Thursday, 14 October 2021

EnterprisePM — Eat mochi while you watch tennis + football this weekend. Plus: Maait predicts USD 1 bn in inflows from inclusion in JPM’s EM bond index

TL;DR

🔎 WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TONIGHT

Well, friends, we’ve made it through another workweek together, and our reward is not just a weekend, but the promise of a four-day workweek next week. We have a ton of news to get through before we can shift our brains into something approximating neutral, so as we did this morning, let’s jump straight in:

THE BIG STORIES TODAY-

#1- OC-led consortium lands new Ras Ghareb wind farm contract: An Orascom Construction-Toyota Tsusho-Engie consortium will develop, construct and operate a 500 MW Ras Ghareb wind farm on a 20-year contract (pdf).

#2- SFE, Fertiglobe, Scatec agree on green hydrogen plant: Norwegian solar company Scatec has entered an agreement with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt and Nassef Sawiris-backed Fertiglobe to develop a new 50-100 MW green hydrogen plant in Ain Sokhna.

#3- Egytrans pulls the brake on HAUH takeover offer: Egytrans is “no longer considering” an offer from Hassan Allam Utilities Holding to acquire a controlling stake in the company after the two sides apparently failed to agree on a fair value (pdf).

#4- Korea is lining up what seems to be a multi-bn USD infrastructure and defense sale to Egypt. Korean media report (here and here) that National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seok discussed with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi this week a package of contracts that could include:

  • A shipyard construction contract in the Suez Canal area for Samsung Heavy Industries;
  • An additional order from the Cairo Metro for Hyundai Rotem;
  • Unspecified technical support for the Dabaa nuclear power plant that’s now on the drawing board;
  • The sale of Korea’s self-propelled K9 Thunder howitzer to the Egyptian Armed Forces.

#5- Egypt’s inclusion in JPMorgan’s EM government bond index could drive inflows worth USD 1 bn to Egypt’s local currency bond markets, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in a statement this morning. This is a more conservative figure than the USD 1.4-2.2 bn of passive inflows research analysts at JPMorgan have previously estimated could be generated from being included in the index. Our sovereign debt is expected to be back in the JPM index starting in January, we reported this morning.

** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:

  • One on one with Kouchouk: In Part 1 of our two-part interview series, Vice Minister of Finance Ahmed Kouchouk walks us through how 2022 could be a big year for Egyptian debt.
  • Egypt’s budget deficit is still on track to narrow through FY2025-2026, but at a slower pace than previously expected, the IMF said in its latest Fiscal Monitor Report.
  • A strategic investor aims to take 10% of e-Finance’s ongoing IPO, according to a domestic media report. The IPO was priced at EGP 13.98 per share (the top end of the range) as the institutional offering wrapped up. Retail investors have until Sunday to get their orders in.

HAPPENING NOW-

Egypt and Greece are set to sign today an agreement to build a subsea cable through which Egypt will export power to Greece. The pact is part of the EuroAfrica Interconnector project, which is set to link the electricity grids of Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus.

Four Egyptian security service officials are standing trial in absentia today on charges stemming from the murder of Italian graduate student Giulio Regeni. The Regeni killing has been a sore spot in Egypt-Italy relations since 2016. Reuters and Deutsche Welle have the story.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi spoke to Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead of the upcoming COP26 summit, according to a release from the UK government. After vowing that the two countries would work together to make the event a success, Johnson urged Cairo to commit to halting new use of coal and come forward with a Nationally Determined Contribution to cut emissions. The two leaders also discussed defense and security cooperation as well as Libya’s elections.

Just in time for the climate change conference, demand for fossil fuels is looking to soar, with the International Energy Agency saying in its monthly market report that the natural gas and coal shortages will cause manufacturers to switch to oil, pushing up prices. The agency predicts that the redirected demand could translate into as much as 500k bbl/d through 1Q2022, according to the Wall Street Journal. The report’s release nudged up oil prices this morning, with Brent crude futures rising 1.1% and WTI crude futures also inching up 1%, according to Reuters.

European stocks are comfortably in the green right now, and futures suggest Wall Street will soon follow suit at the opening bell.

At least six people are dead and 30 wounded after gunfire broke out at a protest in Beirut against the lead investigator into last year’s deadly port blast. Follow the Lebanese Red Cross on Twitter for the latest updates.


HAPPENING NEXT WEEK-

Retail investors have until Sunday to get their orders in for shares of e-Finance. Shares of the state-owned fintech platform and payments infrastructure provider should start trading next week on the EGX as one of the largest IPOs in recent memory wraps up.

It’s a four-day workweek as the nation takes Thursday, 21 October off in observance of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. It’s our last holiday until the end of the year, so make it count.

IT WILL BE A BIG WEEK FOR … the tech nerds among us. Apple is expected to announce new (redesigned) MacBook Pros on Monday at 7pm CLT (stream it here), while Google will hold an event on Tuesday to talk about its Pixel 6 and Pixel Pro phones (stream it here at 7pm). Apple is also widely expected to announce new, redesigned AirPods.

A SIGN OF THE TIMES straight from the dumpster fire that is our social media: “I have lived long enough to see Fonzie wish Captain Kirk well on his trip to space on my pocket computer. Ten year old me just exploded.” (Brittlestar on Twitter)

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- No single story dominates the front pages of the global business press on this final workday of the week. Of local interest: The Financial Times is onto the TRY hitting a record low after Erdogan sacked central bank officials, as we reported this morning — and Bloomberg thinks that the TRY is now “the currency to short as Erdogan fuels rate-cut fears.” The Wall Street Journal is leading with an exclusive claiming Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner has yet another defect, while Reuters is running with Price pinch: global economy caught in perfect storm.

The good news for major US banks continued today as Bank of America reported a 58% year-on-year rise in net income in 3Q2021, beating analysts’ predictions, according to the WSJ. JPMorgan Chase also beat analyst expectations with its 3Q results out yesterday. Expect Citigroup and Morgan Stanley to report today and Goldman Sachs to follow suit tomorrow.

US tech startups have raised a record-breaking USD 582.5 bn YTD from IPOs or agreements with SPACs, the Financial Times reported using data from PitchBook. The number of listings picked up in 3Q2021, with 93 IPOs going to market during the period. In response, investors and VCs are lining up for huge gains this year, especially as exits are on the rise and VC dealmaking has increased 40% this year compared to 2022.

📆 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The El Gouna Film Festival kicked off today and will run until 22 October. This edition of the event promises to bring together a selection of international narrative, documentary, and avante garde films. You can check out the full program here.

Conference season ratchets up this month, with a number of exhibitions and business events here and throughout the region taking place this week, including:

  • The Turathna Exhibition at the Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, which will run until tomorrow.
  • The GITEX Global is being held in the Dubai World Trade Center from 17-21 October. The event brings together players in Big Tech to discuss what’s next in areas such as AI, cloud, 5G, cybersecurity, blockchain, and more.
  • Further down the road: The Middle East Angel Investment Network is hosting its Angel Oasis in El Gouna on 27-29 October, with separate pricing for in-person and virtual attendance.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- We’re in for a sunny Friday (with a high of 34°C) and a cloudy Saturday (high of 35°C). Look for an overnight low of 21 both days, our favorite weather app tells us.

🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE

Are you at a fast-growing startup and struggling to remember everyone’s names? Wired has got you covered with How to actually remember people's names. Among the best suggestions: “File names and notes electronically in one place. I refer to the Apple Notes app on my phone as my brain. … After you meet someone, enter their name, a few facts about the person (their profession, number of children), and where you met.” Or try Evernote, Google Keep or Trello.” Added benefit: The simple act of writing stuff down will help form a more lasting, more easily recalled memory.

In fact, here’s the case for switching entirely to Apple Notes instead of Evernote (if you’re a Abble person).

For the bio nerds among you: Have a look at the most crazily detailed model of a human cell ever created using x-ray, NMR and cryoelectron microscopy datasets.

For the politics nerds among you: Go read David Shor is telling Democrats what they don’t want to hear. Namely that “Democrats are on the precipice of an era without any hope of a governing majority. The coming year, while they still control the House, the Senate and the White House, is their last, best chance to alter course. To pass a package of democracy reforms that makes voting fairer and easier. To offer statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. To overhaul how the party talks and acts and thinks to [earn] back the working-class voters — white and nonwhite — who have left them behind the electoral eight ball. If they fail, they will not get another chance. Not anytime soon.” The earnest New York Times columnist Ezra Klein sometimes grates on our nerves, but this piece hits the nail on the head.

The international automotive market’s electrification drive is gaining momentum — and threatening jobs at carmakers that don’t move fast enough. Honda Motors plans to only sell hybrid electric vehicles and EVs in China after 2030, the carmaker announced at a press conference yesterday. In all major markets, the company plans to increase the ratio of EVs and fuel cell vehicles within unit sales to 40% by 2030, 80% by 2035 then 100% by 2040. The rapid shift to EVs is making the market competitive and some carmakers are feeling the pressure, including Volkswagen, whose CEO Herbert Diess is worried that if his company’s shift to producing EVs is not fast enough some 30k of its employees could find themselves jobless, sources told Reuters. The newswire quoted a company spokesman saying that Tesla and others’ presence in the German market has “heightened the urgency” of transitioning.

Surprise: Amazon does shady things to benefit the business. Amazon reportedly used internal data from Amazon India to copy successful products and then sell them under private-brand labels on Amazon.in, a series of internal Amazon documents examined by Reuters. The documents, which date back to 2016, show that the company also manipulated search results so that Amazon’s private-brand products appeared in the top three results for shoppers. Although the company has denied all allegations, at least two top executives at Amazon are alleged to have known about and reviewed what the document calls “a formal, clandestine strategy.” The company aimed to use this insider information to develop and sell products 10-15% cheaper than their competitors.

It may be interesting, but it ain’t “new” news: Amazon has been doing this for a long time. Check out this Wall Street Journal report from April 2020: Amazon scooped up data from its own sellers to launch competing products. Or this report from Bloomberg back in 2016: Got a hot seller on Amazon? Prepare for e-tailer to make one too.


BTC has gotten a tentative thumbs up from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said in an interview that cryptocurrencies have a “right to exist,” but that it is too soon to consider using them for trading oil or other commodities, Bloomberg reports. The statements are somewhat surprising given that the Bank of Russia has previously warned that digital currencies are volatile and wouldn’t be accepted as a viable payment method. However, Moscow could stand to benefit from the use of crypto as the country looks for alternatives to trading in USD after sanctions were imposed in 2014. Putin’s laissez-faire attitude comes at the same time as China has taken significant steps to ban the use of cryptocurrencies.

Also signalling good news for BTC: The US is likely to give the green light to the first crypto ETF as early as next week, reports the Wall Street Journal.

But not everyone is giving crypto a big hug these days: The Bank of England’s Jon Cunliffe for starters. The deputy governor for financial stability is warning that use of cryptocurrencies could lead to a “global financial crisis” unless tougher regulations are set, reports CNBC. In a speech, he likened the rapid growth of digital currencies to the USD 1.2 tn subprime mortgage market in 2008. Cunliffe’s remarks come just days after JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon stepped up his jihad against crypto, blasting them as “worthless” and saying the burgeoning industry will inevitably be regulated by governments.

👌 ENTERPRISE RECOMMENDS

Palestinian Stories collection sees 32 films released on Netflix + Football is back baby + Eat mochi

📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-

(all times CLT)

Starting today, Netflix will begin releasing 32 Palestinian films on the streaming platform. The so-called Palestinian Stories collection showcases a number of critically acclaimed films either by Palestinian filmmakers or depicting stories from the area. “We all in the Palestinian film industry have been eager to share our narrative with the world through our authentic creative productions as an alternative to news reporting,” said Director May Odeh, explaining the importance of the launch and how it would make stories from the region more accessible. Other directors to be featured include Annemarie Jacir, Mai Masri, Mahdi Fleifel, Susan Youssef, Farah Nabulsi, and more.

Football is coming back at last, with the leagues restarting this weekend. First up is Bundesliga, which starts up again tomorrow at 8:30pm with a match between Hoffenheim and Köln. Soon after, France’s Ligue 1 is coming back as PSG and Angers hit the field at 9pm.

Premier League fans can also breathe a sigh of relief. The eight gameweek of the English league kicks off on Saturday with a match between Watford and Liverpool at 1:30pm. Later at 4pm, Aston Villa is playing against Wolverhampton, Leicester City take on Manchester United, Manchester City go up against Burnley, and Norwich City will play Brighton. Wrapping up the day are Brentford and Chelsea, who will play at 6:30pm. Don’t forget to update your PL Fantasy.

La Liga, Bundesliga, and Serie A on Saturday: We have two La Liga matches on Saturday, the first between Levante and Getafe at 6:30pm, and the other between Real Sociedad and Mallorca at 9pm. In the Bundesliga, we recommend watching the Borussia Dortmund match against Mainz at 3:30pm. Lazio faces Inter Milan in an important match in Serie A at 6pm while Milan meets Verona at 9pm. Also worth checking out is the Ligue 1 match on Saturday between Lyon and Monaco at 9pm.

Can’t wait until then? Two exciting matches are taking place in the wee hours of the night tonight, with Argentina playing against Peru at 1:30am and Brazil against Uruguay at 2:30am in the South American qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.

🎾Football not your thing? The quarterfinals at Indian Wells (as the BNP Paribas tennis open is better known) start tonight. The men’s quarters will see stars including Sasha Zevrev, Stefano Tsitsipas, Grigor Dimitrov (who stunned US Open champ Daniil Medvedev) and Hubert Hurkacz playing starting tonight at 8pm and continuing tomorrow. The women’s quarterfinals started overnight and continue tomorrow.

Follow the women’s action on the WTA Tour website or catch up with the men on the ATP homepage. Indian Wells wraps up with the finals on Sunday.

🍨 EAT THIS TONIGHT-

Mochi is looking like a strong candidate for Egypt’s next food trend: The Japanese rice cake filled with ice cream has been popping up on our socials often these days as more Egyptian shops embrace the trend. Online store Momochi is dedicated to the sweet balls, rolling out new flavors every few weeks from ube and coffee to mango, strawberry, and pineapple. We liked their strawberry flavor best. New Cairo dessert shop Taiyaki has also introduced mochis to the menu with out-there flavors such as matcha, pina colada, and cheesecake.

🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-

(all times CLT)

Nesma Mahgoub will perform the songs from her first album, Arouma, at a concert at AUC’s Ewart Hall tonight at 8pm.

Electronic duo HVOB are in Egypt for a performance at Maadi’s GlassHouse on the Nile River tomorrow at 4pm.

It’s hard rock night at ElSawy Culturewheel tomorrow as local rock band Vyrus hits the stage at 5:30pm.

The GrEEK Campus is hosting the first edition of the Tagali Sufi Festival on Saturday at 5pm, bringing together Sufi bands and Al Mawlid rituals.

Music ensemble Fabrika are performing the play El Leila El Kebeera at the Zamalek Theater on Saturday at 8pm.

💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-

Was George Orwell’s 1984 inspired by … petunias? Rebecca Solnit’s book Orwell’s Roses explores the great writer’s passion for gardening and how it reflected and inspired his rebellious spirit. The book acts as part biography, part character analysis, as Solnit tells the story of his life. From going deep into the coal mines of England, to fighting in the Spanish Civil War and critiquing Stalin early on in his regime, Orwell was never afraid to be different. Solnit argues that Orwell’s involvement with plants, mainly flowers, “illuminates his other commitments as a writer and antifascist.”

🌊 GO WITH THE FLOW

Market roundup on 14 October

The EGX30 rose 1.1% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.08 bn (28% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 1.4% YTD.

In the green: MM Group (+6.3%), Egypt Kuwait Holding (+4.8%), and Abou Kir Fertilizers (+4.0%).

In the red: Gadwa Industrial Development (-4.1%), Pioneers Properties (-4.1%) and CIRA (-2.5%).

RAIL

Automated freight trains could be a long-term answer to global shipping woes: With truck driver and shipping container shortages delaying land and sea transport and driving up end-prices of goods worldwide, driverless freight trains could offer a glimpse into a future of faster, cheaper, and more efficient transportation of goods by land, the Wall Street Journal reports. Just as the invention of the steam engine revolutionized transport in the 18th century, driverless freight trains are expected to dramatically improve the efficiency of existing rail lines, without the need for costly infrastructure expansion — and using less energy to boot.

But how will automated trains solve supply chain issues? Automating trains can allow them to run faster, and with shorter distances between them. It would also allow trains themselves to be longer (therefore carrying more goods), and to operate in a more energy efficient manner. An EU study found that automating trains could increase the capacity of existing rail networks by as much as 44%, while a separate study in the US estimated that US rail capacity could increase by as much as 50% if newer systems are employed, the WSJ reports.

The caveat: Most driverless trains are built to operate on dedicated rail systems that they would not have to share with their older, driver-operated counterparts. Integrating automated trains on existing networks that would support both simultaneously would require the installation of an extra system of sensors on automated trains to detect potential hazards — a process that would be costly, and technically demanding. The potential of driverless trains is also de facto limited — the trains can only operate on land, but are not necessarily able to go everywhere that trucks would.

But aren’t driverless passenger trains already a thing? Automated passenger trains are already in operation the world over. The first automated rail line was inaugurated in Japan’s Kobe in 1981, and the technology is now used for the transport of both goods and people in various countries. Germany this week unveiled what it is billing as the world’s first automated driverless train in Hamburg, which will share tracks with traditional passenger trains.

But what about freight trains? Australia completed the world’s first automated freight train network in the Pilbara region in 2019, transporting iron ore across 1.7k kms in Western Australia. A number of autonomous trains are currently under development for the transport of goods, with a German-Dutch autonomous freight train serving the port of Rotterdam under trial this month, while an autonomous freight train system was tested in the US as early as 2019, though the country does not yet have an automated freight rail system.

Egypt already has plans for several automated train systems: The planned Cairo Monorail project will have 70 fully automated Bombardier trains, and is part of the larger USD 4.5 bn monorail project that will utilize driverless train cars. Though no automated freight transport system is in the works just yet, Egypt also has other plans for an improved goods transport network. The planned USD 23 bn electric rail network that will connect Ain Sokhna to Alamein via the new capital in its first phase. Following last March’s Ever Given blockage of the Suez Canal, the idea was that this network could serve as an inland canal that will offer a quicker goods route between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Other projects include the rebuilding of the Abu Tartour-Qena freight line.

📆 CALENDAR

October: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis could visit Egypt mid this month to discuss ways to boost tourism cooperation between the two countries.

14-22 October (Thursday- Friday): El Gouna Film Festival.

9-15 October (Saturday-Friday): Turathna Exhibition, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

11-17 October (Monday-Sunday): IMF + World Bank Annual Meetings.

14-15 October (Thursday-Friday): The Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union, African Union Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Mid-October: The Egyptian Banking Institute, the Financial Services Institute, and I-Score will begin airing in mid-October the Digital Credit Scoring Webinar Series, a line-up of webinars on the banking sector and banking regulations.

Week of 17 October: E-Finance begins trading on EGX.

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday.

21 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.

24-28 October (Sunday-Thursday) Cairo Water Week, Cairo, Egypt.

27-28 October (Wednesday-Thursday) Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference, Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski, Cairo, Egypt.

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

28 October (Thursday): Second tranche of overdue subsidy payouts will be handed to eligible exporters.

30 October – 4 November (Saturday-Thursday): The first edition of Race The Legends, Egypt.

30-31 October (Saturday-Sunday): G20 Leaders’ Summit, Rome, Italy.

31 October (Saturday): World Cities Day, Luxor, Egypt.

November: The French-Egyptian Business Forum is set to take place in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

November: Egypt will host another round of talks to reach a potential Egyptian-Eurasian trade agreement, which can significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to the Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

1-3 November (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Energy exhibition on power and renewable energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

2-3 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

15-21 November (Monday-Sunday): Intra-African Trade Fair 2021, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

16-17 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Africa fintech summit, Cairo.

26 November-5 December (Friday-Sunday): The 43rd Cairo International Film Festival.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Centre.

7-8 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): North Africa Trade Finance Summit.

8-10 December (Wednesday-Thursday): Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research (GFHS), Cairo, Egypt.

12-14 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Food Africa Cairo trade exhibition, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

13-17 December: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

14-19 December (Tuesday-Sunday): The Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater.

14-15 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

15 December (Wednesday): Deadline for joint stock companies and investment companies in Cairo to join e-invoicing platform.

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

1Q2022: Launch of the Egyptian Commodities Exchange.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

19 February 2022 (Saturday): Public universities begin the second term of the 2021-2022 academic year.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

22-24 April 2022: World Bank-IMF spring meeting, Washington D.C.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt

16 June 2022 (Thursday): End of 2021-2022 academic year for public schools

27 June-3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

2H2022: IEF-IGU Ministerial Gas Forum, Egypt. Date + location TBA.

18-20 October 2022 (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

**Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

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. © 2021 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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