Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Shoukry at Security Council on Daesh in Libya. 21 Egyptian fisherman reportedly released. Unemployment down, FDI up. Al Ismaelia eyes IPO. Egypt earmarks funds for second FSRU. Energy production mix targets to be announced. LLC laws being amended.


Three high-level security meetings are taking place today — one each in New York, Washington D.C. and Riyadh — and at least two could have serious implications for Egypt. As Amr Adeeb put it last night (yes, we deserve hellfire for quoting him as an authority): The diplomatic wrangling over the next 24+ hours will be at least as important to Egypt’s security as the military showdown with Daesh itself.

The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency session today to discuss the crisis in Libya.President Abdelfattah El Sisi has called for a resolution to give mandate to an international coalition to intervene militarily in Libya to defeat Daesh. El Sisi is also calling for weapons to be made available to the internationally-recognized government in eastern Libya.

The defense ministers and chiefs of staff of the 22 states in the international coalition against Daesh will meet in Riyadh today to “discuss ways and means to combat the IS, possibly deploy troops and expand attacks on IS targets across the region.” (Read)

Finally, today is the second day of a three-day gathering headlined Countering Violent Extremism in Washington D.C. at the White House and the State Department.

Meanwhile, we’re mindful of that other mess in the neighborhood with security implications for Egypt, namely Yemen. Ahram Online has a reminder this morning, carrying an English-language version of Ahram Hebdo’s sit-down with Ali El Shaabany, head of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s media office.

Closer to home: Today marks the first day of the Egypt Oil & Gas 2015 Summit, which will run until tomorrow. The event will take place at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza on the Corniche. View the official website here for more details.


The fervor over the 21 slain Egyptians and the airstrikes that ensued has died down a bit on the talk show circuit as hosts regained control of their emotions and attempted a somewhat logical analysis of the situation.

Amr Adeeb explained to his viewers the importance of seeking international legitimacy before moving ahead with further military action against Daesh in Libya.
“Following the lead of the Americans, the UK has already stated that it rejects military intervention in Libya. They are advocating a political solution to the problem. This is expected. I’m not saying that we need anyone’s permission to protect our national security, but we need their blessing. We need the Americans to be on our side because they influence many other countries. Whether we like it or not, the diplomacy has to begin with the U.S. It’s important that we sit with the big boss to say calmly, ‘Ya Pasha, this is what we want to do. Give me your blessing and I’ll give you something else in return,’” said Adeeb.

“The next 24 hours will be critical. We are heading into a huge diplomatic battle which is no less serious than the military battle. The Security Council is holding an emergency meeting to discuss Libya tomorrow. Our foreign minister has a very tough job ahead of him. I believe that the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan will also be playing an important role, along with our foreign minister. Having already carried out successful airstrikes yesterday puts us in a position of power in front of the international community,” he adds.

Dr. Walid Phares, an advisor to the U.S. Congress on terrorism, called in to the program. “The image of President El Sisi has changed dramatically in U.S. public opinion after the action he took against Daesh in Libya. Fox News has been treating him as the de facto leader in the fight against terrorism for a while, but now other American media outlets are also starting to sing his praises. I believe that Congress is ready to back Egypt but the Obama administration is unlikely to greenlight any Egyptian military intervention in Libya,” said Farres.

Lamees El Hadidy turned her attention to the plight of Egyptian workers in Libya, many of whom lack the resources to leave. Prompted by desperate calls from Egyptians in Libya who claimed that they are unable to reach their embassy, El Hadidy tried to call the Egyptian consulate in Libya on two hotlines (an Egyptian number and a Libyan number) that Egyptians have been instructed to call for assistance and both mobile phone numbers went directly to voicemail. She did, however, manage to reach the Egyptian Ambassador to Libya, who reassured her that the embassy is doing its best to assist everyone who wants to leave.

El Hadidy also took a call from Alaa Abu Zeid, the governor of Matrouh, who claimed that approximately 300 Egyptian citizens are now crossing the border from Salloom to Egypt every day since the crisis started. “No one is crossing back into Libya at the moment. I encourage all Egyptians to return. Don’t take the risk. Don’t risk your life for a job,” said Abu Zeid.


In some rare and much-needed good news coming out of Libya, the 21 detained Egyptian fishermen in Libya that we’ve noted a few times this week were reportedly released early Tuesday, according to Egyptian Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Adel El-Beltagy, speaking to Egyptian state TV. (Read) Unfortunately, at least seven Egyptians have been missing in Libya since 2014, according to a letter sent to the President on Monday by the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, raising the specter of more hostages in Daesh hands. Obtaining their safe return or even information on them is incredibly difficult as there is no information whatsoever as to their whereabouts or the identity of their captors. (Read)

Unemployment has dropped for the first time in four years. CAPMAS announced that the unemployment rate in 4Q14 fell to 12.9% from 13.1% a quarter earlier on improved economic conditions. The number of unemployed people fell by 65,000 from 3Q14 to 3.6 million in 4Q14 as the workforce grew by 0.1% during the same period. Fully 63% of the unemployed are between the ages of 15-29 years old and 67.6% have college degrees. The full report can be found here in Arabic.

Half the projects on offer at the March investment summit will be in the energy sector, according to Minister of International Cooperation Naglaa El Ahwany in an interview with Reuters yesterday. Notes the newswire: “Egypt’s willingness to push fuel market reforms and stick to debt repayment plans has led to an unexpected resurgence in oil and gas exploration and supply deals previously delayed by political upheaval. In January alone, Egypt clinched 15 new exploration deals, amended two more, and closed major tenders to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Algeria to Russia, opening up to global energy pricing norms as the government seeks to scrap crippling subsidies by 2019.” Reuters notes that Ahwany was clear the Sisi administration didn’t want the focus on energy to “divert attention from other potential investment opportunities in transport, agriculture and a Suez Canal logistics hub.”

FDI is on pace to hit USD 7.2 bn by the end of the current government fiscal year, according to Investment Minister Ashraf Salman, having hit USD 1.8 bn in the first quarter of 2014-15. FDI to Egypt in the current year will likely outpace that of FY 2013/14 by 70%, reaching USD 7.2 bn. Speaking at the Egyptian-Lebanese Business Forum, the minister concluded his talk by stating that next month’s Investment Summit will provide Lebanese businessmen with the ideal opportunity to invest in Egypt. Ajyal News and Al-Mal have more.

Downtown development champion Al Ismaelia is eyeing an EGP 400 mn IPO this year, Arab Finance reports. The company, backed by Amwal Al-Khaleej, Beltone Private Equity and Samih Sawiris, acquires and renovates “prime real estate in Downtown Cairo with the aim of revitalizing the historic neighborhood and celebrating its unique, organic urban framework.” Existing shareholders are apparently not interested in exiting, but rather in channeling proceeds from the planned offering into growth. The company’s portfolio includes about 76,000 sqm of residential, office and retail space. Beltone Financial is running the IPO, with Zaki Hashem taking care of the legal end of things.

INTERVIEW- Egyptian Resorts Company CEO Mohamed Kamel sits down with Worldfolio for an interview on the improved sentiment on Egypt for both tourists and investors, as well as the success of the company’s Sahl Hasheesh development. The interview is part of a package that will run to promote the Sharm El-Sheikh economic conference next month. “The fundamentals of the tourism industry have not changed, whether you’re an investor or operator in our industry or simply a holidaymaker … we have no real competition on the Red Sea: Saudi Arabia is difficult to visit and Sudan is substantially under-developed. We expect a rapid recovery of tourist arrivals and investment in the sector alike now that we have a stable government and a new president in place. We’ve seen this before: In early 2009, we were in New York at one of the investment banking conferences discussing how tourism in Egypt was going to be affected after the global financial crisis. We were betting that the numbers would improve over 2008, and we were right. It turned out that 2010 was our biggest year.  People don’t stop taking vacations; they are just going to look for better value for money. Egypt remains one of the top destinations on the global tourism map in that regard.” (Read)

The deregulation of the national electricity distribution network could be on the agenda at today’s weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, Ahram Online reports, citing remarks made at an Ahram-sponsored conference yesterday.

Mohamed Morsi will not face military trial on charges of conspiracy to incite violence, Al-Borsareported yesterday, citing a statement carried by the state-owned MENA network. The MENA statement came after Al-Jazeera claimed Morsi, former strongman Khairat El-Shater and others would face conspiracy charges before a military tribunal, citing what it said was a report in Al-Ahram.

It was reported earlier this week that Egypt’s security forces discovered 2.5 km Gaza smuggling tunnel, the longest such tunnel ever found to date, according to the AP. Detonators and communication devices were found in the tunnel, which will be destroyed. (Read)

GB Auto’s leasing activities have given the company a 17.7% market share as of the fourth quarter, the company said in a disclosure to the EGX. The high-quality leasing portfolio stands at about EGP 7 bn; GB Auto claims a 15.2% share of the leasing market in FY14.

293,000 cars sold in Egyptian auto market during 2014, an increase of 49.6% y-o-y: The Automotive Marketing Information Council (AMIC) reports 293,000 auto sales in Egypt for 2014, exceeding their projections for sales of c.280,000 units, as reported by Daily News Egypt. Chevrolet led with 22% of total sales, followed by Hyundai with a market share of c.15.7%. GB Auto typically controls a c. 30% market share via Hyundai, Geely and Mazda. (Read)

Holding company wants Nasr Automotive’s revival on the menu at Sharm-source: An unnamed official at the Holding Company for Metallurgical Industries (HCMI) says that the company’s chairman will reportedly submit a letter to Investment Minister Ashraf Salman officially requesting to present the project to rehabilitate and restart the Nasr Automotive Company at the upcoming investment summit, Daily Newsreports. Color us doubtful about the prospects for more 128s and Furas when the domestic assembly industry is already straining under the unfair price advantages given to European and Turkish imports.

The Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm next month will in no way be affected by the airstrikes, according to a statement yesterday by Essam Gala, a member of Amr Moussa’s Conference Party, to Akhbar Al-Yom. Galal added Egypt was determined to continue along its path of economic progress, despite efforts by outside parties to disrupt it. He concluded by stating that holding the conference at the previously agreed upon time would deliver the right message to international investors.

Meanwhile, the conference is starting to get favorable coverage in the GCC, with the UAE’s The National running yesterday with: Egypt The Future: Cairo’s big event draws global players’ interest.

BP’s annual long-term energy outlook — called Energy Outlook 2035 this year — is out and will cast the outlook for oil back into the spotlight today. Coverage spans the gamut and is limited only by the political views of the media outlets in question. Its bedrock conclusion: “We project that by 2035 global energy consumption increases by 37% from today’s levels with virtually all (96%) the growth in non-OECD countries and more than half coming from India and China.” Check out:

It’s 2006 all over again: Rolls Royce plans to make a “super luxury SUV,” the Wall Street Journalreports.

Dragon Oil still fired up for bid on Petroceltic by Michael Kavanagh for FT notes that Dragon Oil is still very much interested in attempting to acquire the Irish oil and gas company. (Read)

The NSA has hidden spyware on the firmware of hard drives manufactured by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers, according to Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab and confirmed by former NSA operatives. “Kaspersky said it found compromised hard drives in 30 countries including Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria, “ Reuters reports.


There is an enormous deal of uncertainty over whether the American government had foreknowledge of Egypt’s air strikes in Libya, as well as deliberate vagueness on their part as to their overall stance on the strikes. This has arisen in part from the U.S. government’s ambiguous and cold response to the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya. The White House’s statement on the killings went through great pains to not mention the faith of the Egyptians killed, nor those of the killers, or any other indication that the killings were sectarian in nature. Just as worrisome, the statement does not offer one word of support to the Egyptian government. (Read)

What no one seems to be mentioning is that a close reading of the joint statement by the U.S., UK, France, Germany and Spain not only makes no mention of Egypt’s air strikes, but its vague language seems to lump together Daesh and General Haftar: “The urgency of the terrorist threat demands swift progress in the political process, based on clear timelines. Those who seek to impede this process and Libya’s democratic transition, four years after the revolution, will not be allowed to condemn Libya to chaos and extremism. They will be held by accountable by the Libyan people and the international community for their actions.” (Read)

As Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry beats the drum for intervention at the U.N. Security Council in New York today, read this op-ed by Deborah K. Jones, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, in The Libya Herald yesterday: “Confronting Libya’s enemies – foreign and domestic – will remain impossible without such a government. That is why Libyans must engage in the UN dialogue … This is why we continue to support Bernardino Leon’s UN dialogue despite the arguments of those who now insist that the urgency of the fight against ISIL makes the dialogue irrelevant … Those who continue to fight, those who refuse to engage in dialogue, must be sanctioned by the international community – and we are prepared to do that.” (Read)

While unlikely that the United States would censure Egypt’s airstrikes, it seems the Obama administration is giving itself room to open the door for sanctions on future military action carried out outside the framework of the United Nations. We think it highly likely that the United States will spare no effort to lobby its allies to block President El Sisi’s call for a resolution for international military action.

According to the U.S. State Department’s schedule for its daily press briefings, it is unknown exactly at what time today that State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki will face the press, and the resulting vacuum of information regarding the American government’s stance on Egyptian military action is being filled by partisans on both sides of America’s political divide. A daily press briefing reportedly happened today via conference call, but as of now no transcript has appeared. However, Psaki was briefly quoted by the Los Angeles Times in response to a question over what stance the United States would take on calls for further military action: “We’re going to let the discussion play out … We don’t have any specific comment.”

Contrary to the assertions of Paul Richter, the author of the aforementioned Los Angeles Times piece that “Any proposal for a U.N.-authorized international military mission would likely face a veto from Russia” is this bit from TASS, which quotes Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on 16 February 2015 as saying he “expressed deep condolences amid the tragedy and confirmed the readiness of the Russian side to act in concert with Egypt in the issues of counteracting terrorist threat.” (Read)

Meanwhile, The Washington Post accuses Egypt of acting without giving any prior warning to the United States, citing an anonymous U.S. defense official. The same article claims: “In the United States, there is little appetite for renewed military involvement in Libya,” without citing any data other than the author’s whims and opinion. However, a CNN poll conducted from 12-15 February 2015 of 1,027 Americans shows that 57% disapprove of Obama’s handling of the threat from Daesh, up from 49% in September.

Meanwhile, former United States Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and former National Security Council staff member Oliver North said on Monday on right-wing television station Fox News that not only did the Obama administration have advance warning of Egypt’s attack, but that it explicitly refused Egyptian requests for intelligence on the strike’s targets: “President El Sisi asked for American intelligence targeting intelligence before today’s strikes and didn’t get it. King Abdullah of Jordan asked for intelligence data on targets to respond to the murder of a Jordanian aircraft pilot. The Kurds are begging for arms and ammo from the United States, not one bullet has been delivered by the United States.” (Watch, running time: 23 seconds)

Egypt’s civil aviation minister Mohamed Hossam Kamal denies allegations of closing airspace to Libyan flights: Libyan Airlines and Tripoli’s airport allege that a commercial jet heading from Tripoli to Istanbul was forced to turn around after liftoff following a denial of permission to fly over Egyptian airspace. Routes over Egyptian airspace are the only viable option for Libyan flights after the EU imposed a ban on flights over Cyprus for security reasons. If the allegations are substantiated, it would mean that Libya is completely cut off from incoming and outgoing air traffic. (Read)

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, in their absolute delusion and depravity, blame President El Sisi for the killing of the 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya, with no further explanation or attempt to make sense. However, as we noted on Monday, their political party FJP had speculated a month ago that the kidnapped Egyptians were part of an Egyptian plot to invade Libya, and that the hostages were kidnapped for the act of evangelism. (Read Ikhwanweb’s statement in English)

Erdoğan aide: Turkey’s role in Libya subject of smear campaign: Asharq Al-Awsat interviews Emrullah İşler, Erdoğan’s adviser on Libya, who uses it as a platform to insult Egypt as well as the intelligence of any reader, regardless of their nationality, when he says the following: “Our support for democracy in the region was misinterpreted as support for Islamist groups, and this interpretation grew in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. As such, a number of people used this to try to create the impression that Turkey, and especially the AKP, was working to forge relations on ideological grounds with a number of [Islamist] parties that had been formed following the Arab Spring.” (Read)


Paul Sullivan, professor of Economics at the National Defense University and adjunct professor of Security Studies at Georgetown University and formerly a visiting professor at AUC, writes a short but compelling piece for The Hill which one only hopes will offer some pause in DC. Sullivan very rightly argues that the United States’ actions under the Obama administration are alienating Egypt: “The recent visit to the State Department by Muslim Brotherhood-related persons caused an uproar in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood is listed as a terror organization in Egypt and is banned. Yet, we meet with them and they have Facebook pictures of them making the Muslim Brotherhood hand signals in the halls of our Congress. What are we thinking?” (Read Losing Egypt)

Meanwhile: We all have stupid people that we’re related to — we love them to pieces, but they’re not the sharpest knives in the drawer, God bless them — who think that the Apocalypse is happening this weekend, or “soon …” they say dramatically, staring off into the distance with a blank expression on their face that resembles that of a cow chewing cud. And year after year, as we watch them grow old, and the Apocalypse remains  always just-out-of-reach, always sometime … later, we can’t help but daydream, as we watch them drone on and on, about suddenly grabbing them by an ankle and lifting them up off the ground, and swinging them over heads around and around as they beg us to please put them down.

Unfortunately for the region and the entire world, Daesh are highly motivated by their deep and sincere conviction that are we most definitely living in End Times. In a widely-read and praised piece published this week by Graeme Wood, contributing editor of The Atlantic, he makes this very argument, saying it is key to our understanding of the group. Wood also notes that Daesh’s belief in the immediacy of the Apocalypse is what sets them apart from other terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda, and that a lack of appreciation of this specific mindset has cost the world in its fight against Daesh. Coming in at a little over 10,000 words, this is definitely a long read, but one that is well worth it:

“That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model. Ideological tools may convince some potential converts that the group’s message is false, and military tools can limit its horrors. But for an organization as impervious to persuasion as the Islamic State, few measures short of these will matter, and the war may be a long one, even if it doesn’t last until the end of time.” (Read: What ISIS Really Wants)

Azzedine Layachi, Professor of Government and Politics at St. John’s University, outlines the potential scenarios and pitfalls that await in Algeria’s succession of its presidency in The Deluge: Algeria’s Pending Succession Crisis. (Read)


This is a fairly accurate representation of what damage control arguments sound like at any given office. (Watch, running time: 1:03)

Aaron Y. Zelin, a leading specialist in jihadis and jihadi ideology, presents: An Introduction to ISIS / The “Islamic State.” Origins, Objectives & Operations. (Watch, running time: 43 minutes, 57 seconds)


Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on CNN speaking about air strikes in Libya last Monday, 16 February. (Watch, running time: 4:34)

The Emir of Qatar paid an official state visit to King Salman today, reportedly to discuss relations with Egypt and Yemen, as reported by the AP.

Egypt an attractive destination for Italian Investors: Italy’s ambassador to Egypt, Maurizio Massari, believes that Egypt is fast emerging as a highly attractive investment destination for Italian companies. Underscoring this point, the ambassador stated that Italian business  delegation — set to visit Egypt next month — plans to play an active role at the March Investment Summit. The ambassador concluded his talk by stating that Egypt’s recent economic and political reforms were beginning to bear fruit, particularly those pertaining to energy and taxes (Read in Arabic).


BBC: “The BBC’s Jim Muir says anger has been felt throughout Egypt by Muslims and Christians alike, and the killings are being seen as an attack on national dignity.” (Read)

Ilnur Cevik of Daily Sabah writes some vile garbage about Egypt, as we’ve become accustomed to hearing from pro-AKP writers in Turkey: “It is sad that those who could not stomach the moderate Muslims of Egypt are now facing the threat of having to deal with the extremists who call themselves Muslims but have nothing to do with Islam. In times like this the masses of a country who are frustrated with injustices of their military-backed regime usually opt for more extreme solutions, and hence we may well see the rise of ISIS in Egypt.” (Read)


MOE: will announce energy production mix targets for the next 12 years, price rises to resume in July
Al Borsa, Al Masry Al Youm | 18 Feb 2015
The Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Dr. Mohamed Shaker stated that the ministry prepared a study regarding the most suitable energy production mix through 2035. The government’s internal study apparently arrives at the same conclusions as those in a report by SOFRECO, reportedly a major player in this line of work, which delivered the results of its findings last month. Shaker also announced that the MOE willresume shifting energy prices in July as part of its plan to completely abolish subsidies in the next five years.

Gamesa to sign EUR 220 mn wind farm deal tomorrow
Al Borsa | 17 Feb 2015
Spain’s Gamesa and the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) are signing a deal for a EUR 220 mn wind farm on Thursday. The wind farm has an electricity production capacity of 220 MW and will be located at Gabal El Zit. The project is financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and is expected to come online by 2017. The NREA’s head says the project is the largest of its kind in Egypt. (Read in Arabic or if you want to know why wind farm developers are loving Africa right now, check AFK Insider)

New electricity law out before March, connecting grids with Saudi Arabia in 1H2018
Amwal Al Ghad | 17 Feb 2015
The Minister of Electricity said a new electricity law will be presented before the investment summit in March. The law will be presented at today’s cabinet meeting and, upon approval, will be made public. The minister also expects that the project to connect the electricity grid with Saudi Arabia will begin in 1H2018. (Read in Arabic)


Government earmarks funds to commission second FSRU unit in 2H2015
Reuters | 16 Feb 2015
The Egyptian government has earmarked USD 2 bn to import LNG shipments and commission a second FSRU unit in 2H2015, according to the head of EGAS. This follows Egypt securing LNG shipments from Algeria and Russia and also commissioning a FSRU unit from Norway’s Hoegh. (Read in Arabic)

Noble Energy to supply LNG cargoes starting April
Reuters | 17 Feb 2015
Noble Energy has reached an agreement with Egypt to supply seven LNG cargoes, according to a statement made by the Ministry of Petroleum. The shipments will begin in April and the deal will go on for two years. (Read)

SIDPEC’s chief denies EGX listing rumors
Arab Finance | 16 Feb 2015
The head of SIDPEC, of which the government owns a 25% stake, denied knowledge of the government’s intention to float the company on the EGX. This follows two days of rumors of the Ministry of Petroleum considering listing its shares in oil and gas companies on the stock market. SIDPEC says it has not received any official communication from the ministry regarding the issue. (Read in Arabic)

Egypt to re-export Cypriot gas after liquefaction – MoP
Al Mesryoon | 16 Feb 2015
Egypt will re-export most of the gas it will import from Cyprus, according to the Minister of Petroleum. The shipments will be directed to BG Group’s Idku liquefaction plant in order to cover the shortage in amounts of gas delivered to the plant. An unnamed source said that the MoU signed between EGAS and CHC yesterday came after notable efforts from the signatories as well as BG. Pricing and other delivery details between Cyprus and Egypt are yet to be agreed on. (Read in Arabic) Meanwhile, Ankara is fuming over any possible deal between Cyprus and Egypt, in what is an always enjoyable peek into the mirror universe known as Planet Turkey: Greek Cyprus, Egypt to transport unfound gas in Daily Sabah.

EGAS to offer concessions at eight sites this month
Al Borsa | 17 Feb 2015
Eight sites will be tendered for E&P concessions this months, according to the head of EGAS. The sites will be located in the Nile Delta and the Mediterranean and the majority will be offshore sites. EGAS has also received approvals to tender sites for shale gas exploration in the Western Desert, but those will be tendered by EGPC. The shale gas sites will not include the sites Shell and Apache are currently testing, according to EGAS. (Read in Arabic)


Health ministry to approve four Sovaldi generics within days
Al Borsa | 17 Feb 2015
The Ministry of Health will approve four Sovaldi generic drugs to be sold in Egypt within days. 20 thousands packs will be made available at a price of EGP 2,670 for a pack containing 28 tablets. Marcyrl will begin selling a Sovaldi generic imminently, while Pharco expects its own drug to be made available in March, and Aug’s in May. Generally, domestically produced generics will be made available before 2H15, according to Ahmed El Ezaby, the head of the pharmaceuticals chamber of commerce. (Read in Arabic)

Taxes on tobacco to finance healthcare spending
Al Mal | 17 Feb 2015
The health ministry said that proceeds from increases to the tax rates on tobacco products will go towards financing the government’s healthcare spending. The government is expected to increase spending on healthcare next fiscal year as per the constitutional requirements. (Read in Arabic)

Health ministry to build EGP 30 mn maternity ward in Assiut Hospital
Al Borsa | 16 Feb 2015
The Ministry of Health is building a new maternity ward at the Assiut Hospital this year at a cost of EGP 30 mn. The ministry’s initiative comes as part of a three-month plan to improve the quality of healthcare provided at all of Assiut’s hospitals. (Read in Arabic)


Initial Maspero development agreement signed
Daily News Egypt | 17 Feb 2015
An initial agreement to develop the Maspero area was signed following six months’ negotiations. The agreement was signed by the government, represented by PM Mahlab, investors, landowners, and the inhabitants of the area. This agreement includes redistribution of property, DNE reports, to preserve the rights of all parts and allow for a re-planning of the area. The project involves creating a large services hub in the space between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ building and the Egyptian state TV HQ, with the rest of the area reserved for real-estate. “The project comes within the implementation framework of the state’s plan to improve the living standards of poor and marginalised groups,” the Minister of Urban Development, Laila Iskander, noted according to DNE. (Read)

Al Habtoor Group looks for investment opportunities in Egypt
Arab Finance| 17 February 2015
The UAE’s Al Habtoor Group is considering investment opportunities in Egypt. The company’s chairman, Khalaf Ahmed Habtoor, is set to arrive in Egypt in the upcoming days in order to examine several investment opportunities in the fields of automobile manufacturing, real estate, and hospitality. Speaking on the company’s potential projects in Egypt, the company’s chairman said, “ I hope to establish a Habtoor City in a prime location in Cairo.” To the uninformed, a similarly named Habtoor City is already under construction in ultra-rich Dubai. (Read in Arabic)


Oracle to increase investments in Egypt, expand support services
Al Borsa | 16 Feb 2015
Oracle plans to increase investments in Egypt in the upcoming period, according to the company’s senior VP Juan Jones. Jones also said that Oracle will expand its provision of support services in Egypt and regionally, a sentiment welcomed by CIT minister Atef Helmy. (Read in Arabic)

Ex NTRA Chairman: Internet surveillance committee is pointless
Al Mal | 17 Feb 2015
Dr. Amr Badawi, the former head of the NTRA, said that a Cabinet decision to establish a committee to monitor the Internet is pointless, as the chances of seeing or reading something risky is very high, and a committee as such never be able to cover all grounds. Badawi, who headed the NTRA for six years since its establishment in 2006, added that the most disturbing content on the internet was produced outside Egypt. (Read in Arabic)


Energy investment in Egypt requires a clear-cut strategy
Al Mogiz | 17 February 2015
In order for egypt to attract investments in its energy sector, it must provide investors with a clear-cut strategy and appropriate legislation, said Minister of Investment, Ashraf Salman, at the “Future of Energy in Egypt” conference. The minister added that opportunities lie in energy production and distribution. Several large-scale energy project will be presented to investors at next month investment summit, including coal and wind powered energy plants. (Read in Arabic)


DP World amends Sokhna port agreement with transport ministry
Al Borsa | 17 Feb 2015
DP World agreed to amendments to its Sokhna port agreement with the Ministry of Transport. The amendments require DP World to pay the ministry USD 6 for every container handled instead of USD 0.6. Also, the price of land near for the logistics hub was increased and DP World is required to deliver the second container terminal by the end of 2017. DP World has also requested adding a clause in the contract to allow it to borrow domestically from Egyptian banks. (Read in Arabic)

Antiquities ministry to begin restoration works at Al Azhar
Al Mal | 17 Feb 2015
The Ministry of State for Antiquities announced the beginning of restoration works at Al Azhar mosque and the surrounding areas. After having finished assessing the project, the Saudi Binladin Group will implement the project. A Saudi Arabian grant will finance the restoration project. (Read in Arabic)


Government amends laws governing sole proprietorships and LLCs
Al Borsa | 17 Feb 2015
The government has completed amending the laws governing the formation of sole proprietorships and limited liability companies, according to Mounir Fakhry, the Minister of Industry and Trade. The amendments have now been sent to the higher commission for legislative reform and will be seeking opinions on the amendments once they are put out for public dialogue. The proposed laws will allow for easier liquidation and bankruptcy procedures and sets the owners’ legal liability changing the status quo of sole proprietorships, which are currently governed by a khedival decree from 1883. Issues relating to corporate governance and operational limitations for LLCs are also revisited in the new amendments. (Read in Arabic)

IFAD to lend Egypt USD 63.2 mn
Al Shorouk | 16 Feb 2015
Egypt is signing an agreement with the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for a USD 63.2 mn loan tomorrow. The loan agreements will be signed with the Ministry of International Cooperation and has a 15-year maturity with a grace period of three years at market interest rates. The agreement was supposed to be signed last year, but was delayed due to “external reasons,” according to Kanayo F. Nwanze, IFAD’s President. (Read in Arabic)

Unified Investment Law is at the Legislative Reform Committee for review
Al Masry Al Youm | 17 Feb 2015
The Economic Legislative Committee held a meeting on in the presence of Chancellor Ibrahim Heneidi the Minister of Transitional Justice, the decision maker on the Legislative Reform Committee, as well as Hany Kadry Demian, the Minister of Finance, and the Chairman of the Tax Authority, in order to listen to their notes on the new unified investment law. (Read in Arabic)


Jordan signs agreement to import gas from Gaza, connect electricity grids -Al Araby
Al Araby | 16 Feb 2015
An agreement was signed by Jordan and the Palestinian authority allowing the former to buy natural gas produced offshore in Gaza. The agreement also includes connecting Jordanian and Palestinian electricity grids. Jordan’s energy minister said his country is also about to sign a MoU with BG Group, which owns the rights for Gaza’s offshore gas fields, regarding the imports. This deal is not necessarily a substitute to buy Israeli gas, noted the minister, but rather part of Jordan’s drive to ensure energy security. (Read in Arabic)

Israeli energy officials worry Aphrodite would replace Leviathan as Egypt’s LNG source
JPost | 16 Feb 2015
Israeli energy sources fear that the MoU signed between Cyprus and Egypt yesterday linking Cypriot gas production to Egyptian liquefaction facilities could come at Israel’s expense. They worry that the closer ties between Cyprus and Egypt will push a potential deal with Israel sideways as antitrust concerns remain in Israel. Delek and Noble Energy are likely to “move on with Aphrodite, which will probably take one of the LNG contracts with Egypt” as an alternative to Leviathan and an industry source remarked this will be “a shame for Israel.” (Read)


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