…and that’s a wrap, everyone. We hope Thursday has been kind to you all and that you’re looking forward to a great weekend — the last one before the start of Ramadan this coming Tuesday.
THE BIG STORY AT HOME as we gear up for the weekend: Inflation is up ahead of Ramadan, supporting the view that the Central Bank of Egypt will leave rates on hold when its monetary policy committee meets later this month. Also this afternoon: A big startup raise and banking news. All of this and more in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.
HAPPENING NOW- The Health Ministry is expected to unveil today a series of new restrictions designed to keep covid-19 under control during Ramadan. The measures could include reduced hours of operation for public-facing government services and the closing of some public spaces, according to a report earlier this week. Look for the news after Health Minister Hala Zayed attends a conference now taking place on human rights and the pandemic.
CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from this morning’s issue of EnterpriseAM:
- The IMF has upgraded its outlook on Egypt, saying our public finances have withstood the impact of covid-19 better than previously expected. The news came as the institutional also backed a one-time wealth tax or or additional tax on high incomes to help countries face the fallout from the pandemic.
- Egypt’s banks could face further pressure on net income in 2021 due to the lower interest rate environment and a potential rise in bad loans when the Central Bank of Egypt lifts support measures it introduced at the onset of the pandemic, Fitch Ratings said.
- Eva Pharma and a unit of Pharco will manufacture China’s Sinovac vaccine alongside state-owned vaccine maker Vacsera.
- Sodic has tapped an unnamed financial advisor to assess a bid by the UAE’s Aldar to acquire at least a 51% stake in the upmarket real estate developer.
Happy Ramadan, y’all: Bank hours during the Holy Month will run from 9:30am to 1:30pm for customers, while staff will need to be on the job 9:00am to 2:00, the CBE said in a statement. Look for a similar statement from the EGX later today or on Sunday. Ramadan is expected to start on Tuesday, 13 April.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD this afternoon: The Biden administration is going to propose that big multinationals pay national taxes based on their local sales, the Financial Times reports in an exclusive. Reuters is out with an explainer on what the move could mean for companies and countries. The proposal is part of the White House’s push to create a global minimum tax for corporations. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal says that investors are souring on emerging markets as prospects for the US economy brighten.
Also happening abroad this afternoon:
- The Biden administration plans to restart aid to Palestine, pledging USD 235 mn in total, according to a statement by the US Department of State. Egypt was quick to chime in with support for the US decision.
- US troops may be staying in Afghanistan a while longer as Biden seems ready to let lapse a 1 May deadline for completing a troop withdrawal, according to The Associated Press.
- Twitter is no longer in talks to acquire Clubhouse, sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The two companies had discussed a potential valuation of roughly USD 4 bn for Clubhouse, an audio-based social network that launched in April of last year.
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
The TriFactory’s Soma Bay Endurance Festival kicks off today and will run until Saturday. The multi-sport event offers challenges including the sprint, supersprint, olympic, and the youth race.
Shares of Macro Group will start trading on Monday, 19 April in the second hotly anticipated IPO of the year. The window for retail subscriptions runs 11-15 April.
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
Start the weekend on the right foot: Our current preoccupation with feet could have something to do with our need to replace an old pair of tennis shoes. But still, two pieces about our most taken-for-granted appendages have recently caught our eye. First, The Cut’s Lauren Bassett has “an interview with the man who keeps uploading my feet to WikiFeet.” It’s not (quite) as creepy as you might think — entirely because of Bassett’s charm. From there, go on to How science solved the mystery of feet washing ashore in the Pacific Northwest, in National Geographic.
Investment giant BlackRock needs to hit ESG targets — or pay more to borrow money under an agreement it inked with lenders behind a USD 4.4 bn credit facility. The firm will keep costs lower if it hits milestones on minority hiring, women in leadership, and growing assets in funds with high ESG ratings, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Are we heading into a Second Cold War that will pit the US (and some of its allies) against China (and some of its BFFs)? That’s the contention now even among moderate conservatives in the United States. Exhibit #1: How will we win the Second Cold War? by NYT columnist Bret Stephens. The Economist thinks we may be heading in that direction, too, writing in China is betting that the West is in irreversible decline that “the country’s leaders see their moment, and are seizing it.”
Speaking of Cold Wars, who won the first one — and how? Whatever you think, the answer is probably wrong — particularly if you’re American. This epic Twitter thread by Curmudgeon-in-Chief Tom Nichols is a must read, whether you’re a history nerd or just old enough to have had political consciousness (not the same thing as a political conscience) in the 1980s.
What if you could lose weight and improve your biomarkers by eating … croissants? And cheese. And lots of butter. It’s called the Croissant Diet, and it all hinges on stearic acid. And oddly enough, the science behind it seems pretty tight — if you can stomach wheat.
A life well-lived: Bernadette Bartels Murphy, who started on Wall Street as a secretary and became a TV personality as one of America’s most-respect financial advisors. Among those who followed the path she broke: Her niece, Mary Ann Bartels, who rose to become a managing director at Bank of America. Read the obit in the New York Times.
Nassef Sawiris is the richest of 22 Arabs on the Forbes World’s Bn’aires 2021 ranking. He holds the #297 spot with an estimated net worth of USD 8.3 bn. The top two spots are held by Jeff Bezos (worth USD 177 bn) and Elon Musk (USD 151 bn). Other Egyptians on the list include Naguib Sawiris, and Mohamed, Youssef and Yaseen Mansour.
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
The long-awaited film Godzilla vs. Kong is in cinemas nationwide, with the mythic adversaries meeting in a spectacular battle of beasts. Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home, and with them is Jia, a young orphaned girl with whom he has formed a unique and powerful bond. An enraged Godzilla stands in their way, causing destruction across the globe. In the fourth film in Legendary's MonsterVerse, the two titans face off in a way that lets the audience decide for themselves what is good and what is evil. You can check out the trailer here (watch, runtime: 02:24) or reviews from the New York Times and the New Yorker. Godzilla vs. Kong topped analyst expectations with a five-day box office of USD 48.5 mn, a figure that suggests folks are ready to start being more social, Deadline reports.
It’s another Europa League Thursday with four matches on tonight: Arsenal is playing against Slavi Praha, Granada against Manchester United, Ajax against Roma, and Dinamo Zagreb against Villareal. All matches kick off at 9pm.
Al Ahly has a match tomorrow in the CAF Champions League against Tanzania’s Simba at 9pm.
Gameweek 31 of the English Premier League is tomorrow. Friday will see Fulham play Wolves at 9pm while Saturday’s matches are Man City versus Leeds at 1:30pm, Liverpool versus Aston Villa at 4pm, and Crystal Palace versus Chelsea at 6:30pm.
A match to look out for: Real Madrid is playing against Barcelona on Saturday at 9pm in La Liga.
And speaking of football: Egypt’s national football team have risen three spots in the latest FIFA World Ranking for April to rank in 46th position. The Pharaohs are now sixth in Africa and fourth in the Arab region. Belgium maintained its position at the top of the ranking, followed by France and Brazil.
🍣 EAT THIS TONIGHT-
Make sushi rolls at home with an easy kit from Zumra Food. The bundle contains everything you need to make hoso rolls including salmon, nori, soy sauce, rice, wasabi paste, and rice vinegar. The only thing missing is the sushi rolling mat — snag one from their online shop. Zumra also has all the sauces and ingredients you’ll need for other Asian fare and highlights a few recipes you can make using their products. If you’re still iffy about making sushi at home, we assure you it's a super easy process and you can check out Zumra’s YouTube page for rolling techniques and tips.
🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-
(All times in CLT)
The Panorama of European Film is still ongoing, screening recently produced feature films, documentaries, and short films that were praised by critics at international festivals that you can watch tonight and over the weekend. You can check out the full schedule here, with films being played at Zawya Cinema and Galaxy Cinema.
Kempinski Nile Hotel’s Jazz Bar is hosting singer Okasha for their jazz night tonight at 9:30pm.
Stand up comedy group The Elite are performing at Sawy Culture Wheel tonight at 7pm.
Serbia-based DJ and producer Coeus is at Cairo Jazz Club in Sheikh Zayed tonight. Coeus’s sets include melodic techno, electronic, and disco sounds for a night of dancing.
U for Urban Impact will be holding a city tour as well as an “urban festival” at the Greek Campus on Friday as part of The Urban Week. The Downtown Cairo city tour is organized in cooperation with Gazef from 9am-12pm while the festival features music, food, and activities such as building lego houses, drawing on walls, and a global treasure hunt.
🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- The mercury is back to the 20s tomorrow — still a little high for the season at 27°C during the day and 12°C at night. From there, we’re in for cooler days on Saturday and Sunday with daytime highs of 21°C and 23°C before the mercury gradually makes its way back up throughout the week. The long-range forecast sees the mercury at 27°C on the first day of Ramadan.