Good afternoon, everyone. The pre-Ramadan news rush is in full swing, making us very happy campers today.
THE BIG STORY at home this afternoon: Shares of Taaleem rose 6% in their EGX debut today, implying a very well-priced transaction indeed. The multi-brand higher education company’s hotly anticipated IPO marks the first real listing on the EGX since late 2019 — and sets up a string of IPOs that we hope will bring institutional investors back in from the sidelines. Next up before this year’s first IPO window closes: The IPO of cosmeceutical giant Macro and the technical listing of consumer healthcare outfit IDH. We have chapter and verse in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.
Oh, and we have news of two big M&A today, too. It’s a great day for finance nerds.
CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from this morning’s issue of EnterpriseAM:
- IMF more upbeat on global growth, says covid-end “increasingly visible.” The IMF upgraded Egypt’s growth projection for FY2021-2022 by 0.2 percentage points to 5.7%, up from its 5.5% growth forecast in January. Output is expected to accelerate to 5.8% by FY2025-2026.
- The Madbouly government delivered a primary surplus of EGP 25 bn during the first nine months of FY2020-2021, despite the economic shock of the coronavirus heaping pressure on public finances, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said yesterday.
- Covid cases are rising in Egypt again + we have an agreement to make Sinovac here at home. It’s the less popular sibling of the Sinopharm vaccine now being deployed in Egypt, but still appears to protect against 100% of “hospitalized, severe and fatal” cases of covid-19.
- Algebra Ventures doubles down on Egypt with USD 90 mn fund, with a first close expected in 3Q2021.
HAPPENING NOW- Egypt’s digitization drive just got a shot in the arm after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi this morning inaugurated a centralized records center that will use “smart technology” to help eliminate the counterfeiting of official documents, Ittihadiya said. The new facility will set nationwide standards to authenticate everything from passports to university graduation certificates and national ID cards (which will in the future be chipped). It will create databases that will include biometric data and be linked to all state bodies — and secured against cyberattacks. El Watan has more.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Depending on who you ask, it’s the end times (for the stock market) or the best of times (for the market and the global economy). Capturing the global business press’ imagination this afternoon is JPMorgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon, whose annual letter to shareholders makes the bold claim that the US economy is about to go on a two (or more) year tear. “I have little doubt that with excess savings, new stimulus savings, huge deficit spending, more QE, a new potential infrastructure bill, a successful vaccine and euphoria around the end of the pandemic, the U.S. economy will likely boom. This boom could easily run into 2023 because all the spending could extend well into 2023,” Dimon writes.
Dimon’s call tops the front pages of the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Bloomberg and CNBC. Reuters, meanwhile, is leading with General Motors CEO Mary Marra’s vision to transform her company’s “century-old business model. The goal is to become the automotive equivalent of Apple.”
On the other side of the optimism spectrum: The guy immortalized in The Big Short has deleted his Twitter account. After months of warning about bubbles in everything from stonks to crypto, Michael Burry got a visit from the SEC last month — and promptly took down his Twitter feed. Business Insider has the story here and here.
Other global stories worth knowing about this afternoon:
- A small network of Facebook and Instagram accounts in Egypt associated with a disinformation campaign “that targeted Ethiopia, Sudan, and Turkey” have been disabled as part of 14 networks in 11 countries Facebook has taken down. El Face has also dismantled accounts and pages in Iran, Albania, Spain, and Argentina. (Press release)
- There’s cautious optimism about nuclear talks with Iran after diplomats agreed to meet again in Vienna this Friday to resume talks over the 2015 nuclear agreement. (Bloomberg)
- Global renewable energy generation capacity grew 10.3% last year, according to data from the International Renewable Energy Agency, with 91% of that new energy capacity coming from solar and wind sources. But we’re still lagging behind the global average, with the Middle East accounting for only 1% of the 261 GW increase in capacity. (Report, in pdf)
Your statutorily required afternoon dose of covid news:
- France has a new entrant in the covid-19 vaccine race: VLA2001, which has reportedly proven more than 90% effective in early-stage clinical trials, manufacturer Valneva said in a press release (pdf). A third phase of trials will begin at the end of the month and the vaccine should be manufactured in Scotland, with the UK having already placed a 100 mn dose order.
- A top European regulator is poking into the quality of Sputnik trials amid allegations the trials may not have been “conducted ethically,” the Financial Times writes.
- Some folks with “long covid” report their symptoms improve after receiving covid vaccines, according to CNBC.
- “Covid passports” are the next major faultline in the “coronavirus divide” in the United States, the New York Times reports.
???? CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
The TriFactory’s Soma Bay Endurance Festival is kicking off tomorrow and will run until Saturday. The multi-sport event offers challenges including the sprint, supersprint, olympic, and the youth race.
ITIDA is hosting a “Hangout with VCs” tomorrow in collaboration with The Next Web, a unit of the Financial Times, according to a press release (pdf). Startups can submit applications until the day of the event here.
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Object of desire #1- The Tom Bihn Synik bag. The more we think about traveling (whether that’s getting back into the daily commute to the office or — please, God — hopping on a jet plane), the more we want a new bag. The Synik comes in a 22 litre and a 30 litre version, each of them with suspended internal laptop compartments, removable internal tie-down straps, a removable internal frame — and a simply perfect set of exterior organizational pockets. You can feel good buying from them, too: The firm has solid labor and environmental creds. Check out the bag here online (their site is excellent) or catch reviews in the Brooks Review or on Pack Hacker. Ships to Egypt.
Speaking of objects of desire: High-end Swiss watch brands are boosting their digital presence to boost sales hit by covid-19, launching a new all-digital Watches & Wonders event on Wednesday to show off their latest products, reports Reuters. Often hesitant to turn to the internet, these luxury watchmakers are rethinking their strategy after seeing the success of online platforms for pre-owned watches. Hermes, who was an early adopter of digital platforms, saw its watch business outperform the industry last year due to their customers already being used to shopping online. Others, including Patek, are unconvinced, with President Thierry Stern saying that when buying the expensive watches online “you lose the beauty, the magic.”
Need to geek out on watches? Or want to get into the (very expensive) passtime? Hodinkee is your starting point.
Sorry vegans, but that “oat milk” you love? It ain’t fit for humans. Unless you’re into guzzling down sugar and canola oil — both of which contribute to everything from diabetes to Alzheimer’s (the latter is literally metabolic poison), even more so when consumed together. Go read this (admittedly polemic) takedown: Oatly: The New Coke. Fool me once, shame on you…
Don’t trust Big Oil, lesson #329: You know how we’re all supposed to care about our personal carbon footprints? The idea doesn’t lack merit, but do you know where it came from? Look no further than a USD 100 mn marketing campaign by BP back in 2005 “designed to deflect responsibility for climate change away from the corporation and onto the individual consumer.” This Twitter thread is your reading list if you want to dive deeper.
Need an escape from it all? It’s coming: The cast of Friends is due back together this week to start filming a one-off reunion special. Hollywood Reporter has the lowdown.
???? ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
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The documentary Coded Bias has landed on Netflix and explores the blurring of real and imaging AI. The doc follows M.I.T. Media Lab computer scientist Joy Buolamwini, along with data scientists, mathematicians, and watchdog groups from all over the world, as they fight to expose the discrimination within algorithms now prevalent across all spheres of daily life. While conducting research on facial recognition technologies, Buolamwini made the discovery that some AI programs could not detect dark-skinned faces or classify women with accuracy, leading to the realization that the very machine-learning algorithms intended to avoid prejudice are only as unbiased as the humans and historical data programming them. Vice and First Post can’t urge you enough to go catch this documentary.
There are two matches to look out for in the Champions League tonight at 9pm: Bayern Munich will play against PSG and Porto will face off against Chelsea.
Inter Milan is going up against Sassuolo and Juventus is playing against Napoli in Serie A. Both matches will take place at 6:45pm.
In La Liga, Real Sociedad will compete with Athletic Club at 9pm.
The Egyptian Premier League has on three matches today. El Gouna is already on the field with El Gaish, while Wadi Degla will play against National Bank at 7pm and Ismaily is up versus Al Masry at 9pm.
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Pink Floyd cover band Gravy Train are performing at The Room Art Space in Garden City at 8:30pm tomorrow.
Go on a Downtown Cairo city tour on Friday with U for Urban Impact’s The Urban Week. The tour has been organized in cooperation with Gazef and participants will explore the beauty of the city’s historical buildings and its hidden gems. The tour runs from 9am-12pm.
U for Urban Impact will also be holding an “urban festival” at the Greek Campus on Friday that features music, food, and activities such as building lego houses, drawing on walls, and a global treasure hunt.
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The “master of the mesmerizing head-scratcher” Haruki Murakami strikes again with his latest book First Person Singular. The mind-bending new collection of short stories touches upon many of the writer’s passions including jazz, classical music, the Beatles, baseball, and memories of perplexing young love, all put together in a philosophical way meant to challenge the boundaries between the reader’s mind and the exterior world. In the first short story, Murakami explains what he means by the book title, with the main character writing he saw his reflection in a mirror and felt he was experiencing his life choices at a remove, as if they were dictated by a narrator embodying “a first person singular.” Check out the great review in NPR.
Still our favorite from Murakami: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.
???? TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Expect daytime highs of 31°C and nighttime lows of 13°C tomorrow, our favorite weather app tells us.