Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Obama un-freezes military aid to Egypt. Houthis take base overlooking Bab Mandab Strait. GDP growth to hit 4.2% in FY2014-15. MNHD, PHD to co-develop land on route to new capital. Qatari ambassador is back. Does Sultan Al-Jaber like IMF-Egypt match?


GB Auto begins today a 30-day subscription period for the company’s tradable rights issue,which will see shareholders as of 29 March 2015 given the opportunity to subscribe to 960 mn new shares on a pro-rata basis at par (EGP 1 per share, plus issuance fees of EGP 0.01 per share), paid either in cash or through the capitalization of debts owed by GB Auto to shareholders, with a subscription ratio of 7.09 new ordinary shares for one existing ordinary share. The subscription period will run from 1 April to 30 April 2015, during which time the subscription rights will be tradable separate from the share (on the EGX under ISIN code EGS920I1C016) in full or in part between 1 April and 27 April 2015. The company’s share price was adjusted on 30 March 2015 to reflect the additional 960 mn shares, with GB Auto’s paid-in and issued capital set to reach EGP 1.095 bn upon conclusion of the rights issue. Proceeds from the rights issue will be used to invest in a tire manufacturing facility and a motorcycles and three wheelers assembly project.

Iran nuclear talks with the P5+1 nations have been extended to today after negotiations failed to produce an agreement at a previously set deadline of midnight GMT on Tuesday. Last weekend, it was announced that a former media aide to the Iranian president defected to Switzerland, and while there are questions to his credibility,( especially given that as a defector seeking asylum he has to demonstrate he cannot return to Iran) he has alleged that  ”The US negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal,” (Read).

Oh, and it’s April Fool’s Day. We’ve spared you the traditional fake news nugget. But wow, was it tempting…


The HSBC / Markit Economics Egypt Purchasing Managers’ Index will be released on Sunday, 5 April at 7:30am CLT.

In the latter half of this month (there are varying reports of the exact date; IHS reports it being on 22 April), Egypt will allow its roll-on, roll-off ports agreement with Turkey to expire. In the preceding link, IHS goes on to note that the non-renewal will cost Turkey USD 500 mn a year in exports, leaving it with only one of two options: costlier transit through the Suez Canal, or the attempted negotiation of a ro-ro agreement with Iran, which IHS views as unlikely, given fuel surcharges and long queues.

On Monday, 13 April 2015, polls will open for presidential elections in Sudan. The re-election of incumbent Omar el Bashir is being seen as a foregone conclusion by many in the country’s opposition, with a number of groups having stated their intention to boycott elections.


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There was very little to report from last night’s talk shows, as many of the networks aired President Abdelfattah El Sisi’s recorded speech to military and police officials during the 16th annual educational seminar organized by the armed forces.

“It’s tax season. We are all depressed about paying taxes, but it is a necessary evil,” said Lamees El Hadidy. She conducted a telephone interview with the head of the Tax Authority for Professional Services Providers,Mohamed Salah, who said that this year the government has seen a 25% increase in collections from professional services.

“A lot of you may be thinking why do we pay such a high tax rate? What benefits are we getting? Are public funds that come from our taxes being put to good use? The answer is no. The general feeling of carelessness has got to go. We vandalize our public property, for example just take a look at our buses and microbuses: Windows are broken, seat coverings are torn and strange stickers are pasted on the windows. Why do we do this to our public property? We have to understand that we are all citizens of this country and it is up to us to take care of it,” said El Hadidy.

El Hadidy’s studio guests were psychiatrists who discussed the taboo topic of affection between two members of the same gender and ways in which “to protect our youth from losing their way.” The discussion dealt with the issue as a psychological disorder or illness. [Apologies for the awkward turn of phrase, but any use of the common terms for this invariably results in our being blocked by the algorithms that decide on our deliverability to many of your inboxes.]

Youssef El Housseiny also took issue with microbus drivers and called for the creation of a special authority and mechanism to regulate them.


Following a phone call between President Abdelfattah El Sisi and President Obama, the U.S. will lift executive holds on military aid and equipment to Egypt that have been in place since October 2013, according to a readout from The White House. “Beginning in fiscal year 2018, the President noted that we will channel U.S. security assistance for Egypt to four categories – counterterrorism, border security, Sinai security, and maritime security – and for sustainment of weapons systems already in Egypt’s arsenal.” Reuters adds that also starting U.S. fiscal year 2018, the U.S. will stop allowing Egypt to buy equipment on credit. Get more from the NY Times or the Washington Post.

The Washington Post was out of the gates almost immediately with an editorial slamming the decision, titled ‘Egypt’s ‘meaningless’ rule of law,” which uses as its jumping off point David Kirkpatrick’s reporting (at the New York Times) on a move to charge witnesses to the murder of Shaymaa El-Sabbagh. Kirkpatrick’s depressingly on-point piece is here: ‘Witnesses, Who Say Police Killed Activist, Are to Be Charged in Egypt‘. There can be little doubt that the New York Times editorial board is currently pulling a cigarettes-and-Twinkies-fueled all-nighter to produce what is sure to be their magnum opus.

A significant step toward Egyptian boots on the ground in Yemen? Per Reuters: “Fighters from Yemen’s Houthi militia on Tuesday entered a coastal military base overlooking the Red Sea’s strategic Bab el-Mandeb strait, local officials told Reuters. Soldiers of the 17th Armoured Division in the Dabab district in Yemen’s southwestern Taiz province opened the gates to the Houthis…” As we noted back in February, Suez Canal Authority head Mohab Mamish said Egypt would intervene militarily if the Bab Al-Mandab Strait were to be blocked. The strait is the critical access point to the Suez Canal from the south, linking the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. Business Insider uses the Reuters piece as a jumping off point for a map and the note that an estimated 3.8 mn barrels of oil and refined product pass through the strait daily.

He’s baaaack: Qatari ambassador to Egypt Saif Moqadam Al-Boenain is back in Egypt after having been recalled to the statelet for “consultations” on 19 February after a dustup at the Arab League that saw Egypt’s envoy suggest Qatar supported terrorism after the latter slammed Egyptian air strikes in Libya in retaliation for the mass beheading of 20 Egyptians. The move comes after Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa attended this past weekend’s Arab Summit, where he was greeted on arrival not by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, as many had expected, but by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. Ahram Online has more.

The government is targeting a GDP growth rate of 4.2% this fiscal year, the investment minister mentioned in passing during the inauguration of a new dairy plant, Al Mal reports. The government’s official GDP growth target had previously been given as 4%.

Edita’s public tranche is 4.5x oversubscribed, Reuters reports, citing a company statement. The news comes after the 13.4x oversubscribed institutional offering generated demand for c. EGP 22.8 bn. Shares are due to start trading tomorrow morning under the stock ticker EFID, opening at EGP 18.50 per share. EFG Hermes and Goldman Sachs are advising. (Mabrouk, friends!)

PHD, MNHD sign MOU to develop land near the New Capital: Palm Hills Developments and Madinet Nasr Housing and Development have inked an MOU to develop a 433,643 sqm plot of land some 45 km into the Cairo-Suez Desert Highway toward the “New Capital”. The MOU stipulates a revenue split of 64% to PHD and 36% to MNHD, with the project expected to return somewhere around EGP 4.6-5.5 bn, Al-Mal reports.

CBE channeling liquidity to banks for EEDC projects: Gamal Negm, deputy governor of the CBE, announced that local banks are ready to receive loan requests pertaining to projects presented at the EEDC. Banks have reportedly been supplied by the CBE with excess liquidity, he suggested, although there have been no reports yet of the mega-auction many expect. (Read in Arabic)

Does Sultan Al-Jaber think Egypt should cozy-up to the IMF? That’s Al-Mal‘s take on an interview the UAE’s de facto “minister of state for Egypt” gave to state-run news agency MENA yesterday. In the course of the sit-down, the well-respected Jaber also recaps the outcome of the EEDC; urges prompt follow-up on projects, legislative reforms and memoranda; warns against slacking on dispute resolution; and points out the need for continued fiscal discipline, among other issues.

‘It’s time for Sisi to protect the Christians’: Samuel Tadros published an opinion piece on Fox News calling upon President Abdelfattah El Sisi to take decisive action to enforce the rule of law in the small village of Al Our outside Minya. The village was home to 13 of the 20 Christian Egyptians who were beheaded by Daesh in Libya. As we’d noted on Monday, last Friday in Al Our, an unfinished church which had been promised by the President to be built, in order to commemorate the victims of those killed, came under attack. The mob was apparently displeased with its prominent location at the entrance to the village, and had wanted the church to be non-descript, tucked away out of sight. Tadros notes that the most disturbing element to the story is the reaction of local officials, who acquiesced to the demands of the rioters through a notorious “reconciliation session.” This so-called reconciliation involved releasing seven men who had been arrested over the attack and the governor agreeing to have the church built on the outskirts of Al Our. “President Sisi has courageously spoken of a need for a religious revolution and of the need to change the religious discourse fueling hatred. He has similarly spoken of saving the Egyptian state from collapsing like others in the region. If Sisi is serious about both, then he must turn his words into actions by upholding the rule of law, prosecuting those attacking Christians, and offering police protection for the Christians of Al Our.” (Read)

Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan inaugurated the third edition of the India by the Nilefestival. “Every time I come to Egypt I feel as though I come home. Every time I have been here it has been such an experience,” Bachchan commented on his visit.

Most of Turkey involuntarily observed Earth Hour yesterday. The mass-scale power outage was the worst in 15 years, lasting for several hours in 40 of 81 provinces, with officials there not ruling out sabotage or terrorism.

All the good Goodluck jokes have already been made: Incumbent Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan called president-elect Muhammadu Buharii on Tuesday to concede defeat, in what Reuters is calling“an unprecedented step that should help to defuse anger among Jonathan’s supporters.” Meanwhile, on Monday, Fitch Ratings affirmed Nigeria’s Long-Term Foreign and Local Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at ‘BB-’ and ‘BB’ respectively, while revising its outlook to negative from stable, citing “Medium political uncertainty as being heightened in the context of a tightly contested presidential election and potential transition issues,” Reuters notes. The FT’s pre-victory interview with Buharii is very worth reading, as is this take by the New York Times’ Adam Nossiter.

Turin’s revamped Egyptian museum inaugurated; largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Egypt: Turin, Italy’s Egyptian museum the Museo Egizio, is ready for its re-opening after a three-and-a-half year EUR 50 mn renovation. The museum is famous for housing the world’s second-largest collection of Egyptian antiquities, and attracts over 500,000 visitors a year. (Read)

The African Development Bank Group released the list of the eight candidates running to become its next president and their profiles. Only one candidate from North Africa, the former finance minister of Tunisia Jaloul Ayed, is in contention with just one woman, Cabo Verde’s Cristina Duarte, among the candidates.

Former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has started a creatively-titled blog at Brookings. His first postattempts to explain why interest rates are so low.

Anonymous exposes Daesh’s “Social Media War Machine”: A member of the hacker collective Anonymous has opened a new front in the group’s digital conflict with Daesh, writing on Medium yesterday: “Today I am releasing a list of 26,000 Twitter usernames belonging to ISIS militants and supporters. I would like to ask each one of you to stop what you’re doing and take a few minutes to actually view some of these accounts. Every word, every image and video is designed to inspire hate.” Slightly more than 10,000 of the accounts are active, with the balance suspended. Read the Medium post here, check out thelists here, or get more background from the NY Times.

Can money buy your kids a bigger brain? “A new study suggests that a family’s socioeconomic status correlates with the surface area of children’s brains, regardless of genetic ancestry, race and other factors.” It’snot a long story, but entirely worth reading nonetheless.

CORRECTION: Regarding our note yesterday on the Egyptian renewable energy FIT program investor briefing held at the JW Marriott, the wording used incorrectly implied that Shahid Law Firm acted or does act on behalf of the NREA, which it does not. We regret the error.

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Lego Chainsaw Massacre. (Watch, running time: 3 and a half minutes)


The lead story this morning on Egypt in the foreign press is a report from Amnesty International citing thatEgypt and Nigeria led the world in the greatest number of death sentences handed down in 2014, together accounting for more than a third of the world’s death sentences last year. The news appears onAP, being picked up by The New York Times, among others.

Forbes contributor Christopher Coats wrote about how Egypt’s fuel subsidy cuts are starting to yield some results with the government reporting that spending on fuel subsidies decreased by 30% in the first half of the fiscal year. He notes that reducing the subsidy, besides its direct fiscal impact, will also help “Egypt improve their standing in the eyes of international lenders and ratings agencies.” It should be noted that the title of the piece ‘Energy subsidy cuts finally providing relief for Egypt’ is somewhat misleading, as a good portion of this is due to the falling price of oil, which to his credit, Coats mentions in the middle of the piece.

‘Egypt Introducing New Visa Requirements’: Voice of America, the U.S. federal government’s official broadcast organization, picked up yesterday the story regarding the new visa restrictions on tourists planning to travel alone to Egypt without going through a tour company. “According to the Foreign Ministry, 90 percent of all tourists to the country visit with travel operators. Industry experts dispute that figure, arguing 15 to 20 percent are lone travelers. Last year, Britain’s low-cost airline EasyJet had a capacity of nearly 400,000 seats for travelers to the Egyptian cities of Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh, none were booked by tour operators. The company is in talks with Egyptian authorities. The budget airline has seen its share price fall in recent weeks due to losses partly caused by a decline in tourism to Egypt.” (Read)


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e-Finance delivers 3.2 mn gasoline smart cards to government
Youm7 | 31 March 2015
The chairman of e-finance, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Finance, revealed that the company delivered 3.2 mn gasoline smart cards to the Traffic Authorities of 11 governorates. The chairman added that owner of every car that is registered in one of the 11 governorates should receive a smart card within three weeks. On a related note, the Ministry of Finance is studying the possibility of distributing smart cards to tuk tuk operators.  (Read in Arabic)


EGPC to pay for LNG imports in FY2015-16 from its own resource
Daily News Egypt | 30 March 2015
The Ministry of Petroleum said EGPC will pay for its LNG imports in FY2015/16, as well as the cost of commissioning a FSRU, using its own resources. The ministry reports that USD 2.5 bn have been earmarked to pay for the LNG imports during the fiscal year, without any allocation of funds from the finance ministry. (Read)

Apache reports strong results from discoveries in the Western Desert
CNN Money | 31 March 2015
Apache Corporation reported strong “appraisal- and development-drilling results from Egypt,” CNN Money reports. Khalda, Apache’s subsidiary in Egypt, completed five wells, including discovery wells at the Berenice and Ptah fields and is producing at a combined rate of more than 13,600 bbl per day since November 2014. Apache invested USD 14 mn on installing production facilities at the site and is pumping USD 35 mn more to handle the projected increases in production. “These recent discoveries… highlight the significant opportunity we have for greater development of our 6.7 mn gross acres,” said Apache Egypt Country Manager Tom Maher. (Read)

Bapetco preparing to bring production from a well on-stream
Al Mal | 30 March 2015
Bapteco, Shell’s JV in Egypt, said it’s preparing to bring in a well on-steam with production rates nearing 3,000 barrels of oil equivalent. The well is in the company’s concession in the Western Desert and the preliminary production estimates have the well producing at a daily rate of 20 mcf of gas and 1,400-1,500 barrels of condensates. (Read in Arabic)


Egypt targets EGP 100 bn in agricultural exports by 2020
Al Borsa | 31 March 2015
A source at the Ministry of Agriculture said the ministry is targeting agricultural exports of EGP 100 bn by 2020, up from EGP 15.2 bn at present. This would come through the reclamation of 4 mn feddans, the source explained, and investment in infrastructure and logistics, adopting agricultural best practices, and having exports drive production. (Read in Arabic)


Industrial Spring Manufacturing Company plans expansion
Youm7 | 31 March 2015
Industrial Spring Manufacturing Company, a subsidiary of Chemical Industries Holding Company, plans to spend EGP 17 mn on the expansion of development of its production facility. Industrial Spring Manufacturing Company, which currently manufactures 2400 tn of springs annually,  plans to increase production to  2520 tn and to generate EGP 55 mn in sales revenue
in 2016. (Read in Arabic)


“Medicine for All” sheds light on waste in Egypt’s medicinal sector
Al Borsa | 31 March 2015
According to  the “Medicine for All” campaign, Egyptians waste EGP 1 bn worth of medicine annually.  A spokesperson from the campaign attributed the high figure to misuse by both consumer and distributors. Minimizing unnecessary medicinal waste could have the potential to assist 10 mn individuals who are unable to afford treatment. (Read in Arabic)


NUCA to extend infrastructure to 25 thousand feddans this fiscal year
Al Borsa | 31 March 2015
NUCA said it is targeting connection 25 thousand feddans with infrastructure works before the end of the current fiscal year, with 65% of target achieved so far. Connecting 30 thousand feddans is NUCA’s target for FY2015/16 with its budget doubled by the housing ministry to accommodate for investments in the mn units’ project and Dar Misr. NUCA also has a land stock of 40 thousand feddans available for investors. (Read in Arabic)

ECG to oversee the construction of the Jeddah Four Seasons hotel
Al Borsa | 31 March 2015
The Engineering Consultants Group (ECG) has signed a contract to oversee the construction of the SAR 1.8 bn Jeddah Four Seasons hotel. The hotel will be 137 meters tall and will contain shopping centers. (Read in Arabic)


Russian tourists stay away from Egypt in 1Q2015
Al Borsa | 31 March 2015
The number of Russian tourists visiting Egypt fell by 30% in Q1 2015 compared to the same period last year, according to the travel operator Blue Sky Travel. That said, hotel and flight reservations reveal that the number of Russian tourists is expected to rise considerably in April, added the president. He attributes this projected rise to Russian tourists’ growing comfort with the with the weakening of the Russian ruble in relation to the EGP.  On a related note, the president of the chamber believes that Egypt’s new tourist visa requirement could result EGP 3 bn loss for the struggling sector.(Read in Arabic)


Arbitrator rules in favor of Mobinil in compensation claims filed by TE
Al Borsa | 31 March 2015
Mobinil is not required to compensate Telecom Egypt (TE) for an interconnection dispute, the Cairo Regional Center for International Commercial Arbitration ruled. The case, filed in 2009. The arbitrator called for the assigning of an expert to set a value for the compensation that is now owed to Mobinil within two months. (Read in Arabic)

Telecoms sector grew by 13% y-o-y in 2014 – CIT minister
Amwal Al Ghad | 31 March 2015
Egypt’s telecommunications sector grew by 13% y-o-y in 2014 and contributed 4.1% to the country’s GDP, the CIT Minister Khaled Negm said. The sector as a whole generated revenues of EGP 66 bn in 2014, Negm added during his speech at the IDC technology conference. (Read in Arabic)


e-Finance mulling expansions into African markets
Amwal Al Ghad | 31 March 2015
e-Finance said it is currently in talks with multiple African finance ministries and financial institutions as part of its expansion plans. The company is also seeking a capital increase of EGP 25 mn to EGP 200 mn. e-Finance is mulling engagements in pension and subsidy reform programs across Africa, and said its projects will not just be limited to issuing smart cards, but will build the technological infrastructure for the whole process. (Read in Arabic)


Supplies ministry considers transporting cargo from the Alexandria Port via rail
Al Borsa | 30 March 2015
Moving cargo shipments from the port of Alexandria via rail is currently being considered, the supplies minister said. This aims to reduce problems of traffic congestion and save fuel, he added. Similarly, moving goods through the Nile is also being looked into. The ministry is targeting to double the percentage of goods transported from Alexandria via rail to 40%. (Read in Arabic)

Egyptian Union for Investors Association to establish EGP 4 bn holding company
Al Borsa | 31 March 2015
The Egyptian Union for Investor’s Association plans to establish a holding company for the purpose of investing in projects involved in the Suez Canal Corridor, said Farid Khamis, the association’s president. The holding company, according to Khamis, should be established some time in June. To date, 12 companies, comprising both Egyptian and Arab entities, have reportedly agreed to invest in the holding company. The holding company should have an invested capital of EGP 4 bn within four years of its establishment, concluded Khamis. Read in Arabic


EBRD expands financing to MSMEs in Tunisia
EBRD Press Release | 30 March 2015
The EBRD is providing EUR 30 mn to the Banque de Tunisie to finance micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Tunisia. Tunisian MSMEs account for 91% of all active firms in Tunisia, the EBRD notes, as well as 51% of the country’s GDP. “We are very pleased to further support private enterprises in Tunisia by teaming up with Banque de Tunisie. Tunisia has great potential, with high levels of entrepreneurship which we consider to be one of the most important pillars of the economy,” the EBRD’s Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region said. (Read)

Oman plans for an electricity spot market
Times of Oman | 30 March 2015
Oman is planning to introduce a spot market for electricity with the aim of enhancing the sector’s efficiency, according to Times of Oman. This will provide electricity producers with an alternative route to sell outside a long-term power purchase agreement. Independent producers will be allowed to participate in the new market, which is vital give the faster pace of electricity demand growth. The Oman Power and Water Procurement Company “will soon be issuing a tender to engage suitably-qualified consultants to codify the market rules,” according to a statement. (Read)


Intergovernmental entities owe one another a cumulative total of EGP 1.1 tn, according to the Minister of Planning who is currently working on resolving the nominal dispute, reported Al Borsa.

Barclays Egypt aims to expand its credit portfolio to EGP 9 bn by the end of the current fiscal year from EGP 5.2 bn last year, Mohamed Sherif, the bank’s CFO, told Al Borsa.

An Egyptian court acquitted yesterday 68 people, including members of the Ikhwan, from charges stemming from illegal gathering and assaulting security forces. (Read)
ITIDA said it is cooperating with the CIT ministry in its EGP 13 mn investment to train its staff members and improve data protection, according to Al Mal.

Trevor Noah backlash over jokes about Jews and women: As we previewed in yesterday’s Video section, Comedy Central’s announced on Monday that South African Trevor Noah will be replacing Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. However, Noah is already coming under fire for tweets mocking Jews and women.CNBC states that Comedy Central is so far standing by him (embedded video in the preceding link on autoplay, running time: 2:52)


USD CBE auction (last sale Monday, 30 March): 7.5301 (unchanged since Monday, 02 Feb)
USD parallel market (Tuesday, 31 March): -no quote-

EGX30 (Tuesday): 9,134.78 (+0.17%)
Turnover: EGP 509.5 mn (20% below the 90-day average)

WTI: USD 47.29 (-0.65%)
Brent: USD 54.99 (-0.22%)

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