Wednesday, 11 February 2015

UAE foreign minister: “We are strong supporters of Egypt.” Renewed strategic partnership with Russia. Headline inflation falls. CIB posts record earnings. Vodafone to invest USD 1.25 bn in network. Egypt to drive uptick in MENA M&A activity.


In the wake of the leaked tapes that prompted President Abdelfattah El-Sisi to reach out to the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, among others, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Al-Nahyan “affirmed [on Tuesday] the Gulf state’s support for Egypt, stressing the importance of stability in the populous Arab country.” In remarks at the Government Summit in Dubai, which we noted is being attended by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, Sheikh Abdullah said: “The UAE carries a message of peace, stability and development. We support Egypt in its quest for development. Ensuring the security and stability of Egypt is of the utmost importance to the UAE. … The stability of the Arab world is the stability of Egypt. We are strong supporters of Egypt.” See more in Al-Arabiya.

While Saudi commentary has been comparatively more tepid, we do think it is significant in this context that Joint naval exercises between Egypt and Saudi Arabia were carried out on Monday, according to an SIS releasethis morning. “The units carried out an exercise on joint combat in the day and night to secure the Red Sea course and fight smuggling and maritime piracy.”

Meanwhile: It’s not yet in the headlines, but we’re closely following the fate of the black market. Our currency trader reported a 6 pt fall in the USD against the EGP to EGP 7.72, and senior people at two major corporations we spoke with yesterday confirmed both prices in that range and the fact that nobody is buying or selling at any rate. Follow that with news, reported in Ahram Online yesterday, that at least one bank saw “a week’s worth of dollar inflows in a single day after the Central Bank of Egypt introduced new limits on dollar cash deposits last week” and the month-and-a-half life of the black market we suggested on Sunday could yet prove to be generous.

Yesterday’s sand storm, which saw the suspension of inbound flights to Cairo International and saw some ports closed, will continue into this morning and could be followed by light rain at some point today in the capital city area. It’s a perfect day to learn to use Webex or GoToMeeting instead of leaving your office for meetings.


Yesterday’s sandstorm caused Amr Adeeb to be late for his own show: His flight from Amman could not land in Cairo International. His co-host, Khaled Abu Bakr, began the program with commentary on the Putin visit.

“The manner in which Putin was received sent a very clear message to the international community that Egypt and Russia are allies. Yesterday we were all invited to the ceremony that was held in Putin’s honor at the Opera, and I can attest to the fact that what was done for Putin went way beyond normal protocol,” said Abu Bakr. “I asked the Russian delegation what this visit meant to them. They all said that they held Egypt in very high regard and that they have not forgotten the Nasser era and our shared history.”

Youssef El Housseiny pointed out the significance of the choice of venue for the Putin dinner party on Monday night at the Cairo Tower.

“Why do you think President El Sisi chose to host his dinner at the Borg and not Ittihadiya? I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t just for the breathtaking view. As you may know, Abdel Nasser built the Cairo Tower with funds that were given to him by the Americans as a personal gift. He was so offended by the attempt to bribe him that he decided to use the money to build a monument that to this day stands as a symbol of defiance towards the Americans. The Borg is a symbol of Egypt’s independence and the start of the Soviet-Egyptian alliance. In my opinion, this is why the President chose to dine there with Putin,” said El Housseiny.

“That is not to say that we shouldn’t maintain good relations with the U.S. We have nothing against the U.S or the American people. If they want to be friends with the Ikhwan that is their choice. All we need is a balanced relationship,” he added.

El Housseiny also took note of the exchange of gifts between the two Presidents. El Sisi gave Putin a large silver kartouche and Putin gave El Sisi a Kalashnikov.

Adeeb, who eventually made it safely to the studio, presented a segment on the chaos that currently surrounds the upcoming parliamentary elections. He hosted politician Osama Ghazali Harb, political analyst Abdel Halim Kandil, and Wafd Party Spokesman Bahgat El Housseiny.

Harb, from the Free Egyptians Party, said, “I’m not very happy with the Fi Hob Misr, although our party will probably have representation on this list. They are aligning themselves too closely with the government. We don’t want to have another NDP.”

Abdel Halim Kandil, by far the most pessimistic of the bunch, also expressed his dismay with a process that in his view will lead us to a parliament that is dominated by former members of the NDP. “We have a new president that is ruling with an old system.”

El Housseiny denied rumors that Wafd will boycott the elections and confirmed reports that his party may have representation on the Fi Hob Misr list, which is quickly gaining momentum.


Headline inflation fell to 9.66% in January from 10.1% in December, with core inflation also falling to 7.06% from 7.69% a month earlier. Although the figures are primarily coming off relatively favorable base effects, the full brunt of the managed devaluation of the EGP has not yet been felt on the market. So far so good for the CBE, but the real test will be February’s results.

CIB reported a 24% y-o-y surge in FY2014 net income to EGP 3.74 bn in results released last night. Fourth quarter net income rose an even sharper 36% y-o-y to EGP 1.03 bn. In the earnings release, Chairman and MD Hisham Ezz Al-Arab notes, “CIB closed its third consecutive record year in both top and bottom lines, with consolidated revenues hitting EGP 8.0 bn. … Lending activity continued to recover in the fourth quarter. Our loan portfolio grew over EGP 8 billion, or 18%, throughout 2014, including a record EGP 2 billion in new retail loans.” CIB is Egypt’s largest private-sector bank and a bellwether for the domestic economy closely followed by international investors. (Read the earnings release in pdf)

Vodafone Egypt to spend USD 1.25 bn on network upgrade over next 3 years -CEO: Vodafone Egypt plans to spend around c. EGP 9.5 bn on upgrading its network over the next three years to keep pace with demand for data services, its CEO Ahmed Essam said in an interview with Reuters. Financing the planned investments will come from internal resources, and signifies an enormous investment relative to what the company has spent in the past, according to Essam. (Read)

EFG Hermes sees elevated volatility in 2015, notes that Egypt, Qatar and UAE big caps could be “most vulnerable” to emerging markets financial flows as global liquidity growth slows. A recent note from EFG Hermes Research picks up on a slowdown in global liquidity growth on the back of current account deficits at oil exporters, the impact of a strengthening USD on Asian central bank reserve strategies, and the end of quantitative easing in the US. The net results for regional markets: more volatility and possibly lower financial flows into MENA. First, EFG sees volatility in global markets rising as a result of the tighter liquidity conditions — and notes the link between global volatility and MENA markets, as with last week’s spike in oil prices, which boosted major GCC bourses. With oil prices likely to be volatile this year and MENA markets correlated with oil price movements since mid-2014 — well, you do the math… Secondly, the firm notes that foreigners and GCC governments alike have been allocating more to MENA in the past five years, and turnover has risen, in part due to MSCI emerging market upgrades for the UAE and Qatar. “Both trends may reverse — turnover has already fallen this year in some markets. Stocks in MSCI EM countries — Egypt, Qatar and the UAE — will be particularly vulnerable to shifting EM fund flows. … However, changes in [foreign ownership limits] and listing rules, [qualified foreign investors] in Saudi Arabia, more IPOs, and a functioning FX market in Egypt could all help MENA get a bigger slice of EM-dedicated capital in the longer run.

The African Development Bank will contribute USD 120-140 mn for upgrades at Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport, according to AfDB vice president Aly Abou-Sabba in an interview with Amwal Al Ghad, as reported by Zawya. Abou-Sabaa noted that the financing will be allocated before the end of next June. (Read)

‘Egypt’s currency war: The devaluation eclipsed by Russia, Brazil’: Bloomberg has a Vox-style explainer on Egypt’s managed devaluation of the EGP (minus trying to explain it in 40+ charts and maps). The article notes that Barclays and Capital Economics “expect a further 8 percent depreciation to 8.25 a dollar by year-end, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.” (Read)

Madinet Nasr Housing files with EGX for capital increase: Madinet Nasr Housing filed a disclosure with the EGX yesterday to begin discussions on a proposed capital increase through bonus shares. The company has previously signaled it is seeking a capital increase from EGP 199.3 mn to EGP 250 mn. (Read)

M&A activity in MENA will rise this year, driven by transactions in Egypt, according to Anil Menon, MENA M&A and IPO leader at EY, speaking to Bloomberg on Sunday.  Bloomberg cites Menon as saying that investment will likely focus on consumer industries such as retail, food and beverages, as well as health care and education (as the government will need to meet its constitutional obligation to increase public spending in both sectors). “The pipeline for new deals looks very robust and I expect to see growth in both deal volumes and deal values in 2015 … Egypt is particularly leading that, which is a vote of confidence in the country’s political stability.” (Read)

An arrest is apparently imminent in the shooting death of Shaimaa El-Sabagh, the 32-year-old leftist activist shot dead as she participated in a peaceful march on 24 January 2014 to lay a wreath in Tahrir square. Ahram Online reports the prosecution service has identified the shooter and is preparing to make an arrest. The news comes as the El-Sabagh’s Socialist Popular Alliance said yesterday that the shooter was a masked member of the police forces, Al-Masry Al-Youm reports.

Ten people were injured yesterday in five separate bomb attacks in Alexandria yesterday, Reuters reports.

Bassem Youssef on The Daily Show: Despite his physical appearance suggesting that he has recently survived being accidentally locked inside a tanning bed, Bassem Youssef managed to make an appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night. We’re not putting this under Worth Watching because it isn’t. We’re simply making note of it here. Unfortunately, Youssef’s appearance on the show cannot be considered funny. It’s almost depressing to watch. (Watch, or spare yourself the discomfort of seeing someone bomb on stage for 5 minutes)

If that weren’t bad enough, Stewart announced he will be retiring from The Daily Show after having hosted the program since 1999. Comedy Central tweeted a press release praising his role on the program. Stewart has not yet announced who will be taking over The Daily Show or anything on his future plans.

Former Pakistani spy chief: ‘Probable’ Pakistan knew of Bin Laden’s whereabouts: Pakistan’s former spy chief has said that it was “more probable” than not that the Pakistani government had been aware of Osama Bin Laden’s location before revealing it to the United States in exchange for a solution to the “Afghan problem,” according to Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani in an interview with Al Jazeera set to air in April. Durrani said that the Pakistani government’s previously cited explanation for its lack of awareness that Bin Laden was in their country due to their intelligence agency’s “incompetence” was simply a cover-up. (Read in Politico)

Kayla Mueller, last American hostage held by Daesh, confirmed dead: The United States has confirmed the death of the last hostage known to be held by Daesh: aid worker Kayla Mueller. US Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby says that American officials have not yet learned how Mueller died, although Daesh militants claim it was in an airstrike. (Read)

You don’t (necessarily) need a martini after work to unwind, but you do have to do something to close the door on the workday. That’s the takeaway from one of the most-read stories in the WSJ this morning, which suggests a mental break between work and home life isn’t a luxury, but a mental health necessity. Check out the Journal’s hints / tips / ideas here.


Russian President Vladimir Putin ended his two-day official state visit to Egypt yesterday with the announcement of nuclear, economic and military accords signed between the two countries.

Yesterday began with President Abdelfattah El Sisi greeting President Putin at Al-Qubba Palace with full military honors. (Watch on RT, running time: 1:30).

Nuclear agreement: President El Sisi and President Putin announced that the two states will jointly build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant at the existing nuclear site at Dabaa, according to the AP. “We discussed today the possibility of cooperation in nuclear power engineering … if final decisions are made, they will relate not only to the construction of a nuclear power plant but also to the creation of a whole new nuclear power industry in Egypt,” Putin was quoted by Russian news agency TASS. The deal was reportedly struck with Russia’s state-owned civilian nuclear power corporation Rosatom.

Economic cooperation: Putin is quoted by TASS as saying that Egypt and Russia have agreed to creating a free trade zone as well as a Russian industrial zone along the Suez Canal expansion. The same news was also picked up in the AP’s take.

The joint press conference held by President El Sisi and President Putin is available on Al Nahar Al Youm’s YouTube channel (Watch in Arabic, running time: 30 minutes)

International reaction: Chinese state news agency Xinhua noted with implicit approval that Egypt-Russia approach shows rejection of “US hegemony.”

Western media and diplomatic officials toed their respective nationalistic lines. When asked by reporters in Washington D.C. about remarks made by Putin that Egypt and Russia may do away with the USD to settle accounts used for bilateral trade and instead use national currencies, as well as questions on the proposed nuclear cooperation, U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki replied, beginning with the story on the dollar: “I don’t believe that was what announced [sic], nor do I believe that’s what the Government of Egypt would say if asked. I certainly would suggest you ask them that question. As you know, we provide a great deal of security assistance to the Government of Egypt. We’ve seen reports that the Government of Egypt has signed an MOU about nuclear power. I don’t have more details about that. My understanding is that’s been something under discussion for some time. We support peaceful nuclear power programs as long as obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to which Egypt is a signatory and obligations to the IAEA are fully met and the highest international standards regulating security, nonproliferation, export controls, and physical security are strictly followed.”

The FT ran with Putin and Sisi linked by common thread of illiberal democracy, with a slightly more neutral piece from Cairo-based Borzou Daragahi in Putin given hero’s welcome in Egypt.

UK-based The Independent pounced on the military orchestra’s ‘off,’ to say the least, rendition of the Russian national anthem.


As we noted on Monday, President Abdelfattah El Sisi recently sat down with German magazine Spiegel for an interview, but at the time the English translation had not been released. Social media yesterday was abuzz with the translation released yesterday: It is a no-holds-barred, at times contentious interview which cuts to the heart of the political events of the past year and a half. The wide-ranging interview touches on everything from the Rabaa dispersal to the potential for a general amnesty that could result in Mohamed Fahmy’s release. If you haven’t seen it yet, this one of the few articles we’d label as a must-read:Interview with Egyptian President Sisi: ‘Extremists Offend the Image of God‘)

The always excellent Mokhtar Awad is joined by the occasionally excellent Nathan Brown (when he’s detailing his extensive knowledge of Egypt’s judiciary, at other times he’s making sweeping statements about his perception of the “good intentions” of Egypt’s various political players) in a co-authored piece for the Washington Post titled ‘Mutual escalation in Egypt’. The sections detailing the now-exposed incitement to murder by the Brotherhood is likely Awad’s direct contribution to the piece, with Brown likely providing the equivocation regarding the government’s response, with both sides being portrayed as escalating the stakes and severity of potential political violence. At the very least, this likely marks the first time the Washington Post has ever published anything that boldly and accurately shines a light on the Brotherhood’s fair-weather “commitment” to nonviolence. (Read)


Amwal Al Ghad reports that a high-level delegation from the UK’s parliament led by Tory MP Richard Ottaway began a two-day visit to Egypt yesterday. The delegation will meet with Sameh Shoukri, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and a number of Egyptian government representatives, but it is unclear whether the delegation will meet with President El Sisi or not.


Yingli signs MOU to build 500MW solar PV project in Egypt
OFweek | 10 Feb 2015
OFweek reports that Wang Geng, vice president of Chinese solar energy company Yingli, has signed an MOU with Egypt’s NREA. The two parties have agreed to add 500MW of PV capacity, with no further details on the agreement released as of yet. (Read)

Gamesa wins 220MW Egypt order
Windpower Monthly | 10 Feb 2015
Indian wind power firm Gamesa has been selected to engineer, supply and construct a 220MW project at the Gulf of El-Zayt in Egypt, according to the government’s New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) and as reported by Windpower Monthly. The NREA says that the authority and Gamesa are set to sign the agreement by the end of February. Financing for the project will be supported in part by a soft loan of up to JPY38.864 bn (EUR 289 mn) from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). This follows news we noted on Monday that JICA has earmarked USD 360 mn for Egypt in 2015. According to Windpower Intelligence, the Gulf of El-Zayt wind farm is expected to come online in 2016. (Read)

Egypt to sign EGP 125 mn agreement with China for two transformer units
Al Ahram | 10 Feb 2015
Following the deputy electricity minister’s visit to China, Egypt is expected to finalize a deal to import two transformer units from China at a cost of EGP 125 mn. The two transformer units have a total capacity of 350 MW and are rated at 175 MV. (Read in Arabic)

Coal usage regulations almost ready – Ministry of Environmental Affairs
Al Mal | 10 Feb 2015
The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Khaled Fahmy, confirmed the ministry is almost done with the executive regulations for coal usage. The regulations are expected to be passed on to the cabinet within a week for final approval. The ministry is also looking to expand its efforts to reduce the environmental impacts on the Nile. (Read in Arabic)


Ministry of Petroleum to present USD 6.4 bn in projects at the investment conference
Al Ahram | 09 Feb 2015
The Ministry of Petroleum has prepared 12 investment projects to be presented at the Sharm investment summit with a total expected investment cost of USD 6.4 bn. The investment opportunities include USD 3.4 bn in refining projects that include a CCR platforming to produce high grade octane and other fuels, a distillation unit for APRC, and a diesel hydrocracking project for ASORC. Other projects presented include opportunities in petrochemicals and opportunities to produce biofuel, ethanol, formaldehyde, and propylene. Also available are projects to produce phosphorous fertilisers and investments to expand quartz production. (Read in Arabic)

EGAS to being delivering natural gas to underprivileged areas with credit line from France’s AFD
Al Mal | 09 Feb 204
EGAS will begin delivering natural gas to homes in underprivileged areas for free in 11 cities including Giza and Alexandria. This will be financed by a EUR 70 mn credit line from the French Development Agency (AFD). The projects aims to extend natural gas to 1.5 million residential units. (Read in Arabic)

Gazprom LNG deal to be signed by the end of the month
Al Borsa | 10 Feb 2015
Details surrounding the LNG deal with Gazprom remain unclear, Al Borsa reports, saying the Minister of Petroleum said Egypt will sign a deal with Gazprom for LNG shipments before the end of February. The paper speculates this could amount seven shipments a year through 2020 for 35 cargoes in total. (Read in Arabic)

Misr Petroleum controls 33% of petroleum derivatives market, seeks increased marketing efforts
Amwal Al Ghad | 10 Feb 2015
The managing director of Misr Petroleum said the company had over a third of the Egyptian market in petroleum derivatives in 2014. The company is seeking to increase its marketing capacity domestically and increase ties with other companies in the sector. Misr Petroleum believes Egypt benefited greatly from the oil price drop as the shortage of fuel products waned. The comments came during the 18th annual international petroleum conference. (Read in Arabic)


Alghurair to expand agrifood investments in Egypt
Al Ahram | 09 Feb 2015
Alghurair announced it will expand its investments regionally in a number of countries including Egypt. The Emirati company has signed a three-year lease for grain silos by the Red Sea. Alghurair will also engage in land reclamation activities and increase wheat production. (Read in Arabic)


Eastern Tobacco files request for land adjacent to Suez Canal
Al Mal | 10 Feb 2015
Eastern Tobacco has officially filed for a request with the New Suez Canal development authority to obtain land adjacent to the site of the canal expansion, according to the company’s Chairman Nabil Abdel Aziz. The land, whose ideal location possesses great logistical potential, will be used to develop tobacco manufacturing and storage facilities. (Read in Arabic)


Housing ministry to present 36 potential projects at the Sharm investment summit
Al Borsa | 10 Feb 2015
The Ministry of Housing will present 36 projects at the Egypt Economic Development Conference next month in Sharm. The Ministry plans to present six infrastructure projects and 30 opportunities for real-estate investment. The projects’ prospectuses were handed off to the investment ministry, which, according to Al Mal, will prioritize projects available near Cairo. Projects that will be excluded from the conference will be included as part of the MoU signed between the housing minister and GCC investors. (Read in Arabic)

Omar Effendi to lease out 10 locations, offering to partner up on another six
Al Borsa | 10 Feb 2015
Retail giant Omar Effendi will move forward with plans to lease out 10 of its commercial locations in an arrangement that will see tenants maintain the Omar Effendi logo and trademark. According to CEO Mahmoud Ezzat, the state-owned company will also enter into partnerships with the private sector in six other locations, with plans to expand the program to an additional 16 stores. (Read in Arabic)


Banking holdings of government debt reaches EGP 822 bn
Al Mal | 10 Feb 2015
Egyptian banks’ holdings of government debt grew EGP 16.8 bn in November alone to reach EGP 822 bn, a EGP 20.2 bn jump year-on-year. Holdings of treasury and government bonds grew on the back of increased liquidity within the sector, according to the CBE. (Read in Arabic)


Hilton Worldwide inks management agreement for Ain Sokhna hotel
Al Mal | 10 Feb 2015
Hilton Worldwide signed an agreement with Saudi-owned Asalah Investment & Tourism Development to manage services and operations at the latter’s hotel in the Orlando Resorts area of Ain Sokhna. The hotel will fall under the DoubleTree by Hilton brand of hotels and will house 203 rooms, suites and villas with amenities such as pools, spas and diving centers. (Read in Arabic)

Zaazou: 5 committees to be formed to tackle core industry issues
Al Mal | 10 Feb 2015
Five committees will be formed to address core industry issues, according to the Minister of Tourism, including the unified tourism law, marketing, air travel, quality control, and e-marketing and campaigning. (Read in Arabic)


Industrial Zone to be established in South Sinai
Al Borsa | 09 Feb 2015
South Sinai will experience a wave of new projects during the upcoming period, according the city’s governor. The governor said a free industrial zone will be established in Nuweiba along with other infrastructure projects including a new road connecting El Tor to Saint Catherine and a widening of the Ahmed Hamdy tunnel. (Read in Arabic)

Sudanese transport chamber of commerce pushes for higher fees on overland transport between Egypt and Sudan
Al Borsa | 10 Feb 2015
Sudan-based teamsters and overland transport vendors operating routes between Egypt and Sudan have filed an official complaint with the government protesting the Sudanese transport chamber of commerce’s decision to raise transport fees for overland routes between the two countries to over EGP 500 per trip. Sudanese media reports that a number of small scale operators adversely affected by the decision have described the decision and sudden and one-sided and did not consult them in deciding on the fee hike. (Read in Arabic)

Mamish in Paris at the Franco-Arab Eco Forum
Al-Borsa | 10 Feb 2015
Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority Mohab Mamish attended a meeting Tuesday night in Paris accompanied by an Egyptian delegation to discuss investment opportunities in Egypt, specifically those tied to Suez Canal. The meeting was intended to serve as a warm up session, leading up to the Franco-Arab Economic Forum, which kicks off this morning at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Paris. (Read in Arabic)


Russia and Egypt to eliminate hard currency in bilateral trades soon says minister
Tahrir News | 10 Feb 2015
According to Alexei Ulyukaev, the Russian Minister of Economic Development, the Russian and Egyptian central banks will begin developing a system which will eliminate the USD as the currency of bilateral trade, relying on respective national currencies. (Read in Arabic)

CBE: Egypt’s external debt dropped to USD 44.9 bn in 3Q 2014
Al Borsa | 10 Feb 2015
The Central Bank of Egypt announced today that the Egypt’s external debt fell 2.6% in 3Q 2014 to USD 44.9 bn as a result of credit payments amounting to USD 0.2 bn and the decline of USD 1 bn in the value of debt currencies in relation to the dollar. (Read in Arabic)

Environment ministry to present two projects at the investment summit
Al Borsa | 10 Feb 2015
The Ministry of Environmental Affairs will present two investment opportunities at the Sharm investment summit in March. One of the projects on offer is concerned with the recycling of agricultural waste. The other project is to optimize the economic returns from the Wadi El Rayan protectorate. (Read in Arabic)

Integrating the parallel economy could triple tax returns – FEI
Al Borsa | 09 Feb 2015
Egypt can triple its tax intake if it is able to integrate the parallel economy officially, according to the head of the tax committee of the Federation of Egyptian Industries, Mohamed El Bahy. The FEI estimates the size of the parallel economy to be USD 395 bn. Bureaucratic impediments and the near impossibility to obtain permits makes shows that the government’s initiatives to integrate the parallel economy are not entirely effective or sincere, El Bahy says. Legislative reforms, including a complete migration to a VAT system, could increase the attractiveness of the official sectors. (Read in Arabic)

France soon to close on EUR 5 bn sale of Rafale fighter jets to Egypt
Amwal Al Ghad | 10 Feb 2015
Numerous French media sources have announced that negotiations between Egypt and France for the sale of 24 Rafale fighter jets for EUR 5 bn are about to be concluded, with the official signing ceremony to take place in Cairo next Thursday or Friday. (Read in Arabic)

Uganda offers Egyptian businesses lucrative opportunities in real estate, agriculture and energy
Al Mal | 10 Feb 2015
Ugandan ambassador Richard Laus Angualia called on Egyptian businessmen and companies to invest in the country and enter into joint ventures in the Ugandan energy, agriculture and real estate sectors. Speaking at the International Business and Investment Association conference, Angualia added that demand for Egyptian goods and services, especially in the medical and healthcare industry is very high in his country. He added that Uganda presents a unique opportunity whereby it could serve as a regional hub for Egyptian exports. (Read in Arabic)

Salman, Massari discuss preparations 100-company Italian trade delegation’s February visit to Egypt
Al Masry Al Youm | 11 Feb 2015
Minister of Investment Ashraf Salman met with Italian Ambassador Maurizio Massari to discuss the arrangements that are being made for the expected visit of a delegation of 100 Italian companies towards the end of this month. Massari noted that the point of the visit is to assess Egypt’s preparedness in hosting the Economic Summit next March, as well as meet with government officials and members of the Egyptian business community. (Read in Arabic)


Edison suspends talks to buy Israeli gas field as uncertainty looms
Reuters | 09 Feb 2015
Italy’s Edison is reconsidering buying two Israeli gas fields as regulatory uncertainty increased. Talks are suspended for now following the antitrust authority’s inquiry, but Edison was considering buying the offshore Tanin and Karish gas fields from Noble Energy and Delek. Edison is concerned about the decisions the antitrust authority could make, with increased competition in the market likely to erode forecasted returns. (Read)

Noble Energy reportedly opposed to Israeli government compromises over marketing.
Globes | 10 Feb 2015
Israeli-hosted business news site Globes reports on Israeli government officials meeting with representatives of Leviathan partners Delek Group and Noble Energy Inc. to attempt to reach a compromise. However, senior sources in the Israeli gas sector say that they do not sense that a compromise is close to hand. A senior gas market source said to Globes: “Just as Noble Energy would not agree to separate marketing, it won’t agree that another company will handle all its contracts in the domestic market. Noble invested huge amounts in developing Tamar. Would you be prepared to sit idly by and let another company manage contacts without any control over it[?]” (Read on Israeli news site Globes)

From Jordan base, UAE resumes airstrikes on Daesh after U.S. supplies requested search and rescue assets
AP | 10 Feb 2015
United Arab Emirates fighter planes launched from an air base in Jordan yesterday, rejoining the fight against Daesh in a return to combat. The UAE has rejoined the fight after it had been recently revealed that they had suspended airstrikes due to the United States failing to provide Boeing Osprey aircraft which are equipped for search and rescue missions, following the downing, capture and execution of a Jordanian fighter pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh. U.S. defense officials said last week that they have moved the search-and-rescue assets closer to the battlefield. (Read)


In an op-ed for Al Shorouk, former deputy PM Ziad Bahaa El Din outlines three major obstacles facing the next parliament:

  • Having the elections process taking place in an environment that is not generally conducive to democracy
  • The notion that the upcoming parliament will not set the state up per se, as state institutions were rebuilt in the absence of a legislative body
  • The current electoral structural that can only lead to a weak and fractured parliament

Despite that, Bahaa El Din believes the next parliament is crucial to reflect the current political state of affairs; it will at least signal a return to the split between the executive and legislative branches of government and could get the electorate out of the current state of voter apathy. Any delays to the election process or having the government retain legislative rights for longer is simply unacceptable now, he concludes.

Censorship authority to leave-in the good bits starting in April. According to a report in Mada Masr, the censorship authority responsible for films says it will move to an age-based ratings system. “Films will be screened in full and we will not remove [redacted] scenes. … However, we will halt films that promote atheism and films that have a [redacted] nature,” the website quotes Chief Censor Abdel Satar Fathy as telling Mona Salman on Dream 2. (Note to newer readers: It’s not that we’re prudes, but including the words we’ve redacted above will have a pretty negative impact on delivery to corporate subscribers whose email filters are more aggressive than Gmail — we’ve even been banned in the past for using a clean, three-letter word that is synonymous with ‘lighthearted amusement.’ If you should ever fail to receive your copy of Enterprise, it’s probably due to spam filters — and you can hit our website to catch each morning’s edition within a few minutes of its release.)

Egypt allegedly considers importing Iranian natural gas: In a story that completely beggars the imagination, both Al-Masry Al-Youm and Al-Araby Al-Jadeed are reporting that a source at Egypt’s Ministry of Petroleum reportedly said Egypt is currently considering importing Iranian gas, a development that would involve Egypt working to connect production fields in Iran through Iraq to the Arab gas pipeline through Jordan. A source at the Jordanian government denied Amman is aware of any such plan. We’ll be looking for more information on where this came from: Even if Egypt were interested in gas from Iran — exceptionally unlikely given fraught relations between the two sides, let alone the message that would send to the GCC countries — the economics of it all would simply be insane. (Read in Arabic and here)

Egypt to compensate families of dead soccer fans: Reuters reports that the Egyptian government will compensate families of the victims of last Sunday’s stampede at a soccer stadium. (Read)

The Ministry of Tourism denied rumors that it planned to have tourists sign affidavits pledging their non-affiliation to terrorist organizations upon entry into the country. (Read in Arabic)

Scorched Earth, 2200AD: Aeon Magazine paints a dystopic future scenario where the residents of the Earth in 2200 have dwindled down to 500 mn, living in hermetically-sealed structures due to climate change. While it may sound like and hopefully end up as being science fiction, the article relates the world’s current path with past civilizational upheavals whose cause is suspected to be previous drastic changes in climate. “Bronze Age societies were destroyed by invading armies likely fleeing their own drought-stricken homelands, prompting the loss of culture, languages and technologies. The result was the first Dark Ages – the late-Bronze Age crash – when these once-sophisticated and complex societies ceased to exist. It took centuries to recover and rebuild. ‘It was a globalised society for its time, and everyone was in contact with and dependent on everyone else,’ says Eric H Cline, an archeologist and anthropologist at George Washington University, and author of 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed (2014). ‘As a result you get a domino effect, when one culture goes down you get a cascade that affects everyone else. Egypt survived because they were better able to prepare but it was a Pyrrhic victory because all their trading partners were gone. The entire known world went down within a century.’” (Read)

Just in case climate change isn’t reversed and human civilization looks like it could go the way of the buffalo, we’re going to need to a Plan B / movie villain escape pod. To that end, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is attempting to test its reusable rocket tonight, having had to postpone its scheduled test from yesterday due to weather conditions. (Read)


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