Hello, wonderful people, and welcome to a busy news day. Our Speed Round section features plenty of bold-faced names making news in everything from M&A (Elsewedy, Raya) and investment (SFE) to consumer finance (GB Auto).
MEANWHILE- We’ve completely cancelled covid in Sahel, and Cairo isn’t far behind. But that doesn’t mean the rest of the world is ready to follow suit: Belgian researchers are waving red flags in the case of a 90-year-old woman who died after having been infected with both the alpha and beta strains of the coronavirus. It raises questions about whether co-infection is the next risk, Bloomberg writes.
Either way, we can expect to need annual covid-19 jabs as is the case with the flu, according to presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tageldin, echoing warnings from western MDs.
That brings us to our first SIGN OF THE TIMES today, as the Financial Times notes that with business meetings now becoming commonplace as the pandemic cools off (for now?), the world is grappling with “disastrous collisions between shakers, bumpers and fist knockers.” Dramatic much?
HAPPENING NOW- It’s official: Cement producers will have to cut back production for 12 months starting this coming Thursday, 15 July, under a decision issued by the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA). The order is the cornerstone of a bid to cut “the oversupply glut that has plagued the sector over the past three years,” the Federation of Egyptian Industries' cement division said in a statement (pdf). The new quotas set a 10.69% baseline cut and give additional room for cuts of 2.81% per production line and more for older factories, Reuters previously reported. The proposal had been submitted by 23 industry players to “preserve market plurality” and save their businesses.
So, is your new-build home about to get more expensive? The FEI has urged cement manufacturers not to go overboard with price hikes. The news comes after some players bumped up rates last Tuesday by as much as EGP 50 per tonne, the head of the Cairo Chamber of Commerce’s building materials division Ahmed El Zeiny told Masrawy.
** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:
- Russia has finally lifted the ban on Red Sea flights after six years, with the move estimated to eventually bring in some USD 3 bn in annual tourism revenues.
- Bechtel will design Africa’s largest petrochemical complex, worth USD 7.5 bn, which is being built by the Red Sea National Refining and Petrochemicals Company in the Ain Sokhna industrial zone.
- Egypt will receive its first shipment of Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, as well as a new batch of the Oxford / AstraZeneca jab in the coming days.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD- The first pillar of the global tax pact may not be ready for lawmakers to review before spring 2022, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said, according to Reuters. The first phase of the pact is designed to “allow more countries to tax large, highly profitable multinational companies” and is now moving on a “‘slightly slower track’ than a global corporate tax of at least 15% as part of a tax agreement among 132 countries,” the newswire reports. The imposition of a global minimum corporate tax of at least 15% could come into play as soon as this year.
CLOSER TO HOME- Western enthusiasm for SPACs is waning, but that doesn’t mean blank-cheque companies are running out of steam in MENA: Shares of Dubai-based Shuaa Capital surged 15% today after the company said it is in early talks with investment banks to set up three SPACs of around USD 200 mn each to go after targets in energy, finance and tech, Bloomberg reports.
SOUND SMART- What’s a SPAC? To paraphrase the old 1980s TV ad, it’s “a question a child might ask, but not a childish question.” So don’t worry: We’ve got you covered.
SIGN OF THE TIMES #2- Goldman Sachs is wondering whether it needs to bump up salaries for junior staff. Some in the firm’s ranks are arguing they need to focus on rewarding young snowflakes for performance, but others worry that they’re being out-spent by rivals in the war for talent.
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
The EGX will hold its board elections for the 2021-2025 term on Wednesday, 14 July. Here’s a rundown of the candidates vying to fill positions.
You have four more days to visit the Cairo International Book Fair at the Egypt International Exhibition Center. The event will run through 15 July and the fair’s committee has now allowed the exhibition ground to operate at 70% capacity.
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
Space tourism’s first high-profile flight is taking place today: Virgin Galactic is sending founder Richard Branson and five other people to the edge of space, 50 miles above Earth, in a mission called Unity 22, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company’s fourth flight is being positioned as a further testament to its abilities ahead of the launch a commercial space tourism program next year, which analysts say will charge USD 400k per ticket. Virgin Galactic’s takeoff comes a week ahead of Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos’s trip to space aboard a Blue Origin flight. Branson, Bezos, and Tesla’s Elon Musk are all going full force on space tourism, which would pick up as a commercial experience for the ultra rich in the near future.
If you care more about finding a new planet than fixing the one we live on now, watch Virgin Galactic’s livestream at 4:30pm CLT on Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube. Or not, if you’d prefer not to give the rich attention-seekers more time than they deserve.
Binance traders worldwide are demanding their money back after the platform froze for an hour just as BTC and other cryptocurrencies plunged on 19 May, according to the Wall Street Journal. Users in France and Italy are looking at separate avenues to chase the company for their alleged losses. Soon after the crash, a Binance executive tweeted an apology and promised that staff would reach out to those affected. The Tweet was soon deleted. The trading platform has come under fire since then, with many countries forcing the firm to pause operations until it complies with local securities laws.
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
⚽ It’s finally here, folks: Catch England versus Italy in the Euro 2020 final, which will take place at 9pm CLT in London’s Wembley Stadium. The highly anticipated clash between the Three Lions and the Azzurri comes after both made it through a tumultuous and exciting tournament. England narrowly beat Denmark in extra time to reach the final, while Italy had to brave a nerve-wracking penalty shootout against Spain, gaining the lead in the final moment.
Both countries have a lot on the line: Despite nine previous appearances at the tournament, England have never won the Euro, while Italy took home the trophy once in 1968. The game marks England’s second-ever appearance in the final of a major global tournament, the first being the finale to their successful 1966 World Cup campaign. For Italy, victory would cap the renaissance the team has had since it failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Markets sage Mohamed El Erian has the best rundown we’ve seen of which countries in Europe are rooting for whom.
HERE AT HOME- Al Ahly is playing Misr Lel Makasa at 7pm in the Egyptian Premier League.
ALSO TODAY- The men’s singles final at Wimbledon gets underway at 3pm CLT, with Serbia’s Novak Djokovic taking on Italy’s Matteo Berrettini. Yesterday, Australian Ashleigh Barty beat Karolina Pliskova in a tough match to become the first Aussie woman to win at Wimbledon since her mentor and idol, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, won back in 1980.
Netflix Original anime Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness is bringing the popular video game to life: The miniseries follows a group of government agents who are tasked with containing a zombie outbreak in the White House — which quickly escalates into a diplomatic crisis between the US and China (seems realistic enough). Infinite Darkness takes place between the video games Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. The anime takes a new turn, choosing to treat the zombie aspect as an afterthought, delving instead into the backstories of people who created these “bio-organic weapons, making the newest addition to the Resident Evil franchise more political drama than action series.
🥐 EAT THIS TONIGHT-
Sando Haus is the ultimate fusion of flavors in Sahel this summer. Okay, we admit: We’re biased, seeing as the joint is run by our pal Nada Amin (the former Extel- and Institutional investor-ranked EFG Hermes research analyst) and her brother, Mohamed. But trust us: You’ll love it. Blending Asian inspirations from Japan and Vietnam with the best of South African meats, Sando Haus offers towering Japanese-style sandwiches and sides at Sahel’s Diplo 3 Strip. When we say fusion, we mean it: From their Tiger’s Treat featuring breaded chicken strips and mango chutney-mayo, to their King’s Katsu Sando combining beef fillet and sweet tonkatsu sauce, and pickled onions, all the way to their Vietnamese-inspired Buddha’s Banh Mi. To complement the meal, get one of their salads or fries and finish it off with Chichi bites (French toast strips). Can we just mention that we love their space’s design, with a pink and green exterior that just screams Sahel vibes? Look for Sando immediately on your right at the start of the Diplo strip after you turn off the highway.
Oh, and because our community is ridiculously small: Nada’s husband is none other than EFG Hermes analyst Yousef Husseini, with whom we had a lovely talk for last week’s Analyst of The Week feature.
🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-
An audiovisual performance and installation by Mohammed Allam, Ahmad Kubbara and Mena El Shazly will take place at 7pm as part of the de*sync film nights held by the Contemporary Image Collective (CIC).
A Sharmoofers concert is taking place in New Cairo’s Hyde Park this Thursday at 6pm. You can grab your tickets using this link.
Alaa Farghali is holding a talk and book signing for his Arabic-language novel Wadi El Dom which received the 2021 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Fiction. The event will take place at Downtown’s Consoleya coworking space tonight at 7pm.
💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-
The criminal underworld of international gold smuggling, exposed: Dirty Gold: The Rise and Fall of an International Smuggling Ring is written by Jay Weaver, Nicholas Nehamas , Jim Wyss, and Kyra Gurney and follows the true story of “the three amigos,” a Miami-based trio who built a USD 3.6 bn business through illicit trading of metals, especially illegal Peruvian gold. They were arrested in 2017, but the case brought to authorities’ attention a massive and dangerous international business that is more lucrative than cocaine trafficking. The Miami Herald journalists who covered the story present the case as well as the resulting investigations in a gripping story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- More 40°C days for Cairo ahead, but we’re not complaining too hard… We’re saving that for later in the week when the mercury will rise to 43°C. Meanwhile,
Sahel has 32°C weather to offer, our favorite weather app tells us.