Thursday, 27 May 2021

EnterprisePM — Misr Insurance partners in education platform that will invest EGP 700-800 mn



You made it through five full work days in May. Give yourselves a pat on the back and enjoy the weekend.

We encourage you to spend it watching the Friends reunion show, which airs overnight tonight. Want to watch it in Omm El Donia? You’ll want to download the OSN app from your app store of choice and sign up for a seven day trial. We did just that this morning and were pleasantly surprised by the volume of quality HBO and Disney+ content on offer.

THE BIG STORY TODAY is the big announcement that Misr Insurance Holding is forming an education investment platform with a group of school operators and private equity. The platform plans to invest an initial EGP 700-800 mn on the development of schools before graduating to universities.

And we end this very diplomacy-heavy news week with… (you guessed it) more diplomacy: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi was in Djibouti this morning for a face-to-face meeting with that country’s president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, and the first official visit of an Egyptian leader to the Arab-speaking country. The two discussed across-the-board cooperation, with a focus on supporting Djibouti’s economic reform and development efforts. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was also on the agenda, and both leaders agreed on the need for Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to reach an agreement on filling and operating the dam. We have more on the GERD issue as well as Cairo’s role in events in Israel and Palestine in this afternoon’s news well, below.

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

  • Washington + Cairo are getting (strategically) chummier, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit yesterday following two calls between Joe Biden and President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. But western journalists prodded Blinken again yesterday to make Cairo’s human rights record an issue.
  • Good news for the nation’s FX stockpile: Tourism revenues could come in ahead of projections for this year on the back of rising arrivals from Eastern European and Gulf visitors. Fingers crossed that Moscow allows direct flights to the Red Sea to restart sooner rather than later.
  • CIB, TMG set up real estate SPV for commercial properties, the new venture will acquire, sell and lease commercial properties.


Informa Markets’ Nextmove real estate exhibition kicked off today at the Cairo International Convention Center and will run until Saturday. The exhibit will bring developers together under one roof to show off their property offerings.

Egypt is hosting Trescon Global’s World AI Show on Monday with the support of ITIDA. The virtual gathering will feature CEOs, CTOs, and CIOs from around the world to discuss issues and trends within the AI space. Among the speakers are Communications Minister Amr Talaat, Samsung’s VP of Artificial Intelligence Patrick Bangert, World Economic Forum’s Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Lead Arunima Sarkar, and Microsoft Egypt General Manager Mirna Arif.


Good news if you love to stream: Amazon’s acquisition of Hollywood studio MGM will see Amazon Prime add some hit films and TV shows to its roster — 4k movies and 17k TV shows to be exact. Fortune says that some of the classics include The Magnificent Seven, Thelma & Louise, Raging Bull, Legally Blonde, Casino Royale, The Hobbit, Ben-Hur, and The Thomas Crown Affair — and speculates that reboots and sequels could be in the works.

HSBC is (kinda sorta) a universal bank no more (at least in the US of A). The lender has exited the bulk of its US retail banking business as it pivots to Asia, the bank said yesterday (pdf). The news comes after it has long struggled to compete against big American banks. The European giant will sell 90 of its 148 US branches in pacts with Citizens Bank and Cathay Bank. It will later let go of a further 35-40, a move HSBC Group Chief Executive Noel Quinn says will help it refocus its competitive edge. The bank will ultimately only keep close to 24 locations clustered in major cities and only serve wealthy clients and businesses with turnover of over USD 5 mn. The Wall Street Journal has more.

The chance of global warming temporarily hitting the 1.5°C mark in the next five years has risen to more than 40%, roughly doubling from the 2020 estimated likelihood, according to the World Meteorological Organization which studied monitoring data from the Arctic. The figure 1.5°C refers to an increase in the pre-industrial global temperature baseline and scientists believe it to be the threshold at which catastrophic natural events will begin to occur. The United Nations body also estimates that one of the next five years will be the warmest on record in history, beating out the year 2016 for the title. Last week, the G7 group of countries pledged to boost climate targets limiting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C from the previously agreed upon 2°C. The Financial Times has the story.

Because this could never end badly: Europeans would rather AI take the political lead. A poll by the IE University’s Center for the Governance of Change found that 51% of Europeans are in favour of replacing national lawmakers in their country with AI that has access to their data, according to CNBC. The idea of having algorithms rule was most popular in Spain, Italy, and Estonia, while the UK recorded the most pushback. IE University’s Oscar Jonsson explained that the results reflected a “decades-long decline of belief in democracy as a form of governance” as well as increased political polarization and distrust in politicians.


Nail Bomber: Manhunt is Netflix’s newest crime documentary, diving into the crimes of right-wing extremist David Copeland, who set off three nail bombs in London in 1999 with the motivation of starting a race war. Digital Spy says the documentary managed to avoid doing something that most crime documentaries fall into: romanticizing the killer. Nail Bomber: Manhunt instead sheds light on the trauma wrought on people involved as well as the way authorities were able to track Copeland down. The work uses archival footage of the bombings, interviews with people who survived the crimes, and sitdowns with the police who helped capture the perpetrator.

El Zamalek and Ismaily have a round of 16 Egypt Cup match today at 9pm.

Al Ahly has made it to the final of the CAF Super Cup and will play Morocco’s RS Berkane tomorrow at 6pm.

IN MAJOR SPORTING NEWS- Zinedine Zidane is stepping down as Real Madrid’s coach, bringing “an end to his current spell,” the club announced in a statement. This is the second time Zidane has left the club, following a year-long stint in 2018 where he said that it was time for a change and that his leadership wouldn’t necessarily keep the club on top anymore. Zidane was in charge when the football star-studded club took home three consecutive Champions League trophies, as well as two Club World Cups, two UEFA Super Cups, one Spanish league and one Spanish Super Cup.

Meanwhile, Massimiliano Allegri might return to Juventus as head coach, replacing Andrea Pirlo, reports Sky News. Allegri was believed to be one of Zidane’s replacements, while other possible candidates include Antonio Conte and Raúl González, according to Bloomberg.

???? The Gouna International Squash Open 2021 is now at the semi-finals stage. Egypt’s Tarek Momen (ranked #2 worldwide) will go up against New Zealand’s Paul Coll (ranked #3) tonight at 7:15pm, while Egyptians Mohamed ElShorbagy (#1) and Fares Dessouky (#6) will compete at 8:45pm. In the women’s league, USA’s Amanda Sobhy (#6) will go head-to-head with Egypt’s Nouran Gohar (#2) at 6:30pm while Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini (#1) and fellow citizen Hania El Hammamy (#7) will play at 8pm.

You can tune in to the matches live on PSA Squash YouTube page and on OnTime Sports 2. Spectators have been allowed to attend the matches in person and tickets are currently being sold. The event is supported by our good friends at CIB.

Also for fans of racquet sports: The CIB PSA World Tour Finals will run on 22-27 June in Cairo.


We’re in the mood for Greek street food vendor Seecoz. Sticking to just a few items on the menu (and perfecting them), Seecoz has become known for their gyros. You can customize your own delicious wrap, choosing between chicken, beef, veal, or halloumi, as well as a topping of cheese or a sauce, and all the vegetables you like. It's a great treat, with the master of the show being their signature bread that brings everything together. Get a side of their halloumi fries or spicy feta fries for an extra oomph to your meal. To top it all off, Seecoz offers zalabya-like Loukamades covered in either chocolate or Lotus.


Subtraction might be one of the keys to success: Subtract by Leidy Klotz points out a common misstep people tend to take without realizing it: adding without subtracting. That could range from adding new rules at the office without removing some of the existing ones, adding more tasks and activities to your day without phasing out some of them, or even buying new products to add to your collection of stuff. Subtracting and doing less doesn’t necessarily mean getting to less, but rather giving yourself more time to think and internalize the tasks you decide are important enough to stay. Klotz looks at Nobel Laureates, rockstars, and everyday heroes who used subtraction to let their creativity and productivity flow. Behavioural Scientist is out with a great review.

???? TOMORROW’S WEATHER- This weekend boasts moderately good weather, with the mercury staying in the range of 35-36°C through to Sunday and falling to 20°C at night, according to our favorite weather app.


Misr Insurance makes a big education play

Misr Insurance Holding (MIH) is planning on forming an education platform with an initial investment capital of EGP 700-800 mn, MIH chairman and managing director Basel El Hini told Enterprise today. MIH plans to partner with as of yet unnamed education operators, and a private equity firm on the new platform, who will all contribute 70% to the investment capital, with the remainder to be financed through debt, El Hini added. MIH itself will invest EGP 125 mn in the new entity and hold a 16.5% stake in the entity, told Al Mal in a separate interview

Greenfields and M&As in the works: The platform will focus initially on schools over its first three years, before expanding to universities, El Hini said. And while the platform does plan on investing in new greenfields, El Hini tells us this does not preclude M&As.

The move is part of MIH’s strong push into education and healthcare, El Hini told us without revealing further details.


Vertical integration in the works for CIRA: Leading private-sector education provider Cairo for Real Estate and Investment (CIRA) is planning to acquire a 40% stake in school furniture manufacturer Global Furnitures Company, CIRA said in a bourse filing (pdf). The move — which is likely a vertical integration that would see CIRA build school tables and other furniture for its schools and universities — will be followed by a EGP 14.5 mn land purchase in Badr City to build a furniture factory, statement notes. CIRA owns Badr University, the likely recipient of the manufactured furniture.

CIRA’s board also approved raising the company’s stake in Starlight Education (which indirectly owns British Columbia Canadian International School (BCCIS) in Shorouk City) to 80%, up from a current 60%, the statement says. The company is planning to acquire the additional shares, sources in the company tell us. CIRA had acquired a majority stake in Starlight Education back in 2019 as part of its growth strategy. CIRA will pay EGP 58.3 mn in total for both the Global Furnitures Company and the Starlight acquisitions.


Sale of EgyTrans subsidiary could up its valuation

Paradigm Logistics has offered to sell its 72% stake in shipping subsidiary Ostool to EgyTrans through a share swap transaction, Paradigm said in regulatory filing (pdf). The statement did not note how many shares Paradigm will own in Egytrans following the transaction. Paradigm valued EgyTrans’ shares at EGP 14.7 apiece, bringing its total value to EGP 460 mn. Paradigm also values Ostoul to range between EGP 495-640 mn, noting that this will still need to be determined by an independent financial advisor. Paradigm had acquired 62.3% in Ostool from Raya Holding last month, giving it its current ownership level.

Paradigm’s valuation prompts EgyTrans to reconsider its sale price to HAUH: EgyTrans’ board voted to postpone its approval of a separate valuation report completed this week as part talks that would see it acquire 100% of the HA Utilities Holding (HAUH) subsidiary HA Utilities BV in exchange for HAUH acquiring a 65% stake in EgyTrans, according to a separate bourse filing (pdf) by EgyTrans. That report had attached a lower price of EGP 12.9, per-share, giving EgyTrans a valuation of EGP 414 mn.

Background: Egytrans had accepted in March an offer from HAUH to acquire a controlling stake in the company via a reverse merger. The transaction took a step closer this week, when the final fair value reports for both companies were finalized by Grant Thornton.


Egypt to host summit on long-term peace in Palestine, Gaza reconstruction efforts

Egypt could host a summit to discuss a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Palestine, and work out an agreement on Gaza reconstruction as well as discuss the return of Israeli captives, according to a report by Israeli broadcaster Kan. The summit would bring together officials from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and Israel — who were invited by an Egyptian general that had visited Israel last week — but no official date has been set yet. According to Israeli media, Tel Aviv will only take part if reconstruction and peace talks take place separately, and if progress is made on the return of the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in a 2014 clash with Hamas and two citizens held in Hamas captivity. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh is reportedly due to land in Cairo “in the next few days” to discuss the plans, according to Saudi’s Asharq Al-Awsat.

The report came after Egypt reportedly proposed setting up an international organization / task force led by Arab countries to oversee funds transferred into Gaza from donor organizations, and bolster the UN’s role in reconstruction, Asharq Al-Awsat quoted an Egyptian official as saying. Qatar recently took Egypt’s lead and pledged USD 500 mn for Gaza reconstruction after the El Sisi administration committed the same amount last week.

Egypt played a key role in mediating last week’s ceasefire, which ended 11 days of deadly violence in Gaza, and our effort earned praise from the Biden administration, which is now working closely with Cairo to reinforce peace and push ahead with reconstruction.

Foreign press sees Egypt’s role as interlocutor as cemented: The Financial Times was also out this morning with a piece by Cairo correspondent Heba Saleh taking a look at how Egypt was, and still is, relevant as a crucial “power broker” in the Palestinian struggle.

What’s the latest on GERD? President Abdel Fattah El Sisi brought up the topic with his Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh during a visit to the East African nation today. This is the second time in recent weeks El Sisi discusses the issue with an African leader. He had touched on the importance of reaching an agreement with Ethiopia on filling and operating the dam in a sit-down Sengalese president Macky Sall in Paris last week as his administration continues to ratchet up international support. Sudan said this week that it has evidence to suggest that Ethiopia began the second filling of the dam’s reservoir without an agreement with Cairo and Khartoum, adding urgency to the talks.

The bid for more backing also came up during talks between El Sisi and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Cairo yesterday. Blinken said Washington is “committed” to working on reaching a solution beneficial to Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, but it might be too early to expect the US to intervene in the tripartite negotiations.


Things are looking up today in the global battle against covid

Your statutorily required covid read is actually good news for Egypt: Sinopharm has finally publicly published results of a large late-stage study on two of its vaccines. One of the vaccines manufactured by the Chinese pharma firm showed a 72.8% efficacy while the other vaccine’s effectiveness was recorded at 78.1%. The results do not break down how much protection the jabs provide against severe vs. asymptomatic cases. The data is from trials with a total of 40k participants in Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain, and Jordan, researchers said.

Sinopharm is on a roll: Earlier this month, the World Health Organization gave emergency approval to the company’s jab, boosting its credibility as it remains an essential component in the Gavi / Covax program. Egypt is purchasing doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine, but will be manufacturing a competing jab from Sinovac. Reuters and Bloomberg have the story.

Meanwhile, German scientists may have found the cause behind the rare blood clots linked to covid-19 vaccines. Goethe University in Frankfurt researchers found that the problem is associated with adenovirus vectors which vaccines use to deliver the genetic instructions for the spike protein into the cell nucleus. The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines use these adenovirus vectors, while mRNA-based vaccines, such as the jabs developed by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna, deliver the spike’s genetic material to the cell fluid without ever entering the cell nucleus.

The findings mean that there is a straightforward “way out” to prevent blood clots, Rolf Marschalek, who has been leading the studies, told the Financial Times. He believes that vaccine developers can modify the gene sequence in a way where spike proteins don’t split apart, which causes the clotting. J&J has already contacted Marschalek’s lab to ask for guidance on how to adapt the jab.


EARNINGS WATCH: Talaat Moustafa Group + Obourland

EARNINGS WATCH- Talaat Moustafa Group’s (TMG) consolidated bottom line after taxes and minority rights rose 19% y-o-y in 1Q2021 to EGP 447 mn, the company said in a bourse filing (pdf). The company’s topline grew 28% y-o-y during the quarter to EGP 2.9 bn.

Cheesemaker Obourland saw its bottom line increase 3% y-o-y in 1Q2021 to EGP 69.8 mn, the company said in an earnings statement (pdf). The company’s topline jumped 14% y-o-y to EGP 663.7 mn.


The EGX30 fell 1.2% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 3.87 bn (67.1% above the 90-day average). Local investors were net buyers. The index is down 5.6% YTD.

In the green: Orascom Financial Holding (+5.4%), Export Development Bank (+2.4%) and Fawry (+2.1%).

In the red: ElSewedy Electric (-4.2%), CIB (-3.5%) and Emaar (-2.6%).


The end of times for the USD?

It’s Groundhog Day: There’s talk of the USD’s dominance being under threat as the global reserve currency. We know, we’ve talked about this possibility what seems like two dozen times before — and the world has speculated that the USD would exit stage right for at least forty years. But there are new indications that now it’s for real, says the Financial Times. Among those indications is a warning from bn’aire US fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller — who correctly anticipated Brexit — that there is excess USD demand coinciding with inflation and a weaker USD.

The risk of a USD demise has been compounded by conditions created by covid-19, but the signs appeared before the pandemic, the salmon-colored paper says. For one, global central banks have been relying less and less on the USD as their foreign currency, with an IMF survey finding that USD accounted for the lowest share of central banks’ reserves in 25 years. This downward trend makes sense when we consider that the USD was the most dominant foreign currency when it was also the world’s most dominant industrial producer; now, the US does not account for the lion’s share of global production, making it logical for the USD to take a backseat as a reserve currency.

Altogether, the USD’s dominance is unquestionably declining. But there are still threats that could make the situation even worse: economic and financial mismanagement; insufficient liquidity in the US government bond market, which therefore undermines USD’s status as a safe haven asset; and more dysfunctional politics like we saw with Agent Orange, who wreaked havoc in the US political system and exposed “unexpected weaknesses.”

So, where do we go from here? There are some — including IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath — who believe that traditional currencies, such as the EUR and RMB, can take over the USD with some “old-fashioned development of institutions to improve the eurozone’s architecture and resilience, and stronger domestic institutions and further liberalization of markets in China.”

Others are speculating that the USD’s successor is going to be a synthetic hegemonic currency that would be “provided through a network of digital currencies issued by central banks.”

This hypothesis is far from novel: There’s been chatter for years that digital currencies could swoop in and take the USD’s place as the global reserve currency, partially because they are faster and cheaper than conventional money. Central bankers, including former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, have said that Central Bank Digital Currencies — a digital token or instrument that can be used for payments or a stable asset and is part of central bank-controlled money supply — not only could, but should replace the USD as the world’s reserve currency.


Alexa, design some antibiotics

The role of AI in the post-antibiotic world: Researchers from IBM have designed AI that can generate the design of molecules for new antibiotics, according to Vox. The AI system can reduce the traditionally expensive and time-intensive process of designing new antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) to a matter of days, and has outperformed other leading methods for synthesizing AMPs, according to the research paper published in Nature.

Why does this matter? Experts have warned of the post-antibiotic world, a phenomenon caused by our over-reliance on antibiotics in the treatment of crops, farm animals and humans. Globally, around 700k people die of drug-resistant diseases each year, and the World Health Organization warns this number could rise to 10 mn by 2050, exacerbated by using antibiotics to treat secondary infections during the Covid-19 pandemic.

How the IBM AI works: The system uses a generative model with three basic steps. First, the researchers feed a large database of known peptide molecules to the AI. The model learns the basic rules of molecule design by analyzing the relationship between molecules and their properties. From there, researchers can input their desired and undesirable traits, like low toxicity, and the AI will design the molecule based on the parameters. This method has reportedly successfully designed two antimicrobial peptides with wide ranging applications in safely treating pathogens in lab mice.

AI technology had another groundbreaking success in biology recently, when Alphabet subsidiary DeepMind successfully solved the elusive protein folding problem using their AI system AlphaFold. The system successfully predicted how amino acids will fold to create proteins, an issue that stumped science for over 50 years and has far reaching implications on the manufacturing of new medicine and understanding existing diseases caused by misfolded proteins.


20-28 May (Thursday-Friday): Gouna International Squash Open 2021.

27-29 May (Thursday-Saturday): Informa Markets’ Nextmove real estate exhibition, Cairo International Convention Center, Nasr City.

30 May (Sunday): Al Mal GTM is organizing the Portfolio Egypt conference under the theme ‘Growth under the weight of the pandemic.’

31 May (Monday): Egypt is hosting Trescon Global’s World AI Show with the support of ITIDA.

7 June (Monday): British Egyptian Business Association hosts an event featuring Oil Minister Tarek El Molla.

14 June (Monday): Egypt's Green Economy Forum.

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.

22-27 June (Tuesday-Sunday): The CIB PSA World Tour Finals for 2020-2021 will take place in Cairo.

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): The IMF will complete a second review of targets set under the USD 5.2 bn standby loan approved in June 2020 (proposed date).

30 June (Wednesday): 30 June Revolution Day.

30 June- 15 July: National Book Fair.

July + August: Thanaweya Amma exams take place.

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

1 July (Thursday): Large taxpayers that have not yet signed 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.

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

15 June (Saturday): EGX-listed will have to complete filing their financial disclosures for the period ended 31 March.

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 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.

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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