Monday, 26 January 2015

EGAS awards USD 2.2 bn LNG tender. MoP sees oil at USD 80 in FY15-16. Mall of Egypt to open 1Q16. Putin visit and IMF Art IV release both slated for Feb. Enterprise is presented by: The Egyptian Tourism Investment Briefing & Sahl Hasheesh

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

After a long-weekend spent preoccupied by the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and events surrounding the 25 January anniversary, we expect the domestic and international press to focus again today on fallout before turning back to quotidian business and economic news by tomorrow. Among the issues likely to soon be in the headlines:

  • A meeting is set to take place today among some of Egypt’s non-Islamist political parties to determine if they will participate in upcoming parliamentary elections following recent events, including the death of socialist activist Shaimaa El-Sabbagh.
  • How low will the Egyptian pound fall against the US dollar before hitting a market-clearing rate?
  • Where is the proposed Value-Added Tax?
  • Reassurances as to the health of the Saudi-Egyptian relationship under King Salman
  • Are we really facing 75 days before the next national holiday?

LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The events of the past two days were the main focus of discussion on last night’s talk shows.

Amr Adeeb received a call-in from the head of the Tahrir newspaper who discussed yesterday’s clashes, and suggested that an amnesty for prisoners would only embolden the Brotherhood to further street action.

Later in the program, they received a call-in from a general in the security services who floated the idea that seized Brotherhood assets should be used to repair damages incurred by Brotherhood protests. He also pointed out that Al Jazeera has returned to their negative coverage of Egypt. Adeeb concurred that, yes indeed, Al Jazeera was back to its old ways and suggested that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to speak out against this violation of the Riyadh agreement. The general speculated that they likely sought to take advantage of the passing of King Abdullah, but that he also believed that King Salman would not stand for further Qatari intransigence.

Adeeb moved on to make his brief and almost-nightly criticism of what he perceives as the lack of promotion of the Egypt Economic Development Conference in March.

“Where’s the movie? I was promised I would receive it on the 18th,” Adeeb asked, in what seems is a reference to a short film detailing the preparations taken for the conference. His co-host Khaled Abu Bakr implored “someone to tell the Investment Minister” and reiterated questions about what’s going on with the website, although Adeeb conceded to finally having seen the site.

Enterprise sidebar: Someone needs to tell Abu Bakr to stop interrupting Amr Adeeb every time Adeeb is trying to make a point. Abu Bakr is slightly reminiscent of Donny from the Big Lebowski in this respect. Abu Bakr later helpfully suggested that Egyptians should report their neighbors to their authorities for anything they deem suspicious.

Adeeb closed out the latter segment of his program by interviewing Azhar professor Dr. Saad el Din Hilalyon religious issues, such as the settling of debts before embarking on the religious pilgrimage to Mecca. Definitely a topical / relevant note on which to close a show covering a weekend that has seen the death of King Abdullah and the anniversary of 25 January.

Lamees El Hadidy on CBC Egypt began her program with an eight-screen split screen view on different areas of Egypt, noting that all areas reported calm except for Matariya and Ain Shams. She stated that at the time of broadcast, 18 had been reported killed in protests and clashes, including three police officers. Hadidy implored the state to stay one step ahead of such violence, saying that the Brotherhood seek high death counts in street demonstrations to serve up to the foreign press.

Hadidy showed video footage of a protester firing gun as well as other footage from today’s protests, including a bombed out taxi and a metro car which was set on fire in Alexandria. Hadidy lambasted bystanders who simply stood around filming the fire on their phones with no one trying to intervene to put the fire out until firefighters arrived. She noted with disconcert that this seems to be an emerging trend in Egypt, where people only think to take selfies in disasters with no thought of trying to help.

Hadidy then received a call-in from Diaa Rashwan, head of the Journalist’s Syndicate, and asked him if he knew if there was any truth to a tweet by BBC correspondent Orla Guerin that stated: “In Ain Shams where police searching for brotherhood protesters. Cop in plain clothes says if we keep filming we will be shot. #Cairo,” and which at the time of writing has been retweeted c.1,400 times. He said that he was uncertain but that the matter was being investigated.

In the latter segment of her program, Hadidy hosted a panel of three politicians / activists to ask them about the readiness of Egypt’s political parties to participate in upcoming elections. Her panel consisted of Ahmed Bahaa El Din Shaaban, head of the Socialist Party of Egypt and a founding member of the Kefaya movement; Amira al-Adly, representative of the Free Egyptians Party; and Shaheer Ishaq, member of the Egypt Freedom Party and son of politician and activist George Ishaq, who was also a founding member of Kefaya.

In response to Hadidy’s question as to why non-Islamist parties have been unable to unify ahead of elections, Bahaa El Din replied that the new system favors individuals over party lists, and that youth and Christians will not be well represented in the new parliament.

Amira al-Adly took issue with the oft-repeated criticism of non-Islamist parties for their aloofness from the general public, and detailed an FEP initiative loosely translated as “Your right is your right” which went down to the street level to educate citizens about the social safety net.

Shaheer Ishaq responded that of course political parties have weak followings and are in disarray as he said that the message being sent to youth is that their participation in politics is unwelcome in light of people being arrested for photographing the Cairo Tower or for talking about politics in cafés.

“How dare they photograph the Cairo Tower?” Hadidy joked.

SPEED ROUND

Economic growth in FY2014/15 could come in “easily north of 4 percent,” Minister of Finance Hany Dimian told Reuters in Davos. He added “the signals for Q2 are also positive. That is why … we’re revising our growth rate from 3.8 percent, which was published in March 2014, and we’re going to be easily north of 4 percent.” Dimian refused to comment on the EGP’s devaluation saying it was “for the central bank to manage.” As we previously reported, Al Borsa carried a piece suggesting 2Q14/15 growth was 5.7% — significantly higher than expected.

Don’t expect the IMF’s Article IV report on Egypt before February. William Murray, the Deputy Spokesperson of the Communications Department at the IMF, said on Thursday “the Executive Board will take up the staff report for Egypt on January 28. The typical process is that it takes a while for the Board’s views on a specific country to be distilled, the discussion of the country, and it will potentially be published sometime after that date. But I do not have a specific publication date or guidance on when the Egypt staff report will be published.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Cairo 9-10 February, according to Al Mal.

Egypt is resuming talks with the Iraqi government to import a monthly quantity of around 4 mn barrels of crude oil, following an earlier breakdown in negotiations after Egypt’s request to swap Gulf War-related debt repayments with oil was rejected by the Iraqi government. (Read in Arabic)

Did the Sisi administration just set a target unemployment rate? Al-Borsa quotes the president as having said in Davos that Egypt will look to reduce unemployment to 10% by 2020 while simultaneously channeling some of the savings from subsidy reform to low-income earners and the poor, as noted in our summary of his speech below. The target is significant, but so, too, is the fact that the subsidy reform angle is now presented as a “basic fact” in the local press. See more on the president’s speech in Davos, below, or view it yourself (in Arabic, with English translation voiceover available).

End-game for Al-Jazeera English journalists as El-Sisi looks set to step in? On a one-on-one with Bloomberg, President Abdelfattah El-Sisi said on Thursday, “We are very keen on sorting this out and getting it finished as soon as possible. … We are trying very hard to find a way out within the legal framework and respect the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. … I wouldn’t have wished for any personnel from the media or journalism to be standing in a court in Egypt, but I was not in office at that time. Had it been I in office at the time, I would have just sent those reporters home, not detained any of them.” One hitch: The interview was given before the apparent postponement of 25 January prisoner amnesty (see below).

Gamal and Alaa still in the clink? Gamal and Alaa Mubarak were reported by state media to have left prison early on Friday morning, having served the maximum time in pre-trial detention as they now await a court-ordered re-trial on corruption charges alongside their father. (See Ahram Online and the Financial Times for examples of the coverage that ensued.) Late yesterday (Sunday) came news that their release was delayed by security officials to avoid riling the public on 25 January, Al-Arabiya reports.

Also still in jail: Dozens of youth, activists and others the administration had suggested last week might be released and / or have their sentences commuted in a 25 January amnesty. Only individuals with no pending cases or appeals would have been eligible for release, the local press reported. Word among the talking heads yesterday was that the amnesty was postponed as a result of the mourning period for the late Saudi King Abdullah.

And speaking of the FT: The paper had a piece over the weekend based on an interview with one-time soft-Islamist presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh claiming he can’t even rent a hotel ballroom without the reservation being cancelled, let alone consider fielding a candidate in the upcoming House of Representatives elections. See Borzou Daragahi’s piece here. (And, yes, after 15 years of writing “People’s Assembly” in one language or another, it’s going to take some time to call the, uhm, gathering of learned gentlemen the “House of Representatives.”)

Qalaa founder and chairman Ahmed Heikal gets a nod in a long, largely enthusiastic Economist take on private equity in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the newspaper notes that debt is often scarce and large assets frequently need to be cobbled together in roll-ups. The piece notes Heikal saying that the standard five-year (or so) holding period for private equity investors isn’t necessarily the best-suited to Africa, hence the company’s move to a “15-20 year planning horizon.” Heikal also made the World Economic Forum’s blogduring the Davos gathering a piece headlined “What do falling oil prices mean for Egypt?” that makes acompelling case for investment in solar energy and the promotion of energy efficiency (and market prices).

Doctors Syndicate calls for Health Ministry to regulate Abraaj Capital: The syndicate is calling on the Health Ministry to step in and begin regulating the activities of the private equity giant, which has been on a buying spree of late in the nation’s under-funded healthcare sector, Egypt Independent says in a translation of a piece that originally appeared in parent publication Al-Masry Al-Youm.

The Egyptian Mortgage Financial Fund is about to disburse the World Bank-funded third tranche worth USD 100 mn in March, according to remarks by its chairman May Abdel Hamid said to Amwal Al Ghad on Thursday. The entire loan is worth USD 300 mn and aims to help provide mortgage financing to low and middle income residents. The article notes that the trance will be available for those taking advantage of the million-units housing project. (Read in Zawya and visit the World Bank’s project pagehere)

Qatar-based Egyptian cleric / demagogue Qaradawi tweeted a short video of himself yesterday inciting Egyptians to take to the streets in protest. (Read)

The Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority agreed to amend Pioneers Holdings bid for Arab Dairy to EGP 61.75 per share, 2.07% higher than Lactalis’ bid of EGP 60.50, according to Al Ahram.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry leads the Egyptian delegation to the African Union summit in Addis Ababa today. The gathering is being held this year under the banner “Advancement and Empowerment of Women,” reports Al-Ahram.

FT to (hedge) fund managers: Go learn how to program or find a new job. The newspaper’s hedge fund correspondent interviews the head of a computer-based trading shop to argue that “Human investment managers risk obsolescence“ after algorithms allegedly began to outperform humans in 2014. Time to go read “AI has arrived, and that really bothers the world’s brightest minds” in Wired.

Economist business editor Zanny Minton Beddoes tapped for top job: Minton Beddoes is the first woman to lead the publication, having previously served as the Economist’s economics editor and, in a previous life, as an economist at the IMF. Poynter has the incredibly short press release on the appointment,FT has a take on Minton Beddoes and the newspaper she inherits, and one of her competitors for the top job talks about the process here in Quartz.

Does it really matter whether Saudi’s oil policy remains unchanged by Abdullah’s death? Saudi Arabia looks content to sit on its massive oil reserves and low production prices to keep pumping even with prices down 55% from last June, the WSJ reports. Tying the change in strategy to the “U.S. oil boom,” the paper quotes a strategist as noting, “They need to make sure they have enough market share for not just tomorrow but 2040 and 2060 and beyond to ensure longevity.” Read this alongside Pulitzer Prize winning author and energy consultant Daniel Yergin’s take in the New York Times, where he argues that the United States has resumed its pre-1970s position as the world’s “swing producer” after Saudi Arabia effectively abandoned the role at the 27 November 27 OPEC meeting in Vienna. Seen in that light, he says, it’s increasingly less important whether Saudi cuts production.

Algeria backtracks on shale gas plans: The AP is reporting that Algeria’s prime minister on Thursday in a television interview that shale was not a priority given that conventional reserves will last them for the a number of years. Rare protests were witnessed in the Ain Salah region where shale gas was to be exploited. (Read)

Leftist and anti-austerity party Syriza is projected to win elections in Greece at the time of writing as 75% of the votes have been tallied, in a vote seen as something of a referendum on how to deal with Greek debt and bailout. The election victory is likely to be on the agenda of today’s meeting between Eurozone finance ministers. (Read)

CORRECTIONS: In Thursday’s issue, we failed to include our link to a segment of a CNBC interview with Abraaj Group partner Mustafa Abdel Wadood regarding his take on what he anticipated from President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s speech at Davos. We regret the omission and in its place, please find from the same interview Abdel Wadood’s remarks in response to the question: ‘Is it time to invest in Egypt?’ (Watch)

In addition, the link to a MERIP piece was mistakenly repeated in place of Egypt’s Long Walk to Despotism, by Amro Ali for TIMEP (Read)

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Assad has now outlasted 2 Egyptian presidents, 2 Yemeni ones, Ben Ali, Gadhafi, Maliki, Qatar’s Emir & the Saudi king since the Arab Spring.” — Liz Sly, Washington Post bureau chief in Beirut, via Twitter.

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A MESSAGE FROM the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference and Sahl Hasheesh:
The organizers of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference are delighted to announce the first Egyptian Tourism Investment Briefing hosted by Sahl Hasheesh in Cairo on 25 February. ETIB is a high-level, invitation-only event which will bring together a select group of leading investors, developers, government officials and financiers to gain investment insights into Egypt’s steadily recovering tourism sector. Among the confirmed speakers to-date, Maha El Shalkamy (Senior Consultant, Egyptian Ministry of Finance, and Associate Professor of Economics, American University of Cairo) will be addressing “How the economy will shape new investments and defining the macro-economic outlook for Egypt?” Meanwhile, Ben Martin Principal (Head of Economics, AECOM) will join Fillipo Sona (Director-Head of Hotels (MENA) of Colliers international) and Philip Wooller (STR Global) to offer insight into “Renovation and reinvention, shedding light on the current state of the Egyptian hotel and resort industries and looking at the hotel performance patterns over the years, and exploring what the data tell us about the current investment opportunities.” Further information, including the full agenda and list speakers, is available on the ETIB website.

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El-SISI’S DAVOS SPEECH

The President’s speech can roughly be sorted into four parts, with some overlap: the global nature of the fight against terrorism; progress made on political and economic reforms and Egypt’s targeted goals for 2020 and a brief outline of the national projects being pursued; Egypt’s developmental challenges and views on regional issues; and the brief Q&A session.

President El Sisi opened by stating that the challenges Egypt faces are “extremely present” and are a large burden on Egyptians. He said the world is struggling against a terror that views us all as one enemy, and that attacks in Canada, France, Nigeria, and Lebanon, among others, should be viewed as being committed by constituent parts of a greater whole, regardless of the different names under which terror operates. He stated that Islam is a religion which values tolerance, and that Muslims should seek reform so that a violent minority are not able to undermine the past, present and future of Islam. He also said that the entire world should endeavor to respect diversity and beliefs, and avoid offending each other in order to prevent terrorists from exploiting these differences in opinion.

With regard to progress on the domestic front, the President noted that Egypt is in the last leg of completing its political roadmap, and that the social contract as articulated in the constitution seeks to enshrine the rights, freedoms and duties of all citizens regardless of gender or religious belief. He stated that in order to meet the demands of two revolutions, Egypt needs investment and the government has accordingly been working to removing obstacles to such development. He cited progress on the unified investment law and simplified procedures of the one-stop-shop, the passing of the new mineral resources law, and the settlement of arrears to foreign energy companies. He stressed that Egypt will pursue legislation for transparency and enforce the rule of law. He said the government’s targets for 2020 for economic growth and unemployment were 7% and less than 10%, respectively. He extended an invitation to all the delegates present to attend the Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm, and reviewed the projects open for investment, including the second phase of the Suez expansion which will focus on logistics services to be offered to ships in transit, as well as the first phase of the million-feddans project. He also asserted that no country can achieve economic development cut off from the world.

The final part of his speech before fielding questions from the moderator touched upon Egypt’s domestic and international obligations regarding development and keeping itself open to the world, and that Egypt is seeking to address its development gap with regard to poverty and unemployment. Briefly touching upon regional conflicts, he recalled President Sadat’s role in strengthening peace in the region when he reiterated the position of the Arab world that the an independent Palestinian state with pre-1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital will bring forth a new era of regional stability. He also urged that political solutions be found to the conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen among others.

In the brief Q&A session that followed, the main question of concern expressed by the moderator was for President El Sisi to clarify his remarks made at his address to Al Azhar calling for a “religious revolution.” The President stated that terrorism over the past few decades means that Muslims have to stop, think and remove from religious discourse that which leads to violence. He clarified that he is referring to discourse and not beliefs as those are immutable. “No one can monopolize the truth.”

The president also gave the keynote address at a special dinner on Egypt held Thursday night; the session was not open to the media, but was to have focused on Egypt’s economic priorities through 2020 and what the international private sector could do to help.

25 JANUARY 2015

As noted in Last Night’s Talk Shows (above), at least 18 people are reported as having been killed yesterday, most of them Brotherhood or associated protesters in the Matariya district. Three of the deaths were terrorists who died when the bombs they were trying to set blew up. Three other deaths were police officers. Tahrir Square was closed off ahead of protests by the military.

However, as noted by both the foreign press and anecdotally among many ordinary citizens, equal if not greater attention was placed on the killing of two young women in separate incidents the day before: socialist activist Shaimaa El-Sabbagh in Cairo and high school student Sondos Reda Abu Bakr in Alexandria.

The killing of El-Sabbagh in particular stoked a great deal of outrage given that by numerous eyewitness accounts, the protest organized by the Socialist Popular Alliance Party was small and peaceful and that police response was disproportionate and provoked by the chants of those marching. El-Sabbagh, a mother of a five-year old boy, had travelled from her native Alexandria to attend the march. The party placed the blame for her death squarely on the shoulders of the police during a press conference they held yesterday with Al Dostour Party’s headquarters. Several eyewitnesses to the shootings have now been treated as suspects themselves, according to a report by Daily News Egypt. Coverage on the killing of Shaimaa El-Sabbagh can be found inTime Magazine, The New York Times, Salon, France’s Le Figaro, Canada’s CTV News, the UK’s Mirror, Metroand Daily Mail, as well as a single photograph of her following being shot on Reddit with 2,000+ comments.

KING ABDULLAH BIN ABDUL-AZIZ (1924-2015)

The passing of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz prompted an international outpouring of both condolences and respect, controversy over the true nature of his legacy, and speculation as to what the succession will mean for Saudi Arabia and its role in the region and world affairs. Celebrations to mark 25 January were cancelled in Egypt following the announcement of a period of seven days of national mourning. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi was unable to attend the funeral personally due to inclement weather in Switzerland and delegated Prime Minister Mehleb to attend the event in his place, according to a statement from Ittihadiya. El-Sisi joined other world leaders in arriving the following day.

Saudi political analyst Fahad Nazer provides a balanced account of the late King Abdullah’s reign in CNN International: ‘For Saudis, Abdullah redefined what it means to be king.’ (Read)

King Abdullah is succeeded by his half-brother King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. A slightly jarring and unconfirmed assessment of the transition behind the scenes may be found in ‘A Saudi Palace Coup‘ by David Hearst, who is controversial in some quarters in Saudi for earlier critical writings on the Kingdom, including a stern rebuke published by the Saudi Ambassador to the UK Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud.

Issues surrounding the health and succession strategies of other regional leaders is detailed in the WSJ’s ‘Aging of Gulf Leaders Poses Risk of More Regional Instability.’ (Read)

WHAT YOU CLICKED ON LAST WEEK

The five most-clicked links in Enterprise during the week of 18 January 2015 were:

  • President Abdelfattah El-Sisi speaking in Davos (video) (Arabic, English overdub available)
  • Speakers list for the Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm (Egypt The Future)
  • Corporate B.S. generator (website)
  • Best snippet of Obama’s State of the Union address (YouTube)
  • EGP to fall to 7.50 to the dollar by March, 7.75-8.00 by year’s end (Al-Mal) (tie)
  • IMF revises world economic growth forecast downward 0.3 points (IMF) (tie)

WORTH READING

An excellent piece on regional crises, as well as the context that ties them all together, is found in Yemen’s Houthis are a reminder of Iran’s sectarian agenda in the Arab world by Bobby Ghosh for Quartz, although it’s take partially flies in the face of allegations made regarding the struggle in Yemen by David Hearst in his ‘A Saudi Palace Coup’ piece referenced above. From the Quartz article: “On the same day that US president Barack Obama warned Congress not to push for more sanctions against Iran, the regime in Tehran demonstrated why its threat to the world is not limited to nuclear weapons. The Houthi insurgents who have run amok in the Yemeni capital Sana’a have been backed with weapons, money, and training by Iran.” (Read)

WORTH WATCHING

A short, interesting discussion with Masood Ahmed, the IMF’s Director of Middle East and Central Asia Department, on the falling oil prices and their impact on MENA countries. (Arabic subtitles – total running time 05:22)

If you need a brief reprieve from reading about murder and mayhem, here are two videos for your consideration:

A rendition of the Beastie Boys by the Muppets, with very well-synchronized lip-synching. Running time: 1:01. (Watch)

The only redeemable aspect of the Star Wars prequel trilogy from a design point of view were the destroyer droids that could transform from robots into rolling spheres. Someone’s built a transforming hexapod robot with a very similar design. (You may want to turn the volume down a bit before it starts. Watch his first iteration of the robot, and his upgraded model)

ENERGY, RENEWABLE ENERGY & SUBSIDY REFORM

Ministry of Electricity to 10 GW in total electricity projects at Sharm summit
Al Borsa | 26 Jan 2015
A high-level source at the Ministry of Electricity tells Al-Borsa that the MOE is planning to offer 10,000 MW in projects divided between renewable and traditional energy during the upcoming Sharm economic summit for implementation through 2017. (Read in Arabic)

Three companies bidding to build a power plant for ETHYDCO
Al Mal | 22 Jan 2015
Three international companies have submitted bids to build a 30 MW power plant for the Egyptian Ethylene and Derivatives Company (ETHYDCO). The applicants so far are General Electric, Siemens, and Hitachi and the total cost of the project is expected to come at USD 35 mn, which will be financed internally. (Read in Arabic)

400 investors, 100 energy experts in Cairo on 17 February
Ahram | 26 Jan 2015
Under the auspices of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Al-Ahram will be organizing an energy conference titled “The future of Energy in Egypt: Visions and Immediate Solutions.” The conference is expected to be attended by 400 investors and 100 energy experts, both foreign and local. (Read in Arabic)

OIL & GAS

EGAS awards USD 2.2 bn tender for LNG imports to four unnamed companies, 48 shipments in 2015
Al Mal, Al Ahram | 25 Jan 2015
In a USD 2.2 bn deal, EGAS has announced the winners of a tender to export gas to Egypt. Four companies, that are yet to be named, will supply Egypt with 75 shipments spread over four monthly shipments for two years from March. EGAS has informed the companies with the winning bids who will supply gas along with the deals penned with Sonatrach and Gazprom. Al Ahram reports that the Ministry of Petroleum has already informed the Ministry of Finance about its needs for FY2015/16 that include 48 shipments of LNG at an estimated cost of USD 1.2 bn. (Read in Arabic and here)

Ministry of Petroleum forecasts oil at USD 80 per barrel in FY2015/16
Al Borsa | 22 Jan 2015
The Ministry of Petroleum said that the FY2015/16 budget will forecast oil at USD 80 per barrel. FY2014/15 budget’s oil price assumption was set at USD 105 per barrel and prices now are below USD 50 per barrel. However, the Minister of Petroleum downplayed the ministry’s ability make use of this price drop and buy extra quantities of oil because of the shortage of foreign currency. (Read in Arabic)

Importing 13 LNG shipments will cost minimum of USD 325 mn
Al Mal | 21 Jan 2015
An official at the Ministry of Petroleum said that the cost of importing 13 LNG shipments will cost the ministry USD 325 mn at least, at an average cost of USD 25 mn per shipment. So far, the ministry has penned agreements with Russia’s Gazprom and Algeria’s Sonatrach with the former supplying seven shipments and the latter six. (Read in Arabic)

Three new E&P agreements signed with Total and HBS Oil
Al Borsa | 22 Jan 2015
The Ministry of Petroleum announced the signing of three E&P agreements with France’s Total and Tunisia HBS Oil. The agreements are for sites in the Western Desert and the Nile Delta. HBS signed two agreement with EGPC for operations in south-west Al Alamein and north Ghazalat in the Western Desert. Total’s agreement is with EGAS and involves a USD 20 mn investment in the Nile Delta. (Read in Arabic)

MANUFACTURING

Oriental Weavers to invest EGP 120 mn in 2015
Al Mal | 22 Jan 2015
Oriental Weavers is planning to invest EGP 120 mn to expand its operations in 2015. The company will buy 11 new looms from Belgium at an estimated cost of EGP 90 mn. Also planned is an expansion on the retail side through adding eight new outlets. In the long term, Oriental Weavers will build two new factories in the Tenth of Ramadan City with one expected to begin production in 2017 and the other in 2020. (Read in Arabic)

HEALTHCARE

EIPICO allocates EGP 65 mn to upgrade its Tenth of Ramadan plant
Al Mal | 22 Jan 2015
The Egyptian International Pharmaceutical Industry Company (EIPICO) is earmarking EGP 65 mn to upgrade and develop its plant in the Tenth of Ramadan city. Implementing the expansion plans will begin after the company receives the health ministry’s approval to produce the Hepatitis-C drug Sovaldi and following the approval of EIPICO’s general assembly. (Read in Arabic)

REAL ESTATE

MAF Group to open Mall of Egypt shopping center in 1Q16, expects cheaper oil to increase revenues in Egypt and looks to Maadi City Center expansion
Al Borsa, Al Mal | 24-25 Jan 2015
The Mall of Egypt shopping center in Sixth of October is set to open by 1Q16, according to Majid Al Futtaim Group CEO Iyad Malas. At Davos, Malas said that the situation has rebounded to the point where it’s better than before 2011 as MAF aims to double its sales every five years. MAF also expects that the drop in oil prices will be reflected in higher retail sales revenues in Egypt. The company plans to invest some EGP 17.9 bn in Egypt over the coming five years, including EGP 4.9 bn for the Mall of Egypt, EGP 3.9 bn on three-year expansion of City Center Maadi starting 2Q / 3Q15, and EGP 3.2 bn on a new City Center Almaza. The Mall of Egypt will include the first indoor ski hill in Africa. (Read in Arabic and here, in English here or check out the very cursory overview of the Mall of Egypt on the MAF website here)

CityStars parent Golden Pyramids Plaza eyes USD 400 mn bond
Al-Mal | 25 Jan 2015
CIB and aw firm Baker & McKenzie are advising Gold Pyramids Plaza on a USD 400 mn bond issuance split over three tranches (a USD 280 mn first offering, followed by two USD 60 mn tranches) to refinance bank debt, Al-Mal reports. (Read in Arabic)

TRANSPORTATION

China’s CATIC is looking to sell equipment, not maintain Egypt’s roads
Al-Mal | 25 Jan 2015
Contrary to reports quoting Transport Minister Hani Dahy last week, officials from China’s CATIC were not in town to ink a deal to help maintain some 3,000 km of roads and highways in Egypt, according to the head of the National Authority for Roads, Bridges and Tunnels. Instead, CATIC is looking for equipment sale contracts. (Read in Arabic)

EGYPT POLITICS + ECONOMICS

Delegation of 80 Italian companies to visit Egypt in February
Al Mal | 25 Jan 2015
A delegation that includes 80 Italian companies will visit Egypt from 22-24 February to assess investment opportunities, according to Egypt’s Ambassador to Italy. The companies represented in the delegation operate in oil and gas, energy, petrochemicals, and manufacturing. Carlo Calenda, the Italian Deputy Minister for Economic Development, will head the delegation. (Read in Arabic)

Sharm El Sheikh Economic Forum is gaining support from GCC countries
Al Mal, Al-Borsa | 24-25 Jan 2015
In his most recent interview with Khairy Ramadan on CBC, Sultan Al Jaber noted that Egypt possesses abundant opportunities for growth and development. Al Jaber believes that the steps that the government is currently taking in ameliorating the investment climate in the country, and as well modifying the regulatory framework, will definitely strengthen its case during the Sharm El Sheikh Economic Forum. Al-Jaber stressed that the UAE is fully supporting Egypt, and that the Forum is expected to drive the country on the right path towards progress. Al-Jaber carried with him the same message during a sit down with some of the organizing members of the Forum. Ahmed Darwish the General Secretary of the Saudi Egyptian Businessmen Association, noted that Saudi Arabia also is highly supportive of the Forum and will be sending over 1,000delegates combining Saudi Investors, as well as major companies.

REGIONAL

Israel is on Maersk Drilling’s radar, targets Leviathan contracts
Globes | 21 Jan 2015
Maersk Drilling is targeting Leviathan contracts, despite the possibility the Israeli government may make “things difficult,” according to the company’s commercial director, Jonas Bjork. “I already know that I have a rig in Egypt that will become available in 2016, and we are looking for what to do with it going forward,” Bjork said, noting the close proximity to the Leviathan fields. Bjork is also undeterred by any security threats noting Maersk operates “in stormy weather, and we have no problem working in a stormy political environment.”  (Read)

Total likely to abandon Cyprus oil and gas search
Reuters | 21 Jan 2015
France’s Total is likely to abandon its oil and gas exploration off the coast of Cyprus after failing to find tangible evidence of reserves, according to the Cypriot energy minister. “The company informed us some months ago that it was having difficulty finding any structures, targets, in the blocks it had a license for … and they informed us last September they had not found any target to drill,” the minister told Cypriot radio. Total completed surveys on Blocks 10 and 11 without finding any drilling targets. Eni had failed to find gas last year and is new drilling at different sites; on the other hand, Noble found gas in its sites. (Read)

ON YOUR WAY OUT

An international team of archeologists will be assigned by the International Council of Museums, to fix the epoxy-ridden beard of King Tut, Al-Ahram reports. Archaeologists are calling for the prosecution of museum officials over the mishandling of the iconic artifact. Reuters, meanwhile, quotes a German expert brought to a press conference by the Minister of Antiquities as saying it really isn’t that big a deal — the beard was glued on in the 1940s, having been found separated from the mask. Said Christian Eckmann: “The use of epoxy is not the best, but it is a solution. However this measure was unfortunately done not really properly, so you can see now some remains of glue at the beard.”

“Doomsday Clock” moves forward 2 minutes to 11:57pm: The clock, launched by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in 1947, represents how close humanity is to wiping itself off the map — first with nuclear weapons, and since 2007 with the added elements of climate change and developments in tech and life sciences that could have massive negative consequences for us all. Read the latest from the Bulletin and the 18 or so Nobel laureates who advise them, or check out a take on it in Slate.

Cabinet has extended the curfew in North Sinai for three months, ending 25 April, a development described by the North Sinai Chamber of Commerce as “very shocking.”

It was business as usual in Suez Canal yesterday despite the 25 January anniversary, Al Mal reports.

Handball World Cup: Egypt to play Germany in the round of sixteen (Read in Arabic)

The EGX will observe a minute of silence today to mark the passing of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. (Read in Arabic)

BY THE NUMBERS

USD (CBE auction) (Thursday): (+0.05) 7.39
USD (parallel market) (Sunday): none quoted; Enterprise’s go-to traders were closed

EGX30 (Thursday): 9,898.86 (+0.43%)
Turnover: EGP 833.9 mn (22% above the 90-day average)

EGX30 (last week): +3.59%
EGX30 (year-to-date): +10.69

WTI: USD 45.01 (-1.27%)
Brent: USD 48.33 (-0.94%)

TASI: closed
ADX: 4,570.2 (+1.0%)
DFM: 3,862.3 points (-0.5%)
KSE: closed
QE: 11,847.5 (+1.3%)
MSM: closed

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