Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to a busy newsday on which to close the weekend. We hope you’ve had an awesome day — and that you can unplug from the hurly burly this weekend.
THE BIG STORY here at home today: CI Capital is going to market with the first IPO of 2021 as it offers up to 49% of education outfit Taaleem. We have chapter and verse in Speed Round, below.
THE BIG STORY in global business news right now: Microsoft wants to pin Pinterest and made a direct approach to the hobbyist-favored social media platform, the Financial Times reports in an exclusive. Pinterest isn’t yet willing to put a ring on it, signalling instead that it prefers to remain a privately held company. Pinterest has probably seen its (private market) value skyrocket to 600% during the pandemic and is now worth about USD 51 bn.
Microsoft has big appetite for M&A and has been awfully good with its picks, snapping up developer favourite Github (USD 7.5 bn) and business-focused social network LinkedIn (USD 26.2 bn) before making a failed run last year at TikTok.
ALSO: High-profile former Republicans are in talks to create an anti-Trump breakaway political party, claiming that the GOP is unwilling to stand up to former President Donald Trump, people involved in the discussions told Reuters. The group includes veterans of the Reagan, Bush I, Bush II and Trump administrations.
YOUR STATUTORILY REQUIRED afternoon covid update: The idea of a vaccination passport is gaining momentum, with Israel and Greece driving the conversation. With two-thirds of Israelis having received at least one of the two vaccination shots they need, the country wants to let its citizens travel to Greece and a handful of other “tourist-hungry” destinations, Bloomberg reports. Israel has already reached a pact with Greece where they’ll recognize each other’s vaccination records. Portugal is down with the idea, the global airline lobby IATA is testing a mobile app called Travel Pass, with the UAE’s Etihad Airways likely an early adopter.
Oh, and plenty of Americans don’t want to get a jab: One in three respondents to an AP survey said they definitely or probably won’t line up to take a covid-19 vaccination.
HAPPENING RIGHT NOW- Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is in Athens today for a meeting to discuss the situation in the EastMed, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said on Twitter. The meetings brought together the foreign ministers of Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, France, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE. Shoukry reportedly held talks with his Saudi and Bahraini counterparts on the sidelines of the meetings. The FM also had a separate sit-down with his Cypriot counterpart.
CATCH UP QUICK- The top stories from this morning’s edition of EnterprisePM:
- We’re expecting two large orders of covid vaccines to arrive by the end of the month even as new daily case reports continue to rise. Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad called last night for citizens to respect social distancing and masking rules. We have the latest in Speed Round, below.
- We seem to be entering a new commodities “supercycle” 12 years after the last one ended. Post-covid economic growth and the transition to green energy could drive appetite for agricultural produce, metals and oil.
- Car owners are getting incentives to scrap their clunkers and instead slide behind the wheel of a dual fuel vehicle after cabinet signed off on a range of incentives for private vehicle owners, taxi drivers and owners of microbuses. The Sisi administration hopes to replace 1.8 mn cars with vehicles that can run on natural gas.
*** You’re reading Issue #5 of EnterprisePM, our afternoon briefing on what’s going on in Egypt and emerging markets — and your guide to where you may want to spend your time and money tonight. You can subscribe to Enterprise by hitting the link in the nice green box below:
🗓 HAPPENING NEXT WEEK-
- Tomorrow is the deadline for folks to reach a settlement with the Tax Authority on overdue income, value-added, or real estate taxes without all the late fees.
- Students have until Monday to apply for admission to private university using the government’s new online application site. Results will be out on Saturday, 20 February.
- Wednesday will see some very cool friends of ours gather for a MENA-focused VC discussion headlined Investor Perspectives from New York to North Africa, hosted by the Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization.
PSA- Sunday is Valentine’s Day. Our dislike of this particular Hallmark Holiday notwithstanding, it might be time to make reservations if you’re among the folk who have cancelled covid and are comfortable dining out.
🚙 SOME WEEKEND READING–
The US government thinks it wants to create killer robots: “The United States should not agree to ban the use or development of autonomous weapons powered by artificial intelligence software, a government-appointed panel said in a draft report for Congress,” claiming that there is a “moral imperative” to see whether “autonomous weapons are expected to make fewer mistakes than humans do in battle, leading to reduced casualties or skirmishes caused by target misidentification.”
How could that ever go wrong? Go read Gregg Hurwitz’s chilling Prodigal Son, the latest in his Orphan X series, where the villain this time around is an AI scientist cooking up nasty weapons for the US military. Thriller hyperbole aside, it’s a thoughtful exploration about what it means to separate moral responsibility from the use of violence.
PSA- Violent video games probably won’t turn your kids into psychopaths, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be tech-proofing your kid. No app is really, truly kid safe.
SIGN OF THE TIMES- A global shortage in chips is putting pressure on everything from cars to the PS5: Demand for electronic chips rose more than 5% last year as people scrambled to buy personal computers in the early days of the pandemic and later began buying gaming consoles and other electronics, reports CNBC. With expected to grow another 8% this year, chip-reliant companies are struggling to lock in supply. The US-China trade war also dealt a hit to the industry as the US last year barred its businesses from dealing with the largest chip manufacturer in China, SMIC.
It’s not a stock bubble over in the US of A. No siree: “I am not saying sell everything. I am simply begging you to exercise some discipline and sell something because nobody ever got hurt taking a profit,” CNBC screamer Jim Cramer said yesterday.
We miss Paris just as much as we miss Rome. If you’re in the same boat, go read Mona Lisa is alone, but still smiling. The dispatch from Paris tackles how the Louvre is running a restoration and cleanup while the crowds are away, and it’s packed with gorgeous images.
Forget about Pharaoh’s (or Montezuma’s) revenge: What you eat — and how your digestive system breaks it down — has almost everything to do with whether you get diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease. We’ll be talking more about all of this in the weeks to come, but start by reading Microbial ecosystems in the mouth and gut are linked to many ills in the Economist.
Lesson #319 on How to be a [Redacted] Leader: We have an update on Lesson #318 from earlier this week: The head of KPMG in the UK has “stepped aside” while the firm investigates remarks he allegedly made on a webinar that leaked to the Financial Times. Bill Michael reportedly told staff to “stop moaning” and “stop playing the victim card” when they questioned him about potential cuts to pay, bonuses and pensions.
The red palm weevil is the instrument for this meditation on Israel’s improving relations with the Arab world. Read: The new alliance shaping the Middle East is against a tiny bug.
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
Al Ahly will play Brazil’s Palmeiras for the bronze in the FIFA Club World Cup today at 5pm CLT. The third-place playoff will be missing Hussein El Shahat and Mahmoud Kahraba, both suspended for violating covid-19 measures after they were seen shaking hands with former Al Ahly star Mohamed Aboutrika, who was in the stands for an earlier match, reports King Fut.
The FA Cup has two matches for you tonight: Wolves will be facing Southampton at 7:30pm CLT (h/t our friend Maurice F.), while Barnsley and Chelsea will hit the field at 10pm CLT. Yesterday’s matches saw Manchester City beat Swansea 3-1, Leicester City down Brighton 1-0, Sheffield United edge past Bristol City 1-0, and Everton take Tottenham 5-4.
Serie A and La Liga will pick up tomorrow while the English Premier League has matches starting Saturday.
🌮🍣EAT THIS TONIGHT-
SAHEL TO CAIRO #1- A growing number of Sahel foot startups are making it big in Cairo. The latest is Takosan (Instagram), a healthy and delicious fusion of Mexican and Japanese culinary traditions. We know, we know — it sounds weird, but it’s fantastic. Offering tacos, poké bowls and sushi burritos, Takosan was a beachside favorite last summer that has since opened two locations in the GCA, including New Cairo (Waterway) and Zayed (Palm Hills). Their signature dish is the You’re Hard to Please Poké, made with steamed rice, cubes of salmon, marinated tuna, wakame salad, shredded carrots and panko (a fancy Japanese name for breadcrumbs). You can also create your own poke bowl from a variety of excellent-quality ingredients. Not into veggies and seafood, they also have duck, chicken, and pulled beef soft-shell tacos. And yes, they deliver — contacts in their bio.
🍫 Feeling creative? Sweet tooth overpowering your urge to chow down on tacos? Try this stunning dark chocolate pudding from NYT Cooking. It comes together in just 20 minutes, but you’ll want to leave it in the refrigerator for about four hours to set. Use 70% dark chocolate from Gourmet and pour individual servings into tea cups (or lots of little espresso cups).
Tip: Fill the cups to the brim and cover each one in plastic wrap before you put them in the refrigerator — doing so will prevent the pudding from developing that nasty “skin” on the top.
🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-
You can check out The Violin Project with Amr Darwish today at 9pm CLT. Darwish and his band will be playing a collection of Arabic songs, with a twist. Venue: The Room Art Space in Garden City (Google Maps).
The opening ceremony of AUC’s exhibition “Robert Colescott – The Cairo Years'' is tonight at 7:30pm CLT at the Tahrir Cultural Center (Google Maps). The exhibit is in celebration of Black History month and will run until 31 March.
Egyptian Pink Floyd cover band AndrOmidA is playing at Sakia Culture Wheel (Google Maps) tomorrow at 8pm CLT. Their setlist includes Pink Floyd favorites, among them all three parts of Another Brick in the Wall, Comfortably Numb, and High Hopes. You can book your ticket here.
💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-
Got young kids? We’ve got your back. The Guardian is out with a list of “10 children’s books that will take kids on a journey” which sounds especially nice as covid-19 keeps them at home and needing stimulation. A personal childhood favorite of ours we found on the list: “From the Mixed-Up Case Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler” by EL Konigsburg.
🌤 YOUR WEEKEND WEATHER- It’s shaping up to be a beautiful weekend. Look for a mix of sun and cloud Friday (daytime high: 25°C) and Saturday (22*C).
NEXT WEEK- Look for a cold front to move in on Monday, sending temperatures into the low-to-mid teens well into next weekend, according to the long-range forecast. THere’s a chance of heavy winds on Wednesday (16°C) and Thursday (14°C). You’ll want to bundle up at night, because the lows will be in the single digits.