Wednesday, 15 September 2021

EnterprisePM — Record-high remittances + our first UNDP Human Development Report in a decade



Good afternoon, everyone, and happy almost-THURSDAY, which we’re observing with what is so far proving to be the slowest news day of the month. We hope you’re being happily productive this afternoon — and that you’re enjoying the cooler weather as much as we are.


#1- Remittances hit a record high in FY2020-21, growing 13.2% to EGP 31.4 bn compared to EGP 27.8 bn the previous fiscal year, according to a central bank press release (pdf). Remittances rose 15.5% y-o-y in June to EGP 2.9 bn. In 2Q2020 — during which the initial wave of covid helped trigger a historic slump in the price of oil — inflows slipped 10% y-o-y, only to rebound immediately the following quarter.

#2- Our first UNDP Human Development report in almost a decade was released yesterday, tracking Egypt’s progress in a number of key development areas including investment in human capital, economic development, social protection, women’s empowerment, environmental sustainability, and governance. We’ll have a breakdown of the report’s key findings in tomorrow’s EnterpriseAM.

#3- Pioneers Holding submitted a request to register its two new subsidiaries with the FRA in preparation for their debut onto the EGX, the company said in a bourse filing (pdf). The new companies — Pioneers Properties and Gadwa Industrial Development — will focus on real estate and industrial development, respectively, while the parent company will remain the financial services arm. The company had said it plans to split into three arms in what was at the time a first-of-its-kind move in Egypt. The company hopes the move will create value for shareholders by making its various activities more easily understood by investors.

^^ We’ll have more on all of these stories in tomorrow’s edition of Enterprise AM.

HAPPENING NOW- Egypt should be sending natural gas to Lebanon by the end of the year, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla told Bloomberg. Egypt agreed this month to ship gas to Lebanon through a pipeline running through Jordan and Syria to feed the 450 MW Deir Ammar power plant in Lebanon. The goal is to help alleviate the energy crisis currently gripping the country. El Molla told local news a few days ago that the gas could be ready to flow to Lebanon in the next three weeks. The agreement is still awaiting Lebanon submitting a funding request to the World Bank, while Jordan and Syria will use the three months to assess the infrastructure of the pipeline and conduct needed repairs.

ALSO- Elections for the board of Misr for Central Clearing Depository and Registry are taking place today, the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) said (pdf), with some 37 candidates running for a number of executive and nonexecutive positions. The authority published a number of appeals it had received against individuals barred from running in the elections under new board elections regulations for clearing and depository companies issued by the FRA last March. The regulations give an FRA committee a role in screening the candidates for election before a slate is put to a vote in the general assembly.

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

  • Aldar and ADQ launch bid for SODIC: The two companies submitted a mandatory tender offer for up to 90% of upmarket real estate developer SODIC. Shareholders are weighing their options while the MTO is currently awaiting approval by the FRA.
  • US could withhold USD 130 mn in aid to Egypt over rights concerns: The move is reportedly designed to pressure the Egyptian government to improve the human rights situation.
  • The Suez Canal Bank and AAIB want almost all of Valu’s securitized bond issuance: The banks are looking to snap up almost 90% of the EGP 323 mn maiden securitized bond issuance by EFG Hermes’ consumer finance arm.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- There’s no single story dominating the news agenda in the global business press, though the looming meltdown of property developer China Evergrande may soon change that. (We have more on Evergrande in For Your Commute, below). The Financial Times says that the US envoy in charge of talks with the Taliban is blaming former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for “derailing last-ditch [agreement] with the Taliban.” The Wall Street Journal notes that California Gov. Gavin Newsome has survived a campaign to vote him out of office before his term expired, while Reuters is leading with the drive by US officials to roll out covid-19 booster shots this fall. CNBC, meanwhile, has a rundown on everything Apple announced at its iPhone 13 event last night, and Bloomberg notes that SoftBank has made its first investment in Saudi Arabia.

ALSO- The delta-variant-induced chip shortage is continuing to impact companies globally, with Toyota being its latest victim. The carmaker said it would be scaling back its production from the previously forecast 9.3 mn units to a mere 9 mn for the fiscal year ending in March 2022, according to a statement.

YOUR STATUTORILY REQUIRED COVID STORY- Saudi Arabia inked an MoU with Pfizer and AstraZeneca to produce their vaccines locally, a spokesman for the Saudi Industry Ministry said on Saudi Satellite TV (watch, runtime: 00:26). The agreements — which were signed during a medical conference in Riyadh — also include combined efforts to establish a human cell platform with support from Pfizer, according to Argaam. No timeline for when the vaccines could be made available to the public was announced.

Meanwhile, the EU is pledging 200 mn more vaccine doses to Africa to be delivered in mid-2022, according to ABC News. The EU had already promised 250 mn doses; the stepped-up commitment comes as Africa struggles with vaccine shortages while developed countries rollout booster shots to fully vaccinated individuals, much to the World Health Organization’s chagrin. Just 3.5% of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated.

Africa needs around 800 mn doses to vaccinate 60% of the continent’s population — close to the minimum percentage needed to ensure herd immunity, African health officials recently said. Around 145 mn doses have since been acquired. The WHO is optimistic vaccine supply constraints could ease by the end of the year, with Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus saying that the organization expects “volumes of vaccines coming into Africa to increase substantially,” according to Bloomberg.

TOMORROW- is interest rate day, and all 10 analysts we polled expect the central bank to leave rates on hold for a seventh consecutive meeting when the Monetary Policy Committee meets. Analysts pointed to the uptick in inflation and the pressure to maintain foreign inflows into Egyptian debt. Participants in a Reuters poll also expect the MPC to leave rates unchanged.

Also tomorrow: The Egyptian-Libyan Higher Committee is set to meet for the first time since 2009. A statement from the Libyan Ministry of Economy and Trade says that the committee meeting is scheduled for Thursday 16 September in Cairo. Meanwhile, Egypt’s International Cooperation Ministry announced the start of preparatory sub-committee talks ahead of the session. The committee was revived this spring following the restoration of official ties between Egypt and Libya.


The UN General Assembly is ongoing in New York until 30 September. The general debate will take place from 20-28 September. Leaders from at least 83 countries are expected to attend in person — in contrast to last year, when the meeting was almost 100% virtual. There’s no word yet on whether President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will attend in person or virtually.

ALSO- EFG Hermes’ fourth Virtual Investor Conference continues today, running through to 21 September with the theme of “After Reflation — FEMs in 2022.”

Sahara Expo: It’s the last day of the agricultural conference at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.

It’s day six of the CIB Egyptian Squash Open: The bottom half of the women’s and men’s quarter-finals will be played today, before the semis kick off tomorrow. The final will be played on Friday 17 September. You can find the schedule here.

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- A cool end to the week, Thursday will see a daytime high of 34°C and overnight low of 21°C, our favorite weather app tells us. Look for the seasonally appropriate weather to continue all weekend.


SOUND SMART- Could the world’s most indebted company spark a (kinda-sorta) 2008-style systemic banking crisis in China? That’s the question smart observers are asking amid news that Evergrande, China’s second-largest property developer, could be on the verge of defaulting on its massive debt obligations. Formally known as China Evergrande, the developer does upper- and middle-class housing in nearly 300 Chinese cities and is sitting on more than USD 300 bn in debt — with USD 7.4 bn in bonds due next year, making it quite possibly the world’s most indebted company. It seems on track to give bondholders a 75% haircut, has about 1.5 mn unfinished properties, and it’s share price in Hong Kong is down about 85% in the past year. In what analysts say is a naked grab for cash, it’s offering new homes for 25% off.

What happened? It took on tons of debt to turbocharge its growth — and the off-plan developer has since run afoul of new measures Beijing introduced to curb the total debt levels of property developers. That has forced it to offer units for sale at cut rates to clear out inventory and try to keep up with debt payments. Homebuyers and investors are now besieging the company’s headquarters.

What should you look for? Bloomberg says Evergrande won’t be able to meet interest payments past next week, and China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development seems to be brokering some kind of bid to restructure the company’s pile of debt.

Don’t expect Beijing to let it to bankrupt: The real estate sector in China accounts for nearly a third of GDP, and Xi Jinping’s ruling party is worried that if Evergrande goes down, it could set off a contagion that infects the vast banking sector that is bankrolling real estate developers. You can read more in Reuters, CNN, the Financial Times and the Guardian as well as the Sydney Morning Herald.

MORE CHINA- The latest in the world’s most intense love-hate relationship: US President Joe Biden has denied media reports that China’s Xi Jinping last week rejected Biden’s offer of a face-to-face meeting. Biden was said to have made the offer during a phone call on 10 September, their first since February, Reuters reports. Outlets such as the Financial Times and Bloomberg picked up the news, saying Xi asked the US leader to adopt a less strident tone toward Beijing. The official readout of the call issued by the White House last week made no mention of the alleged invitation.

SPEAKING OF SINO-AMERICAN RELATIONS- DC is agog at the latest in a string of reports that a top US general reassured the Chinese last fall that Washington wasn’t going to nuke them, regardless of Agent Orange’s rhetoric. Mark Milley, the four-star chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reportedly reached out to his Chinese counterpart to assure him that “that Trump would not attack China and that if Trump did decide to attack then Milley would give his Chinese counterpart a secret heads up.” Look for this story to have legs: Milley will appear before Congress at the end of this month to answer questions. Axios has the rundown.

Milley’s outreach to the ChiComs will be one of the centerpieces in Bob Woodward’s latest, Peril, co-authored with Robert Costa. The story is getting plenty of ink from CNN and the Washington Post.

Electric pickup trucks are now a thing: EV start-up Rivian released the first electric powered pickup truck to the consumer market, according to a tweet by the company founder. The launch puts Rivian ahead of competitors like Tesla and General Motors, with Tesla in 2019 giving a live demonstration of its Cybertruck and promising that it would go into production later this year — a date that has since been postponed to late 2022.

Developing countries may not be fairly represented at November’s COP26 climate conference: The conference seems like it will go on as planned despite fierce protest from global green groups, who say developing countries may struggle to attend, leaving a handful of rich countries to draw up climate plans for the rest of the world, the Financial Times reports. Last week, Greenpeace and over 1.5k other climate nonprofits called for COP26 to be postponed as many developing countries could struggle to attend due to covid-19 travel restrictions. The conference is due to take place in Glasgow from 1-12 November and has already been postponed for a year due to the pandemic.

This comes as nearly all nations fall far behind on goals set out by the Paris Climate Agreement, according to a report by the Climate Action Tracker, with the only country to achieve its goals being Gambia. Seven other countries, including the UK, were ranked as ‘almost sufficient’ in their promises to cut carbon pollution and policy changes. The US, the EU, Germany, and Japan’s efforts have been deemed ‘insufficient’, while Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia are among the countries that are ‘critically insufficient’. The Associated Press picked up the story.

Companies are not doing their part either: A review of 107 major global companies found that more than 70% omitted whether they had considered climate risks when preparing their 2020 financial statements, according to research conducted by the Carbon Tracker Initiative and the Climate Accounting Project that was picked up by the FT. Meanwhile, the report also found inconsistencies in the majority of disclosures from companies that did mention climate, with auditors failing to note or question the discrepancies. From firms like Shell, BMW, Airbus, to auditors such as EY and PwC, corporations are shying away from addressing climate change and being transparent in their role in impacting the environment.

Everyone wants to be Dogecoin: The last thing the creators of Dogecoin expected was that their meme-inspired cryptocurrency — developed as a joke in 2013 — would vault into stardom and get recognition from the likes of Elon Musk. Maybe that’s why they didn’t immediately file for the dogecoin brand name until late August of this year. The filing now sits at the US Patent and Trademark Office next to a dozen similar claims to the name, from cryptos to firms selling baby blankets and men’s suits, writes the Wall Street Journal. Today there are almost 100 cryptocurrency tokens that use the ticker “doge,” and if Dogecoin is provided with a trademark, they can prevent and stop these other firms from creating products that could confuse users as to what brand is backing it.

This strikes many as ironic — and a bit hypocritical: Dogecoin itself was a spinoff created by tweaking several existing cryptocurrencies, including BTC, Luckycoin, and Litecoin. But now that they’ve propelled to the top, they seem to have forgotten how they initially started and are coming after like-minded, but late copycats.


Read Mrs. Dalloway for the burnout generation + give this Polish Netflix thriller a try


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Polish miniseries Open Your Eyes is one of these shows that exceed your expectations. Seventeen year old Julia finds herself in an amnesia treatment facility after an accident that took away her family. Bit by bit she starts to discover discrepancies in what the facility is teaching her and others about their past selves and begins to become suspicious of her unconventional treatment. This is X-Men meets Stranger Things — with a little bit of Girl, Interrupted thrown in the middle. It's a slow burner at first but with quite a good build up of thriller and mystery, and an ending that you will not see coming. Do not watch this dubbed.=

In the UEFA Champions League at 6:45 pm: Beşiktaş is up against Borussia Dortmund while Sheriff faces Shakhtar Donetsk.

Six other matches start at 9:00 pm with Liverpool kicking off against Milan, Real Madrid taking Inter Milan, Manchester City playing RB Leipzig, Atlético Madrid going up against Porto, Club Brugge looking ot get past PSG, and Ajax looking to take down Sporting.


(all times CLT)

Rapper Perrie will perform live at Cairo Jazz Club 610 today at 9 pm. The evening will also feature the talented Gahallah who will be warming up the stage and producer El Waili who will take over his decks afterwards.

Over at Cairo Jazz Club, go down the rabbit hole with Boogie Wonderland tonight at 8 pm, where DJunkie will be spinning his retro-disco tunes.


Mrs Dalloway for the burnout generation: One of this fall’s biggest debuts comes from former London banker Natasha Brown in the form of her novel Assembly. The book depicts a black woman’s life as she rises up the social and economic ladder, but still desires to opt out of capitalism altogether. Her existential crisis seems to come to a head when she attends a lavish garden party at her white boyfriend’s family estate. Drawing comparisons to Virginia Woolf’s classic Mrs. Dalloway for its depiction of the struggles and doubts of a high-society woman, the protagonist’s searing and unforgettable experience may be uncomfortable to read, but is ultimately rewarding. “It’s a quiet, measured call to revolution. It’s about everything that has changed and still needs to change, socially, historically, politically, personally,” the Guardian writes.


EGX up 2.8% YTD

The EGX30 fell 0.3% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.6 bn (3.6% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 2.8% YTD.

In the green: Cleopatra Hospitals (+5.9%), Ezz Steel (+2.9%) and EKH (+1.7%).

In the red: Pioneers Holding (-4%), Raya (-3.7%) and Ibnsina Pharma (-3.3%).


What to expect when you’re expecting an ongoing pandemic: The next six months are likely to be a repeat of what we’ve already seen in the past year and a half. Schools could close again, hospitals will face high pressure, and more variants will emerge, writes Bloomberg in a far-from-sunny piece. For the pandemic to end, almost everyone will either be infected, vaccinated, or both, experts agree. And despite all the havoc covid-19 has wreaked so far, we’re still not there yet.

Have we already surpassed historical precedents? The longest global flu outbreak lasted for five years and consisted of two to four waves of infection over an average of two or three years, according to Lone Simonsen, an epidemiologist and professor of population health sciences. We’re already at the fourth wave of covid-19, with no clear ending in sight. Covid-19 is also more deadly than any outbreak since the 1918 Spanish flu.

Expect more outbreaks for a start: Factors such as lax precautions or the flu season are sure to cause outbreaks in classrooms, on public transport and in workplaces over the coming months as economies push ahead with reopening.

Nightmare scenario #1: A vaccine-resistant variant. As vaccine inequality continues to be a problem globally, nations where vaccination has been sparse are more likely to provide breeding grounds for new variants to emerge. Malaysia, Mexico, Iran and Australia are in the midst of their biggest outbreaks yet, fueled by the contagious delta strain. “Pandemics can in fact get more deadly during the pandemic period, as the virus is adapting to its new host,” Simonsen said. Some researchers believe that covid-19 could eventually become completely resistant to the first generation of vaccines as it adapts to its hosts and mutates.

This is already at play, with the new Mu variant showing signs of possible resistance to vaccines: More research is needed to determine whether it is in fact vaccine resistant, the World Health Organization said this month. The situation is increasingly alarming in South Africa, where Mu is co-circulating with the delta virus. While WHO hesitates to make such a large statement, researchers in Japan have found that the Mu variant is highly resistant to neutralization by vaccines, and is able to infect people who have previously contracted covid-19 before. The study is yet to be peer reviewed.

Nightmare scenario #2: A new novel influenza virus: An even more grim possibility is that a new influenza virus emerges or another coronavirus makes the leap from animals to humans. “There is that in the background, the risk of still dealing with this one when another one emerges,” warned Kanta Subbarao, director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Influenza.

Experts believe covid-19 will become endemic — meaning that it will continue to circulate in pockets of the global population for years to come. In a poll by Nature, 89% of scientists found it likely or highly likely to become an endemic virus. Some went as far as to say that eradicating covid-19 is so unrealistic that it’s like “trying to plan the construction of a stepping-stone pathway to the Moon.”

Which brings us to humanity’s best option … getting everyone inoculated: Having a higher percentage of the world’s population vaccinated will lower the chances of variants emerging and reduce the transmission and severity of the virus. The percentage of vaccinated individuals in each country should reach almost 67% to provide herd immunity, scientists have said, though others have said we need to scrap the idea of herd immunity altogether.

How are we doing with combating covid in Egypt? Egypt is aiming to vaccinate 40 mn citizens by the end of the year. So far, 8 mn Egyptians have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 25% of that number have received two doses. State-owned vaccine-maker Vacsera is now producing 300k doses of Sinovac per day and Egypt is also in talks to locally manufacture the mRNA covid vaccine Moderna. While our vaccine rollouts are advancing steadily, restrictions and mask mandates have been more lax even as the country tried to impose fines on those who do not adhere to precautionary measures.

And then again: It’s highly likely that covid-19 will eventually become like the flu and will require regular vaccine top-ups. But if countries abandon strategies to reduce spread and let the virus reign unchecked then, in the words of one epidemiologist, “the darkest days of the pandemic are still ahead of us.”


10-17 September (Friday-Friday): CIB Egyptian Squash Open, Giza.

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

13-21 September (Monday-Tuesday): EFG Hermes’ fourth Virtual Investor Conference.

14-30 September (Tuesday-Thursday): 76th session of the UN General Assembly, New York.

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.

18 September (Saturday): Expiration of United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Daesh/ISIL

21-22 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

22-25 September (Wednesday-Saturday): Cityscape Egypt, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

29 September (Wednesday): DevOpsDays Cairo 2021 is being organized by ITIDA and the Software Engineering Competence Center in cooperation with DXC Technology, IBM Egypt and Orange Labs.

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.

30 September (Thursday): First tranche of overdue subsidy payouts will be handed to eligible exporters.

October: New legislative session begins — must be held by the first Thursday of October.

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

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.

1 October (Friday): State-owned companies and government service bodies selling goods and services to customers 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.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

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

9 October (Saturday): Public schools begin 2021-2022 academic year

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt

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

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

**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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