Thursday, 12 March 2015
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING
The Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) opens tomorrow in Sharm El-Sheikh. Registration begins at 9am CLT, with proceedings getting underway at 4pm CLT with an opening address from President Abdelfattah El-Sisi. Invitation holders attending the Sisi speech need to be in their seats by 3:30pm CLT. Also tomorrow: Housing Minister Mostafa Madbouly will give us the first sneak preview of what the nation’s new ‘administrative capital’ is expected to look like. We’ll have full coverage of the president’s remarks and all the weekend’s news in a special edition of Enterprise on Sunday.
One note: Although we expect wall-to-wall coverage on broadcast and online media like, we’ve yet to find a live-stream for all of the public sessions. Should we find one, we’ll send out a special email alert so those of you not on the ground in Sharm can tune in wherever and whenever you see fit.
LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS
In an exceptionally slow (even for a Wednesday) night for talk shows, hosts were obviously saving their energy for the coming four days of live coverage from Sharm El Sheikh.
Al Qahira Al Yawm co-host Rania Badawi presented live footage from Sharm El Sheikh, as the resort town makes final preparations for the EEDC.
“Inshallah the weather will be good, inshallah everything will go according to plan, inshallah we will impress our visitors. It’s obvious from what we are seeing that security is extremely tight — an ant can’t pass through without clearance. Attendance has surpassed anyone’s expectation, there isn’t a single room available in all of Sharm El Sheikh. I will be joined by my co-hosts Amr Adeeb and Khaled Abu Bakr, and the entire team at Al Qahira Al Yawm to bring you minute-by-minute coverage of the conference,” said Badawi.
Khairy Ramadan hosted Sheikh Osama Al Azhari for a religious dialogue that focused on love and forgiveness.
Youssef El Housseiny hosted Palestinian singer Laith Abu Gouda who gave a musical performance accompanied by an acoustic guitarist.
Before transitioning into the cultural evening however, El Housseiny applauded Saudi Arabia’s decision to recall its ambassador to Sweden after Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström criticized the Kingdom’s record on human rights, women’s rights and democracy.
“The Swedish Foreign Minister was due to make a speech in the Arab League and Saudi Arabia blocked it after reading a transcript. Arab League member states backed Saudi Arabia’s decision, as they rightfully viewed this type of harsh attack as interference in their internal affairs” explained El Houssieny. “We might wish to learn from this example. Egypt has long been on the receiving end of criticism of fabricated human rights abuses from the West. Saudi Arabia did not stand for it and neither should we.”
The Financial Times’ Cairo correspondent, Heba Saleh, has been busy, penning not one but three pieces on Egypt for yesterday’s print and digital editions.
Seven to eight companies could list on the bourse by the middle of this year, according to EGX Chairman Mohamed Omran. Omran made his comments at the Middle East Securities Forum in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, saying the listings could take the form of both IPOs and secondary offerings. He also noted that some companies could witness dual listings, such as healthcare company Integrated Diagnostics Holding, a story we first mentioned mid-January. Omran says IDH’s dual listing on the FTSE / EGX could be ready within one month. (Read)
Unified corporate and individual income tax cuts confirmed: Despite a lone “clarification” from a Ministry of Finance advisor saying that the cut in income taxes to 22.5% would apply to corporates only, continued stories on the issue in both the foreign press and domestic all reinforce that the cut will apply to both individuals and companies. The new rates are effective for FY2015 and will remain in place for the coming 10 years, meaning professionals filing this month and corporations paying the tax man next month will still face the maximum rate of 30%. As they now stand, the cuts will see:
CABINET MEETING ROUNDUP: Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and his cabinet of ministers opened their weekly meeting yesterday by welcoming the newly appointed ministers to the cabinet. Items on their agenda included:
Worldfolio interviewed SODIC Managing Director Ahmed Badrawi on the company’s expansion plans: “The real challenge for us is to diversify out of the home building company that we have become into a mixed-use developer. We are looking at building on that platform to deliver recurring revenue streams in addition to the one time revenues of residential sales.” (Read)
‘The next great golf tourism destination is … Egypt?’: The official PGA site is running a story on the Golf Travel Egypt group, an initiative sponsored by the Egypt Tourism Authority and the Egyptian Golf Federation that aims to put Egypt on the map for off-season golfing for those travelling with their instructors. “Destinations aiming to attract teaching pro-led groups need to be able to offer an experience that is comfortable in a relaxing environment and where the golfers don’t feel under pressure on the course,” said Peter Walton, the chief executive of the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO). “Egypt has the capacity on its golf courses to provide exactly this with established resort destinations on the Red Sea and the option to mix up golf, tuition and sightseeing by combining the Red Sea with Cairo.” (Read)
The companies act could undergo its final review by the state body charged with reviewing legislation to be enacted by presidential decree as early as 19 March, Al-Borsa reports, noting that the commission’s review of the legislation yesterday focused on procedures for winding companies down outside of bankruptcy proceedings and civil liability for company executives and boards of directors.
Oil Minister: No shortage in diesel. Sherif Ismail reassured the nation yesterday that there is no shortage of diesel despite long lines at filling stations prompted, it appears, by rumors of an impending price hike. Ismail also noted that diesel price are not going to rise, in line with his suggestion earlier this week that fuel prices are unlikely to rise in the next budget year due to the drop in petroleum prices on global markets. (Read in Arabic)
EARNINGS ROUNDUP: Orascom Telecom’s net profit fell 76.4% y-o-y to EGP 263.9 mn in 2014,Reuters reports. The company’s revenues came in at EGP 2.69 bn, up from EGP 2.44 bn in 2013. Meanwhile,TMG Holding reported net profit of EGP 674 mn in FY2014, up from EGP 539 mn y-o-y. (EGX disclosure)
El-Sisi meets with Abu Dhabi crown prince in run-up to Sharm: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and a delegation of senior Emirati officials met yesterday with President Abdelfattah El-Sisi for high-level talks on economic and security cooperation. Ittihadiya emphasized the UAE’s support for this weekend’s Sharm summit in its release on the topic. Al-Mal has more.
Visa announced its participation at the EEDC where it “will shed light on efforts to electronify government payments and a strategic deal with the Egyptian Banks Company (EBC).” Visa’s Senior VP of Global Financial Inclusion will unveil the details of a partnership with EBC that will result in expanding access to financial services.
ADIB Egypt CEO Nevine Lotfy and ADIB Capital chief Zeinab Hashem will lead a delegation to Sharm El-Sheikh from the local subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Al-Mal reports. The bank is backing projects at Sharm including two projects in the Port Ghaleb area, one of which will be a wind farm.
‘Solar Cities: A greener Cairo’: Urban development blog Cairo from Below has a fascinating piece on the cross-section between renewable energy and urban development, with a special focus on the urban poor living in informal settlements, such as Manshiet Nasr. For the past three years, Egyptian-German NGO Solar Cities has been working to introduce solar water heaters to residents of Manshiet Nasr. The NGO has experienced two main problems in their work: “On average it costs EGP 3,500 … for one system … Other reasons include the fear of change and misconceptions about the effects of having a solar heater in the home. Due to the rarity of solar heaters in the Cairo’s poor areas, many fear that using solar energy for heat could cause diseases and other negative consequences for those living in the home.” However, the post ends with some recommendations on how some of these issues may be overcome. (Read)
‘Contesting the myths around renewable energy investment’: David W. Richardson, Managing Director at Impax Asset Management, argues against three “myths” of renewable energy: “Renewable energy is uncompetitive and depends upon government subsidies to compete with traditional fossil fuel generation; Renewable energy projects are vulnerable to changes in government policy that could see support suddenly removed; and falling oil prices have a significant adverse impact on renewables.” (Read)
Private newspaper Al-Watan reportedly saw its first run of yesterday’s edition confiscated at the press. Ahram Online says sources at the newspaper told it the first edition was confiscated over an investigative piece claiming a number of government entities were “implicated in tax evasion.” Photos of what purport to be the two different front pages are circulating on Twitter. The story is now crossing over into the international media as a press-freedom / corruption issue, as coverage by the Guardian indicates.
Egyptian State Lawsuits Authority is appealing the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters ruling that declared Hamas as a terrorist organization. “This decision proves that the verdict in February was a huge mistake,” said Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri on Wednesday. (Read)
Kuwaiti Daesh-type wants to destroy the pyramids: Per IB Times quoting Kuwait’s Al-Watan: “A Kuwaiti Islamist preacher has called for the destruction of Egypt’s pyramids and Sphinx – one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world – claiming that just because early Muslims did not destroy the pharaohs’ legacy ‘does not mean that we shouldn’t.’ Ibrahim Al Kandari said that the ancient Egyptian monuments should be ‘destroyed.’”
Dr. Ziad Bahaa-Eldin’s most recent op-ed focuses on five challenges facing the EEDC which he argues should be kept in mind for the summit to succeed: manage expectations; identify the purpose of the conference and a benchmark for its success, as he notes that the idea has moved away somewhat from its original conception as a platform to help secure international financing for infrastructure; the government should use the summit to express its medium and long term economic policy; clarify the social safety net policy; and lastly that it is better to have a sound investment law than one that is rushed through with potential problems. (Read)
In yet the latest example that real life is closer to Veep than House of Cards, Politico was able to get this amazing quote out of Senator John McCain regarding the reasoning behind 47 Republican senators signing an open letter to the Foreign Minister of Iran saying they would not honor any potential agreement negotiated with the P5+1: “It was kind of a very rapid process. Everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of the snowstorm,” (Read Iran letter blowback startles GOP on Politico)
The Moroccan king is having his “Obama moment,” reminiscent of President Obama refusing to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ostensibly because the visit was so close to Israeli elections. King Mohammed VI not only refused to take a phone call from Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, but has taken the additional step of recalling the Moroccan ambassador from Nigeria, accusing the Nigerian president of attempting to gain an advantage in his own upcoming re-election with the Muslim electorate in his country versus his Muslim opponent. The Nigerian Foreign Ministry, however, claims the call did take place. But really, who cares either way. (Read) Also, fossilised remains of a human-sized lobster were discovered in Morocco.
In this fascinating look at growing fault lines of dissent within the ranks of Daesh by the WSJ’s Maria Abi-Habib (relying on significant input from Syria expert Hassan Hassan), perhaps the most divisive issue identified within Daesh’s ranks is the group’s racism. Daesh (as well as Al-Qaeda) simply replicates the informal racial caste system witnessed throughout the region. The WSJ piece notes that foreign fighters are being paid twice as much as Syrians and are offered much better housing. This reinforces what one deserter from India said upon returning home from Syria: “Majeed also disclosed how he was completely sidelined by the terror group as he had been asked to carry out menial tasks like cleaning toilets or providing water to those on the battlefield, instead of being pushed into the warzone.” The WSJ article also details other divisions in the group, such as the members of an extremist (yes, extremist relative to Daesh) cell within the terror group who were apprehended and executed for allegedly plotting to overthrow Baghdadi.
Bill Clinton doesn’t use email. He’s sent two — in his entire life. Both while he was still president.
The ascension of King Salman to the Saudi throne has initiated a great deal of speculation regarding his attitudes and plans to form a “Sunni bloc” to counter Iran, irrespective of how tenuous this tie really against the backdrop of unrelenting animosity between various Sunni powers in the region, and the hosting of those who incite violence and murder in other brotherly Sunni states. The speculation itself often seems to align with the writer’s nationality and politics. The Qatari media, for example, is gloating at the new Saudi king’s determination to strengthen ties with Turkey and Qatar.
Al Jazeera America (it’s ok, we’ve never heard of them either) ran ‘Saudi Throne’s shift in focus no mere game‘ at the beginning of this week: “King Salman, prioritizes creating a Sunni Muslim united front against Shia Iran and its allies. To be effective, that would require an easing of Riyadh’s recent campaign to crush the Muslim Brotherhood and curb the influence of its regional allies.”
Others, such as Saudi writer Tariq Alhomayed, former Editor-in-Chief of the Arabic edition Asharq Alawsat, are attempting to throw cold water on the idea — at least in terms of closer bonds with Turkey.
However, a trend does seem to be emerging from some Kuwaiti and Saudi media personalities at hinting that the intent in Saudi foreign policy is clearly there. Most recently, Jamal Khashoggi, identified as the general manager for Prince Alwaleed’s soon to be (re)-launched news network Al Arab News, argues in Al Arabiya: “Obsession with the Brotherhood has distracted us from what matters most: books are being printed, authors hired, hefty amounts of money spent, conferences held, conspiracies planned and media outlets abandoning the profession’s values and getting involved in campaigns that divide societies and judge mere intent. All this leads to a repugnant state of polarization.” (Read How the Middle East should handle the Muslim Brotherhood)
However, it’s the very reasonable analysis of opposition Turkish writer Murat Yetkin which makes the most sense regarding Saudi’s alleged foreign policy aims: “Even if Turkey and Egypt are reconciled with a magic wand, Turkey has to stay away from this anti-Iran or anti-Shiite front. … Escalating sectarian tensions in the region will have no benefit for Turkey and any other country. It will mean more violence and death. While the troubles caused by Turkey’s Syria policy are there for all to see, there is no need to become a part of even a more serious polarization and confrontation.” (Read Are Turkey, Saudi Arabia working together against Iran?)
EGYPT IN THE NEWS
Reporting on Egypt in the foreign press continued to build up for this weekend’s EEDC (see also in this respect the three FT pieces noted above in the Speed Round, in case you missed them).
‘Egypt pins hope for revival on investment conference’: Nothing new here for informed readers; it basically reads as a summary of the past year. It is, however, a Reuters piece likely to get wide pickup in the international press. (Read)
‘Time Egypt got back on the privatisation track’: Financial journalist Patrick Werr argues in The National that it is time for Egypt to once again consider privatizing some of the state’s assets. The core, and contentious issue which Werr does not address, and which was touched upon briefly in a recent post on the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage policy blog, which states that Egypt is still holding on two state assets which it views as strategic, often referred to in privatization discussions as “crown jewels.” Werr names those assets as candidates for privatization, but offers no reasoning as to why the state would be or should be willing to re-assess. (Read)
How Al Jazeera, my employer, failed me in Egyptian court, by Mohamed Fahmy, former Cairo bureau chief for Al Jazeera English.
ENERGY, RENEWABLE ENERGY & SUBSIDY REFORM
Electricity sector demands more fuel from petroleum ministry
Al Borsa | 10 March 2015
The National Electricity Control Centre (NECC) is demanding to be supplied by an extra 5 mcf per day of natural gas and equivalents. A shortage of fuel and having the power stations undergo annual maintenance operations is resulting in a 700 MW reduction in output. The NECC expects service to become more stable gradually with more consistent electricity supply. (Read in Arabic)
OIL & GAS
EGAS negotiating with Union Fenosa to drop arbitration case
Al Borsa | 11 March 2015
EGAS is currently in negotiations with Union Fenosa Gas (UFG) and Segas to have them drop the arbitration case filed against Egypt. Along with Eni, UFG and Segas operate the liquefaction complex in Damietta and are seeking USD 8 bn in damages because natural gas supplies were stopped since July 2012. Khaled Abdel Badie, the head of EGAS, said the companies showed a willingness to drop the case, but a government source said supplying gas to the liquefaction is unlikely to happen unless a deal with Cyprus is finalised. (Read in Arabic)
Egypt set to cause European ports to receive fewer LNG shipments this summer
Reuters | 11 March 2015
As Egypt is gearing up to become the top payer for LNG imports this summer, Europe is likely to attract fewer shipments. “While analysts still expect more LNG to land in Europe this year than in 2014, forecasts will be tempered by increased competition with Egypt,” Reuters notes. “European LNG deliveries will be reduced as Egypt will be a premium market in that region,” a trading house source expects to happen once Egypt begins receiving LNG imports. Trafigura, which presented a winning bid to supply Egypt with 33 cargoes, is likely to rely on Qatari production which, according to Reuters, “which may lead to lower than expected Qatari deliveries to Europe, Dubai and India in the summer months.” (Read)
Crude exports from Ras Gharib resumed
Amwal Al Ghad | 11 March 2015
Crude oil exports from the port of Ras Gharib were resumed yesterday, the Ministry of Petroleum announced. Exports had halted after a ship damaged the main pipeline. The port authority connected the export lines to alternatives to resume operations normally. (Read in Arabic)
Sea Dragon reviews data ahead of well drilling
Offshore Mag | 09 March 2015
Sea Dragon Energy said it is reprocessing 3D seismic data of its South Ramadan Concession. The goal is to improve the imagining of localise fault patterns over the concession site in the Gulf of Suez where Sea Dragon plans to drill a well there early next year. Sea Dragon had relinquished its offshore Shukheir Marine concession to the south of the South Ramadan, citing the high cost of operations. (Read)
BASIC MATERIALS & COMMODITIES
Supplies ministry expects to receive 3.7 mn tons of domestically grown wheat
Al Borsa | 11 March 2015
3.7 mn tons of wheat will be supplied from domestic growers this harvesting season, expects the Minister of Supplies, Khaled Hanafy. Wheat deliveries are set begin by mid-April and will be priced at EGP 420 per erdab. The new supplies are expected to push up the strategic reserves to wheat to cover up till October. (Read in Arabic)
Eastern Co seeks land in the Suez Canal project
Reuters | 11 March 2015
Eastern Co has requested 250 feddans of land in the Suez Canal project’s industrial hub to build a customs storage facility and production lines for export. This is the first request for land at the project’s site. Reuters reports that the financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. (Read)
Ernst & Young assessing the national telecommunications infrastructure entity plans
Al Borsa | 11 March 2015
The plans for the national telecommunications infrastructure entity are currently being assessed by Ernst & Young, said the head of business development there. The plan includes a drive to refurbish the telecommunications infrastructure nationally and extend a network of fibre optic cables. Ernst & Young were commissioned to assess the plans due some differences of opinion regarding it; particularly on the shareholder structure and the operational framework. (Read in Arabic)
BANKING & FINANCE
Sigma Securities Brokerage opens Alexandria Branch
Al Mal | 11 March 2015
Sigma Securities Brokerage, the securities brokerage arm of Sigma Capital, opened a branch in Alexandria today. This is Sigma Securities Brokerage fifth branch. The company plans to expand its services throughout the republic. (Read in Arabic)
Beltone Financial: 4 IPOs in the pipeline for 2015
Al Borsa | 11 March 2015
According to company chairman, Alaa Seba, Beltone Financial will be involved in four large-scale IPOs, spanning the finance, telecom, petroleum, and real estate sectors, in 2015. These companies are: Beltone Capital, the private equity arm of Beltone Financial, Giza Systems, an unnamed petroleum services company, and Al-Ismaelia for Real Estate Investments. (Read in Arabic)
EFSA consulting JICA regarding microinsurance
Al Ahram | 11 March 2015
The Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA) is meeting with representatives from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to discuss experiences in microinsurance. EFSA consulted JICA about how to create successful micro-insurance infrastructure legislatively and how to convey its importance for microenterprises. (Read in Arabic)
OTHER BUSINESS NEWS OF NOTE
CIT Ministry tenders a project to archive the documents of Ittihadiya’s information centre
Amwal Al Ghad | 11 March 2015
A tender to supply and operate systems to archive the documents of the Presidency’s information centre is on offer by the CIT ministry. The ministry will respond to queries regarding the tender next Tuesday. Bids are expected to be submitted by 22 March. (Read in Arabic)
Mo’men Group to present USD 100 mn project at EEDC
Al Borsa | 11 March 2015
Restaurant chain operator Mo’men said it is presenting USD 100 mn in investment opportunities at the EEDC this weekend in Sharm. Hatem Mo’men, the head of the group, said the entrance of new investors will increase the market’s competitiveness. Mo’men Group is aiming to expand it regional presence and competitiveness. (Read in Arabic)
EGYPT POLITICS + ECONOMICS
Lower oil prices present challenges and opportunities to MENA sovereigns –Moody’s
Moody’s Investor Service | 10 March 2015
Oil market developments are creating challenges and opportunities for MENA policymakers. “From a government finance perspective, MENA net oil and gas importers will benefit from lower oil prices, which would lead to reduced expenditure on energy subsidies thereby facilitate reform initiatives. GCC exporters, on the other hand, will be affected through lower oil revenues, which will likely lead to cut-backs in public expenditure and in some cases, rising debt burdens,” says Steffen Dyck, a senior analyst at Moody’s. The Most vulnerable states are Oman and Bahrain, Moody’s says while Kuwait and Qatar the most resistant given their low fiscal break-even points. Regionally, combined net hydrocarbons import could drop by up to 50%, Moody’s expects while noting that all of the net oil importers are expected to post lower current account deficits in 2015 compared to 2014, except for Egypt. (Read)
Palestinian power firm cancels gas deal with Israel
Reuters | 11 March 2015
The Palestine Power Generation Company (PPGC) has cancelled a deal to buy about USD 1.2 bn of natural gas from Israel’s Leviathan field. The PPGC cited delays in the development of Leviathan as reason for cancellation following an antitrust inquiry. A 20-year deal was signed by PPGC to buy up to 4.75 bcm of gas once Leviathan begins production, but as it stands the cancellation will take effect in 30 days, unless antitrust approval is secured. (Read)
ON YOUR WAY OUT
Four men sentenced to jail in dog-killing case: Four men have been sentenced to three years in prison for their part in the public killing of a dog which was captured on video. The charged include the three attackers as well as the dog’s owner, who let the men kill the dog as retribution for the dog having attacked one of the men. The dog’s owner was sentenced in absentia, and the sentencing is still subject to appeal. (Read)
An army officer was killed on Wednesday in a shootout between security forces and Islamist militants at a checkpoint in North Sinai. (Read)
Talk show host Ahmed Moussa thinks President Obama has secretly been named the new global Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood. (Read in Arabic)
BY THE NUMBERS
USD CBE auction (Wednesday, 11 March): 7.5301 (unchanged since Monday, 02 Feb)
USD parallel market (Wednesday, 11 March): 7.66 (unchanged since Wednesday, 04 March)
EGX30 (Wednesday): 9,576.46 (-1.37%)
Turnover: EGP 507.8 mn (20% below the 90-day average)
WTI: USD 48.62 (+0.31%)
Brent: USD 57.90 (+0.63%)
TASI: 9,661.9 (+0.5%)
ADX: 4,500.0 (-0.3%)
DFM: 3,696.8 (-1.5%)
KSE Weighted Index: 446.1 (+0.1%)
QE: 12,128.0 (-1.1%)
MSM: 6,404.2 (-0.9%)
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