Sunday, 19 March 2023

PM — Mushrooms to save the world



Happy Sunday, friends, and welcome to another privatization-driven news day here in Omm El Donia as we kick off this week.


#1- Two state-owned real estate companies seek investments through capital increase: State-owned real estate companies, El Nasr Housing and Development and Maadi for Development and Construction, will drum up investments from strategic investors through capital increase rather than selling a stake belonging to existing shareholders,” a source with knowledge of the matter, who asked to remain anonymous, told Enterprise today. Making public share offerings in the two companies will come at a later stage,” the source added.

#2- Pachin shareholders are facing a regulatory ultimatum: Paint and Chemical Industries (Pachin) will have 10 working days to respond to Dubai-based National Paints Holding’s (NPH) mandatory tender offer (MTO) to fully acquire the company, according to a a Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) statement (pdf). The countdown to the FRA-enforced deadline begins from the day of publishing the announcement of the acquisition bid, the statement reads.


UBS has offered to buy Credit Suisse for USD 1 bn in an all-share transaction, which could be signed as early as this evening, the Financial Times reports, citing several sources with knowledge of the transaction. The “fast-moving” agreement is expected to be fast-tracked by Swiss authorities, which could “change the country’s laws to bypass a shareholder vote on the transaction,” the salmon-colored paper reports. The story is leading the conversation in the international business press this afternoon, with front-page coverage in the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg, and CNBC.


Palestine, Israel participate in Egypt-brokered security meeting: Officials from the two sides met in Sharm El Sheikh today as part of a five-way meeting with Egyptian, Jordanian, and US officials, a cabinet statement said. The discussions follow on from a meeting in Jordan last month that attempted to encourage a dialogue between the two sides but which did little to calm tensions.

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

  • First up from the SFE’s pre-IPO fund: Egyptian Linear Alkyl Benzene (Elab) will be the first company to go to market via the Sovereign Fund of Egypt’s (SFE) pre-IPO fund.
  • No limits on Safi, Wataniya stake sales -SFE’s Soliman: The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) could sell up to 100% of military-owned firms Safi and Wataniya to strategic investors depending on market appetite.
  • Abu Dhabi Ports just established itself as a major player in Egypt’s port infrastructure: Abu Dhabi Ports (ADP) will develop and operate a container terminal at Safaga Port under a USD 200 mn, 30-year concession agreement signed with the government yesterday.


*** It’s Inside Industry day — your weekly briefing of all things industrial in Egypt. Inside Industry focuses each Sunday on what it takes to turn Egypt into a manufacturing and export powerhouse, ranging from initial investment and planning to product distribution, through to land allocation to industrial processes, supply chain management, labor, automation and technology, inputs and exports, regulation and policy.

In today’s issue: As Egypt works to grow its exports and slash its import bills, industry players and other stakeholders have called for the government to enact certain reforms that they believe are necessary to prop up exporters and streamline their work.

????️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- The sun is going into hiding tomorrow, bringing down the mercury a couple of degrees to 20°C during the day and 12°C in the evening, according to our favorite weather app.



The tax man is tracing the footprints of digital nomads: For those who have gotten accustomed to the peace and comfort of remote work — away from their tax jurisdiction — there’s a legislative overhaul afoot that aims to bring you closer to the tax man’s radar. The discussion of tax treatments for cross-border remote work has become a hot topic as the earned income of digital nomads accounts for 1.3% of global personal income, Bloomberg reports, citing IMF data. Some businesses think that the flexibility to offer remote work “is needed to attract and retain talent in the modern economy and we want to make sure that we’re able to do that,” said a tax official at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

They’re on to you: The OECD is working on a note for later this year that will list the tax challenges and scenarios associated with the post-pandemic trend of remote work in a bid help people, businesses and governments have a better idea of who should be taxed and when and where they will be taxed, according to the business information service. Currently, digital nomads working away from their tax jurisdiction in countries such as China, India, and the UK get taxed by the governments of these countries once their stay crosses a six-month threshold, according to Bloomberg.

Microsoft unleashes new fighter onto AI battleground: Microsoft Corp will in the coming months roll out Copilot, an AI-powered assistant, across its Microsoft 365 suite — including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams — the company announced on Thursday. Underpinned partly by OpenAI’s newly launched GPT-4, the software will enable users to generate first drafts of entire documents, presentations, and emails by entering simple prompts. It can also summarize discussions and suggest actions in real time during meetings, among a host of other features, and is currently open to some 20 companies for testing before a wider launch, Bloomberg and Reuters report.

AI war tightens: The move is Microsoft’s latest bid to overhaul its product lines with AI and gain a foothold in the industry ahead of rival Google, which two days ahead of Microsoft’s announcement said it would bring a very similar feature named Magic Wand to Google Workspace, adding new capabilities to Docs, Slides, Sheets and Gmail.

Caveat: The software isn’t foolproof: “It does a lot of amazing things and gets a lot of things right, but it doesn’t get everything right,” Microsoft Vice President Jon Friedman told Bloomberg. However, Copilot prompts users to review and fact-check the drafts it generates and embeds links to the sources it uses in the process, answering the prevalent criticism that AI chatbots serve up unverifiable information. “Just like any time somebody sends me a draft — I review the

draft,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “I just don’t accept the draft.”



(all times CLT)

Dive into the wonderful world of fungus: If someone told you that mushrooms could save the world, you’d probably think they had a few loose screws — but just how profoundly complex and powerful these organisms are is the subject of the 2019 documentary Fantastic Fungi. Narrated by some of the world’s leading experts on mushrooms, Fantastic Fungi takes you on an informative and eye-opening journey into the world of mycelium networks and the surprising ways they can help us tackle some serious earthly problems. Alongside their crucial role as facilitators of vast underground communication networks between trees, there’s evidence to show that fungus can be used to clean oil spills, fend off parasites, and help treat PTSD. Part nature documentary and part impassioned advocacy campaign, this fascinating exploration of fungus is bound to teach you something new about this tiny world beneath our feet. If the geeky science-talk isn't for you, the breathtaking time lapse imagery of mushroom life cycles should keep you thoroughly entertained.

It’s El Clasico Day: Barcelona meets with its rival — and La Liga title holder — Real Madrid at Camp Nou at 10pm tonight. Barcelona is currently at the top of the league, with a six-point lead, meaning tonight’s match could seal its fate as the new title holder if it’s able to come out on top, while Real Madrid will be pushing to narrow the gap and keep the possibility of holding on to the league title.

Wrapping up Gameweek 28 in the English Premier League: Arsenal plays host to Crystal Palace at 4pm. Arsenal is currently in first place in the league, standing five points ahead of defending champions Manchester City, which are currently in second place. Arsenal has a chance to widen that point gap to eight should it defeat Crystal Palace. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace (currently 12th in the league) are in a bit of a turbulent period after its manager Patrick Vieira was removed from his post two days ago after the team failed to bag a single victory in its past 11 league matches.

Join 200 Enterprise readers as they battle it out in the Enterprise Fantasy League for the top spot — and a special prize from us at the end of the season. You can join by clicking this link or entering the code: 8o4sut.

Today in the FA Cup: Manchester United hosts Fulham in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup at 6:30pm. Sheffield United v Blackburn Rovers kicked off at 2pm and is approaching the last few minutes of the match as we hit dispatch, with the score currently at 2-2. Brighton v Grimsby Town also kicks off today at 4:15pm.

And the most important matches of the major European leagues:

  • Torino v Napoli (Serie A — 4pm)
  • Lazio v Roma (Serie A — 7pm)
  • Inter v Juventus (Serie A — 9:45pm)
  • Leverkusen v Bayern Munich (Bundesliga — 6:30pm)
  • Paris Saint-Germain v Rennes (Ligue 1 — 6:05pm)


This miniscule eatery packs a punch: Downtown’s Fasahet Somaya only seats about 10 people and has no set menu. Instead, the restaurant’s owner, Somaya Al-Asyoty, plans select dishes each day, depending on what she sees at the market and inspires her. Eating at Fasahet Somaya is like having a home cooked meal — traditional Egyptian dishes like molokhiya, tiny buttery quail, and stuffed vegetables are often on offer. At other times, Somaya experiments and surprises guests with new dishes like slow-cooked lamb with chocolate. And she keeps an eye on each table to see how they enjoy their feast. The atmosphere at Fasahet Somaya is home-y and the food is filling. Get in early before the evening queues start, or put your name on the waitlist and head to an ahwa or nearby Horreya for a quick drink beforehand.

(all times CLT)

Egypt’s most talented female artists are still going strong at Art d’Egypte’s Kaon exhibition at the Arts’ Hub in Zamalek. The exhibition, which kicked off last Thursday and runs through next Thursday, 23 March, is held in celebration of International Women's Day.

The French Institute in Egypt is screening Trois Souvenirs de ma jeunesse (My Golden Days), a French dramatic comedy about a man who looks back on his childhood in France, a fateful student trip to the USSR, and the love of his life. The screening begins at 6:30pm and wraps at 9:30pm.

Standup comedy from a Gen X favorite: Standup comedian Ahmed Ahmed will be here tomorrow at 8pm for “Back to Om El Donia” at the American University in Cairo’s Tahrir Campus’ Ewart Memorial Hall. Also featured in the lineup: Brian Alyward, Hashem El Garhy, and Ola Roshdy. The tickets can be purchased through Ticketsmarche.

Get moving this Ramadan with Trifactory’s Relay Run on 5 April in Palm Hills Club, 6 October. Call up four buddies for a 2-hour (non-konafa-related) competition to run as many laps as possible. This event is happening from 9-11pm. Visit Trifactory’s website to register.


A celebration of the faceless subaltern: Yaa Gyassi’s Homegoing is the ultimate retaliation against the dehumanizing colonial machine. The novel transcends time and space by spanning many decades, villages, and cities. The countless characters — the descendants of Ghanaian sisters Effia and Esi — all have rich and complex backstories and lives. While the novel is at times overwhelming, it is the natural unfolding of glaringly different fates: While one woman was abducted and sold as a slave after enemies raided her village, her sister weds an affluent Englishman.


The EGX30 fell 0.2% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 926 mn (55.5% below the 90-day average). Regional investors were net buyers. The index is up 0.6% YTD.

In the green: Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (+4.8%), Juhayna (+4.2%) and Credit Agricole (+3.7%).

In the red: Telecom Egypt (-6.1%), Fawry (-3.2%) and Cleopatra Hospitals Group (-3.1%).


Foreign trade, exports and international investment in focus at IDSC-led workshop: As Egypt works to grow its exports and slash its import bills, industry players and other stakeholders have called for the government to enact certain reforms that they believe are necessary to prop up exporters and streamline their work. During a workshop discussion held earlier this month by cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC), participants suggested expanding qualifying industrial zones, reducing red tape for customs duties and increasing the Export Development Fund as some of the most important steps to strengthen Egypt’s export game. The workshop brought together lawmakers, industry experts, and business leaders for a policy discussion on how to mitigate the impact of external disruption to various Egyptian non-oil export industries. Also attending the workshop were representatives from the food, raw materials, textiles and ready-made garments and engineering, as were members of export-focused organizations and authorities.

REFRESHER- Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly tasked the IDSC last month with coming up with policy proposals on how to reduce the country’s exposure to external risks. The center is holding a number of sessions with experts on how to strengthen food and energy security, bolster supply chains, boost tourism and manufacturing, and prevent a repeat of the economic crises of 2016, 2020, and 2022. The government is aiming to increase exports to USD 100 bn a year by the middle of the decade and reduce dependency on imported products. The state has identified nine sectors to focus on, including food, textiles, pharma and metals.

Our exports at a glance: Egyptian non-oil exports rose 10% y-o-y in 2022, recording USD 35.6 bn from the USD 32.3 bn in 2021, according to figures from cabinet and the General Organization for Export and Import Control (GOEIC). This increase in exports was led by chemicals and building materials, followed by textiles and engineering products.

The Madbouly government has been working overtime to boost exports, having introduced a number of initiatives and funding programs to push industrial sectors to step into new markets. The government has also inked a number of trade agreements to enhance the presence of Egyptian products in global markets.

The state has been lending exporters a hand with subsidy arrears: The Export Development Fund has so far paid EGP 42.5 bn in overdue subsidies to 2.5k exporters under its export subsidy program, which allows exporters to receive their subsidies in a single payment rather than in installments over four to five years, in return for a haircut.

These are all positive steps, but the food and readymade garments sectors want to see more of where that came from: Edita Chairman Hani Berzi and member of the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ readymade garments and home furnishings division, Hany Salam, both voiced their support for the Export Development Fund, but called for more regular pay-outs to allow exporters to calculate the percentage of reimbursement of export burdens within their production costs.

Less red tape: Cutting down on bureaucratic procedures and expenses was also a key request made at the workshop, with Readymade Garments Export Council head Marie Louis Bishara urging the government to reduce red tape for the ready-made garment industry to export products. She suggested lowering the cost of administrative expense and customs duties on export alongside removing the number of procedures required to grant or renew industrial licenses to speed up the production process.

Industry players also want lower interest rates to unlock CAPEX: Industrial sectors should be granted low interest rate loans to help spur capital expenditure investments, Amr Fattouh, member of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce’s investors division said. Fattouh suggested offering loans at an 11% interest rate, instead of the current 18%, for “productive” industries, which he said would remove the pressure on the Egyptian manufacturing sector.

Producers need to be export-focused: With the ongoing war in Ukraine delaying supply chains and imports of grain and raw materials, Egypt has a chance to accelerate its production of natural gas and fertilizers, Fattouh said. Producers need to be encouraged to be export-focused, added Mohamed Sami, a director at the Export Council for Engineering Industries, and educated about the various support programs and agencies offered by the state aimed to help boost exports.

This will all require developing local production: Localizing production of components will reduce import costs, added head of the Trade Ministry’s Commercial Representation Sector Yahya Al Wathiq Billah. Private local fertilizer producer EverGrow agreed, with group Vice Chairman Gamal El Khashen, calling for the introduction of initiatives that will speed up the incorporation of machinery and specialized equipment needed to manufacture fertilizers in factories.

Adding Canada + Mexico to the QIZ? Magdy Tolba, board of directors chairman of T&C Garments, called for Canada and Mexico to be included in the Qualified Industrial Zones export agreement. Egypt signed the QIZ agreement with Israel and the US in 2004, allowing participating companies to no-tariff access to the US market provided they meet a minimum required amount of Israeli content. The Egyptian Federation of Investors Association voted against a request for Canada’s inclusion in 2020.

Authorities are also doing their part: GOEIC helps provide information to export companies about the most prominent products required abroad and the agreements regulating their circulation, in order to facilitate a targeted exports program, head of GOEIC’s Central Department for Exports and Origin, Dalia Shehab said. The organization also provides companies with information on how to reimburse their export burdens from the Tax Authority.

Your top industrial development stories for the week:

  • New logistics zones, factories in the SCZone: Mercedes-Benz, local shipping firm Kadmar and two Chinese companies inaugurated new logistics platforms and factories in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.
  • Military firm to construct rail parts factory: The Transport Ministry signed an MoU with military-affiliated company Lenza Egypt to build a factory producing spare parts for the Egyptian Railway Authority.
  • Germany grants EUR 6.5 mn to Ghabbour Auto, Dara’s Ice Cream to boost manufacturing jobs: The jobs investment arm of German development bank KfW will grant Dara’s Ice Cream EUR 5.5 mn towards a new EUR 13 mn ice cream factory, creating some 700 jobs. Investing For Employment (IFE) will also provide EUR 1 mn to Ghabbour Auto subsidiary Ghabbour Foundation for Development for an EUR 1.3 mn project set to create some 500 jobs in the EV sector.
  • Egyptalum could partner with Emirati aluminum producer on a new factory: The Public Enterprises Ministry has opened talks with aluminum conglomerate Emirates Global Aluminum to partner with Egyptalum to establish a new plant in Egypt.
  • Home appliances company Haier Egypt kicked off the construction of its ecological park — a 200k square meter environmentally friendly industrial complex in 10th of Ramadan — on Wednesday, the company said in a press release (pdf).



8-18 March (Wednesday-Saturday): Cirque du Soleil’s OVO, Cairo international Stadium Hall.

14-17 March (Tuesday-Friday): TISSOT UCI Track Nations Cup, Cairo International Stadium.

15 March (Wednesday): Season 3 of Ted Lasso will be out on Apple TV.

17-18 March (Friday-Saturday): K-Festival at EGYcon X, Family Park, New Cairo.

17-18 March (Friday-Saturday): My Beloved, Rawabet Art Space, Qasr El Nil, Cairo.

18 March (Saturday): Celestial Pas de Deux: Art Exhibition by Rana Chalabi @ MASQ, Maq’ad of Sultan Qaitbey, City of the Dead.

18 March (Saturday): Ali El Haggar concert, El Sawy Cultural Wheel, Zamalek.

20 March (Monday): Ahmed Ahmed Returns to Om El Donya, Ewart Memorial Hall, AUC’s Tahrir Campus.

23 March (Wednesday): First day of Ramadan (TBC). Maghreb will be at 6:08pm CLT.


16 April (Sunday): Coptic Easter

17 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

21-26 April (Friday-Wednesday): LaLiga Egypt Football Camp, Xanadu Hotel, Makadi Bay, Hurghada.

22 April (Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

25 April (Tuesday): Sinai Liberation Day.

27 April (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day (TBC).


1 May (Monday): Labor Day.

1 May (Monday): Backstreet Boys at 7pm, ZED East, New Cairo.

4 May (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Labor Day (TBC).


10 June (Saturday): Thanaweya Amma examinations begin.

28 June-2 July (Wednesday-Sunday): Eid El Adha (TBC).

30 June (Friday): June 30 Revolution Day.


18 July (Tuesday): Islamic New Year.

20 July (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Islamic New Year (TBC).

23 July (Sunday): Revolution Day.

27 July (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Revolution Day.


26 September (Tuesday): Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (TBC).

28 September (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (TBC).


6 October (Friday): Armed Forces Day.

13 October- 20 October (Friday-Friday): The sixth edition of El Gouna Film Festival (GFF).

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