Wednesday, 21 January 2015
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY
There is an ongoing coup attempt unfolding in Yemen, with Shiite Houthi rebels seizing the presidential palace and shelling the private residence of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. (Read)
The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting gets underway today in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, The homepage for the meeting is here, and the WEF is apparently going to be a “thing” in Egypt this year given President Abdelfattah El-Sisi is attending. The president’s departure for Davos is featured prominently in the financial press this morning, and Al-Ahram is gearing up with general coverage of the event as lead item on its homepage.
LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS
Two issues featured prominently on last night’s talk shows: Events in Yemen and President Abdelfattah El-Sisi’s speech in honor of Police Day (25 January).
Khaled Abu Bakr, who held down the fort at Al Kahera Al Yawm last night in the absence of Amr Adeeb, told viewers to count their blessings for the stability in Egypt as he reported on the escalating tension in Yemen.
“If we didn’t have the army to stand by us, we would have experienced a similar situation. Egypt is indeed blessed,” said Abu Bakr.
Ibrahim Eissa agrees. “The events that we are witnessing in Yemen are proof that the Arab Spring has turned into Khamaseen. We cannot lose sight of what is happening around us in Yemen, Libya, Gaza and Syria. There are fires raging all around us posing a very serious threat to our security.”
Abu Bakr and Eissa both chose to analyze El Sisi’s Police Day speech. Eissa, who has been previously critical of some of the President’s speeches, had nothing but praise for this one.
“Calling up the children of the martyred police officers on stage and addressing them by name was an excellent move that was carried out in a very sincere manner,” said Eissa. “I’m generally not in favor of the father figure role for the President, but on this particular occasion I felt that it was very appropriate.”
[The AP, AFP and VOA all have English-language recaps of the speech. Only AFP’s piece takes note of the president’s line “…is it possible that there will be no [human rights] violations? There will be violations. But do we approve them? No.”]
CIB Chairman Hisham Ezz Al-Arab sat down with Bloomberg’s Mark Barton, Anna Edwards and Manus Cranny on “Countdown” to discuss Egypt’s economic outlook. Ezz Al-Arab stated that the main focus with recent rate cuts is to help get the economy going, and that further cuts may be witnessed in the months ahead if inflationary pressures remain low. He also stated that he fully expects to see subsidies cut over the next five years and that the upcoming Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm would help lay out Egypt’s economic vision. (Watch)
Procter & Gamble optimistic over Egypt’s economic recovery: “Within three years Egypt can be posting these numbers,” said Procter & Gamble general manager and vice president, Near East Mohamed Sultan to Reuters, in reference to GDP growth rates witnessed last decade. However, Sultan stated the return to rapid growth is predicated upon the government making business in Egypt easier for investors. (Read)
Property stocks have led the EGX back to September 2014 highs as retail investors turn to Egyptians’ favorite hedge against inflation — property — following the CBE’s surprise interest rate cut last week and devaluation this week, Bloomberg‘s Tamim Elyan notes.
ICYMI: Suzanne Mubarak sat down for a four-hour interview with Kuwaiti journalist Fajer al-Saeed last weekend to break the silence she has maintained since February 2011 on her husband and the cases against her sons, as reported by a number of news outlets. “If we had been planning to pass on power, we would have had our sons enter the military” because Egypt can be led only by “a son of the military.” (Read inThe New York Times) The pickup in Al Arabiya has additional quotes from the interview: “After the legends that have been said about me, I regretted that I did not enjoy my life as I should have given the final result was the same,” she added. (Read in Al Arabiya or in Arabic in Al Ahram. Highlights of the interview are availablehere)
The EGP weakened again at the Central Bank of Egypt’s currency auction, this time to 7.29 per dollar, Reuters reports. Al-Mal, meanwhile, continues to try to make sense of it all, with EFG Hermes Head of Research Wael Ziada doing the lion’s share of the work in a piece explaining that the devaluation shouldn’t mean we’re facing an inflation-fuelled apocalypse. Pharos’ Hani Genena joins Ziada for the poll of analysts. In rather creepier news, the CBE has reportedly ordered banks to report as of today anyone depositing more than USD 100,000 in a day or holding deposits for more than USD 1 mn at the end of each month. Oh, and if you were thinking you could expense the difference between the parallel and official rates in your books? The kind people at the Tax Authority are reminding you that’s a no-no. More on that in Banking & Finance, below.
“Egypt to ‘rebuild pyramids’ as Sisi plots economic revival” is the (apparently confusing to some Telegraph readers) headline atop an interview between Investment Minister Ashraf Salman and the Telegraph’s commodities editor. Salman hits the expected highlights in an entirely positive story: “Egypt is plotting a construction binge not seen since the Pyramids of Giza were erected with billions of dollars to be channeled into new power plants and expanding the Suez Canal as President Abdulfattah el-Sisi finally looks to modernize the economy after gaining power last summer.” Salman plugs the Sharm investment summit, the Telegraph’s late-February Middle East conference, the USD 1.5 bn eurobond, and debt repayment to BG, but the crux of the piece is his emphasis on energy and infrastructure, including plans to double generation capacity over the next decade, the introduction of coal-fired and renewable energy generation, and the New Suez Canal.
Elsewhere in the Telegraph yesterday: ‘Egypt’s shame,’ a plea from the paper’s editorial board to immediately release the jailed Al Jazeera English journalists. As you might have guessed, we’re in favor of the release of the “AJE three,” as some in the press have taken to calling them, but seriously: Who knew The Telegraph had an editorial board? (Read)
Handball diplomacy? The Egyptian national team celebrated yesterday its second victory in Group C at the Men’s Handball World Championship in Qatar, beating the Czech Republic 27:24. The news came as Qatar appeared to extend an olive branch, with the emir inviting President Abdelfattah El-Sisi to attend the championship game as his personal guest. The game is set to take place in February. (See reports in Al-Maland Ahram Online).
In other sports news, Egypt welcomed its first female football referee, Sarah Samir. (Read)
Mehleb: Gubernatorial shuffle by month’s end. Discussions with potential candidates are ongoing, and files on more than one have been shipped to the Administrative Control Authority (the state anti-corruption watchdog) for background investigations, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb said, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm. Some of the candidates, the PM noted, are even in their 40s…
The UK Foreign Office in coordination with UK Trade and Investment published yesterday a very brief summary of economic events in Egypt. The summary focuses on the situation regarding debt repayment to foreign oil and gas companies as well as M&A activity. (Read)
“Qalaa Invests in East Africa Cargo as China Builds Rail Link”: Egyptian infrastructure and energy specialists Qalaa Holdings, which runs Rift Valley Railway, the national railway of Kenya and Uganda, is investing USD 70 mn in the built-out of infrastructure to get more cargo out of the Port of Mombasa and onto rail lines rather than roads, Bloomberg reports. Qalaa is also looking at new investments in its South Sudan river transport business as comes, the wire service reports, “as construction gets underway on a [competing] USD 3.8 bn railway linking Mombasa to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, being 90 percent financed by the Export-Import Bank of China. ‘Our rates should be more competitive, even when the new railway is complete because of a lesser debt burden,’” Qalaa MD Karim Sadek is quoted as saying.
Bloomberg cites a number of economists and observers who point to political pressure being behind the Turkish central bank’s recent decision to cut its interest rates, nullifying any pretense of independence. (Read Erdogan Shadow Over Central Bank Sees Turkey Rate Cut Questioned)
Investors are snapping up eurozone debt ahead of the expected announcement tomorrow that the European Central Bank go on a significant bond buying spree even as Germany grumbles. More in the FT or the WSJ and an op-ed on Germany and its reservations in MarketWatch.
Daesh have released a video threatening to behead two Japanese hostages if the country refuses to pay a USD 200 mn ransom. The amount is identical to that pledged by Japan to assist countries fighting the terrorist state. (Read)
Halliburton, Baker Hughes to layoff workers as oil slumps: “We expect our headcount adjustments to be in line with our primary competitors,” said Halliburton’s CEO Jeffrey Miller said on a post-earnings call yesterday, as reported by Reuters. (Read)
With Stephen Colbert’s departure from his show as a precursor to taking over the Late Show with David Letterman following Letterman’s last episode in May, Comedy Central has filled Colbert’s slot with The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, which debuted last Monday night. Larry Wilmore’s show is being produced by the people behind The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Wilmore himself has appeared a number of times on Stewart’s program as their “Senior Black Correspondent.” The debut has gained largely positive response, with Wilmore’s show focused on race issues in America, an opportune time for comedy against a backdrop of the events of 2014. State of the black protest. Running time: 7 minutes 26 seconds. (Watch)
CCCPA holds three workshops for Egyptian peacekeeping forces to Democratic Republic of Congo: The Cairo Center for Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping in Africa (CCCPA) held three workshops for Egyptian forces that are set to join the UN peacekeeping missions to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, according to a statement issued by the MOFA. (Read)
Egypt-Qatar ties improving, though disagreements persist: Following up on a recent report by Reuters which states that Qatar’s emir has accepted an invitation to attend the Egypt Economic Development Conference in March, Daily News Egypt has released a brief follow-up quoting Samir Ghattas, head of the Middle East Forum for Strategic Studies, as saying the reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar relations is in an advanced stage. Likewise, Ahmed Bahei, a political analyst at Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies was quoted as saying “Both sides have taken mutual measures, and we hope the pledges taken by Qatar meet reality .. Our Qatari brothers are keen on investing [in Egypt], so there should not be any kind of discrimination,” he said. (Read)
Egypt to take participate in London meeting regarding the fight against Daesh: The UK Foreign Office says that Egypt and seven other Arab states have been invited along with 12 other countries to take part in an international meeting to coordinate efforts against Daesh. The meeting is scheduled to be held in London on Thursday. (Read)
Egypt drops sexual harassment case against Ecuador envoy: “Prosecutors in Egypt have dismissed a sexual harassment complaint against Ecuador’s ambassador because of insufficient evidence, the foreign ministry in Quito said Monday.” (Read)
Turkish FM in Qatar: Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Something is meeting with his counterpart in Doha to “put on a united front in the wake of the recent Qatari-Egyptian thaw” (whatever that means) as reported by Hurriyet Daily News. (Read)
EGYPT IN THE NEWS
Amnesty International released a report today on the state of women’s rights in Egypt titled ‘Circles of Hell: Public and state violence against women in Egypt’ (Find the pdf here) The report is already receiving media coverage; it appears the release was sent under embargo to newswires in advance, as the Reuters pickupof the report was available online shortly before the report release itself.
The New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick writes about the deteriorating medical condition of Mohamed Soltan, son of jailed Brotherhood member Salah Soltan, in ‘Photos Show American Held in Egypt Badly Bruised and Ill.’. Mohamed Soltan has been on hunger strike for the past year, and the recent photograph mentioned but not shown in the NYT piece (but which is available here) shows an emaciated Soltan with dried blood stains on his pillow. Kirkpatrick notes: “Mr. Soltan is not a member or supporter of the Brotherhood, but he is the son of a prominent figure in the group. He also volunteered as a translator for journalists covering an Islamist sit-in against the ouster of Mr. Morsi, saying he opposed the takeover as undemocratic but did not support Mr. Morsi.” The news has been picked up in international Ikhwan press outlets Middle East Monitor and Al Jazeera America.
More coverage from UAE energy conference: Bloomberg picked up President Abdelfattah El-Sisi’s remarks at the gathering in Abu Dhabi earlier this week, noting that “Egypt Plans Wind, Solar Plants With Aim as Trading Hub.” Gulf News, meanwhile, notes that Egypt has joined the UAE as the driving force behind the development of the renewable energy sector in the region.
ENERGY, RENEWABLE ENERGY & SUBSIDY REFORM
NREA will tender for 250 MW wind power, France’s EDF may be interested
The National | 20 Jan 2015
National Renewable Energy Association (NREA) chairman Mohamed El-Sobki said yesterday in the UAE that Egypt is preparing a tender for 250 MW of wind energy. The announcement, the paper notes, comes immediately after President Abdelfattah El-Sisi noted that wind will account for 2 GW of the 4.3 GW of renewable energy projects the government is looking to develop. The story quotes EDF’s vice-president for business development in MENA as saying that “Egypt is a great country of interest for us for both solar and wind. For wind, we are looking at where to come and develop, but we’re still at the early stages.” EDF is pre-qualified for solar projects in Egypt and, like Access Power MEA (also quoted in the story), it is more bullish on solar than wind power projects here. (Read)
Egypt turns to renewable energy as competitive power generation option
Platts | 20 Jan 2015
Platts has the best overview we’ve seen National Renewable Energy Association Chairman Mohamed El-Sobki’s remarks at the Abu Dhabi World Future Energy conference. While old-hat for industry participants: If you’re looking to get up to speed on the state of the government’s plan for renewables, this is the summary for you. (Read)
Emirates’ Masdar considering renewable energy projects in Egypt
Al Borsa | 21 Jan 2015
Emirati energy company Masdar is considering several renewable energy projects in Egypt, Al-Borsa reports. (Read in Arabic)
ERC to invest a further USD 2.7 bn in Mostorod refinery
Arabian Oil and Gas | 19 Jan 2015
The Egyptian Refining Company will invest a further USD 2.7 bn in its Mostorod refinery in 2015/16, the company’s commercial director is quoted as saying. Production is set to begin in 1Q2017 and aims to supply 50-60% of the domestic demand for diesel. If it goes to plan, the project should contribute to state budget savings of about USD 300 mn annually. Enterprise Notes: This is a pickup of an earlier piece in the domestic press; the investment cost for ERC remains unchanged at USD 3.7 bn or so, and all of the funding for the project is in place. (Read)
OIL & GAS
EGAS lowers its forecast for natural gas production in FY2014/15
Al Shorouk, | 20 Jan 2015
EGAS lowered its forecast for the average natural gas production for the current fiscal year to 5-5.1 tcf per day from an original 5.4 tcf per day, according to an unnamed source at the Ministry of Petroleum. The source told Al Shorouk that IOCs delayed production from their concessions in hopes of an adjustment to the purchase price paid by the Egyptian government as well as the accumulation of receivables at EGPC. (Read in Arabic)
Eni makes a new oil discovery in the Western Desert
Al Borsa | 20 Jan 2015
The Ministry of Petroleum announced that Eni has made a new oil discovery in one of its concessions in the Western Desert. The new site, located approximately 300 km west of Alexandria, is currently set to produce 2,100 barrels of oil per day and digging new wells in the area could increase production to 8,000 barrels per day by the end of 2015. (Read in Arabic)
Oil Libya’s sales in Egypt up 43% y-o-y
Al Borsa | 20 Jan 2015
Oil Libya’s sales revenues in Egypt have increased by 43% y-o-y to EGP 1 bn in 2014, 22% higher than budgeted. According to the company’s managing director, Oil Libya will inject new investments into the Egyptian market in 2015 that will include building ten new petrol stations and developing five existing ones as well as building new service stations across the country. (Read in Arabic)
BASIC MATERIALS & COMMODITIES
Egypt paid USD 526 mn for Brazilian beef imports in 2014
Al Borsa | 20 Jan 2015
Egypt’s imports of beef from Brazil grew by 15.67% y-o-y to USD 526.07 mn in 2014. Beef export to Arab countries, in general, grew significantly last year as they recorded a total value of USD 907 mn. The Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce expects beef exports to the Arab world to continue to grow in 2015. (Read in Arabic)
LG’s production in Egypt at 20% of capacity as inputs remain short
Al Mal | 20 Jan 2015
LG’s production plant in Egypt is operating at just 20% of capacity as the factory continues to suffer from a shortage of inputs, according to the group’s CEO in Egypt. A delay in processing trade finance requirements at Egyptian banks is not allowing LG to maintain a steady supply of inputs to its Tenth of Ramadan City factory. Ultimately, once operations return to normalcy, LG seeks to export 70% of its production and bring in EGP 5 bn in export revenue annually. (Read in Arabic)
Arabtec to start building 120,000 residential units February
Daily News Egypt | 18 Jan 2015
Arabtec’s 1 mn residential-unit project will commence with 120,000 units next month, according to UAE Minister of State Sultan Al-Jaber in comments to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi during the President’s visit to the UAE, as reported by Daily News Egypt. Arabtec had previously stated that construction would begin at the end of 2014. (Read)
VAT won’t impact Mobinil pricing strategy
Al-Borsa | 20 Jan 2015
The looming national switch to a value-added tax from the current sales tax system will not affect Mobinil’s pricing strategy, which is set to account for these changes, according to Mobinil’s commercial VP Ashraf Halim. (Read in Arabic)
BANKING & FINANCE
No expensing black-market FX premium; tax proceeds up 35% y-o-y so far this year
Al Mal, Al-Borsa | 20 Jan 2015
Additional costs incurred to acquire foreign currencies on the black market are not tax deductible, the Tax Authority tells Al-Mal. All expenses, except for an allowed 7%, should be documented officially or else they cannot be used to reduce the payable tax – a requirement that is naturally unavailable for black market FX transactions. Producers are becoming increasingly concerned about this and believe that their currency expenses could exceed the allowed 7% vastly. A representative of KPMG is suggesting that the Tax Authority acknowledge the black market rate, while another at PwC believes that they should create an index of market FX rates to account for the real cost. Meanwhile, Tax Authority head Mostafa Abdel Kader says tax proceeds are up by 35% compared to last year, amounting to EGP 103 bn, Al-Mal reports. (Read in Al-Mal or in Al-Borsa)
OTHER BUSINESS NEWS OF NOTE
AFD to participate in financing new bus service and a new metro phase
Al Mal | 20 Jan 2015
The French Agency for Development (AFD) agreed in principle to finance a new fast bus service in Cairo along with either the fifth or sixth phase of the metro line. The new bus project is expected to involve 800 new buses and has an initial cost of EGP 1 bn, according to the Ministry of Transport’s planning consultant. (Read in Arabic)
AHR Architects and Aggreko ready to pump investments in Egypt
Al Mal | 20 Jan 2015
Al Mal reported that at least two British companies have expressed interest to invest in Egypt. AHR Architects is ready to negotiate the terms of some construction projects in areas including the Suez Canal and the North Coast area. Aggreko is ready to pump up to USD 60 mn in investments to construct efficient power stations. (Read in Arabic)
SEBA- 85% of Saudi businesses’ problems in Egypt resolved; several Saudi firms announce plans to expand operations in Egypt
Al Ahram, Al Masry Al Youm | 20 Jan 2015
85% of the Saudi businesses’ problems in Egypt have been resolved, according to the head of the Saudi-Egyptian Businessmen Association. The resolutions were reached after direct coordination between the Ministry of Defense and the Saudi Embassy in Cairo. The only major issues that remain currently involve problems with the ministries of housing and agriculture regarding land ownership and registration and are being looked into currently. Meanwhile, Savola, Janat Agricultural, Almarai, and several other Saudi companies are planning on expanding their operations in Egypt, with collective investments of some EGP 5 bn. (Read in Arabic about the SEBA statement in Al Ahram and in Arabic regarding Saudi business expansion in Egypt in AMAY)
EGYPT POLITICS + ECONOMICS
Egypt to issue USD 1.5 bn Dollar denominated debt in April
Reuters | 19 Jan 2015
Egypt plans to issue a USD 1.5 bn Eurobond in April, marking a return to international capital markets after four years, according to an official at the Ministry of Finance. The ministry will most likely split the issue as the “intention is to create a yield curve, so we might have one tranche that is ten years, and another tranche that is different, that is on the longer end,” Hanan Salem, first deputy minister for economic and financial policies at the Ministry of Finance said. (Read)
In Police Day speech, El-Sisi says stability and prosperity trump unfettered rights to protest given the country’s circumstances
Ahram Online | 20 Jan 2015
“Take care when you are demanding your rights, take care, don’t lead us astray with you,” said President Abdel Fattah El Sisi yesterday to an audience of police officers at an early celebration of Police Day, as reported by Ahram Online. Echoing similar statements made in a recent interview with Sky News Arabia during his visit to Abu Dhabi, President El Sisi argued not only for recognition of economic rights, but has further argued for a rebalancing between them and civil and political rights, implying that the latter have not taken too much precedence over the former. “I’m not saying protesting is rejected, no, I’m just saying we have given protests a certain standing that is, appreciated, but those 90 million want to eat, drink, live and feel secure about their future,” the President said. (Read)
Ministry of Water Resources rejects project to link Congo River to Nile
Al Borsa | 20 Jan 2015
The Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation has conveyed its concerns about a proposed project to connect the Congo River with the Nile, Al Borsa reports. The issue is a matter of national security, as this would compromise Egypt’s position in negotiating with Ethiopia regarding the Renaissance Dam, according to the ministry. That aside, the ministry also believes that the project is not economically viable as a large portion of the water would be lost before reaching the Nile. (Read in Arabic)
GCC investments in Egypt won’t be impacted by oil prices – investment minister
Amwal Al Ghad | 20 Jan 2015
GCC investments in Egypt will likely not be affected by the falling oil prices due to Egypt’s regional strategic importance, according to the Minister of Investment Ashraf Salman. Salman also said that regional support is not a choice, but rather a necessity given how vital Egypt is to the region’s stability. He also expects Chinese investors to play an important role in increasing investment flows to Egypt. (Read in Arabic)
Egypt certifies 77 NGOs to monitor parliamentary elections
Ahram Online | 20 Jan 2015
Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity has given 77 NGOs certification to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections, state news agency MENA reported yesterday and as picked up by Ahram Online. Permits issued by the Supreme Elections Committee are expected to be distributed between 5 and 14 February. The registration window for national and international organizations to monitor the elections opened on 12 January and closed yesterday. The 2015 elections will take place in two stages in March and April. (Read)
ON YOUR WAY OUT
The national infrastructure buildout continues: The Red Sea inaugurated yesterday an EGP 45 mn, 6,000 m3 per day desalination plant in Safaga. (Read)
The Ministry of Social Solidarity has commissioned eFinance to deliver the ministry’s cash subsidy programme as part of the government’s subsidy reform drive. (Read in Arabic)
Minister of transport Hani Dahy met with a delegation from the China National Aero Technology Import and Export Corporation (Catic), which signed during President Abdelfattah El-Sisi’s recent visit to China an MOU that could see it rehabilitate 24,000km of roads throughout the country. Catic will service 3,000 km in one year from the start date of a contract. (Read in Arabic)
Egypt Post is looking to grow it top line by 10% and will invest in real estate and energy projects, its chairman says. (Daily News Egypt, carrying an interview that appears to have first shown up in sister publication Al-Borsa.)
A child was injured after a bomb left in front of a bank exploded in Alexandria on Monday evening, reported local website Aswat Masriya. (Read)
2015 will be a “rendezvous” of important multilateral initiatives in growth, trade, development, and climate change, according to Christine Lagarde. Lagarde expects 2015 to be a make-or-break year globally and warns that the world might get stuck in a new mediocre if new networks of influence are not given space in the architecture of global governance – what she calls a “new multilateralism.”
Larry David has said last month in an interview what everyone already knew, more or less: another season of Curb Your Enthusiasm is highly unlikely. (Read)
Eulogy for a pothole: Cairo commuters heading from East Cairo to the Ring Road using the Shaheed Corridor (a road which almost no one seems to know its actual name, and at various times is incorrectly referred to as N/A according to the urban legend that the road has no name) have probably already noticed that the infamous pothole in the middle lane hidden at the top of a steep incline has finally been filled in. Its location is right around here: 30°00’15.0”N 31°21’02.7”E.
BY THE NUMBERS
USD (CBE auction): 7.29 (+0.05)
USD (parallel market): 7.88 (down 9 pts)
EGX30 (Tuesday): 9,804.18 (+2.14%)
Turnover: EGP 923.6 mn (35% above the 90-day average)
WTI: USD 46.39 (0.00%)
Brent: USD 48.23 (+0.73%)
TASI: 8,483.6 (flat)
ADX: 4,525.8 (-0.9%)
DFM: 3,877.8 (-0.4%)
KSE: 442.2 (-0.3%)
QE: 11,862.3 (-0.2%)
MSM: 6,652.2 (-0.1%)
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