Wednesday, 28 January 2015
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY
Big oil will face its “time of reckoning” in the coming days as earnings season for the IOCs kicks off tomorrow when Shell becomes the first to report. Earnings will, as the WSJ reports this morning, give us our first sneak-peak at how badly the global majors are feeling the pinch of low oil prices — and give us some sense of what to expect of E&P budgets for energy-strapped economies such as ours through year’s end. The oil rout, meanwhile, continues to impact feeder industries, with equipment maker Caterpillar being the latest to feel the pain, the FT reports.
We will also continue to keep an eye on violence in Matariya, which appears from reports on social media to have cooled overnight.
LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS
Talk show hosts opened with news of the ongoing protests in Matariya and terrorist attacks throughout the country.
Amr Adeeb and his co-host Khaled Abu Bakr noted that the offices of Egyptian newspaper Youm7 were threatened, which Abu Bakr asserted would not intimidate either the staff of Youm7, or the Egyptian media, or the Egyptian people.
Adeeb spent some time reviewing Moustafa Bakri’s book on Omar Suleiman titled “The Black Box” in reference to the way Suleiman has been come to be viewed, and especially that it is assumed that he took with him a number of secrets to his grave. Adeeb read some passages from the book at length, including an alleged meeting between Suleiman, Safwat El Sherif, Ahmed Ezz, Fathy Sorour, Ahmed Nazif, and Gamal Mubarak. The meeting was supposedly called for by Suleiman to inform them that the 2010 parliamentary elections and results were largely fraudulent and that it could not be left to begin to carry out its duties. The book describes that during the meeting the NDP figures largely dismissed Suleiman’s concerns, with the ultimate decision taken by Hosni Mubarak not to challenge the election results.
Adeeb later hosted on his program Yehia Kadry, the deputy leader of the Egyptian Patriotic Movement, the political party of former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik. Arriving late was Dr. Osama Al-Ghazali Harb, formerly of the Democratic Front Party, which he helped found and where he served as Chairman before the party later merged with the Free Egyptians Party. As Kadry chatted away with Adeeb and Abu Bakr — and before Al-Ghazali Harb joined them in the studio — former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik called in on air for a chat. The obvious question on the minds of Adeeb and Abu Bakr was why Shafik has not yet returned to Egypt considering he was acquitted in April 2013, which he answered vaguely that he didn’t want to embarrass anyone, which was an answer similar to that which he gave when asked why he didn’t meet with PresidentAbdelfattah El-Sisi during the latter’s recent visit to the UAE. Shafik seemed to suggest the possibility that his travel ban from 2012 might still come into effect if he returned, to which Adeeb and Abu Bakr tried assure him that it would probably be fine. Shafik declined to put himself through any possible complications.
Al-Ghazali Harb then joined them later in the studio, where he reiterated what many politicians have been saying when asked as to who will dominate the new parliament, by replying that the system favors individuals over party lists, without going into further detail. Responding to a question, he stated that his party has no former NDP members to the best of his knowledge, although they were not opposed to working or dealing with them in other parties or as individuals.
The spotlight tonight, however, belonged to Lamees ElHadidy, who ripped into Qatar for the critical coverage of Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, a UK-based publication with Arabic and English editions that is partially-owned by a Qatari businessman according to an investigative segment by Yousri Fouda (Watch Fouda’s segment from August 2014, running time 5 minutes, Arabic).
Hadidy declared that the reconciliation with Qatar has died with the passing of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who she cited as having pressured Qatar to come to the table. Paraphrasing:
“We have no problem with this, by the way. You’re going to be ill-mannered? We have people who are specialized in this; we can go back to the way things were. No problem.”
Enterprise Sidebar: This is great news for some of us here, and promises to be great for Egyptian comedy in whatever medium it can be found.
Hadidy then, however, was a little enraged to learn that the Al Araby Al Jadeed had managed to secure advertising on billboards on the Ring Road and the Mehwar before the error was realized and the ads were taken down. The entire segment is entertaining to watch. (Running time: 28:30, but the segment described above ends after the first 7 and a half minutes, Arabic, Watch)
Later in the program, the Minister of Awqaf Dr. Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa called in to warn imams not to abuse their religious authority to incite riots and violence, to Hadidy’s praise.
Gasoline prices won’t rise in FY2015/16, government source told Al Borsa. The Sisi administration is reportedly backing away from plans to raise gasoline prices in the coming fiscal year as international oil prices have fallen below the treasury’s expectations. The price drop should allow the government to achieve its savings target and the source said the economic environment at present is not conducive to additional price increases, and this is what drove the government to postpone the subsidy reduction. This story is still developing and we’ll await any official statements or announcements. (Read in Arabic)
EFG Hermes gives sneak peek at 4Q/FY14 earnings, will funnel proceeds from treasury share sale into growth initiatives: Top regional investment bank EFG Hermes will post FY14 net earnings in excess of EGP 500 mn, with more than EGP 100 mn of that figure coming in the fourth quarter, the leading regional investment bank said yesterday in a statement issued after a board meeting. Brokerage revenues will close FY14 up more than 60%, the contribution from asset management should rise more than 30%, and investment banking (advisory) revenues will surge 3x. The board also voted to liquidate almost 37 mn treasury shares (or about 6.4% of total share capital) held on its balance sheet through a wholly-owned subsidiary.Goldman Sachs is will manage the sale; we’re betting proceeds from the transaction will largely be used to pursue growth initiatives. (Read the board statement in English or in Arabic as a pdf download)
As many as 14 new governors will appointed “within days,” Al-Ahram reports this morning, saying President Abdelfattah El-Sisi accepted yesterday a list of appointees proposed by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb and Minister of Local Government Adel Labib. Appointees could be announced as early as today (prior to El-Sisi’s departure for Ethiopia) or, if not, then early next week upon the president’s return. Ahram is trumpeting that we can expect younger faces with fresh solutions to the nation’s ills.
Abraaj Capital raised USD 1 bn for its Africa fund, according to Dow Jones, surpassing their target of USD 800 mn, according to a source (Read on Dow Jones or sister publication Financial News if you’re a subscriber; both are paywalled). This is the second Africa-focused PE fund to close north of USD 1 bn this month, following our report back on 14 January that Helios Investment Partners had closed what we said at the time was the PE fund focused on the continent to cross the USD 1 bn threshold. There is no news on the Abraaj website of the fund closing, but we’re betting this is Abraaj Africa Fund III, which was to be a USD 800 mn bid to capitalize on the track record of Aureos Africa, which Abraaj acquired back in 2012. If the report is accurate, the new fund is more than 2.5x the size of the 2010 vintage Aureos Africa Fund. FT’s Beyond Brics blog had last summer a nice interview with Abraaj’s Sev Vettivetpillai with an overview of Abraaj’s take on African opportunities. (Here, no paywall) The IFC appears to have invested at least USD 50 mn in the fund.
The Central Bank of Egypt may be signaling it is slowing the managed devaluation of the Egyptian pound as it announced yesterday it will halt this week’s currency auctions at four offerings for a total of USD 160 mn, Al-Borsa reports.
Al-Mal is getting in on the hand-wringing over the Sharm economic conference just as the late-night talkshow hosts seem to have taken their Calmepam. In what is probably a testament to an achingly slow business-news day, Al-Mal’s scribes tell us they are unimpressed with the conference website‘s Alexa ranking and that they’ve seen President Abdelfattah El-Sisi’s invitation letter to participants.
Rosy outlook for regional M&A scene in 2015? The corporate imperative to grow, undiminished state spending and significant international investor interest will drive continued growth in regional M&A activity in 2015 despite the plunge in oil prices, the National reports from Dubai. The piece, quoting senior regional staff of PwC, Morgan Stanley and Latham & Watkins, notes that M&A activity in the region rose 23% last year to USD 50.3 bn, the highest level since 2013.
UK Trade & Investment, which recently headed the UK trade delegation which visited Egypt, have advertised to UK companies a prequalification for a feasibility study for a 200MW wind farm in Egypt. The last time there was reporting on this a week ago after the World Future Energy Summit, the capacity was stated to be 250MW. The project is said to be financed by the Government of Egypt and the French development agency AFD. Open to UK companies, the deadline for expressions of interest is 18 March 2015.
Vitol, Noble Group, Trafigura and BP are the winners of the USD 2.2 bn Egypt LNG import tender we noted on Monday, according to sources with knowledge of the matter speaking with Reuters yesterday. (Read)
Putin’s junk: S&P downgraded Russia’s sovereign credit rating to junk after slashing it from BBB- to BB+, pushing it off investment grade for the first time in more than 10 years, CNBC reports. Mohamed El-Erian says this will exacerbate the country’s financial implosion as it could trigger existing Russian bond holders to sell and the universe of buyers of Russian debt will be narrowed.
Apple sold 36,000 iPhones an hour, 24-hours a day, in 4Q, propelling the tech giant to USD 18 bn in net earnings, crush analyst expectations as the company raised both volumes and average selling prices, theWall Street Journal reports this morning. Needless to say, it was Apple’s best-ever quarter.
Yesterday marked the 70-year anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, the site where approximately 1.1 mn Jews, along with other groups deemed undesirable by the Nazis such as the Roma, were killed during the Holocaust. “We survivors do not want our past to be our children’s future,” said Roman Kent at a memorial at the death camp’s site in Poland. (Read)
CORRECTIONS: In yesterday’s Enterprise, referring to a source other than the Al Mal link we had provided, we misstated Tarek ElRefai’s new title, which is General Manager of Barclays Bank Egypt. ElRefai had previously spent 25 years with BNY Mellon, most recently as Senior Executive Officer in Dubai and head of client management for the Middle East and Africa. H/t to Hisham for the tip on the correction and thanks to Sarah and the team at Barclays for helping us set this right.
Yesterday we noted a story by the Al Monitor story which quoted an anonymous Egyptian official as claiming that an oil-debt swap had been successfully negotiated. The link we provided was broken; please find a functioning link to the story here.
SPOTLIGHT ON: Matariya, Turkish support for Ikhwan + Ikhwan in Washington
Protests continued for a third day in the district of Matariya, with the Ikhwan reporting demonstrations in other locations. “Qatari-based news channel Al Jazeera reported that security forces fired live ammunition at the protesters,” Daily News Egypt reported. Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim made a surprise visit to the area late yesterday, Al-Masry Al-Youm reports, while Al-Ahram puts yesterday’s death toll at three, bringing the total in three days of violence to at least 25. Al-Ahram also picks up snippets from a State Information Service release paraphrasing a Foreign Ministry statement yesterday castigating the foreign media “choosing to turn a blind eye to acts of killing, burning and horror conducted by supporters of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group” in its coverage of Jan 25 violence. The total cost of damage to power stations and electrical towers as a result of sabotage over the past few days exceeds EGP 10mn, according to Ministry of Electricity spokesperson Mohamed El Yamani speaking with Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Turkish-hosted Brotherhood satellite channel incites Egyptians to murder military and police officers, warns their wives they will be widowed and their children orphaned: Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood television host Mohammed Nasser on the Brotherhood-funded satellite channel Misr Al’an(Egypt Now) hosted in Turkey recently called on Egyptians to murder military and police officers in Egypt. The channel began operating last November in order to, as the Brotherhood put it, provide an impartial news service. Running time: 2 minutes (Watch in Arabic)
Another Turkey-based Brotherhood channel named El-Sharq TV called those who attacked a police station in 6 October “The Popular Resistance.” The same channel took a call from a Brotherhood spokesperson who said their revolution will continue until the coup leaders are hanged in the street and public squares. H/t Mokhtar Awad, running time: 3 minutes, 41 seconds. (Watch)
So far, we haven’t come across any mentions of these incitements in the international press whatsoever; if you find any please let us know.
On Monday, North Sinai-based Daesh affiliate Ansar Beit al-Maqdis released a disturbing video claiming to have set up a security checkpoint in the middle of the day, at which they seized an off-duty police captain named Ayman El-Desouki from his vehicle. El-Desouki is later seen asking they spare him for the sake of his wife and unborn child, before he is blindfolded and shot in the back of the head. We won’t be posting the link to the video. (Read)
One person was killed in a car bombing in Alexandria when a vehicle parked next to a police station exploded, while another police station in Alexandria was attacked with Molotov cocktails. (Read in Reuters)
Meanwhile, the US State Department met with a pro-Ikhwan delegation recently, (h/t Eric Trager). Also on his timeline was Trager live-tweeting from “The Path Forward for Restoring Democracy in Egypt” event held yesterday at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. The speaker’s list is a veritable who’s-who of the political leadership of some sort of hell-dimension: “Dr. Sarwat Nefei, Speaker of the Parliament in Exile, Dr. Maha Azzam, head of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council (the leading, broad opposition coalition), Dr. Gamal Heshmat, Deputy of the Parliament in Exile, Dr. Abdul Mawgood Dardery, former Chair of the 2012 Egyptian Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee, and Judge Waleed Sharabi, Secretary General of the Revolutionary Council.”
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.
Yoel Guzansky writes on possible future power struggles in the next succession, written earlier this month. “In order to ensure governmental stability, in March 2014 Abdullah appointed Prince Muqrin, his 70-year-old right hand man and the youngest surviving son of Ibn Saud, as crown prince in waiting … Muqrin, a fighter pilot by training, was the governor of a[sic] Medina and the head of intelligence, his path to the crown is strewn with obstacles: he is opposed by many of his half brothers… Because of Salman’s health, it is likely that Muqrin will de facto fill the role of king.” (Read Saudi Arabia after Abdullah)
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry: African Union endorses Egypt’s bid for Security Council:Minister Shoukry announced yesterday that the African Union will officially endorse Egypt’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council on Friday, which is also the same day that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is set to arrive. If confirmed, needless to say this would be a significant foreign policy victory for Egypt. (Read)
Reuters: Hostage crisis trips up Japan as it seeks global security role: Japanese officials are reported as having been aware of the hostages months ago, but were unprepared for Daesh to accelerate their plans with a confrontation and ransom demands. His [Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe] speech before a Cairo business group was intended to drive home the message that Japan was a reliable partner for the region and allies like the United States … It is unclear whether Islamic State would have acted differently without Abe’s comments. But experts said the speech was likely to have brought the crisis forward.” (Read)
EGYPT IN THE NEWS
Leslie T. Chang has a long read in The Guardian with an in-depth look at independent media outlet Mada Masr. (Read)
A court has upheld the three-year prison sentences for Ahmed Douma, Mohamed Adel and Ahmed Maher. (Read on Reuters)
A Pipeline Against Peace: Tareq Baconi, who is writing his PhD dissertation on Hamas, argues in CFR that energy deals signed between Arab states and Israel are signed in secret and do not consider the rights of the Gazans to the Gaza marine offshore gas field. The headline of this article is pure clickbait as any imagined obstacles to the prospects for peace are touched on only in passing at the end of the piece that sees Baconi arguing that increasing trade with Israel before a final settlement with Palestinians removes a diplomatic card held by Arab states. (Read)
ENERGY, RENEWABLE ENERGY & SUBSIDY REFORM
Egypt supplying the eastern part of Libya with 30MW of electricity a day
Al Mal | 27 Jan 2015
The head of the General Electricity Company in Libya (GECOL) said Egypt is supplying eastern Libya with 30MW of electricity a day that goes to stations in Derna and Benghazi now. The eastern part of Libya got cut off the electricity grid due to the ongoing civil war there and power generation capacity became limited. The head of GECOL noted that Egypt had previously refused to supply Libya with electricity as domestic demand was prioritized, but now the government is engaged in an agreement to supply Libya with 5-30MW of electricity a day. (Read in Arabic)
High Dam operating at full capacity – Ministry of Electricity
Al Borsa | 26 Jan 2015
A senior official at the Ministry of Electricity said the power generators at the High Dam are operating at full capacity now. Next week two units with a capacity of 7,270 MW will undergo maintenance work. The Ministry of Electricity assures that maintenance work will not result in any power outages. (Read in Arabic)
OIL & GAS
BP’s Gulf of Suez investments to reach USD 1.1 bn by the end of June
Al Mal | 27 Jan 2015
GUPCO, BP’s local partner, said the company’s investments in the Gulf of Suez Area are expected to have reached USD 1.1 bn before the end of FY2014/15. BP currently produces 80,000 barrels of crude per day and aims to increase this target to 90,000 barrels. The company is also in process of revising its agreements with oilfield services companies to account for the drop in oil prices internationally. (Read in Arabic)
WorleyParsons to bid for feasibility studies to build three refineries
Al Mal | 27 Jan 2015
WorleyParsons announced it is preparing a bid for feasibility studies to build three oil refineries at an estimated cost of USD 5 mn. The refineries are to be built in Alexandria, Qaliubiya, and El Ein El Sokhna. The winning bid will be required to submit feasibility studies for the refineries and oversee the construction process. WorleyParsons is also considering investments opportunities at the Suez Canal area and is currently providing studies to assess the feasibility of using coal in four cement factories. (Read in Arabic)
BASIC MATERIALS & COMMODITIES
Steady rise in retail price of fruits and vegetables
Al Mal | 27 Jan 2015
Wholesalers are critical of retailers raising the price of fruits and vegetables: While wholesalers are claiming their prices have, in the main, dropped as a result of lower transport costs on falling oil prices and a general slowdown in exports, retail prices continue to rise, with retailers blaming transportation costs. (Read in Arabic)
50% of real estate tax will be used to develop impoverished areas
Al Mal, Al Borsa | 27 Jan 2015
The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Urban Development have agreed on a joint protocol to funnel 50% of the proceeds from the new real estate tax into developing low-income areas and basic infrastructure at the governorate level. (Read in Al-Mal or in Al-Borsa)
Ministry of Finance considering increasing sales tax on cars
Al Borsa, Daily News | 27 Jan 2015
The Ministry of Finance is currently considering increase the sales tax rate on cars, both imported and domestically produced, to offset the reduction in revenues as regional trade agreements come into effect. Car companies disagree with the potential decision, saying that it would violate the essence of the trade agreements. The Ministry is now assessing all possible options to restore revenues for taxes and duties. Meanwhile, Daily News has a breakdown of what appear to be a complementary proposal by the Egyptian Federation of Industries. (Read in Al-Borsa or in Daily News)
Telecom Egypt to invest in broadband infrastructure
Al Masry Al Youm | 27 Jan 2015
Telecom Egypt announced it will invest heavily in broadband technology and infrastructure. The company is responding to strong demand for better service and will make significant investments in fiber optic infrastructure to deliver high-speed connectivity. (Read in Arabic)
BANKING & FINANCE
“Wealth surtax” to be applied to corporations?
Al Mal | 27 Jan 2015
The Ministry of Finance is not yet certain whether it will apply the 5% corporate “wealth surtax” on annual earnings in excess of EGP 1 mn. The tax was decreed by interim president Adly Mansour last year. The head of the Large Taxpayers section at the Tax Authority is still awaiting a legal opinion to explain if the tax will be applied to corporations, and if so then starting from which financial year (given that some companies close their books in June). (Read in Arabic)
Egyptian banks among top 20 lenders on Bloomberg MENA league table
Al Mal | 27 Jan 2015
Six Egyptian banks made Bloomberg’s most recent league table of the 20 most active lenders in the region. The banks lent out about USD 2.2 bn in FY14. The National Bank of Egypt (USD 1.208 bn), Banque Misr (USD 1.019 bn), Arab African International Bank (USD 967 mn) and CIB (USD 777 mn) were the top Egyptian institutions on the league table, the paper says. (Read in Arabic)
OTHER BUSINESS NEWS OF NOTE
Mehleb mulls amendments to companies acts, bankruptcy procedures
Al Mal | 27 Jan 2015
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb will seek public input on amendments to Egypt’s companies acts, including law 159/1981 governing joint stock and limited liability companies as part of a drive to make it easier to do business in Egypt. In addition to looking at how to cut red tape, Mehleb said Cabinet was interested in making it easier to establish what are referred to as single-proprietor companies and, critically, looking at instituting genuine bankruptcy protection legislation. Any amendments, the PM said, would be subject to public consultation. (Read in Arabic)
EGYPT POLITICS + ECONOMICS
Antitrust laws amended, fines for ‘monopolistic activities’ increased to EGP 500 mn
Al Ahram | 27 Jan 2015
Egyptian Competition Authority chief Mona El Garf says that c. 60% of the antitrust laws are being amended currently. The amendment drive aims to create an environment more conducive to investment with clear operating procedures. The new amendments aim to increase the Competition Authority’s independence in allowing it to file criminal complaints, allow for reconciliation with offenders, and the ability to enforce court orders. El Garf added that the new law will increase the ceiling of the penalties applied to offenders to EGP 500 mn. (Read in Arabic)
Investment Minister meets with US Ambassador, invites him to Sharm summit
Al Mal, Al Ahram | 27 Jan 2015
The Minister of Investment met with the United States’ Ambassador to Egypt to discuss cooperation between Egypt and the US. During the meeting, the Minister invited Ambassador R. Stephen Beecroft to attend the Sharm investment summit in March. (Read in Arabic and here)
BY THE NUMBERS
USD (CBE auction Monday): 7.4301 (unchanged)
USD (parallel market): – no quote –
EGX30 (Tuesday): 9,946.58 (+1.14%)
Turnover: EGP 883.3 mn (30% above the 90-day average)
WTI: USD 45.55 (-1.47%%)
Brent: USD 49.60 (+2.99%)
TASI: 8,686.2 (+2.4%)
ADX: 4,530.2 (-0.1%)
DFM: 3,720.4 (-0.1%)
KSE: 441.8 (-0.6%)
QE: 11,920.5 (+0.7%)
MSM: 6,591.7 (-0.8%)
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