Thursday, 18 November 2021

PM — EFG Hermes is now officially a universal bank after finalizing aiBank acquisition.



Good afternoon, wonderful people — and mabrouk for making it through a bear of a week.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- EFG Hermes is now officially a universal bank: Our friends at EFG Hermes informed shareholders today that the firm has finalized its acquisition of a 51% stake in the Arab Investment Bank (aiBank), “marking a strategic entry into the fast-growing and solid Egyptian commercial banking sector” and completing its transformation into a universal bank in Egypt, EFG said in a statement (pdf) today. EFG Hermes Holding will now assume control of aiBank in partnership with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt’s TSFE Financial Services and Fintech Subfund, which is acquiring a 25% stake. The state-owned National Investment Bank will retain a 24% stake of aiBank post-transaction, having previously held 91.4%.

What do we mean when we say universal bank? With the completion of the transaction, EFG Hermes’ Egyptian operations now include an investment bank, a commercial bank and a fast-growing non-bank financial services platform, “ensuring that we can provide a holistic set of financial products and services to both retail and corporate clients alike in our home market,” Group CEO Karim Awad said.

The EGP 3.8 bn acquisition is a landmark for the Sisi administration as it looks to underscore its seriousness about partnering with the private sector to unlock growth. Critical here: The support of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt, which has built a solid track record as a trusted partner for private business, and of the Central Bank of Egypt, which gave the transaction the green light. We have background on the transaction here and here.

EFG Hermes now has an addressable market of 1 bn consumers across Egypt and 12 other fast-growing frontier emerging market economies in which it is the leading FEM investment banking platform, spanning from Nigeria to Kenya, from Pakistan to Vietnam as well as offices in London and New York.

Awad and the team at EFG have been working hard on this transformation for years now. Read more in this two-part interview we did with him earlier this year (here and here) or listen to the background in our chat on Making It, our podcast on how to build a great business in Egypt (listen, runtime: 34:07 and tap the button in the player at the bottom of the page).

ALSO- Speaking of the central bank: Local businesses and manufacturers could be in line for more financing from banks. The CBE has directed banks to ramp up opex loans to domestic businesses, according to state-run MENA. The CBE wants banks to help local industry cope with rising global prices of raw materials and maintain productivity levels.

Idle factories could also get a shot in the arm, with CBE Governor Tarek Amer instructing banks to address issues facing local industry, including helping them with large fines on overdue taxes and natgas bills.

There’s more good news from the CBE, as remittances in August grew 11.6% y-o-y to USD 2.7 bn, according to a statement (pdf) out today.


The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall have landed: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Prince Charles discussed cooperation on fighting terrorism and extremism, as well as secondary education, health, and environmental initiatives during a meeting that just wrapped, according to an Ittihadiya statement. Charles landed in Cairo with the Duchess of Cornwall, who also met with First Lady Entissar El Sisi Ittihadiya said earlier in the day. Charles and Camilla are in town today and tomorrow for their first visit to Egypt in well over a decade. The royals will also head to Alexandria tomorrow. Their visit is getting plenty of coverage in the foreign press: The Telegraph | Evening Standard | the National.

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

  • EGX trading fees are cut — and caps on margin trading delayed: In a meeting led by the Financial Regulatory Authority yesterday, policymakers agreed to cut trading, clearance and regulatory fees by 20% and to delay by six months the introduction of new restrictions on how much investors can borrow to trade shares.
  • Anghami Nasdaq listing next month? Emirati music streaming service Anghami will pull the trigger on its SPAC merger and list on the Nasdaq at the end of December, Hossam Gamal, the company’s VP for North Africa, told us.
  • Israel eyeing solar plants in Egypt? Israel is in talks to set up solar power plants in Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, and Greece as part of a broader strategy to cut carbon emissions and boost its green tech sector.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Emerging market equities are not having a great day: Turkey’s central bank is spooking markets (again) after deciding to slash interest rates earlier today following pressure from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Bloomberg reports. The move, which came despite spiraling inflation in Ankara, pushed the TRY to new record lows against the USD. Meanwhile, equities in other emerging markets are coming under pressure after Indian digital payments and e-commerce app Paytm flopped in its stock market debut, while investors are worried about a potential slowdown in China as the government appears unwilling to prop up its real estate sector, the Financial Times says. The EGX closed down 1.0%, while the MSCI emerging markets index is down 0.87% so far today.

It’s not all bad for Egypt: The TRY carry trade has been a consistent competitor for Egypt in our bid to attract foreign inflows — rate cuts in Ankara make our interest rates (already the highest in the world in real terms) look even more competitive. Lower rates across key EM could give the CBE some breaking room heading into 2022, when the US Federal Reserve is widely expected to begin raising interest rates.


AUC and the Egyptian Private Equity Association (EPEA) will host a panel on developments and regulatory changes in the stock market. The gathering takes place at the Tahrir campus in Downtown on Sunday, 21 November at 6pm, according to a press release (pdf). EGX Chairman Mohamed Farid, Sovereign Fund of Egypt Chief investment Officer Abdalla ElEbiary and managing director and chief investment officer at Nile Capital Holding Basel Roshdy will all make appearances.

ITIDA and the Software Engineering Competence Center are hosting a webinar on the future of fintech in Egypt next Tuesday, 23 November. The event will look at the current landscape and expected changes in light of new tech, regulations and market changes. You can register to attend here.

Entrepreneurs aged 18-35 have until 23 December to register for TotalEnergiesStartupper of the Year Challenge. The competition is open for a business creation project or startup under three years old in any sector. Candidates can apply 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- It’s looking like a rainy weekend: Friday should be sans precipitation, with a daytime high of 25°C and a nighttime low of 15°C. But there’s a 20% chance of rain from Sunday to Monday as the mercury rises to 22-23°C during the day before falling to 14-16°C at night. Don’t expect a torrential downpour, but we could see as much as 5 mm of rain between the three days.


Work from home stocks beat lifestyle tech through pandemic: The differing fortunes of two work-from-home ETFs launched at the height of the pandemic show us that not all changes brought about by covid were created equal, the Financial Times reports. While both ETFs — which trade under the tickers WFH and IWFH — appeared identical at first, their performances have diverged as economies started to reopen. The USD 115 mn WFH — which has a portfolio composed heavily of tech that enables working from home such as cloud computing and video conferencing — has risen some 58% since its launch. The USD 5 mn IWFH on the other hand has seen a weaker performance, up only 4% since its debut, with its investments being primarily in consumer-driven businesses such as streaming and food delivery.

What’s behind the discrepancy? Investors are getting bearish on consumer-driven businesses, which they think will no longer sustain the same level of growth as economies begin to open up and consumers begin returning to activities such as dining out. “That doesn’t bode so well for the Spotifys and Netflixes and Pelotons,” says the chief investment officer of one asset management firm. On the flipside, the shift towards remote work — or at the very least a hybrid model — seems here to stay, the FT says.

Apple is going the Ikea route with iPhones + MacBook fixes: Reversing its traditional resistance to DIY repairs, the tech giant will launch its Self Service Repair program early next year, through which it will sell certain spare parts for its products and offer instructions on how to fix them. You’ll soon be able to replace components like your iPhone’s battery, display, and camera without taking them to the store.

Apple will still be entrenched in the repair process: Apple seems confident that repairs will continue to happen on its own terms, acknowledging in its announcement that “the vast majority of customers” will stick with professional technicians. The program will also require “genuine” parts to be bought straight from the company.


Read all about Led Zeppelin, The Office, Will Smith in these new bios + league football is back + listen to NPR’s Throughline


(all times CLT)

Netflix hicksploitation doc series Tiger King is back for more, and like its much-abused big cats, we wish it would be put out of its misery. After the first season of the Netflix megahit brought us the story of the most outlandish collection of slack-jawed yokels since the Simpsons’ Cletus, and their systematic exploitation of big cats, Tiger King is here with a second season.

Seriously, Netflix. Move on: And just like the previous season’s disappointment, this one promises to bring more hick-related drama and nothing on the actual harm these idiots do the cats they keep — which was something that was given lip service in season 1. Dear, Netflix. If you want to replicate your quarantine successes, may we recommend more of “The Last Dance” and less of “Tiger Zift.”

The leagues are finally coming back:

The Egyptian Premier League returns tonight with four matches, the most important of which is Al Ittihad against El Gouna at 8pm. Tomorrow, El Zamalek will face Al Ismaili at 5:30pm, while Al Ahly will host Al Mokawaloon at 8pm.

Some European leagues will return tomorrow with a single match after taking some time off due to World Cup qualifiers. The German League, which starts its new week at 9:30 pm with a match between Augsburg and Bayern Munich. In Spain, Levante will play Atletico Bilbao at 10 pm, at the same time as the important meeting between Monaco and Lille in the French League.

But as usual, Saturday is when it all comes to blows: Gameweek 12 in the English Premier League begins with a match between Leicester City and Chelsea at 2:30pm and ends with Liverpool playing against Arsenal at 7:30pm. In between are six matches, all at 5pm: Watford against Manchester United, Aston Villa against Brighton, Burnley against Crystal Palace, Newcastle against Brentford, Norwich City against Southampton, Wolverhampton against West Ham.

In La Liga, Atletico Madrid and Osasuna will face off at 7:30pm followed by Barcelona who will play against Espanyol at 10pm.

Serie A: Lazio hosts Juventus at 7pm, while Milan goes out to face Fiorentina at 10pm.

Bundesliga: Borussia Dortmund will compete against Stuttgart at 4:30pm on Saturday.

In the French League, Paris Saint-Germain faces Nantes at 6pm.


You may have heard about Macaronita during Sahel season, when they took the beach by storm in Hacienda Red, but they’ve made their way back to Cairo at Street 88 in Palm Hills in Sheikh Zayed. Macaronita serves creamy and delicious fresh pasta dishes that you can’t go wrong with. The two appetizers on their menu are must-trys: M’naire (steakhouse fries with truffle and parmesan) and their cheesy chicken balls. Meanwhile, any pasta lover should indulge in their bacon-shroom pasta with caramelized onion rigatoni, la bomba (chicken mushroom truffle), pink sea (seafood with pink sauce), or their fantastic crunch pesto with smoked almonds. You don’t have to stray too far for dessert — Macaronita serves a chocolate pasta that comes topped with vanilla ice cream.


(all times CLT)

Ironman 70.3 Egypt is taking place tomorrow in Sahl Hasheesh with the race offering qualifying slots to the 2022 Ironman 70.3 World Championship. The course will start with a swimming race in the Red Sea, followed by biking, and ending with a run on the promenade overlooking the beach.

Uptown Cairo is hosting the Uptown Dreamscapes Exhibition, featuring 17 emerging contemporary artists with the venue offering an LED light display to make the experience more immersive. The exhibit will start today at 7pm and run until Sunday.

An old name in the Egyptian rap scene, El Joker, is playing at the Zamalek Theater tomorrow at 7pm.

Extra Bass Vol 1 is bringing together the best of the underground music scene tomorrow at Family Park. Disco Misr, Al Morabba3, Aziz Maraka, Massar Egbari, and Autostrad are all playing at the music festival.


NPR’s Throughline: “A line from the past to the present.” Hosted by two immigrants with Middle Eastern roots, Rund Abdelfatah from Palestine and Ramtin Arablouei from Iran, the podcast takes trending news pieces (or themes) and dissects them for context and (super interesting) historical background. Throughline offers new narratives around modern day events, often highlighting the history of underrepresented minorities in history. Their episode topics range from vaccines (which was coincidentally released pre-covid in January 2020) all the way to the happenings in Afghanistan, wherein they detail the history of the Taliban and all the politics involved since. More recent episodes discuss the Middle East cultural influence on the 2021 movie Dune (listen, runtime: 44:00), how drones will change the way wars work (listen, runtime: 01:01:00), and an epidemic of nostalgia that has been heightened by the pandemic (listen, runtime: 58:00).


It’s the month of biographies: While oldie rock bands often had a reputation for trouble, few did it like Led Zeppelin. In Bob Spitz’s Led Zeppelin: The Biography, he looks at the band’s voyage from the early beginning to worldwide tours. Spitz, who also wrote a biography on the Beatles, has a flair for storytelling and intertwining events with the era’s music.

Meanwhile, fans of the TV show The Office finally have something new to dig into with Welcome to Dunder Mifflin: The Ultimate Oral History of The Office, which uses hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with the cast and creators to tell the behind the scenes story of the one of the most watched shows in the world.

Finally, Will Smith is out with his self-titled autobiography Will that covers his childhood to the start of his acting career with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air all the way to the international fame he now has in droves. The book was written with Mark Manson, who is known for penning The Subtle Art of Not Giving a [REDACTED].


Market roundup on 18 November

The EGX30 fell 1.0% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 834 mn (43.3% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net buyers. The index is up 4.5% YTD.

In the green: Sidi Kerir Petrochem (+3.0%), Credit Agricole Egypt (+2.7%) and Ezz Steel (+2.6%).

In the red: Aspire Capital (-3.1%), Mopco (-2.7%) and AMOC (-2.7%).


Spectacle at the Pyramids: Art D'Égypte’s Forever is Now

Spectacle at the world’s oldest heritage site: If your social media feeds haven’t been flooded with Instagrammers and international celebrities like Pharrell Williams and JR posing at the Forever is Now international art exhibition, you’ve likely been living under a rock for the past month. The flood of staged images at the pyramids have become the most iconic feature of the exhibition, with Gen Zers flocking to pose — not to mention perfect — shots for their Instagram feeds and Tiktok posts.

Long queues of visitors patiently awaited their turn to pose for the camera in front of the most popular exhibits: Russian artist Alexander Ponomarev’s Ouroboros, Italian artist Lorenzo Quinn’s Together, and Egyptian artist Moataz Nasr’s Barzakh. 10 contemporary artists were featured in the exhibition, including American artist Gisela Colón, Brazilian artist João Trevisan, Egyptian born, Los Angeles- based artist Sherin Guirguis, British artists Shuster + Moseley, British artist Stephen Cox RA, and Saudi Arabian artist HRH Prince Sultan Bin Fahad.

The exhibition — the first of its kind ever to be held at the Giza Pyramids — closed yesterday after an almost month-long run. It was the latest exhibition by multidisciplinary art consultancy firm Art D'Égypte, which prides itself on supporting “the Egyptian arts and culture scene” and helping to “preserve Egypt’s heritage and advance the international profile of modern and contemporary Egyptian art, presenting a different view of Egypt to the world,” according to their website. The exhibition was held under the patronage of UNESCO and with a host of local and international sponsors, including the US Embassy in Egypt. It also included a series of talks at AUC’s Tahrir Cultural Center in downtown.

The exhibition has made headlines a lot, but has also garnered somewhat mixed reviews. After launching to much fanfare, it was extended for ten days due to popular demand. In October, the exhibition made international headlines when customs officials “detained” the British-built robo-artist Ai-Da for 10 days ahead of the opening of the iconic exhibition.

That super famous installation of an optical illusion of the Great Pyramid? It’s an NFT: French street artist and photographer JR’s Greeting from Giza, which makes it look as if there is a postcard with a giant hand holding up the top of the pyramid, with the top of the pyramid hovering above the rest of it when viewed from the right angle, was created as a non-fungible token or NFT. The installation has hieroglyphs hidden throughout and is broken up into 4,591 pieces — the exact age of the pyramids — is available as an NFT, or 4,591 NFTs to be exact.


In our opinion, it all had a touch of gimmick to it, reminding us a little of our latest visit to the Museum of Illusions, where we had to be instructed on where to stand and how to take pictures to get it just right. That was one of the reasons that those queues kept getting longer — visitors had to figure out which angle was right to capture the optical illusion they were seeking (and that they had seen repeated so many times on their socials).

The site-specific pieces placed the world’s oldest ancient wonders in the spotlight but it’s also super grounding. Forever is Now aimed to create a “powerful curatorial pairing” by placing contemporary art in a historical setting, said Art D'Égypte founder Nadine Abdel Ghaffar in a video promoting the exhibition, a sentiment that was echoed by UNESCO.

But most interesting were the unintended consequences: From the wrong angle, the installations didn’t quite line up or make sense — the most obvious example of this being British artists Shuster + Moseley’s Plan of the Path of Light. If you zoomed out or just looked around, it looked like just about any tourist site in Egypt, with visitors being coaxed into taking camel rides or being carted around on horse and carriage. The construction (and demolitions) in the surrounding area gave the whole affair a little texture, which would have been a tad pretentious without it all.

The signage didn’t serve the exhibition. At all. If you weren’t wise enough to download the app before you went to the Giza plateau — which has spotty reception and not much in the way of internet service — you were likely left with more questions than answers about what the artists wanted to say through their pieces. The plaques, which were erected alongside each installation, were elusive at best, with most not providing any explanation at all of what it was you were looking at.

But hey, it was super accessible. On the upside, the exhibition was open to anyone visiting the pyramids, including busloads of tourists (who are here en masse to enjoy our balmy November weather). For a mere EGP 45, you could drive your car along the pathway and visit the various exhibits, consulting the exhibition’s app or occasional on-site maps — or just asking for directions along the way. This wasn’t one of those super exclusive exhibitions for those in-the-know — just about anyone who could afford to could visit the exhibition, while being reminded of the grandeur of the pyramids.


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.

15-21 November (Monday-Sunday): Intra-African Trade Fair 2021, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

18-19 November (Thursday-Friday): British royal family members Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visit Cairo.

22-24 November (Monday-Wednesday): The Home Appliances and Table Show (HATS Egypt) is taking place, organized by the Engineering Export Council of Egypt.

23 November: 2021 Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) summit in Sharm El Sheikh.

23 November (Tuesday): Webinar on FinTech Future in Egypt.

25 November (Thursday): Rameda Pharma’s annual general meeting (pdf), at which it will decide on the sale of a 5% stake in the company from an individual shareholder to an unnamed institutional investor.

25 November (Thursday): Ibnsina Pharma’s extraordinary general assembly meeting (pdf) to discuss the company’s planned capital increase to EGP 280 mn through a share issuance.

25-27 November (Thursday-Saturday): RiseUp Summit, Cairo, Egypt.

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

28 November-1 December (Sunday-Wednesday): Creative Industry Summit, Nile Ritz-Carlton.

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

30 November (Tuesday): Launch of open call by KfW for green project proposals in Egypt as part of their Investing for Employment facility (pdf).

End of November: El Nasr Automotive expects to have found a replacement for Dongfeng as its partner for its local EV assembly plans.

1 December (Wednesday): Unvaccinated members of the public will be banned from government buildings from this date; unvaccinated students will be prevented from accessing university campuses.

1 December (Wednesday): Government departments will begin moving to offices in the new capital.

5 December (Sunday): Purchasing managers’ index figures for November for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar will be released.

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

8-10 December (Wednesday-Thursday): Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research (GFHS), Cairo, Egypt.

10 December (Thursday): Capmas and the Central Bank of Egypt will release November inflation figures.

12 December (Sunday): Raya Holding’s Ordinary General Assembly meeting.

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.

15 December (Wednesday): Deadline for joint stock companies and investment companies in Cairo to join e-invoicing platform.

15 December (Wednesday): The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will give its final approval for a USD 100 mn facility to state-owned Banque Misr to finance local SMEs working on green projects.

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

End of 4Q2021: EdVentures plans to have closed at least one more edtech investment round.

End of 4Q2021: Fawry plans to have launched its MyFawry card.

1H The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

1H: e-Aswaaq’s tourism platform will roll out its ticketing and online booking portal across Egypt.

1H: e-Finance’s digital healthcare service platform, eHealth, will launch its services.

1Q2022: Launch of the Egyptian Commodities Exchange.

1Q2022: Swvl acquisition of Viapool expected to close.

1 January 2022: Capital gains tax comes into effect on the EGX for local investors.

7 January 2022 (Friday): Coptic Christmas.

10-13 January 2022 (Monday-Thursday): World Youth Forum, Sharm El Sheikh.

27 January 2022 (Tuesday): National holiday in observance of 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

11 February 2022 (Friday): Deadline for Anghami SPAC merger.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

19 February 2022 (Saturday): Public universities begin the second term of the 2021-2022 academic year.

March 2022: 4Q2021 earnings season.

March 2022: World Cup playoffs.

2 April 2022 (Saturday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

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

24 April 2022 (Sunday): Coptic Easter Sunday (holiday for Coptic Christians).

25 April 2022 (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

25 April 2022 (Monday): Sinai Liberation Day.

Late April – 15 May: 1Q2022 earnings season

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

2 May 2022 (Monday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

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.

30 June 2022 (Thursday): June 30 Revolution Day, national holiday.

2H2022: IEF-IGU Ministerial Gas Forum, Egypt. Date + location TBA.

8 July 2022 (Friday): Arafat Day.

9-13 July 2022 (Saturday-Wednesday): Eid Al Adha, national holiday.

30 July 2022 (Saturday): Islamic New Year.

Late July – 14 August: 2Q2022 earnings season.

6 October 2022 (Thursday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

8 October 2022 (Saturday): Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.

18-20 October 2022 (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

Late October – 14 November: 3Q2022 earnings season.

**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. © 2021 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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