Thursday, 15 April 2021

EnterprisePM — We watched a bn or so Ramadan ads so you wouldn’t have to



Well, nice people, that’s the first (work)week of Ramadan in the books. We hope the holy month is treating all of you well — and that all of you, observant or not, are looking forward to a phenomenal weekend with family and friends.

So, when do we eat? Maghrib prayers are at 6:22pm in the capital city today. You’ll have until 3:57am to scarf down sohour.

As you’d expect for the first Thursday of Ramadan, it’s a quiet day for news. Sodic has appointed EFG Hermes to advise it on a takeover bid by the UAE’s Aldar, while we took another step toward making up with Turkey. We have more in Speed Round, below.

HAPPENING NOW- Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is expected to head to parliament today to address the African Affairs Committee to talk about GERD and our ties to the rest of the continent, committee chairman Sherif El Gabaly said, according to Ahram Online.

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

  • Carrefour Egypt is planning to invest EGP 400 mn to open 20 new branches this year, backed by projections of a rapid recovery in consumer demand.
  • We now have 193 vaccination centers operating nationwide as new covid-19 cases continue to rise.
  • The container ship Ever Given is fit to depart the Suez Canalonce an agreement is reached between the Suez Canal Authority and the ship’s owner

MEANWHILE- 15 people were injured after a train derailed in Sharqia last night, according to a Health Ministry statement. The accident resulted in no deaths. This comes a month after a tragic train crash that killed at least 19 people and left 185 injured in Sohag and sparked renewed outcry over the state of the country’s rail network. Egypt National Railways Modernization Project has since received a EUR 145 mn loan to finance railway upgrades from AfDB.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD this afternoon: The US is about to slap sanctions on Russia for everything from interfering with American elections to allegedly putting bounties on the heads of US troops. The measures could be announced as early as today, Reuters says, and could include a ban that prevents US banks from trading in Russian government debt. The story leads both the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal this afternoon.

CORRECTION- We were off by a full EGP 1 this morning’s Planet Finance section — clumsy, fasting fingers. Our apologies for the typo. The greenback is going for EGP 15.62 (buy) and EGP 15.72 (sell) at CIB this afternoon.


LOOK FOR CLIMATE TO BE A BIG TOPIC NEXT WEEK as 40 world leaders gather in the United States for the Leaders Summit on Climate Change (official website), which runs next Thursday and Friday.

Who’s attending? Not us. Egypt is off the invite list despite being particularly vulnerable to climate change. Attendees range from the leaders of Canada and China to the EU, Gabon, Germany, Italy, Jamaica and Japan. From our corner of the world: Our ex in Ankara, Sheikh Khalifabin Zayed Al Nahyan from the UAE, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, and Bibi next door are all due to attend.

What does business want? Business leaders are lobbying politicians “to embrace a unified and market-based approach to slashing their carbon emissions,” Reuters reports. “The request reflects the business world’s growing acceptance that the world needs to sharply reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, as well as its fear that doing so too quickly could lead governments to set heavy-handed or fragmented rules that choke international trade and hurt profits.”

On that last point? Toz. Move slowly? Sure. There will be lots of profit left to milk when we have mns of climate refugees, multi-continent famines, eroding shorelines… The New York Times has more

You know what sucks for climate in its current incarnation? BTC and other forms of crypto. David Wallace-Wells (Twitter) is the author of one of the more terrifying books on what the world looks like “after warming.” His latest on BTC? “We are now spending more electricity mining BTC than is produced by all the world’s solar panels combined, so we have eliminated all the progress we made on green energy just through BTC use.” If you presume that most of the electricity used to mine BTC is generated from fossil fuels (a pretty good guess), “BTC produces a whopping 37 mn tons of carbon dioxide annually, about the same amount as Switzerland does by simply existing.”

How bad will climate change be for our species? “It is worse, much worse, than you think,” Wallace-Wells writes in a book that the NYT’s Farhad Manjood describes as “the most terrifying book I have ever read. Its subject is climate change, and its method is scientific, but its mode is Old Testament. The book is a meticulously documented, white-knuckled tour through the cascading catastrophes that will soon engulf our warming planet.” Read: The Uninhabitable Earth.

It’s okay — finance is riding to the rescue: Climate scientists are swapping their labs and field work … to work in finance. “Banks, asset managers and private equity firms, faced with tough regulations to decarbonise portfolios and loan books, are competing to grab the people with the right green expertise,” Reuters reports based on a survey of job data and interviews with finance firms and recruiters. And while corporate greenwashing is a real thing, “many environmentalists … say the only way to save the planet is to force big businesses to radically reduce their carbon emissions, and they see the finance world that funds them as one of the best levers.”

Qatar could allow full foreign ownership of listed companies: The Qatari cabinet approved a draft law that would allow 100% foreign ownership of companies listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange, a move that Bloomberg says could attract passive foreign inflows of more than USD 1 bn. If implemented, companies would have to individually approve the increased limit, which currently sits well below 49%. The move comes as part of a wider trend of liberalizing foreign ownership in the GCC to attract foreign investment and diversify their oil-dependant economies. In 2019, Saudi Arabia removed restrictions for strategic institutional investors, while the UAE removed all local partner requirements last year.

Hedgies just posted their best quarter since before the global financial crisis: Hedge funds generated strong gains in 1Q2021, marking the best 1Q since 2006, the Financial Times writes. How big the returns are depends on who you trust: Data group Eurekahedge estimates 4.8%, while hedge fund analyzer HFR says 6.8%. The gains were mainly seen in funds that navigated the GameStop short squeeze and the Archegos Capital meltdown. The rebound in cheap “value stocks,” a tailwind in stocks and bouts of volatility provided hedge funds with the chance to take positions against overpriced stocks. “We’re going into a market environment that is going to be more fertile for most active trading strategies, whereas for most of the past decade buying and holding the index was the best thing to do,” Aaron Smith, founder of hedge fund Pecora Capital, told FT. In 1Q2020, hedge funds slumped 11.6% due to covid’s effect on equity and risky markets.

Are the Tokyo Olympics about to be cancelled? The games hang in the balance after an official from Japan’s ruling party suggested the event could be canceled if the country’s battle with the coronavirus becomes too dire. The comments by secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party came a day after Japan started its 100 day countdown for the event. Another option is to hold the events without any spectators, suggested Taro Kono, the government minister in charge of Japan’s vaccine rollout. He said it’s likely that the Olympics will have to be held in empty venues, particularly as cases surge across the country. Fans from abroad have already been banned, but now even Japanese fans may be locked out of the games. The delayed Tokyo Olympics are slated to begin on 23 July. The Associated Press and Reuters have the story.

RIP- Makram Mohamed Ahmed: We bid farewell today to journalist and former chairman of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation Makram Mohamed Ahmed, who passed away at the age 85. Ahmed’s career included stints as the head of Dar El Hilal Publishing House and as editor-in-chief of Al Musawar magazine for 24 years. He was also elected head of the Journalists’ Syndicate five times from 1989 until 2009 and served as a member of the Shura Council (the former upper house of parliament) for four consecutive terms. Ahmed survived an assasination attempt by Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya in 1987.

FINALLY- Continuing our fascination this week with alien life: Leaked footage of a pyramid-shaped “UFO” is real, the Pentagon says. Trust us, you want to read this one, even if you’re as much a natural born cynic skeptic as we are.


Tired of kunafa Nutella already? Then give Salé Sucré’s balah el sham Nutella a try. It’s a Ramadan best seller for the second year in a row at Salé Sucré. The round platter of crispy bite-sized balah el sham comes with a jar of Nutella chocolate sauce in the center for dipping. If you’re not a chocolate lover, a Lotus version of the dish is also available. Sticking with their tradition of combining seasonal fruit with kunafa (Sale Sucre was the first to introduce the popular kunafa with mango a few years back), this year they have strawberry and Lotus kunafa. The platter is split down the middle with strawberries on one side and Lotus on the other. And don’t miss the dulce de leche rice pudding, one of our personal favorites. The combination of the South American caramel with creamy Egyptian rice pudding is a satisfying after iftar treat.

For the purists among us, Salé Sucré still maintains its strong lineup of classics, good old fashioned basbousa, kunafa, baklava and katayef (the traditional kind with nuts and stuff that we used to enjoy before Nutella and Lotus were a thing). Check them out on Instagram.


Borat is back in the US for the pandemic in the hilarious Borat Subsequent Moviefilm that had us in tears — especially when he tries to kill the virus with a cooking pan. The flick takes place at the same time as the 2020 presidential election, with Borat making it a point to approach (and annoy) many Democrats and Republicans. The plot of the mockumentary follows Borat and his daughter Tutar (played by Maria Bakalova), who is to be offered as a bride to Vice President Mike Pence as a way to curry favour with Washington. We’ve been a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen since the first Borat film and The Dictator, and this film is a great rendition of those characters with the addition of current events. You can catch the mockumentary on Amazon Prime.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is nominated for best adapted screenplay while Bakalova is up for best supporting actress at the Oscars.

There are four matches to catch in the Europa League tonight at 9pm: Arsenal will play Slavia Praha, Manchester United takes on Granada, Roma kicks off against Ajax, and finally Villareal will go up against Dinamo Zagreb.

In the Egypt Cup, Wadi Degla is playing against Al Ittihad while Al Masry is up against El Geish, with both games at 9:30pm.


“Summer hours” will come into effect for retail stores and restaurants as of this Saturday, 17 April. This means retail shops can close at 11 pm (instead of 10 pm during the winter), while cafes and restaurants can stay open until 1 am (instead of midnight currently). We have more details on the winter vs. summer hours here.

iSheep, take note: Apple is running a virtual event on Tuesday, 20 April at which pundits think it will unveil AirTags and a new iPad Pro with an improved display and faster processor, among other goodies. The headline: Spring Loaded. The event will stream at 7pm CLT on Apple’s website and on YouTube.


Join Iftar Meow, a group excursion that aims to feed stray cats and dogs in Downtown Cairo. The event will take place on Friday at 4pm. Meow Tours is an initiative that aims to promote humane animal treatment in the country.

An info session for The Sawiris Arts and Culture Scholarship for students wanting to study performing arts, visual arts, or film studies on the bachelors or masters levels. The info session will take place via Zoom on Saturday from 4-5 pm.

The Room Garden City is hosting underground band Do'souqa tonight at 9pm as well as cover band Mixtape tomorrow at 9pm.

Jeep Club Egypt is holding an end of season Iftar trip on Friday, April 23rd, at Samuel Dunes. Participants will meet after the Friday prayer then enjoy off-roading for a few hours until it's time for Iftar. If you want to join, call 01001015337 by Tuesday to reserve your place.


How are the big nine tech corporations changing our futures? That’s the main question in The Big Nine: How the tech titans and their thinking machines could warp humanity, which looks at Amazon, Google, Facebook, Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba, Microsoft, IBM and Apple. Author Amy Webb spins a cautionary tale warning that within our lifetimes, AI will begin to behave unpredictably and the big nine corporations may be inadvertently building and enabling vast arrays of intelligent systems that don't share our motivations, desires, or hopes for the future of humanity.

???? TOMORROW’S WEATHER- You may want to locate the AC remote soon. Friday and Saturday will see daytime highs of 35°C and 37°C with a bit of wind, our favorite weather app tells us. Meanwhile, on Sunday, the mercury will hit 42°C during the day and 26°C at night — and with little wind or cloudiness, we’re looking at a pretty hot day.


Sodic taps EFG Hemes to advise on acquisition bid

Sodic appointed EFG Hermes to act as its financial advisor in Aldar Properties’ bid to acquire 51% of the Egyptian real estate giant, according to a regulatory filing (pdf). Sodic appears to have made the hire last week to assess the value offered by the Emirati real estate firm. Sodic’s board also approved kicking off the due diligence process from Aldar’s side as well as appointing another independent financial adviser. Aldar had previously submitted a non-binding offer to acquire at least 51% of Sodic’s shares at EGP 18-19 apiece. The offer’s midpoint price values the company at EGP 6.6 bn, and was at a 14% premium above Sodic shares’ closing price at the time the bid was made. Sodic shares closed today at EGP 16.00 apiece.

Sodic’s largest shareholder appears to have an open mind and is exploring all possibilities, it said last month. The consortium of Act Financial, Hassan Allam Properties and Concrete Plus Engineering and Construction, holds a 15% stake in Sodic. Olayan Saudi Investment holds 14%, while the Abanumay family has 10% and Ripplewood 9%.


Five Stars Flour Mills to be sold off for not paying its debts: Flour maker Five Stars Flour Mills is mulling several acquisition offers from GCC players for 100% of the company, Al Mal writes, quoting sources close to the matter. The move comes as the company had been struggling to pay off EGP 2 bn in accumulated debt since defaulting on its loans in 2016 after the EGP float.


We’re making up with our ex

Egypt has invited a Turkish delegation led by their deputy foreign minister to meet in Cairo in early May, Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu said on Twitter today, adding that he will be meeting with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry “later.” This comes a day after Çavuşoğlu hinted at potential meetings coming up while declaring a “new era with Egypt.” Cairo and Ankara have been tentatively re-establishing ties after years of animosity, but sources said yesterday that Egypt might not hold talks with Turkey if Ankara doesn’t meet several conditions Cairo has set to restore diplomatic ties. Those include handing over some Ikhwan figures it claims were involved in terrorist operations and that Turkey clamp down on Ikhwan media publishing — a condition Ankara has been meeting in the past few weeks.

A thaw in ties between the regional powerhouses could have wide implications for the EastMed, writes Reuters, pointing to Libya where Egypt and Ankara have backed rival sides in the war.


Iran nuclear talks are resuming in Vienna today, with Tehran’s decision to ramp up uranium enrichment and possible Israeli sabotage at a nuclear site likely complicating discussions, writers Reuters. Iran had suggested yesterday that talks could break down, warning that there’s “not much time” for the US to return to the 2015 nuclear agreement and remove its Trump-era sanctions.


Earnings watch: CIRA

The EGX30 rose 0.3% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 899 mn (33.9% below the 90-day average). Regional investors were net buyers. The index is down 6.5% YTD.

In the green: Eastern Co. (+2.9%), CIB (+1.7%) and Export Development Bank (+1.4%).

In the red: TMG Holding (-3.0%), AMOC (-2.8%) and MM Group (-2.7%).

Private sector education outfit CIRA’s net profits grew 12% y-o-y to EGP 249.9 mn in the first half of their 2020-2021 fiscal year, which begins in September, according to the company’s earnings release (pdf). Revenues rose 14% y-o-y to EGP 758.8 mn, the bulk of which came from tuition revenues, up 21% y-o-y. Top line growth was driven by an uptick in enrollment in both segments, with K-12 enrollment up 5% y-o-y, and university enrollment up 26% following the inauguration of additional faculties at its Badr University Cairo.

During the half, CIRA announced a partnership with Beltone Consumer Finance, that will provide an alternative financing method by allowing the repayment of tuition fees over 12 equal monthly installments with minimal documentation required and instant approval. The financing method will be rolled out at seven schools in pilot phase, CEO Mohamed El Kalla said.

Looking ahead: Construction is underway on CIRA’s British Columbia Canadian International School and Saxony International School in O West, and a new Futures Language School in Sohag. Campus activities at Badr University in Assiut are expected to begin by the end of September 2021, El Kalla added.


We watched all the Ramadan ads to spare you the pain

We watched all these ads so you don’t have to: Love them or hate them, TV ads are a hallmark of Ramadan as the nation’s creative directors cram maximum creativity into 30 days. As with every year, some of these are groundbreaking, some are funny, some of these fall flat, but this year’s selection has to be the most musical we’ve seen in a while.

You go ahead and try to hit “skip” every 2 minutes on Youtube — we’ve curated a selection of ads that caught our eye. And to save your colleagues the annoyance of humming a lot of this year’s ads (you’ve been warned), we advise you to check them out once, and move on.

Zed’s Ramadan campaign is quite catchy. The song sees residents of Zed Sheikh Zayed and Zed East (New Cairo) fight over who will visit whom. If you have friends on the other side of Cairo, we’re sure you’ll relate to the ‘la2, la2, la2’ in the ad. The advertisement features some of the biggest names in the industry including Nelly Karim, Youssra, Kareem Abdel Aziz, Dina El Sherbini, and Sherine Reda as well as footballerrs Ahmed Hossam Mido, Hazem Emam, Seif Zaher, and Mohamed Zidan (watch, runtime: 02:01).

Also in real estate, Amr Diab made an original song for the Palm Hills Badya Ramadan campaign, which follows a woman as she goes through the compound and all its amenities (watch, runtime: 01:31).

Asser Yassin and Myriam Fares are featured in a beachside advertisement for Zahra in New Alamein that makes us nostalgic for summer vibes (watch, runtime: 02:04). It’s the first time we’ve heard Asser sing and he’s not half bad.

Telecoms got off to a strong Ramadan, with Sherihan making her comeback with Vodafone’s Ramadan 2021 campaign after over 20 years of being off the air. The cinematography and music in the ad was great, and Sherihan managed some rad dance moves, with the ad seeming to depict the challenges and struggles of Sherihan’s own experiences. While it’s not Vodafone’s usual Ramadan-themed ad, the actress offers message of resilience and strength amid hardships — not irrelevant in this pandemic age. (watch, runtime: 03:50).

Telecom Egypt went all meta with their campaign this year, going behind the scenes to watch Amy Samir Ghanem struggle to memorize her lines for the ad while a producer jumps in and unsuccessfully tries to break it down for her. It’s not great, but (watch, runtime: 01:23).

Orange has Hussain Al Jassmi singing its Ramadan ad this year. The commercial features a quick editing of shots depicting the holy month in all its glory in Egypt, from family gatherings and food boxes for the needy, to gorgeous shots of Ramadan decorations on the street (watch, runtime: 02:08).

Coca Cola’s ad has a call to action (again): give a can of the soft drink to a stranger, with the VO explaining how everyone is a stranger before they become friends over a bottle of Coca Cola — a message harkening back to the iconic “I Want To Buy The World A Coke” campaign. We like the Cairokee song in the background (watch, runtime: 01:15), even if we’re not down with diabetes in a bottle.

Resiliency through… boxers? Cottonil couldn’t give up the chance to make a bang, bringing in Hassan Shakoush, Omar Kamal, and of course, Medhat Shalaby to say his (in)famous “Hala Hala 3al Fanela.” We have to give them credit though, they do try to portray the need to be resilient and they did reel in their usual stunts to a large degree this year (watch, runtime: 00:45).

Unionaire left the usual Ramadan ads behind completely and opted for a romance-filled ad to depict the appliances group’s 25 years in Egypt. (watch, runtime: 01:30).

Dina El Sherbini and Ruby turn up the sass in Fresh’s elaborate ad — which at one point reminds us of an old NSYNC music video (watch, runtime: 01:19).

Banque Misr combined the best of both worlds, with both the resilience and Ramadan themes present in an advertisement well-sung by Mahmoud El Esseily, Medhat Saleh, and Diab. We’re a fan of the editing and cinematography of this campaign (watch, runtime: 02:33).

Egypt’s 500500 Hospital for Cancer Treatment has created two ads featuring Lina Shaker and Sherif Madkour — who are both cancer survivors — to promote the new 500500 hospital. Madkour talks about the importance of having a positive environment for cancer patients (watch, runtime: 01:17). Shaker talks about the process of knowing you have cancer to treating it to finally being healthy, pointing out that the hospital will have all these services and amenities available for its patients (watch, runtime: 01:20).


April: The government’s fuel pricing committee is scheduled to meet for its quarterly review of prices.

April: EBRD president Odile Renaud-Basso expected to visit Egypt.

25 April (Sunday): Sinai Liberation Day.

29 April (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day (TBC — the holiday could be observed on a Sunday or a Thursday).

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

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

2 May (Sunday): Coptic Easter Sunday.

3 May (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

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

16-19 May (Sunday-Wednesday): The Arabian Travel Market (ATM) is taking place in Dubai. ATM is an international travel and tourism event to promote the Middle East as a tourist destination.

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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