Monday, 20 December 2021

PM — IDH makes a foray into Pakistan with a USD 72 mn acquisition



Alexandrians experienced some snowfall today as the temperature dropped to 7°C following days of extremely cold weather.

Alex isn’t out of its bout of bad weather just yet, with precipitation expected to continue through till Thursday, our favorite weather app forecasts.

As of dispatch, it’s unclear whether children will be back in school tomorrow in Alexandria, Cairo, and other governorates. Kids in Alexandria have been staying under the covers these past few days as schools shut down while their counterparts in Greater Cairo also got a day off today.

THE WEATHER- There is a chance of slight rain tonight for Cairenes, The Egyptian Meteorological Authority noted on Saturday. The temperature will drop to a mean 7°C in the next few hours, so be sure to stay warm. Meanwhile, Cairo’s weather will be slightly warmer tomorrow but a slight chance of rain persists, according to our favorite weather app.

*** Tell us what you expect for the year ahead — and get a chance to have breakfast with us in 2022: Every year, we ask our readers to weigh in on what you expect for the year ahead in our Enterprise Reader Poll. Take a few minutes to tell us your take on the outlook for your business and industry, whether you’re planning fresh investments and new hires, and how your business fared in the year past. We’ll share the results with the entire community in early January to help you shape your view of the year.

We’ll be inviting eight readers who take the poll to breakfast in 2022 and another dozen of you will get your own Enterprise mug to enjoy your morning beverage of choice.


#1 M&A Watch- IDH is going to Pakistan: Consumer healthcare and diagnostics giant Integrated Diagnostics Holdings (IDH) plans to snap up a 50% stake in the parent company of Pakistan-based diagnostics group Islamabad Diagnostic Center (IDC) for USD 72.35 mn, the company said in an LSE filing. The transaction, which will mark the London- and EGX-listed IDH’s entry into Pakistan, will be financed “through a combination of existing cash and committed debt facilities,” IDH said in the filing. The debt package includes a USD 45 mn facility secured from IFC in May 2021, and an additional USD 15 mn IFC syndicated facility from Mashreq Bank, the company said.

#2 Investment Watch- Indian polymeric films manufacturer Uflex is planning on building a USD 30 mn chemicals plant in Egypt, according to a cabinet statement. The announcement came on the sidelines of PM Mostafa Madbouly’s inauguration of a new high barrier plastic films production line at the company’s USD 100 mn Flex P Films factory, the first of its kind in the MENA region, according to the statement. Not much else was said about the new chemicals plant.

^^ We’ll have more on these stories and others in tomorrow’s EnterpriseAM.

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

  • Saudi electronics retailer eXtra plans to spend EGP 1 bn to launch in Egypt, marking the company’s first expansion outside the GCC region.
  • CHG gives the nod to CI Capital’s acquisition bid: Cleopatra Hospital Group’s (CHG) board has approved a bid from CI Capital to acquire up to 26.2% of the company at EGP 5 per share, valuing the company at EGP 8 bn.
  • Tobacco tender boycott, take two? Three major international tobacco producers have reportedly chosen not to bid in the renewed tender for a license to manufacture cigarettes.

THERE’S ONLY ONE STORY ABROAD- Omicron is quickly forcing governments in Europe and the UK to recalibrate their containment strategies, and markets are in a tailspin. News that the UK government is considering reimposing restrictions to contain the spread of the variant — possibly joining the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland, which all introduced new curbs this week — has investors fearing that a new round of global restrictions may not be far away. It’s a sea of red on exchanges across Europe this afternoon, US stock futures are down more than 1% and oil is down more than 4%. (FT | Bloomberg | WSJ | CNBC)

Davos has been put on hold: The World Economic Forum has announced that its annual get-together in Davos will be postponed ”in the light of continued uncertainty over the Omicron outbreak.” Originally scheduled to run from 17-21 January, the in-person forum is now pencilled in for early summer. In the meantime, the world leaders, b’naires and chief execs who usually congregate in the Swiss Alpine resort will be reduced to solving the world’s most pressing problems over video call, with an online series of talks in the works.

It’s looking increasingly like mRNA is going to be the way to go to defeat Omicron after Moderna today joined Pfizer / BioNTech in announcing that a third booster shot of its covid vaccine provides a “reassuring” increase in antibodies that could help the body fend off the new variant. (Reuters | Bloomberg | Washington Post | CNN | WSJ).

Someone at the Health Ministry best get Moderna on the phone as initial studies suggest that booster shots of most of the world’s vaccines — including that Sinovac shot Vacsera has been cranking out for the past four months — aren’t going to cut it when Omicron shows up.


PSA- EgyptAir resumes direct service to Toronto from Cairo tomorrow after briefly shelving the flight when Canada included us in a (heavily criticized) ban on entry for folks from 10 African countries. Meanwhile, non-resident travelers from Egypt will be prohibited from entering Hong Kong from tomorrow.

Swvl and Magalix are holding a virtual fireside chat titled Stories of Women in the Tech Field tomorrow at 7pm. Connect to the event here.


PSA- Property owners have until Friday, 31 December to pay the second installment of their annual real estate taxes without incurring a late fee, Tax Authority boss Anwar Fawzy said in a statement yesterday. The first installment was due between 1 January and 30 June. Homeowners whose primary residence is valued at less than EGP 2 mn are exempt from paying the tax, Fawzy noted.

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


5G did not cause the pandemic — but it could cause mass disruption to flights, the US airline industry is warning. The approaching rollout in the US of new 5G services is the cause of an intensifying dispute between network carriers and the aviation industry, with the White House stuck in the middle, Bloomberg reports. Safety concerns have led the country’s federal aviation regulator to warn that it may prohibit low-visibility landings in the proximity of 5G signals — a move that could disrupt up to 350k flights per year and cost the industry as much as USD 2.1 bn, according to lobby group Airlines for America.

On different wavelengths: 5G signals will operate on airwaves close to those used by aircraft radar altimeters, which airlines say means they could interfere with pilots’ ability to judge altitude during landings, especially in poor-visibility conditions. Wireless providers, who have paid at least USD 81 bn for rights to the airwaves in question, reject the concerns as entirely unfounded — though they have offered power reductions near airports. At the end of a hard two years that saw USD bns in losses for the aviation industry during the pandemic, airline execs are in no mood to compromise, and are pushing for further power cuts. Now it will be up to lawmakers to forge an agreement between the two sectors in time for the scheduled 5G rollout on 5 January.

If a 737 Max crashes in the Metaverse, will it trigger a lawsuit? Boeing better hope not as it looks to enter the cyber-frontier with a new fully-virtual plane to get a foothold on its major competitor Airbus, Reuters reports. Boeing’s future factories will employ 3D engineering, hosting robots that can communicate with one another and mechanics that connect via Microsoft HoloLens headsets. The two-year strategy aims to utilize a single digital ecosystem to unify the company’s design, production and airline service operations. Airbus’ Chief Executive has made similar promises to “invent new production systems,'' as more companies look to the metaverse to revamp their production systems.

That translates into building 3D digital twin replicas of airplanes to run simulations of each aircraft’s production system and performance. In essence, each aircraft will have a digital twin that contains every piece of information about it in the metaverse, allowing companies to overcome design issues and shortening time-to-market.


Throwback to the nerds taking over in The IT Crowd + will the Premier League go on a break?


(all times CLT)

If you’re almost done rewatching Seinfeld, here’s another light throwback show that will crack you up: The IT Crowd is a British TV series that follows a nerdy IT team at a large corporation. IT employees Roy and Moss are hiding away from the world in their basement office — until Jen comes around as their manager, even though she has absolutely no experience in anything tech-related save from sending emails. While unqualified for the job, Jen takes on another role: boosting the two men’s social status from awkward tech nerds to join the ‘it crowd,’ (get it 🙄). Since the first season was filmed in 2006, the disparity in technology is immense (we couldn’t help but balk at the huge monitors on their desks), bringing an added lick of nostalgia for simpler times in tech. You can catch all five seasons of the series on Netflix.

It's a cold day sans matches in Europe, but the Egyptian League is here to fill in the gap and give us some warmth. Today, Ghazl El-Mahalla will meet with the National Bank at 5:30pm at the same time as El Gouna and Enppi hit the field. At 8pm, Alexandria’s Al Ittihad faces Ceramica Cleopatra, while Misr El-Makassa will play against Eastern Company. Pharco’s match against Al Masry kicked off at 3pm, with the game still at 0-0 as of dispatch.

English Premier League clubs will meet today to discuss what to do about the outbreak of covid-19 in the league that has so far postponed 10 games over the past week, according to BBC Sport. There seems to be some disagreement on whether to continue or not: Premier League Chief Richard Masters has stressed the importance of completing the season and the heads of Arsenal and Liverpool seem to be leaning the same way. But Brentford boss Thomas Frank led has called for all matches to be called off until 26 December to enable a reset, while others believe that the break should be even longer.


(all times CLT)

Iron Maiden tribute band Invaders are performing at Room New Cairo tonight at 9pm.

Dirty Santa takes the stage at Cairo Jazz Club alongside The DJunkie on Wednesday at 8pm.

Cairokee is performing at Zed Park’s Winter Fest on Thursday from 7-11pm. You can get your tickets now on TicketsMarche.


Every modern day business problem, summed up in one book: The New World of Work by Peter Cheese explores how businesses can succeed in the face of the new challenges presented by work today. Cheese, who is the head of the UK’s national body for HR professionals, helps employers navigate increased demand for mental health awareness, flexible working, and agile learning, while also ensuring that they are engaging both an ageing workforce and new Gen Z recruits by designing jobs that play to each generation’s skillset. The book also looks at how to avoid stalling productivity and how incorporating technology can help mitigate that risk. Cheese also covers requirements on firms to embrace diversity and model responsible, trustworthy and transparent behavior towards all stakeholders. The book uses global examples to explain each point, offering solutions on how to come out on the other side as a stronger business that employees are proud to work for.


Market roundup on 20 December 2021

The EGX30 fell 0.7% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.01 bn (26.8% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net buyers. The index is up 5.9% YTD.

In the green: Ibnsina Pharma (+1.0%), TMG Holding (+0.5%) and Abu Qir Fertilizers (+0.4%).

In the red: AMOC (-5.3%), Orascom Development Egypt (-3.5%) and CIRA (-3.4%).



That’ll be 20 Barcelona-coins please.

Football clubs want you to buy their cryptocurrencies: In August, the captains of Barcelona and Juventus made the first public exchange of football-related cryptocurrencies before kickoff at a friendly game between the two teams. The moment was designed to promote the clubs’ new fan tokens, a growing trend in European football that is offering cash-strapped clubs a new source of revenue but delivering questionable benefits to their fans.

Crypto meets football: Over the past 18 months, 24 European football clubs have launched crypto-based digital assets, a venture that the BBC estimates has netted clubs USD 350 mn in revenues. Some tokens operate as club-specific virtual coins that can be traded like any other cryptocurrency, primarily on exchange platform Socios, and using the fintech provided by sports and entertainment blockchain firm Chiliz. Others function more as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) — digital collectibles that are sold to fans.

How it works: Teams partner up with Chiliz to launch their own fan tokens or collectible digital assets on Socios. Fans first buy CHZ (the cryptocurrency accepted on Socios), and then use their CHZ to buy fan tokens, which can be traded on coin exchanges and on the Socios app.

Owning tokens gives fans mostly inconsequential but sentimental perks, like voting on what music should be played as players walk onto the pitch or getting a say on a question that they think should be asked to players at a press conference, with more tokens equaling more influence. Socios promises token-holders future access to exclusive events and the ability to vote on certain — so far unimportant —club issues. Barcelona fans got the chance to vote on a mural design for the team's changing room. Most other clubs are yet to explain how much democratization will be afforded to token-holders in the future.

Football crypto has the potential to be big: The top 13 clubs in Europe own tokens with a combined value of over USD 1.9 bn, according to the BBC, with Juventus and Paris St-Germain being the first to jump on board. Now, most of the sport’s biggest names are inviting their fans to buy into their own currencies, and national sports teams are starting to get involved too.

This isn’t just a football thing: Sports across the world — the NBA, NFL, and UFC in the US, Formula One, the Indian Premier League, and competitive video-gaming — have all jumped on the bandwagon and signed up with Socios to sell tokens to fans.

Socios is the fan token kingpin: The company works with more than 90 teams and franchises around the world, has 1.2 mn users, and has sold almost USD 300 mn worth of coins through its app. It is the partner of Europe’s biggest football teams, including Barcelona, Juventus, PSG, and AC Milan

But others are getting involved: Crypto exchanges Binance and Bitci are also making a play for the market and are so far providing tokens to a number of football clubs around the world, national teams, Formula One franchises and basketball teams.

Fan tokens are creating new digital revenue streams for clubs: Barcelona’s initial fan token offering in June 2020 sold out in less than two hours and generated USD 1.3 mn for the club. In the days leading up to Lionel Messi’s transfer to PSG earlier this year, trading volumes for PSG fan tokens soared upward of USD 1.2 bn, generating a rumored EUR 30 mn (USD 33.8 mn) in sales. The Argentine’s two-year contract with the French side included USD 29-35 mn worth of cryptocurrency fan tokens in his welcome package.

Covid could be an accelerator: Finding new sources of funding has become vital for many teams in Europe in the midst of financial distress due to covid-19. Even teams like Barcelona and Juventus, who have stayed at the top of the European game for years, are facing huge financial difficulties after last year’s lockdowns caused a sharp shortfall in revenues.

Managing your own currency also comes with risks: Despite the bns of USD of supply, users currently hold less than USD 380 mn. This is because clubs need to exert careful control on how much currency they release to the market to maintain its value. "If they sell too much at once, they run the risk of crashing the price,” one crypto analyst told the BBC. "We can clearly see this happening with the Lazio, FC Porto, Santos FC, and Manchester City sales."

Not everyone is buying into the hype, with critics accusing Socios of exploiting the fans’ relationships with their clubs. West Ham, one of the early football clubs to launch fan tokens with Socios in 2019, announced last year that it was ending its partnership with the platform without selling a single fan token, following widespread fan opposition. Supporters of Leeds United criticized the club’s agreement with Socios for encouraging fans to enter the unregulated crypto market.

… and luring people into buying into a product they don’t fully understand: In an investigation for the Athletic, UK-based sports columnist Joey D’Urso says that fan tokens amount to a crypto trading game that rewards savvy traders and blindsides crypto-illiterate fans. D’Urso argues that the trading frenzy around Messi’s signing on fee, for example, was a classic example of traders “buying the rumor, and selling the news.” And because clubs control 80% of token supply, it’s easy for them to control the market price and maximize their income.


13-26 December (Monday-Sunday): Cleopatra Hospitals shareholders can subscribe to CI Capital’s voluntary tender offer for 26% of the company.

21 December (Tuesday): Swvl and Magalix’ virtual Fireside Chat: Stories of Women in the Tech Field at 7pm.

21 December (Tuesday): Non-resident travelers from Egypt, or who have stayed in Egypt within 21 days of arrival, will be prohibited from entering Hong Kong from this date.

25 December (Saturday): Jobzella’s Fifth Career Fair at the GrEEK Campus, 11am-6pm.

26 December (Sunday): The House of Representatives returns from recess.

31 December (Friday): Deadline for property owners to pay second installment of real estate taxes without late fees.

End of December: El Nasr Automotive plans to sign contracts with a new partner to locally assemble EVs.

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.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

1H2022: e-Finance’s digital healthcare service platform, eHealth, will launch its services.

1Q2022: Egypt will begin exporting natural gas to Lebanon.

1Q2022: Launch of the Egyptian Commodities Exchange.

1Q2022: Swvl acquisition of Viapool expected to close.

End of 1H2022: Emirati industrial company M Glory Holding and the Military Production Ministry will begin the mass production of dual fuel pickup trucks that can run on natural gas.

Second Half of January: Egypt will host the Egyptian-Bahraini Joint Committee.

The end of January: The Egyptian-Romanian business forum will take place with the aim of strengthening joint investment relations.

January 2022: Tenth of Ramadan dry port tender to be launched.

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

1 January 2022 (Saturday): Private sector minimum wage introduced.

1-15 January 2022 (Saturday-Saturday): Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) Joint Committee.

4 January 2022 (Tuesday): OPEC+ ministerial meeting.

7 January 2022 (Friday): Coptic Christmas.

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

15 January (Saturday): Target date for the finalization of snackfood giant Edita’s acquisition of the Egyptian Belgian Company, owner of the Ole brand.

17-19 January 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): World Future Energy Summit, Abu Dhabi.

20 January 2022 (Thursday): Kadmar Shipping’s new line transporting agricultural crops between Alexandria and Russia begins its operations.

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

January-February 2022: Construction work on the Abu Qir metro upgrade will begin.

February 2022: Hassan Allam Construction’s new construction firm established with Russia’s Titan-2 to handle construction work on the Dabaa nuclear power plant begins its operations.

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

11-13 February (Friday-Sunday) FIBA Intercontinental Cup, Cairo.

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

15 February 2022 (Tuesday): The Industrial Development Authority’s deadline for receiving offers from companies for licenses to manufacture steel products.

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

March 2022: 4Q2021 earnings season.

March 2022: Deadline for the World Health Organization’s intergovernmental negotiating body to meet to discuss binding treaty on future pandemic cooperation.

March 2022: World Cup playoffs.

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

3 April 2022 (Sunday): Bidding begins on the Industrial Development Authority’s license to manufacture tobacco products.

4 April 2022 (Monday): CDC Group will formally change its name to British International Investment.

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 2022: 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.

July 2022: A law governing ins. for seasonal contractors will come into effect.

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 2022: 2Q2022 earnings season.

September 2022: Egypt will display its first naval exhibition with the title Naval Power.

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 2022: 3Q2022 earnings season.

End of 2022: e-Aswaaq’s tourism platform will complete the roll out of its ticketing and online booking portal across Egypt.

**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.

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