Sunday, 19 December 2021

PM — PSA- It will be a windy, cold night tonight, folks.



Signs that many of you have started hibernating: A slow news day both domestically and abroad, along with the significant influx of automatic replies leads us to indicate that many of you have begun your winter breaks.

Want us to buy you breakfast in 2022? Spare a couple of minutes of your time and take our annual Enterprise Reader Poll. We’ll be inviting eight readers who take the poll to have breakfast with us early in the new year and another dozen of you will get spiffy Enterprise mugs to help you mainline your morning java.


#1 CHG board approves CI Capital’s offer price: The Cleopatra Hospitals board has green-lit CI Capital’s offer to acquire a 26% stake for EGP 5 per share, it said today in a disclosure (pdf) to the EGX. Shareholders have until next Sunday to subscribe to the Banque Misr-owned financial services company’s voluntary tender offer.

#2 eXtra is doubling down on Egypt: Saudi consumer electronics retailer eXtra setting up an Egypt subsidiary and plans to invest EGP 1 bn to expand its footprint in the country, the company said in a filing to the Saudi stock exchange today.

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

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

  • CBE leaves rates on hold in final meeting of 2021: The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) left interest rates on hold for the ninth consecutive meeting on Thursday, as policymakers weighed the possibility of sooner-than-expected US rate hikes and the economic impact of the Omicron covid variant.
  • Omicron lands in Egypt: Three Omicron cases were detected over the weekend, marking the variant’s first appearance in the country.

Sawiris exits Euronews: The Sawiris family is selling its majority 88% stake in the loss-making broadcaster to Portuguese investment firm Alpac Capital for an undisclosed sum.

PSA- Rainfall expected in Cairo tonight or early morning tomorrow: Parts of Greater Cairo, northern Upper Egypt, the Suez Canal region, and the Delta are going to be hit by gusting winds today and tomorrow that could develop into sandstorms, the national weather service predicts. Look for the mercury to plunge in tandem. Showers could begin later tonight and continue Monday and into Tuesday, the Egyptian Meteorological Authority’s Iman Shaker told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 5:06).

Alexandria appears to be the only governorate confirmed to be extending school closures for public and private schools until tomorrow, according to El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 8:07). Matrouh, Kafr El Sheikh and Beheira are all shuttering classes for today, but have yet to confirm if they’re closing schools tomorrow.

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.

What have Egyptians been Googling this year? Our love of football has put Al Ahly to the top of general searches this year, Google said in a press release (pdf) rounding up the top searches in Egypt. Top general interest searches also included high school results, corona vaccine registration (thankfully), Sherihan, Summer Olympics, our personal favorite ‘plural of milk’, Palestine flag, Chinese rocket, the Grand Renaissance Dam, and finally, Samir Ghanem — in that order.

Investment banker-turned actress Passant Shawky topped the personalities search category, with Percy Tao, Dina Dash, and Omar Marmoush rounding out the top four personalities searched this year.

Nasl Al Aghrab was the most searched TV show, followed by Al Ikhtiyar 2, Mlook Al Gadana, and Musa. Squid Game was the only non-Arabic language TV show in this category, coming in at #6.

Mangoes was a trending word in 2021, which Google attributed to the heat waves that destroyed some of the fruit’s crops this year. You can read more about how climate change impacted mango and olive crops this year in our Going Green story.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- It’s all Omicron, all the time in the global press this afternoon. The front pages have got the deteriorating global situation covered from all angles, whether that’s hard lockdown in the Netherlands (Reuters | FT), record cases and Christmas cancellations in the US (WSJ | Washington Post), triangulation in Westminster (Bloomberg | Reuters) and expectations for market volatility to close out 2021 (CNBC).

Heading to Hong Kong? Not anymore: Hong Kong will close its borders to non-resident travelers from Egypt, Morocco, New Zealand and Qatar as of this Tuesday, the HK government announced in a statement. The four countries all detected their first cases of the Omicron variant in recent days, leading to their inclusion in Hong Kong’s list of more than 70 “Group A” countries from which entry is now banned for non-residents. Residents, meanwhile, face a 21-day compulsory quarantine in a designated hotel upon return from any Group A country, and must complete a total of seven (yes, seven) covid tests.


Jury deliberations in the Theranos trial kick off tomorrow and things aren’t looking good for Elizabeth Holmes. During closing arguments on Friday, the prosecution pushed the idea that the former Theranos CEO “chose fraud over business failure” when she lied to investors about the technological capabilities of her blood-testing startup, according to NBC News.

She pled ignorance: Meanwhile, Holmes’ defense argued that her actions were in “good faith” and any business failures on her part were out of naivete — also saying that her lack of forthrightness towards investors was a way to protect “trade secrets”. Holmes is charged with nine counts of fraud and two counts of conspiracy which could lead to a conviction of up to 20 years in jail. Expect a decision in the coming days. BBC and The Guardian also have the story.

This is the first of two Theranos trials, with the trial of Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, her co-defendant and ex-boyfriend and potential fall guy, scheduled to begin in February.


Swvl and Magalix are holding a virtual fireside chat titled Stories of Women in the Tech Field on Tuesday 21 December, at 7pm. Connect to the event 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- The coldest day of winter so far is tomorrow, with the mercury falling to 15°C during the day before plunging all the way to 7°C at night, according to our favorite weather app.


What green transition? Coal burning is set to reach an all-time high this year: Global power generation from coal is expected to jump 9% in 2021 to reach a record 10.4k terawatt-hours, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its latest annual coal report. While the use of renewable and low-carbon energy sources is growing rapidly, rising demand for electricity and spiraling natural gas prices meant that coal — which is cheaper and more readily available — was left to fill the gap in 2021.

A missed wake-up call: Coal use fell in the two years prior on the back of the pandemic-induced slowdown, leading some to hope that the crisis would spur “a Great Reset” on fossil fuels. But with demand for the cheaper fuel set to reach a fresh all-time high as soon as next year, that hope is receding, along with any chance of limiting global warming to the crucial 1.5°C mark, according to the IEA.

Action fails to match ambition: China and India, which together account for two-thirds of coal demand, successfully lobbied to water down a target to abolish coal use into one to reduce it in the final agreement signed off at November’s COP26 climate summit. Both countries are set to see record coal consumption in 2021, despite net-zero emissions targets and efforts to ramp up renewables. Plans to “phase down” coal from the two consumers may be too little, too late. “Without strong and immediate actions by governments to tackle coal emissions — in a way that is fair, affordable and secure for those affected — we will have little chance, if any at all, of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

Wall Street’s biggest asset managers are pushing for more diversity in US boardrooms: private equity giant BlackRock wants US boards at its companies to aim for a minimum of two women and at least one person from an under-represented group, in its newly-released 2022 proxy voting guidelines (pdf), which also included changes in climate change reporting. Earlier this month, Goldman Sachs’ USD 2 tn manager also said that it expects all S&P 500 and FTSE 100 companies to have at least one director from an underrepresented ethnic minority group, starting March 2022.

More companies pushing for more inclusion: Many firms have been boosting diversity in their boardrooms recently as they face increased scrutiny from investors, employees and customers. The push for inclusion has extended to stock exchanges as well, with Nasdaq filing a proposal to include gender and ethnic requirements for listed companies last December. Currently, women make up 30% of all S&P 500 directors, while 21% of S&P 500 directors are either Black, Asian, or Hispanic, according to executive recruiting firm Spencer Stuart. The UK is also focusing on the topic, with regulator Financial Conduct Authority announcing a consultation on diversity at board level in July.

Egypt has been pushing gender diversity in boardrooms, too: The Financial Regulatory Authority is trying to shake up the traditionally male-dominated hierarchies of Egyptian corporations. The regulator announced new listing rules in July that would require the boards of EGX-listed firms and non-banking financial services companies to be at least 25% women. According to recent figures given by FRA head Mohamed Omran, almost 85% of EGX companies now have at least one woman on their boards.


Watch Mawdo3 3a2ely for a good time + the quirky scientists that brought the world covid-19 vaccines


(all times CLT)

Shahid’s Mawdo3 3a2ely has been all over social media — and for good reason. The show follows a reunited family that struggles to overcome years of distance and secrets. When her grandfather passes away, Sarah (played by Rana Raees) is sent to live with her estranged dad in Egypt. The catch: Sarah doesn’t know he’s her dad and her dad (played by Maged El Kedwany) doesn’t know he has a daughter. What ensues is a comedic family reunion (crazy aunts included courtesy of Samaa Ibrahim’s character Zeinab) as Sarah tries to adjust to life in Egypt, with a little help from her new friend Hassan played by the hilarious Taha El Dessouky. It’s a feel good show that will steal your heart with the amazing acting and dramatic storyline. All 10 episodes of the show have now been released and fans of the show are petitioning for a second season.

The show must go on in the English Premier League, where clubs remain adamant that the league will not be suspended despite covid outbreaks canceling five of the six games yesterday. Today’s fixture list remains (almost) intact, with only Everton’s home game against Leicester City being postponed.

Today: It’s Abu Dhabi vs. Riyadh as Man City travel to relegation-threatened Newcastle, where the Citizens will be looking to stretch their lead at the top of the table (kick off: 4pm). Chelsea will be eager to end their recent run of bad form and remain in contention for the league title when they travel to Wolves (kick off: 4pm). In the late game, Mo Salah’s Liverpool travel to London to face Antonio Conte’s resurgent Spurs side (kick off: 6:30pm).

Covid hasn’t put a dent in Serie A, with five matches taking place today. The tie of the day will take place at 9:45pm when second-placed AC Milan welcome fourth-placed Napoli to the San Siro. Elsewhere, Fiorentina will play Sassuolo at 1:30pm, Spezia meet Empoli at 4pm, Torino face Verona at 7pm, and Sampdoria play Venezia at 7pm.

In the Spanish La Liga: Real Madrid can stretch their lead at the top of the league to eight points with a victory against struggling Cadiz (kick off: 10pm). Before that, Athletic Bilbao play Real Betis at 5:15pm, and Getafe face Osasuna at 7:30pm.


Mario’s brings the shrimps, burgers, and shrimp burgers. The food truck brings together the best of seafood and burgers on their menu, with all their food proving exceptional in taste and quantity. They offer buttery toasted rolls filled with calamari, shrimp, and crab. We’re partial to their di calamari roll that comes with ranch sauce and their ravello shrimp roll topped with hot cocktail sauce and apple slaw. Their burgers are also not to be missed. We loved their maple bacon burger, while they also offer a BBQ burger called cipolla and a fried fish burger (la storia) and a spicy shrimp burger (gamberetti). Mario’s appetizers include shrimp spring rolls, mario’s fries (with caramelized onions, cheese, and a “secret” sauce), as well as cones of fried shrimp and calamari. Finally, get a sweet treat with their milkshakes all topped with whipped cream.


(all times CLT)

The opening ceremony of painter Eman Ezzat’s solo exhibition Ghazl Banat (cotton candy) is today at 6pm at Nile Art Gallery.

It’s also opening night for Ebdaa Art Gallery’s exhibition European Collectibles at 7pm, featuring art gathered from across the European continent.


The full story behind the race to develop a covid-19 vaccine: New York Times bestselling author and Wall Street Journal investigative journalist Gregory Zuckerman delves into the untold tale of the scientists that created the covid-19 vaccines that are currently the world’s lifeline against the pandemic in his book A Shot to Save the World. The unlikely scientists behind one of the modern world’s biggest scientific feats include a French businessman, a novice Turkish immigrant, an insect-obsessed Midwesterner, and a hated British scientist. Each of these individuals had spent years conducting tests on possible vaccines in their own time, but when covid-19 emerged, it was imperative that they take their life’s work and manifest it in a matter of months. Zuckerman takes us inside the scientists’ stories, the top-secret laboratories, corporate clashes, and high-stakes government negotiations that ultimately led to the global vaccine rollout.


NBK Egypt board approves EGX delisting


NBK Egypt’s board has approved plans to voluntarily delist its shares from the EGX, according to a bourse disclosure (pdf). Financial advisor Prime Capital valued the shares at EGP 20.03 and the bank will buy back shares from shareholders who want to sell their stakes.


The EGX30 fell 0.9% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 699 mn (49.3% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net buyers. The index is up 6.6% YTD.

In the green: Speed Medical (+6.7%), CIRA (+4.5%) and Fawry (+0.4%).

In the red: Orascom Development (-5.2%), MM Group (-4.0%) and Egypt-Kuwait Holding-EGP (-3.4%).


Emerging markets are walking into the new year with a lower growth outlook from S&P Global Ratings, which revised downwards its growth forecast for emerging markets by 0.1 percentage points to 3.5%. The ratings agency attributes the revision to the pandemic’s overstay and a slowdown in China for the downgrade, but maintained its long term outlook at an average of 3.1% between 2023 and 2024.

The drop was largely driven by slower growth in LatAm: Latin America — represented by Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and Mexico — saw its collective growth outlook revised downwards 0.5 percentage points to 1.9%. This is a 4.3 percentage point drop from its 2021 forecasted growth of 6.2%, with S&P attributing the drop to high inflation. Coupled with slow growth and a weak labor market, the persistent inflation will drive the region’s continued demand for fiscal stimulus measures, the ratings agency says.

The EMEA region: Growth projections for key countries in EMEA — Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey — remained unchanged at an average of 2%, falling 2 percentage points from this year’s 5.2% growth rate. S&P blamed the decline in global demand for manufactured products and commodities, the withdrawal of fiscal support and volatile financing conditions. A number of EMEA central banks have put policy tightening front and center, either through introducing them or accelerating them. But on the upside, the agency is expecting the region’s economy to see above-average growth seeing that they’re still recovering from the pandemic.

It hasn’t been a great year for emerging markets, from the Evergrande crisis in China, the expected Fed taper and most recently the Omicron covid variant, each of which triggered capital outflows. EM bonds saw heavy outflows over real estate developer China Evergrande as investors withdrew almost USD 83 bn from exchange-traded emerging-market bond funds in September in a rush to withdraw from riskier debt. The biggest fund, the USD 20 bn iShares JPMorgan USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF, saw portfolio managers withdraw USD 781 mn during the last week of September, its biggest weekly outflow in almost seven months.

Then there’s the hawkish turn at the US Federal Reserve, which last week signalled that it would raise interest rates three times next year, and end its bond-buying programme three months earlier than planned in an aggressive pivot to combat surging inflation. Rising US rates will put emerging-market debt — including Egyptian bonds and T-bills — at risk of outflows as it becomes less attractive to foreign investors, and raise borrowing costs for governments that have accumulated debts denominated in USD.

Egypt could be in a better position to cope than other EMs: Egypt’s strong foreign reserves, fast-growing economy, and a switch to longer-term maturities in recent years mean Egypt is well-placed among its peers to weather a potential storm, though its large debt servicing costs make it vulnerable to a rise in interest rates.

And along came Omicron: Analysts warned that emerging markets will likely be hit hardest if Omicron is aggressive or if new travel restrictions are widely imposed and left in place for an extended period. Already facing pressure from the Fed taper and a strengthening greenback, emerging-market currencies — particularly those exposed to energy and tourism — could come under further pressure should the global health situation continue to deteriorate, analysts told Bloomberg. The initial detection of the variant saw the MSCI EM currency index drop YTD after investors fled risk assets, and with the USD sitting at its highest since July 2020, even countries that have aggressively hiked interest rates were struggling to prevent currency losses.

These factors are already being unkind to EMs: At the end of last month, investors pulled more than USD 850 mn from emerging-market debt ETFs as the discovery of the Omicron covid variant and the decision to keep Jay Powell as Federal Reserve head for another term fueled risk-off sentiment, according to data from Bloomberg. Bond funds saw huge weekly outflows, losing USD 640.2 mn during the week. Equities weren’t spared either, seeing USD 213.9 mn of outflows. The iShare JPMorgan ETF had its worst week since the pandemic first hit in March 2020, falling 2.6% at the same time as investors pulled USD 709.5 mn.

Many EMs also saw continued upticks in inflation throughout the year on the back of rising food and fuel prices. The UN FAO Food Price Index rose for the fourth consecutive month in November, to sit at its highest level since June 2011 of 134.4. S&P believes, however, that inflation will reach its peak during 4Q2021 as higher prices weaken demand.

Although things are looking better for Egypt after its annual inflation dropped for the second month in a row from a 20-month high in November as pressure on food prices continued to ease. The headline rate fell to 5.6% last month from 6.3% in October, the lowest rate since July and within the lower end of the central bank’s target range of 5-9% for 4Q2022. On a monthly basis, consumer prices rose ever-so-slightly by 0.1%, following October’s 1.1% rise.


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

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

19 December (Sunday): Construction on bus rapid transit (BRT) stops, pedestrian bridges and tunnels on the Ring Road will begin this week.

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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