Sunday, 25 April 2021

EnterprisePM — FY2021-22 budget sees Egypt’s financing needs growing 7.1% to EGP 1.06 tn.



Good evening, everyone, and we hope you all have had a chance to recover from the epic disappointment that is today being a work day. On the bright side, this Thursday is a day off for the private sector in observance of Sinai Liberation Day. As such, Enterprise will not be publishing on that day.

HAPPENING NOW- Finance Minister Mohamed Maait is giving MPs a rundown of the FY2021-22 budget. Key highlights of what was said so far: The budget expects Egypt’s financing needs to grow 7.1% y-o-y to EGP 1.06 tn. The Finance Minister expects to fill that gap with some EGP 66 bn in eurobonds, EGP 123.8 bn in loans from international lenders, and EGP 990 bn from local debt. The Finance Ministry nonetheless sees its revenue streams growing, including a healthier tax collection target, which will help narrow the budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year to 6.7% of GDP from 7.7% currently. The single largest item in the budget remains our debt service payments, which are expected to account for nearly a third of overall spending. We have the breakdown on all these figures and more in tomorrow morning’s edition of EnterpriseAM.

THE BIG STORY AT HOME- While this is an unusually active Ramadan Sunday for business news, the most widely discussed story in the local press has to be the resignation of Minister of State for Information Osama Heikal, after months of controversy and political backlash for the House of Representatives. We have more details in the Speed Round below.

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

  • The Central Bank of Egypt will keep interest rates on hold at its upcoming meeting, our Enterprise poll says.
  • Egypt’s economy is expected to grow 2.9% this fiscal year.
  • Russian tourists are coming back to Egypt (including Sharm and Hurghada) next month.


If it’s good enough for the President … : President Abdel Fattah El Sisi got his vaccination today, according to a statement from Ittihadiya. This very public, presidential jab is part of the government’s push to roll out vaccinations in the country.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Joe Biden became the first US president to formally recognize the WWI-era mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turkey as a genocide, using the term in an annual message yesterday. The historic declaration — which could potentially further fracture ties between the two NATO allies — is not meant to “cast the blame” on Ankara, but to signal a commitment to global human rights, the statement said. The move fulfills Biden’s campaign pledge to use such a term to dub the systematic killing and deportation of mns of Armenians more than a century ago. It raised the ire of Ankara, which denounced “in the strongest terms” Biden's designation before summoning US Envoy David Satterfield, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported.

Also vying for top global story is a fire that broke out in a covid hospital in Baghdad, which resulted in at least 82 deaths and 110 injuries after an oxygen tank exploded at Ibn al-Khatib Hospital, according to CNN. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry reached out with condolences and reiterated its solidarity with the Arab country.

YOUR STATUTORILY REQUIRED afternoon covid update: There’s still no consensus on what to do with the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine: The UK’s under-40 population could be getting an alternative to the AstraZeneca jab after new figures showed a higher incidence of serious blood clots forming after receiving the jab, according to the Financial Times. And while the UK is considering rolling back the vaccine, Canada is now expanding its use to individuals aged 30 and above, after having previously said only those aged 40 or above would be offered AZ, CTV News reports.

A single dose of the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines provides a similar immunity to being infected with the virus, drastically reducing the risk of infection in adults of all ages, a surveillance study found, according to Oxford University. The British researchers found that 21 days after a single dose of either vaccine, new Covid infections — both symptomatic and asymptomatic — had fallen by 65%. Meanwhile, a second vaccine dose reduced the overall infection rate by 70%, with symptomatic Covid infections down by 90%. That isn’t to say one jab is enough, with vaccinated individuals still subject to being infected with the virus again and the second dose offering additional protection.

And speaking of vaccines, we might finally have one with a huge public health impact for malaria: Trials on an Oxford University-developed vaccine showed that it is 77% effective with high-level efficacy over a 12-month period, the university said in Lancet Journal. The trials were conducted on 450 children in Burkina Faso and will now be expanded across four African countries, covering nearly 5k children between the ages of five months and three years. The World Health Organization estimates that malaria kills more than 400k people every year, most of whom are children.

** So, when do we eat? Maghrib prayers are at 6:28pm in the capital city today. You’ll have until 3:44am to finish up sohour.


Finance Minister Mohamed Maait is addressing AmCham’s Pre-Annual General Meeting on Tuesday to discuss Egypt’s economic reform beyond the pandemic. The event will be held virtually at 2pm CLT. Members and non-members alike are welcome to attend. Register here.

Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir will address the House of Representatives on Tuesday to discuss his ministry’s plan to overhaul the country’s transportation system, according to the House agenda. El Wazir’s planned appearance in parliament comes after multiple calls from MPs to question the minister or otherwise hold him accountable for the recent streak of railway accidents, including the Qalyubia train crash, which left 23 dead and another 139 injured.

Next Sunday is Coptic Easter Sunday and Sham El Nessim will fall on Monday. It’s still unclear whether either will be a banking holiday, so watch this space for updates.

Eid is expected to fall on 13-15 May, but the dates are still to be confirmed.

The Gouna International Squash Open 2021, a PSA event, will run 20-28 May with 96 men and women competing. The event has the backing of our friends at CIB.


Apple and Spotify are battling it out for the title of podcast king: After podcasting exploded in popularity during covid-19 lockdowns, both Apple and Spotify have taken moves to try to get a leg up in the industry. Spotify partnered with Facebook to promote listening on the company’s platforms, while Apple is introducing paid subscriptions for the first time to try to capitalize on the podcast hype, the Wall Street Journal reports. With USD 1 bn in revenues expected for the podcast industry this year, and an estimated 41% of Americans over the age of 12 becoming podcast listeners, there is “massive” potential in audio, says Spotify’s Chief Content and Advertising Business Officer Dawn Ostroff. But Spotify isn’t about to let Apple — which coined the term podcast as a portmanteau of the words “iPod” and “Broadcast” — get a bigger slice of the pie, with the company announcing plans to launch its own paid subscription service to compete with Apple’s next week.

The global chip shortage is now hitting washing machines and toasters as the production of the necessary chips is pushed to the back burner, with manufacturers opting instead to supply chips for high-margin products, according to The Financial Times. The chip shortage saw the makers of cars, smartphones, televisions, and other home appliances ring the warning bell months ago after lockdowns spiked demand for electronics worldwide.

Need a quick rundown on what’s going on? We delved into the global chip shortage a couple of months ago with this explainer.


The Oscars are (almost) here: You can catch the Academy Awards after sohour at 4am on OSN Movies and OSN On Demand. To stream the award show on the OSN app, click the menu bar in the top left corner, then click on channels, then OSN Movies. Have time to binge a few nominees before the show? We’ve suggested a number of them, including best picture nominees Sound of Metal, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Mank, and The Father as well as Two Distant Strangers which is nominated for best live action short film and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, a best adapted screenplay contender.

Head to the nearest TV because a ton of strong matches have already started.

Man United and Leeds are currently on the field in the Premier League and are nearing the end of the first half of the match. Later on in the day, Aston Villa and West Brom will play at 8pm.

Juventus vs Fiorentina, as well as Inter Milan vs Verona are also underway, having started at 3pm in Serie A. If you don’t catch those, you can still tune in to watch Cagliari playing against Roma at 6pm or the match between Atalanta and Bologna at 8:45pm.

Barcelona’s match against Villareal is also coming up soon, starting at 4:15pm on the latter’s home field. Later tonight, Athletic Club will play against Atletico Madrid at 9pm.


Hawawshi donut — two words we’d never think to put next to each other. BohoBun really put their thinking hat on when they came up with sohour items combining their famous donuts with common pre-fasting food. The burger joint is boasting hawawshi, beetroot, halloumi, and labneh donuts during Ramadan. On the sweet side, the donuts are fused with sahlab, rice pudding, kunafa, and the mixture of ingredients that make up Egyptians’ beloved sakalans. We’re a big fan of BohoBun on their normal no-hawawshi-donut days — if you’d like to stick to the basics, a burger and shake is sure to hit the spot for iftar or sohour. Find BohoBun at Point 90 and Galleria 40 or give them a call for delivery.


International festival of electronic and new media Cairotronica is kicking off tomorrow and will run until 1 May. The six-day festival will see over 40 artists from 22 countries give talks, workshops, or set up exhibitions or installations at the Tahrir Culture Center or at the Factory. The festival aims to shed light on important global issues through creative art forms, looking at topics such as AI, data, climate change, and misinformation.

Beit El Comedy is performing at the Room New Cairo tonight at 9pm, featuring standup by Romaryo Anton, Kerolos Azer, Shehab El Ashry, Islam Amin, Abdelrahman Mohamed, and Gamal Ramzy.


Google and the Arab Scientific Publishers have teamed up to translate children’s book Lara The Star Engineer into Arabic, according to a press release (pdf). The book, written by Komal Singh, was released in celebration of the International Day for Girls in ICT last Thursday to inspire and represent the many faces of women engineers. Singh wrote the book when her daughter (four years old at the time) complained that “all engineers are boys,” leading her to introduce Lara, a girl who aims to show children that anyone can study science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). The book explores computing concepts in a whimsical manner and shows real-life role models from diverse backgrounds. You can purchase the book here or read more about it here.

???? TOMORROW’S WEATHER- It’s time to pack away your winter clothes: Expect daytime highs of 28°C and nighttime lows of 15°C. We’re in for nice weather Monday through Wednesday, with daytime highs of 28-33°C, before a five-day heat wave hits just in time for the weekend, according to our favorite weather app.


Egypt targets USD 6-7 bn in 2021 tourism revenues

Egypt expects to see tourism revenues of USD 6-7 bn in 2021, with tourist arrivals recovering to 60% of 2019 levels, Deputy Tourism Minister Ghada Shalaby told Reuters. This is a slightly ambitious target, as around 500k tourists visited Egypt in the first two months of 2021, generating USD 600-800 mn in revenues. By our math, that means monthly tourism revenues would have to nearly double for the rest of the year to push revenues over the USD 6 bn target. Forecasts by Bank of America penciled in a recovery of tourism revenues to USD 7 bn, but not before 2022.

Maybe the Russians can give us a hand? The resumption of direct flights between Russian cities and Egypt’s Red Sea resorts next month could bring as many as 1 mn Russian tourists to Egypt this year, Shalaby said, confirming projections from the industry yesterday. Direct flights had been suspended for almost six years following the 2015 Metrojet crash in Sinai, denting the USD 3.5 bn in annual tourism revenues previously generated by the 3 mn Russian tourists visiting Egypt annually.

Tourism had plunged by as much as 70% in 2020, with only 3.5 mn tourists visiting Egypt last year due to global covid-19 travel restrictions, down from a record 13.1 mn tourists in 2019. Some 2 mn tourists have visited the country in the nine months since commercial flights resumed, and Tourism Minister Khaled El Anany recently said Egypt could see a return to pre-covid visitor numbers as early as fall 2022.

And it has been weighing on our balance sheets: Egypt has foregone as much as USD 14 bn in tourism revenues as of last January due to pandemic travel disruptions, with monthly revenues declining by as much as 92% to USD 80-150 mn by some estimates. We managed to scrape together an estimated USD 0.8 bn in tourism revenues from July through September 2020, compared to USD 4.2 bn over the same period in 2019.


Egypt’s House approves changes to Bankruptcy Act

House gives final nod to Bankruptcy Act amendments: Changes to the Bankruptcy Act that add further bankruptcy protections while giving creditors greater recourse options received a final vote of approval in the House of Representatives today, according to Youm7. The bill should be signed into law by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and its executive regulations need to be published before taking effect.

What’s different? The amendments open a pathway for struggling companies and their creditors to discuss restructuring debt prior to formally filing for bankruptcy. The amendments also give indebted companies access to loans from certain authorized banks to help avoid bankruptcy. Under the amendments, creditors get a say on whether their debtors can continue operating, be placed into administration or liquidate their assets, among other things.

Background: Passed in 2018, the landmark act effectively decriminalized bankruptcy by abolishing prison sentences. It also allowed companies more time and options for restructuring by introducing mechanisms to help settle commercial disputes outside the courtroom and simplify bankruptcy proceedings.


UAE’s Dana Gas walks back on plans to offload Egypt assets

Sale of Dana Gas’ Egyptian assets breaks down: Abu Dhabi-listed energy producer Dana Gas has canceled plans to sell its Egypt-based onshore oil and gas assets after failing to reach an agreement on certain conditions with would-be buyer IPR Wastani Petroleum, Dana said in a statement (pdf). Dana and Wastani, which had both agreed last year on a USD 236 mn transaction, failed to finalize a sale before the agreed time-frame on 14 April, Dana said. “A number of conditions precedent to the transaction could not be completed to the satisfaction of both parties.” The sale was previously due to close in 1H2021. The price tag Dana was willing to sell at was previously considered a significant climbdown from a USD 500 mn originally attached to the portfolio. Dana has been looking to offload its Egypt assets since July 2019, saying at the time the sale would allow it to double down on its more promising operations in Iraqi Kurdistan.

IN OTHER M&A NEWS- The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) now holds 24% of Raya subsidiary Aman Holding after officially closing its EGP 480 mn acquisition, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf). NBE purchased 9 mn shares at EGP 53.33 apiece. NBE was competing with 11 other bidders for shares in the NBFS player and was expected to get its hand on a 20-25% stake before signing the agreement for the acquisition at the end of last year. Raya established Aman Holding last January as a parent for its three non-banking financial services arms: Aman Financial Services, Aman E-Payments, and Aman Microfinance.


Heikal exits stage left

Osama Heikal has resigned as Minister of State for Information, citing “personal reasons” in a letter handed over to Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly. Heikal was censured by MPs in February over the ministry’s slow progress on major projects, public comments he made that MPs said were “exploited by foreign media,” and the misuse of public funds since the ministry was reconstituted in 2019. Heikal’s is the first resignation of a cabinet member from the current line-up of ministers since former Transport Minister Hisham Arafat stepped down in the aftermath of the Ramses train disaster in 2019.


The market on 25 April 2021

The EGX30 ended today’s session flat on turnover of EGP 892 mn (31.5% below the 90-day average). Regional investors were net buyers. The index is down 2.2% YTD.

In the green: Orascom Development (+4.1%), Qalaa Holdings (+3.0%) and SODIC (+2.6%).

In the red: AMOC (-1.3%), MM Group (-1.1%) and Fawry (-0.9%).


Can investment banks cure their addictions to overwork?

Investment banks are pledging to not work their juniors to death. Is it for real? A string of investment banks have sent memos and published releases committing to providing better working hours to employees, the Financial Times reports. This follows banking interns at Goldman Sachs circulating a deck that says they’re working brutal 105-hour weeks and routinely leave the office at 3am to the detriment of their mental wellbeing.

A problem that has been long in the making: In the 1980s and ‘90s, the investment banking industry was growing at a rate of 20% per annum with considerably higher margins, the author of the infamous 1994 “Too Busy” memo Brian Mullen tells the Financial Times. As margins and growth have since diminished, gaining new clients has become the priority over the individual worker, he adds. Mullen warns that too much of this crunch culture would only alienate employees.

Are SPACs to blame? The intensity of the complaints appear to be coinciding with the tech explosion in stocks in 2020 and the SPACs boom, says CNBC’s Hugh Son (watch, runtime: 5:19). This may have made things worse, but that “hazing” culture has been around for decades on Wall Street, particularly for employees in the “analyst” band looking to move up to “associate.”

The industry argues investment bankers are adequately compensated, and they are aware of the conditions before going in, a junior analyst at Morgan Stanley told the FT. Senior management’s attitude is “shut up or quit,” a former Goldman Sachs analyst said, while middle management’s approach is “we’ve all been there.” In 2021, an analyst at a US bulge bracket or middle market bank can make anywhere from USD 85k-95k per year in base salary, and up to USD 150k-200k in total compensation, while an associate can expect to make from USD 150k-120k per year, and up to USD 250k-450k in total, according to research by Mergers and Inquisitions.

Industry professionals are cynical about significant change: Peer pressure and entrenched attitudes in middle management remain challenging despite changing attitudes, an executive director at a global bank told the FT. “We are all nervous to say when we are struggling, we have occupational health programmes…if you go on to one, the bank can legally stop you coming into work,” she adds. The death of a Bank of America intern in 2013 saw a similar reaction, but a study on no-working Saturdays instituted in the aftermath found that “the policy backfired by inducing bankers to work longer during non-protected days,” they concluded.

What do banking execs recommend? More compensation: Bank of America, Jefferies Financial and Credit Suisse all raised compensation for junior employees, Bloomberg reports. Meanwhile, Barclays, Citi Group, and Goldman Sachs sent out memos detailing measures to optimize workflow to prevent junior employees working through weekends.

Others recommend educating senior management on what drives productivity: Despite an oversupply of analysts which adds a temptation to work them hard, a group of people who love working, love the organization and feel valued will produce more than employees who feel like the company can do away with them, the head of financial services workforce consulting at KPMG Mel Newton told the FT.


An event well worth the all-nighter

CALLING ALL MMA FANS- The first UFC event with a live audience since Covid-19 more than delivered: It is highly unlikely that many in Egypt got to see UFC 261 live this morning (it ran from 2 am CLT to 6:30 am CLT). Especially after Sunday’s planned holidays were cancelled. But for the ones that did, it is safe to say that was well-worth the sleep deprivation they feel today. UFC 261 (fought out of Jacksonville, Florida)saw two title fights end in knockout and all five fights on the card end by the second round in what was widely regarded as one of the best UFC cards in recent history, CBS Sports reported.

Nigerian welterweight champion Kamaru Usman retained his title for the fourth time, by dramatic one-punch knockout of Jorge Masvidal in the second round, extending his 18-fight success streak inside the UFC octagon and drawing even more comparisons with retired legendary welterweight champion George St. Pierre, who defended the title for a record nine times. His victory solidifies Africa’s domination of the UFC men’s divisions, with the heavy-, middle-, and welter-weight classes all being reigned over by African champions.

Rose Namajunas becomes the first woman to ever lose a title and reclaim it, completing her redemption story with a first-round head kick knockout of Weili Zhang, ending the former strawweight champ’s 21-fight success streak.

Valentina Shevchenko defended her flyweight title for a fifth time, with a TKO over Jessica Andrade in the second round, in what was largely a one-sided event.

(We would have loved to show you clips, but official UFC ones don’t come out until later. Any unauthorized video gets removed an hour in)

In the next UFC Fight Night: Light heavyweight Dominick Reyes goes up against Jiri Prochazka in the main bout on 2 May, while feather-weights Cub Swanson and Giga Chikadze go head to head in the co-main event.

How can I watch, you may ask: If you are a mixed-martial arts fan and looking to stay up for the thrill of the sport, do yourself a favor and sign up at UFC Arabia to watch all UFC live events. The annual subscription is only USD 50, and you get with it more content — from shows like the Ultimate Fighter, to exclusive PPV fights.


25 April (Sunday): Sinai Liberation Day (formal observance, no holiday).

27 April (Tuesday): Finance Minister Mohamed Maait will address AmCham’s Pre-Annual General Meeting to discuss Egypt’s economic reform beyond the pandemic.

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

29 April (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates. (timing TBC based on national holiday)

1 May (Saturday): Labor Day (national holiday).

2 May (Sunday): Coptic Easter Sunday (holiday for Coptic Christians, still unclear whether it will be a banking holiday).

3 May (Monday): Sham El Nessim (date of the national holiday still TBC).

13-15 May (Thursday-Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

16-19 May (Sunday-Wednesday): The Arabian Travel Market (ATM) takes place in Dubai.

25-28 May (Tuesday-Friday): The World Economic Forum annual meeting, Singapore.

1 June (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).

7-9 June (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

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

17-20 June (Thursday-Sunday) : The International Exhibition of Materials and Technologies for Finishing and Construction (Turnkey Expo), Cairo International Conference Center.

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

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

30 June (Wednesday): 30 June Revolution Day.

30 June- 15 July: National Book Fair.

1 July: (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 30 June Revolution.

1 July (Thursday): Large taxpayers that have not yet signed on on to the e-invoicing platform will suffer a host of penalties, including removal from large taxpayer classification, losing access to government services and business, and losing subsidies.

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

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

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

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.

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

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 54th session of the Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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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