce 100 mn “smart” syringes annually starting 1Q2021

The International Company for Medical Industries (ICMI) will start manufacturing self-destructing syringes during 1Q2021 and aims to produce 100 mn each year for the local market, Managing Director Hisham Saber told Al Mal. The company plans to invest EGP 12 mn in the venture and is in talks with two local banks to obtain a EGP 30 mn loan. The decision came after global health organizations called for the switch to the “smart” syringes.

Automotive + Transportation

Al Salam-Tenth of Ramadan light rail to open October 2021

The planned Al Salam City-new capital-Tenth of Ramadan City light rail will begin trial operations in August 2021 before launching in October 2021, Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir said, according to ِAl Masry Al Youm reports. The 90-km, 16-station electric line will serve up to 500k passengers a day.

On Your Way Out

Google featured a Doodle of the King of the Oud, Farid Al Atrash, in honor of what would have been his 110th birthday yesterday. Al Atrash was Syrian-born, but lived most of his life and achieved fame in Egypt, where he worked as a composer, singer, instrumentalist, actor, and film producer.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.64 | Sell 15.74
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.63 | Sell 15.73
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.65 | Sell 15.75

EGX30 (Monday): 11,171 (-0.1%)
Turnover: EGP 913 mn (18% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -19.9%

THE MARKET ON MONDAY: The EGX30 ended Monday’s session down 0.1%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended down 0.6%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Madinet Nasr Housing up 2.4%, CIRA up 1.8%, and GB Auto up 1.7%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Egyptian Iron & Steel down 2.0%, Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals down 1.8% and Dice down 1.6%. The market turnover was EGP 913 mn, and regional investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP -11.8 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +28.4 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -16.6 mn

Retail: 78.0% of total trades | 78.3% of buyers | 77.7% of sellers
Institutions: 22.0% of total trades | 21.7% of buyers | 22.3% of sellers

WTI: USD 40.83 (-0.12%)
Brent: USD 42.44 (-1.14%)

Natural Gas: (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.80 MMBtu (+0.79%, November 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,911.70 / troy ounce (+0.28%)

TASI: 8,547.61 (-0.15%) (YTD: +1.89%)
ADX: 4,559.55 (+0.28%) (YTD: -10.17%)
DFM: 2,208.81 (+1.26%) (YTD: -20.11%)
KSE Premier Market: 6,218.92 (-1.52%)
QE: 9,999.66 (-0.10%) (YTD: -4.08%)
MSM: 3,588.56 (-0.39%) (YTD: -9.86%)
BB: 1,461.08 (-1.07%) (YTD: -9.26%)

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Calendar

18-22 October (Sunday-Thursday): The annual Cairo Water Week event — which will be semi- virtual this year — will be held under the slogan “Water Security for Peace and Development in Arid Regions.”

21-23 October (Wednesday-Friday): Polls open to international voters for first round of Parliamentary elections in Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira, Matrouh.

22-25 October (Thursday-Sunday): Le Marché furniture expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

23-31 October (Friday-Saturday): El Gouna Film Festival, El Gouna, Egypt.

24-25 October (Saturday-Sunday) Polls open for first round of Parliamentary elections in Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira, Matrouh.

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

End of October: Last chance to settle building code violations for illegal buildings.

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

November: An Egyptian-Russian ministerial committee will meet to discuss trade and investment in Moscow.

2 November: Former Civil Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafik faces retrial at Cairo Court of Appeals in the so-called Aviation Ministry corruption case.

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

4-6 November (Wednesday-Friday): Polls open to international voters for first round of Parliamentary elections in Cairo, Qalyubia, Menofia, Gharbia, Kafr El Sheikh, Sharqia, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.

4-7 November (Wednesday-Saturday): Cityscape Egypt Expo, International Exhibition Center, Cairo.

7-8 November (Saturday-Sunday): Polls open for first round of Parliamentary elections in Cairo, Qalyubia, Menofia, Gharbia, Kafr El Sheikh, Sharqia, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.

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

13-15 November (Friday-Sunday): A conference on banking in the time of covid by the Union of Arab Banks, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

15 November (Sunday): Egyptian Tax Authority’s online intro seminar on new electronic invoice system for first tranche of companies transitioning to e-filing program.

19-28 November (Thursday-Sunday): Cairo International Film Festival, Cairo Opera House, Egypt.

22-25 November (Sunday-Wednesday): Cairo ICT 2020, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

23-24 November (Monday-Tuesday): Reruns for Parliamentary elections in Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira, Matrouh.

30 November (Monday): Final results will be announced for Parliamentary elections held in Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira, Matrouh.

December: The 110th regular session of the Egyptian-Iraqi Joint Higher Committee will be held under the chairmanship of the prime ministers of the two countries.

1 December (Tuesday): The IMF will conduct a first review of targets set under the USD 5.2 bn standby loan approved in June (proposed date).

5 December (Saturday): A court will hold a postponed hearing to look into an appeal by Syria’s Anataradous against an arbitration ruling in favor of Amer Group and Amer Syria.

7-8 December (Monday-Tuesday): Reruns for Parliamentary elections in Cairo, Qalyubia, Menofia, Gharbia, Kafr El Sheikh, Sharqia, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.

9-10 December (Wednesday-Thursday): BiznEx, the international business expo in Egypt, venue TBD.

14 December (Monday): Final results will be announced for Parliamentary elections held in Cairo, Qalyubia, Menofia, Gharbia, Kafr El Sheikh, Sharqia, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.

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.

13-31 January (Wednesday-Sunday): Egypt will host the 2021 Men’s Handball World Championship at the Giza Pyramids.

25 January 2021 (Monday): 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

25-29 January 2021 (Monday-Friday): The World Economic Forum’s “Davos Dialogues” will take place virtually.

26-28 January (Tuesday-Thursday): Future Investment Initiative, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

28 January 2021 (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

4 February 2021 (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

6-18 February (Saturday-Thursday): Mid-year school break.

18 March 2021 (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

12 April 2021 (Monday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

25 April 2021 (Sunday): Sinai Liberation Day.

29 April 2021 (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day.

29 April 2021 (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

3 May 2021 (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

6 May 2021 (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sham El Nessim.

12-15 May 2021 (Wednesday-Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

18-21 May 2021 (Tuesday-Friday): The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting will be held under the theme of “The Great Reset” in Lucerne-Bürgenstock, Switzerland

31 May-2 June 2021 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

1 June 2021 (Tuesday): The IMF will conduct a second review of targets set under the USD 5.2 bn standby loan approved in June 2020 (proposed date).

10 June 2021 (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

24 June 2021 (Thursday): End of the 2020-2021 academic year.

26-29 June 2021 (Saturday-Tuesday): The Big 5 Construct Egypt, Cairo International Convention Center

22 July 2021 (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

30 July-3 August 2021 (Thursday-Monday): Eid Al Adha, national holiday (TBC).

1 October 2021-31 March 2022 (Friday-Thursday): Postponed Expo 2020 Dubai.

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