Sunday, 4 July 2021

EnterprisePM — European-based investors are reportedly eyeing a 90% stake in leasing provider GlobalCorp



It’s a busy Sunday back from the three-day weekend, ladies and gentlemen, with a number of regulatory, macro, and business news guiding the conversation in the local press today.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- Ezdehar, Sanad Fund look to exit GlobalCorp: Private equity firm Ezdehar and the German development bank KfW’s Sanad Fund are looking to exit their 90% stake in leasing and non-banking financial services firm GlobalCorp, after achieving their ROI targets, according to reports in the local press. Interest is coming from EU-based investors, apparently. We dive deeper in the Speed Round below.

New building codes designed to curb illegal construction will now be applied across all cities in Egypt after the government rolled them on a trial basis in a number of cities last May. Construction licenses will only be handed out to projects that meet new requirements including limits on building heights that vary with street width. Masrawy has the full list of requirements.

The new measures are designed to curb unlicensed construction, and follow a six-month construction ban the government imposed last year along with a campaign against wildcat buildings that resulted in bns of EGP in fines collected and settlements reached in the past year.

HAPPENING NOW- It looks like we have confirmation that the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has reached an agreement with the owner of the Ever Given to compensate for last March’s six-day blockage of the waterway. Both the SCA and the ship’s owners asked the Ismailia Economic Court during hearings held today to stay proceedings until Sunday as they’re close to seeing eye-to-eye, according to a court decision seen by Youm7.

The two sides could ink a final agreement “within days,” after which the court will issue an order to release the ship, which has remained in the Bitter Lake since being seized by the SCA in April, said Hazem Barakat, a lawyer representing the ship’s Japanese owner Shoei Kisen. This came after press reports emerged over the weekend that Shoei Kisen and its insurer UK P&I Club preliminarily agreed to pay USD 540 mn for damages the ship caused earlier this year, paving the way for an end to a dispute that rumbled on for three months as the two sides traded accusations.

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

  • Our first corporate green bond sale gets the all-clear: CIB has kicked off Egypt’s first corporate green bond issuance, which has been in the works for nearly a year, after getting the go-ahead from the Financial Regulatory Authority.
  • Egypt backs global minimum tax: Egypt has signed on to an OECD plan to impose a minimum global corporate tax rate of 15%, joining 129 other countries who like the idea.
  • The first batch of Made-in-Egypt Sinovac-Vacsera vaccine has been produced with Vacsera manufacturing the first 650k doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine last week.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Russia-linked ransomware group wreaking havoc on global business: REvil, a cyber-criminal group that came under the spotlight last month after reaping USD 11 mn from meat producer JBS SA, was just accused of blackmailing hundreds of large firms around the world through an attack on Kaseya VSA, a widely used software. In one of the largest scale hacking operations seen by experts, the group — believed to be operating out of Russia — managed to install so-called ransomware on nearly 40k computers linked to Kaseya. The malicious software it uses locks up those machines until bitcoin payments are made. Kaseya has since shut down its servers and urged clients to stop using its software on further notice. Picking up the story are: The Wall Street Journal | Bloomberg | The Financial Times


The British Egyptian Business Association’s (BEBA) virtual education week kicks off tomorrow. Three seminars are planned through Tuesday. The first, taking place at 10am tomorrow, will discuss skills-based learning while the future of investment in education will be the topic on the table at 12:30pm the same day. On Tuesday, a talk on the digitalization of education in Egypt is scheduled for 12pm.


The Cairo International Book Fair is currently ongoing at Egypt International Exhibition Center today. The event will run through to 15 July.

The Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC) MENA is holding a webinar titled Energy Efficiency in the MENA region: Status and Outlook on 6 July at 3:30pm.

Later on in the month, CEBC will host Women Entrepreneurs in Cleantech in MENA vs Canada to feature women’s involvement in mitigating climate change on 28 July.


WFH isn’t suitable for Gen Z, Wall Street firms think, despite the fact that their profitability didn’t get affected amidst the pandemic, according to the Wall Street Journal. Top Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan are requiring their employees to go back to the office, especially young workers, claiming that mentorship and training are common attributes that the young generation is missing.

Bitcoin made itself easier to mine after China’s crackdown on crypto: Following Beijing’s move to clamp down on bitcoin mining, the token’s algorithm, which automatically adjusts when the number of online miners drops, made mining less difficult by a record 28%, according to CNBC. This took the time it takes to complete a block back down to a psychologically-satisfying 10 minutes, and means active miners now stand to get a larger slice of the pie. China has been ramping up its regulation of cryptocurrencies, and has banned financial institutions and payment companies from the business and shuttered mines.

Want to know more about how bitcoin mining works? Check out our recent two-part explainer on the practice (here and here).

England is deeming face masks a “personal choice” starting from 19 July as it ends its third covid-19 lockdown and starts eliminating precautionary measures, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News (watch, runtime: 01:14). Despite warnings from doctors about the dangers of losing the masks mandate, England will allow people to practice caution based on their own “personal responsibility and judgment”. More details on what restrictions will be terminated will be announced this week, but people briefed on the matter point to removing restrictions on mass gatherings, reopening nightclubs, and ending the one-metre social distancing rule, reports the Financial Times.


WARNING, PLEASE AVOID- Peter Jackson’s most self-indulgent, Hollywood money-grab is now on Netflix: The most unnecessary movie trilogy of the modern era (The Hobbit series) is now on Netflix if you really, really, really have time to kill. The film series in order includes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Squeezing an IP to the pulp: While we’re all fans here of Tolkien and his amazing books, it is actually much, much quicker and better to simply read the novel. This was clearly the studio and Peter Jackson looking to milk Tolkien’s IP licence for all it is worth, as they added new plots and twists to an already perfect story from our childhood.

The Egyptian Premier League is on tonight, with Al Mokawloon playing versus El Gaish at 5pm, Pyramids versus Enppi at 7pm, and Al Ahly versus Smouha at 9pm.

The Euros went down full force over the weekend: We now have our four semi-finalists after exciting displays at the round of eight over the weekend. Switzerland made a gallant attempt against three-time champions Spain, once again getting to penalties but failing to follow through. Meanwhile, Italy came out a goal ahead in a 2-1 win over Belgium, Denmark made it through to the next round after beating Czech Republic, and England breezed through Ukraine with a 4-0 victory.

Who’s going to the semi-finals? Itay is playing against Spain at 9pm CLT on Tuesday, while England is going up against Denmark at 9pm CLT on Wednesday.


More Sahel eats: Cooling down on the beach isn’t complete without an ice cream cone in hand, which is why we’re so excited that one of our favorite ice cream joints has opened up shop in North Coast this summer. Sno Gelato is parking its colorful ice cream trucks in Marassi’s The Alley, Lavista Bay, and Mountain View, but Cairo peeps can also get a taste by visiting its store in Maadi. They have all the classics, as well as more playful flavors such as Reese’s, dulce de leche banana, Greek mastic, tiramisu, and orange chocolate. You wouldn’t want to miss out of their brownies, cakes, and cookies, which are great gifts to bring to any Sahel gathering.


Access Art Space is hosting an artist talk at 7pm tonight. The event will feature Fatma Abodoma and Agnes Michalczyk, who will talk about their co-exhibition ‘Unseen’, which aims to portray women’s issues.


Train your inner voice to be nicer: Celebrated as one of the best books of the year, Chatter by psychologist Ethan Kross explores how our inner voice influences our lives and decisions. It argues that we all have an “inner voice” that can oftentimes be our biggest critic, rather than our cheerleader. As a result of those not so positive silent conversations, we can find ourselves in a worse physical or mental state. In the book, Kross looks at real-world case studies where the critical voice caused changes in behaviour as acute as a pitcher forgetting how to pitch. From the words we use to think about ourselves to the conversations we have with others, the tools needed to make these voices work in our favor are readily accessible and easy to implement. While we can’t find Chatter at our local bookstores, you can get the book through Kindle or Audible.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- We’re regretting coming back from Sahel… Cairo will see the mercury rise to 39°C before falling to 23°C at night, according to our favorite weather app. Meanwhile, in the lovely Sahel, the daytime high is 31°C — pretty great weather for the beach.


Leasing provider GlobalCorp’s owners seeking an exit

Europe-based investors are looking to snap up 90% of leasing and non-banking financial services company GlobalCorp, according to a report by Al Mal quoting sources it says are in the know. Due diligence is currently underway, with more details due to be unveiled “soon,” the sources said without pinning down a value to the stake. We tried reaching out to Ezdehar and GlobalCorp, but they were unable to comment as of dispatch time.

Who’s selling? Private equity outfit Ezdehar, which owns 60% of GlobalCorp, and German development bank KfW’s Sanad fund, which holds 30%. Both sides said they’re looking to exit GlobalCorp after hitting their target ROI, the sources speaking to Al Mal said.

Who is GlobalCorp? GlobalCorp provides “structured leasing products and other financial and advisory services” to specific industries including real estate development, transportation, health, education, pharma, F&B, paper, and chemicals and oil services.

Background: The company was set up in 2015 by local and foreign institutions including Ezdehar and Sanad. Its CEO, Hatem Samir holds the 10% stake not owned by the latter two funds. GlobalCorp’s largest shareholder, Ezdehar, counts the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank, and the development finance arms of the UK and the Netherlands, among its limited partners. LPs also include the Sawiris family’s Gemini Holding


Egypt’s tourism revenues reached USD 3.5-4 bn in 1H2021, Deputy Tourism Minister Ghada Shalaby told Reuters. This is up from USD 2.6 bn in 1H2020, according to Egypt’s FY2019-2020 balance of payments (pdf). Meanwhile, some 3.5 mn tourists visited the country from January to June. She notes that each tourist spent on average USD 95 per night.

This would mean that June saw 1.5 mn tourists visit the country as 2 mn tourists made their way to Egypt in the first five months of 2021, according to previous statements by Shalaby.

Things could look up soon: Egypt is expecting a 45-60% y-o-y increase in incoming tourists in the “next period,” without specifying what this timeframe may be. The ministry is targeting tourism revenues between USD 6 bn and USD 9 bn by the end of 2021.

Revenues were down 70% y-o-y in 2020 at USD 4 bn, compared to the record high of USD 13.03 bn in 2019. Prior to the pandemic, Egypt was on the path to set another record in 2020, projecting USD 15 bn in tourism receipts.

Hopefully our vaccine rollout will help: Several countries have placed warnings on travelling to Egypt on account of the pandemic, including the UK, whose red list discouraged holiday makers from visiting the Red Sea as they will be required to quarantine at their own expense for 10 days upon returning home. Saudi Arabia’s Public Health Authority also recently classified Egypt as a “very high risk” travel destination and advised visitors against travel to Egypt. However, The rollout of Made-in-Egypt Sinovac first batch last week could help push our vaccine campaign along. The government is looking to deliver 80 mn doses by the end of the year.


EGX30 goes up in first trading session of the week

The EGX30 rose 0.9% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 897 mn (27.7% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net buyers. The index is down 4.6% YTD.

In the green: TMG Holding (+4.8%), Abou Kir Fertilizers (+3.8%) and EFG Hermes (+2.1%).

In the red: MM Group (-1.0%), Cleopatra Hospital (-0.4%) and Orascom Development Egypt (-0.4%).


The Blade Runner replicant test may become a thing

Distinguishing between you and a robot: You're trying to purchase an item online or log into an account. You enter your credentials, but before you proceed, you need to prove that you're a human user. Asking you to tick the "I'm not a robot" checkbox to confirm that you are, in fact, human seems curiously simple. For many users, these have become an annoying necessity of using the internet. For the companies using them, however, the cybersecurity technology has become a vital security measure that protects websites and users from spam, as this clip from Vox explains (watch, runtime: 8:03).

Why would anyone need to create a test that can tell humans and machines apart — apart from avoiding the next android replicant revolution, obviously? It's because of people trying to game the system — they want to exploit weaknesses in the computers running the site.

Which brings us to CAPTCHAs: In 2000, the first CAPTCHAs — short for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart — were developed for Yahoo to prevent automated software programs (collectively called “bots”) from automatically setting up email accounts, which would in turn be used to pump out spam. Some bots might try to scan websites to steal email addresses or passwords. Other spambots might try to submit fake registrations or fraudulent sweepstakes entries. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's no end to the different types of malicious actions that bots can be programmed to do to wreak havoc on websites.

With a CAPTCHA, the goal is to create a test that humans can pass easily but machines cannot. CAPTCHAs weed out bots by presenting puzzles within the browser’s response that ostensibly only humans can solve and, therefore, eliminating bot submissions.

As the threats posed by bots have evolved, so have the CAPTCHA mechanisms intended to stop them. In the early days, users were asked to read slightly distorted text and type the correct characters to pass the test,and while initially successful, rapid advances in computing meant that bots were soon able to process the text as well as a human.

Say hello to reCAPTCHAs: CAPTCHAs integration with Google in 2009 and the introduction of reCAPTCHAs marked the next phase in the battle against the bots. These tests had the same goal but with a twist: The prompts were all digital scans of books. Because computers are not always able to identify words from a digital scan, humans would complete the security test while also helping to digitize books for the internet archive. “Hundreds of mns of CAPTCHAs are solved by people every day. reCAPTCHA makes positive use of this human effort by channeling the time spent solving CAPTCHAs into digitizing text, annotating images and building machine learning datasets. This helps preserve books, improve maps, and solve hard AI problems,” read Google’s website. But soon enough, bots got so good at passing a reCAPTCHA that by 2014 Google found that the tests could be deciphered by bots over 99% of the time.

In 2014, Google started phasing out the classic service. In place, it started asking you to tick the "I’m not a robot" checkbox, endearingly called the “No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA.” In 2017, Google announced it was getting rid of No CAPTCHA. Instead the service would rely on techniques like noticing how you move an onscreen pointer or analyzing your browsing habits to determine whether you are human or robot. This is called “Invisible reCAPTCHA.” If Google is still unsure of your humanness after clicking the checkbox, you will be shown a visual reCAPTCHA (with words, street signs or images) as an additional security measure.

The next frontier: Because CAPTCHA is such an elegant tool for training AI, any given test is only ever going to be temporary. As AI learns and develops from existing technology, CAPTCHAs will again have to evolve. Recently there have been efforts to develop game-like CAPTCHAs: tests that require users to rotate objects to certain angles or move puzzle pieces into position, with instructions given not in text but in symbols or implied by the context of the game board. The hope is that humans would understand the puzzle’s logic but computers, lacking clear instructions, would be stumped. Other researchers have tried to exploit the fact that humans have bodies, using device cameras or augmented reality for interactive proof of humanity. However, particularly as artificial intelligence continues to improve, standalone visual-challenge-response approaches are becoming less viable.


Not sure what to have for dinner? You could consider a DNA swab.

Why your next meal plan should be designed around your own DNA: If you’ve tried a diet with a friend and the results turned out differently for both of you (like you ended up gaining three kilos while they lost the same amount *coughs*) — then you’ve already experienced the need for an eating plan that’s tailored to your own needs.

Enter personalized nutrition: The name gives this so-called concept away. Simply put, personalized nutrition is the idea that nutritional advice should suit every individual’s different body type, age, metabolism, and other factors that cause us to react to food and drink differently. Individualising nutritional advice has long been an offered service locally and abroad, but new advances in technology and science can elevate personalised nutrition to new heights.

A whole new industry has also been built around this approach, and it’s expected to reach a whopping value north of USD 70 bn globally by 2025, reports Nutrition Australia.

It has already come a long way. Today, many companies use DNA tests to give clients advice on which diets and foods best suit certain inborn traits. This area has come to be known as the science of nutrigenomics, which studies the relationship between our genes, what we eat, and our health. Our individual genetic makeup means that the way in which we metabolise nutrients, the interactions of enzymes and the biochemical reactions that occur in our bodies differ from person to person, with each needing different food intake.

The MEA region seems on board: Many research reports and academic articles (see: here, and here) suggest that the personalized nutrition market is booming across the Middle East and Africa, and it’s popularity seems to be motivated by a number of reasons.

First, lifestyle habits have shifted in younger generations, who are more health-conscious than their predecessors. Second, average incomes in developing countries have, generally, been on an upward trend, and studies often find a positive correlation between socioeconomic status and healthier lifestyles and exercise. A higher disposable income, plus more exercise and an increase in the region’s elderly population, has buoyed the demand for dietary supplements, whether to control weight or boost protein intake, and in turn made those items more commercially available. Food manufacturers have banked on these trends, creating a wide range of products for different health purposes.

Some personalised nutrition services right here in Egypt:

  • UK-based DNAFit recently set up shop, and is offering genetic testing to recommend a diet and training regimen.
  • MyNutriGene uses nutrigenomics to provide a genomic assessment of individuals’ nutritional profile based on DNA analysis and interpretation. The assessment gives you information about your metabolism and tells you your body’s likely response to macronutrients, vitamin profile, and food intolerances.
  • For Alexandria folks, Alex Nutrigenomix is available at Dar El Fohous Laboratories, and also provides dietary recommendations based on gene testing.

Elsewhere, much work is being done to boost our knowledge personalised nutrition: Examples include Singaporean startup Anrich3D, which is working on a project to enable 3D food printing, and Dutch firm Verdify, which created a platform that allows firms to tailor recipes for consumers by using an AI algorithm.

One caveat, though — the ethics of the industry are (at best) shaky: Ethical concerns revolve around privacy, and is making some individuals reluctant to share their data or fully adopt wearable technology that can track and store important information such as locations and heart rates.

Cue a dietary utopia: In a feature for their popular ‘What If?’ series, the Economist (paywall) explores a scenario where, by 2035, everyone’s diet is customized. Under such a hypothetical scenario, rich, able countries would see a significant fall in obesity and diabetes rates and plans would already be underway for a “planetary health diet” that will cut 50% of red meat and sugar consumption in favor of nuts, fruits, legumes, and vegetables.

Unfortunately, emerging countries would still be lagging behind in this fictitious world, and the business and political elites of the developed world would flock to a 2035 edition of the World Economic Forum in Davos to discuss ways of how to make healthy food cheaper.


1-10 July (Thursday-Saturday): The government’s fuel pricing committee will meet to announce 3Q prices.

4 July (Sunday): Ismailia Economic Court to hold hearing on Ever Given compensation case.

8 July (Thursday): The UN Security Council will meet to discuss the GERD crisis with Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Mid-July: Legislative session expected to end.

19 July (Monday): Arafat Day (national holiday).

21 July (Wednesday): Clean Energy Business Council’s webinar Women entrepreneurs in clean energy (3pm)

20-23 July (Tuesday-Friday): Eid Al Adha (national holiday).

23 July (Friday): Revolution Day (national holiday).

23 July-11 August (Friday-Wednesday): Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

2-4 August (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt is hosting the Africa Food Manufacturing exhibition at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.

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

9 August (Monday): Islamic New Year.

12 August (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Islamic New Year.

3-5 September (Friday-Sunday): The World Karate Federation will hold the third competition of the 2021 Karate 1-Premier League in Cairo.

12-15 September (Sunday-Wednesday): Sahara Expo: the 33rd International Agricultural Exhibition for Africa and the Middle East.

15 September (Wednesday): The CFO Leadership & Strategy Summit is taking place in Egypt.

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

30 September-2 October (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Projects 2021 expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September: Closing of 2021’s first oil and gas tender in the Gulf of Suez, Western Desert, and the Mediterranean.

1 October (Friday): Businesses importing goods at seaports will need to file shipping documents and cargo data digitally to the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day.

12-14 October (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

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.

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

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

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.

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

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo.

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.

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

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

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

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

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

**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. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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