Good afternoon, everyone. We made it through hump day together — two more days and we can slide into the weekend. That also brings us two days closer to Ramadan, with the holy month being 28 days out from where we sit right now.
THE BIG STORY here at home this afternoon has to be the finalization of Banque Misr’s EGP 3.06 bn acquisition of 65% of CI Capital. That gives the state-owned behemoth a 90% stake in the financial services outfit. We have chapter and verse in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.
Continuing the theme of state-owned banks actively expanding into the wider finance industry, we also have news that four state banks are looking to collectively take a 75% in the new futures exchange.
CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from this morning’s very (policy focused) issue of EnterpriseAM:
- More countries are temporarily suspending use of the AstraZeneca jab — but there’s no evidence it’s causing blood clots.
- Egypt is poised to ride the green finance wave in 2021, we report in the first edition of Going Green, our new weekly vertical on the green economy, brought to you in association with our friends at Infinity.
- Minimum wage increase for civil servants are coming in July — and pensioners will also get a boost.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD- No single story dominates the global business press this afternoon. Reuters is leading with the ongoing (and still unfounded) concerns about the safety of the AstraZeneca covid-19 jab, while Bloomberg notes that the Saudi economy contracted 3.9% in the fourth quarter. The Financial Times says Chinese tech giants are looking for ways around Apple’s privacy rules with tech from a state-backed group, and the WSJ sees the US Federal Reserve holding its ground on rates as the economic outlook brightens.
YOUR MANDATORY COVID STORY- The UAE has started administering third doses of the Sinopharm vaccine amidst concerns that the Chinese vaccine hasn’t generated enough protective antibodies, reports The Wall Street Journal. UAE health officials have declined to disclose how many people are getting a third jab.
What does this mean for Egypt? Our own vaccine rollout here at home involves the Sinopharm and AstraZeneca jabs, with both vaccines now in use as some 1-2k people per day are being vaccinated. Egypt has not yet commented or given any signals that people may need to get a third dose of the Sinopharm jab.
Egypt has no plan to stop using AstraZeneca vaccines as the Health Ministry has not detected any negative side effects from the jab, an unnamed source from the ministry told Masrawy. A number of European countries have temporarily paused use of AstraZeneca amid concerns it may have caused blood clots in a small number of recipients. Canada and Belgium, meanwhile, are among those still using AstraZeneca, and both a top European regulator and the WHO believe that there’s nothing to be concerned about. As we discussed this morning,
Egypt is currently waiting for the first 6 mn of an 8.6 mn dose order of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Looking ahead, there could be 6-8 new vaccines on the market by the end of the year, including “ones that don’t require needles and can be stored at room temperature,” Bloomberg reports.
Meanwhile, another mutant virus strain has been discovered: The French government has found a new covid-19 strain in Brittany, said the country’s health ministry in a statement (read in French) picked up by Reuters. The variant still isn’t seen as more serious or transmissible than others.
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
The CIB PSA Black Ball Open 2021 women’s squash event is underway and will run until Thursday while the men’s event will start on Friday and run until 25 March. Players from all over the world, 48 men and 48 women, will compete for a USD 350k purse split across both divisions in what will be the opening PSA World Tour event of 2021. You can check out the results for women so far, and you can stream the event live on SquashTV or the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour (excluding Europe and Japan). You can also snag tickets online to attend in person at the Black Ball Sporting Club in New Cairo.
Photopia’s Cairo Photo Week 2021 is up and running until 20 March. The photo festival features over 100 activities including workshops, panels, photo challenges, exhibitions, portfolio reviews and photo walks throughout the week, all led by more than 80 local and international photographers. You can check out the event program on Photopia’s website, there’s plenty to look at on the group’s Instagram feed @cairophotoweek, and both physical and virtual tickets are available here.
Photographer Karim El Hayawan will be giving a workshop on concept building and development starting tomorrow and running for four days as part of Cairo Photo Week.
AUC Press’s Mad March book sale will be ongoing for the rest of the month. The sale is open to the general public every day from 10am–6pm CLT at AUC Tahrir Bookstore & Garden.
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
The Oracle of Omaha’s Berkshire Hathaway thinks its climate record is none of your business: The USD 600 bn conglomerate is pushing shareholders to dismiss a proposal that would oblige it to undergo a formal annual assessment of the climate risks presented by its businesses, saying the additional scrutiny was not “necessary,” the Financial Times reports. This comes in response to a proposal by three funds that hold USD 2.5 bn of the company’s stock as investors across the board push companies towards more transparency over their impact on the environment. Warren Buffett’s company also shot down another proposal by an advocacy group concerning a review of its diversity and inclusion programs.
What the world could look like in 2030 could scare the 💩out of you. We’re down with the end of poverty and the notion of a permanent moon base (thank you, For All Mankind), but the notion of a climate apocalypse and a genetic surveillance state and the end of genetic privacy? No thanks. Read about it all in the surprisingly brief (but meaty) Here’s what the world will look like in 2030 … right?
Netflix’s crackdown on password sharing could see it dealing with higher user-turnover as the streaming platform tests people’s willingness to pay for content, writes Bloomberg. Netflix is currently testing a feature that prompts non-paying viewers to buy a subscription to “ensure people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so,” a company spokesperson was quoted as saying. While analysts are somewhat confident that users won’t want to give up their ‘Netflix and Chill’ sessions, the move comes as other streaming platforms add mns of subscribers of their own.
SUPERCYCLE WATCH- Aluminum prices are seen going nowhere but up, with the high demand and positive sentiment generated from the vaccine rollout in late 2020 to carry over into 2021, Emirates Global Aluminium CEO Abdulnasser Bin Kalban told Bloomberg. Futures seem to be on track to stay above USD 2k throughout the year, after having joined most other commodities and staged a historic rally from its pandemic low of nearly USD 1.4k, Bloomberg says.
Developing nations are struggling to bounce back from the economic fallout from covid-19 as growing spending and financing costs cause debt to pile up, according to the Financial Times, picking up on an OECD forecast. That could mean EMs need more multilateral support to avoid “a lost decade,” writes Megan Greene of the Harvard Kennedy School in an op-ed for the salmon-colored paper. The IMF’s recent approval of new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), which increases its development lending firepower, is an encouraging step, but the lender needs to compromise, Green says. Earmarking more SDRs, and reallocating them from richer to poorer countries, will likely come with a set of conditions some EMs might not be able to meet, putting them in a position “too robust … but too weak to make it without support as the pandemic toils on,” especially as the cost of private borrowing continues to rise in response to higher US treasury yields, Greene writes.
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
(All times in CLT)
The 2021 Oscar nominations are out: Coming out right after the Grammys, the Oscars nominee list also put women front and center, with 70 women receiving a total 76 nominations and Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color to be nominated in the best director category for her film Nomadland, reports CNN. Riz Ahmed, meanwhile, became the first Muslim to be nominated for best actor for his role in Sound of Metal. Netflix’s Mank was the most-nominated flick with 10 nods including for best director (David Fincher), best actor (Gary Oldman) and best supporting actress (Amanda Seyfried) and best picture.
Catch up with the best picture nominations before the award show airs: Films up for best picture include:
The Oscars are slated to take place on 26 April — a bit later than usual thanks to the pandemic.
Streaming sites have beat out major theatrical studios this year, with Netflix raking in a total of 35 nominations while Amazon Prime snagged 12, according to Deadline. The Academy relaxed eligibility conditions last year that insisted Oscar contenders must screen first in a cinema, and play for at least seven days in Los Angeles, amidst the covid-19 pandemic and closed cinemas, writes The Financial Times. This paved the way for more streaming platforms to stand out and participate during the awards show. Tap or click here to check out the full list of nominations.
The CAF Champions League up and running and Al Ahly are already on the field against Congo’s Vita Club. Later tonight, Al Zamalek will go head-to-head with ES Tunis at 9pm. Winners of the matches will qualify for the quarterfinals of the African league.
The Egyptian Premier League will see Ceramica Cleopatra play Wadi Degla at 5pm and El Gaish kick off against Ismaily at 7pm.
Real Madrid will hit the field against Atalanta at 10pm in Europe’s Champions League while Manchester City will go up against Monchengladbach at 10pm.
🥗 EAT THIS TONIGHT-
Enjoy eating healthy with Lychee: What started off as a juice bar has transformed into a full blown eatery boasting jars of fruity Greek yogurt, breakfast plates, wraps, and a recently added salad bar. Lychee has also expanded its products to include foods you can add to your kitchen at home, among them peanut butter, energy bars, and sealed juices and milk. If you’re doing carbs, we recommend their berry land smoothie, chocolate chip Greek yogurt, and chicken melt wrap. You can find Lychee outlets across Greater Cairo as well as in Gouna, Alexandria, and North Coast. You can also check out their online store.
🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-
Egyptian female cartoonists are putting a spotlight on gender issues in an exhibition in the Greater Cairo Library in Zamalek. The exhibition, titled Heya, features more than fifty artworks covering topics ranging from violence to child marriage.
💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-
Do you love dark or sardonic humor? Does sarcasm brighten your day, even as you’re secretly a marshmallow inside when it comes to your family? If you answered yes, you’ve probably already discovered the work of New York Times chart-topping author Harlan Coben. Coben’s often-dark thrillers are centered on family, memory, identity and loss. He started out strong with his Myron Bolitar series before his stand-alone novels vaulted him to the top of his field.
Coben’s “Win” is out today, a standalone that draws a central character from the Bolitar series out on his own. Check out Coben’s 33rd book on Amazon or dive into the New York Times’ with the New Jersey author (don’t hold that against him) ahead of the novel’s release: Harlan Coben, suburban dad with 75 mn books in print.
🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Expect will be more of the same with daytime highs of 25°C and lows of 13°C, our favorite weather app tells us.