Tuesday, 22 September 2015
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY
“I think we are on the precipice of a liquidation in emerging markets, and this feels the way that the fourth quarter of 1997 felt,” says hedgie John Burbank, whose Passport Capital is betting things are about to go very wrong for EMs. Burbank expects the U.S. Fed will be forced into a fourth round of quantitative easing. Two of his funds investing along those lines are among the top 15 performers of 2015 YTD, the FT reports (paywall).
Otherwise, how slow a news day is it? Sama El Masry doesn’t know the new prime minister’s name, and Al-Shorouk thinks that’s front-page news (on its web edition, at least). Cheers, guys. If you knew what a public editor was, we’d be calling yours right now. (Sama is the bellydancer / actress / parliamentary candidate / fameseeker, for those of you unfamiliar with her.)
Banks, markets and government offices will be closed for Eid Al Adha from Wednesday, 23 September until Sunday, 27 September.
Enterprise is also taking a little holiday for the Eid. We’ll be back on Monday, 28 September 2015.
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING THIS WEEK
President Abdel Fattah El Sisi flies to New York on Thursday morning to head Egypt’s delegation at UN General Assembly meeting. Diplomatic sources told Al Masry Al Youm that El Sisi will be delivering Egypt’s statement there.
ON THE HORIZON
Public universities will be back in session for the 2015-16 academic year on 28 September, according to the Supreme Council of Universities (Arabic), with the fall semester set to end on 14 January 2016.
LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS
What did Egypt’s talking heads discuss this evening? Parliamentary elections? Nope. The country’s new Cabinet, perhaps? Not at all. Rather, primetime programs provided viewers with wall-to-wall coverage of an event that is undeniably far more critical to the country’s future: Zamalek’s victory over archrival El Ahly.
Hona El Assema host Lamis El Hadidy kicked-off her program in what appeared to be celebratory mood. “Zamalek played an excellent match on Monday. This is the first time they win the League and Cup double in 27 years,” said the clearly surprised host. Prominent sports critic Ehab El Khatib called-in, providing viewers with additional insight. “Zamalek deserved the win. They could have won by more than two goals … Ahly’s formation was flawed,” said El Khatib.
Meanwhile, Youssef El Housseiny, host of El Sada El Mohtaramoon, is apparently a diehard Zamalek fan.
El Housseiny: “Zamalek has the most loyal fanbase. It does not matter whether or club wins or loses. We will always stand by them. We are proud Zamalek fans. We will remain loyal until the sky smiles down on us.”
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Top global investors have acquired a 73% stake in home-grown e-payments services player Fawry in an EGP 571 mn transaction. Founded in 2009, Fawry processes more than 1 mn transactions a day, operating a network with more than 45,000 agents in 300 cities and suburbs across the nation. The company’s platform allows users to settle everything from electricity and internet bills to Department of Motor Vehicles fees via POS machines, ATMs, post offices, online and through mobile wallets. The acquiring consortium includes Helios Investment Partners (an Africa-focused investment firm managing funds totalling more than USD 3 bn), the Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund (a U.S. government private entity that invests to promote financial inclusion and job creation), and the MENA Long-Term Value Fund. The three acquired c. 8.2 mn shares from selling shareholders including Raya Holding and a number of prominent Egyptian banks; the International Finance Corporation will remain a shareholder post the transaction. EFG Hermes Investment Banking was sell-side advisor. Khodeir, Nour & Taha in association with Al Tamimi & Co. and Norton Rose Fulbright were legal counsel to the acquiring consortium. Zaki Hashem & Partners and Ibrachy & Partners acted as legal counsel to the selling shareholders and management.
Dimian pleased with IMF visit; source says gov’t prefers IMF facility to floating another bond: Finance Minister Hany Dimian has pronounced the Ismail government “very satisfied” with the outcome of the IMF consultations held last week in Cairo, signaling the Cabinet economic group is largely on board with the IMF recommendation that Egypt adopt are more flexible exchange rate policy. Regular Article IV consultations, broadly seen as the next step on the road to an IMF facility, is likely to take place in February or March 2016, Al Mal quotes the minister as saying. Dimian says the government is “open to all manner of opportunities. We’ll choose the best course for the economy [and do so] in a timely manner.” The newspaper says Planning Minister Ashraf Al Araby has told it that an IMF package would require sign-off from an elected parliament. The newspaper mentions in passing that an “official source” says the government prefers an IMF facility to tapping international bond markets again. On a related note, the paper also carries a lengthy look at the need for the CBE and cabinet to better coordinate monetary and fiscal policies.
The government has already begun implementing six projects signed at the EEDC worth USD 30.2 bn, Investment Minister Ashraf Salman said at a sit-down with Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Al Ahram reported. Five MoUs have been signed into USD 10.526 bn worth of agreements, Salman said, with 22 more turned into contracts. To improve the completion rate, Ismail tasked his cabinet with presenting a report outlining all of the obstacles stopping signed MoUs from being turned into actual agreements.
The Competition Authority says it rejected a settlement offer from Oriental Weavers, Al Shorouk reports in what it is billing as an exclusive. The daily cites authority head Mona El Garf as saying the monopoly watchdog sent OW’s offer back with comments and has yet to receive a second offer. El Garf says that in the absence of a settlement, the Prosecutor General’s Office will continue to investigate.
Egypt’s PC market in decline as smartphone shipments increase: Egypt’s PC market declined by 32.4% y-o-y in 2Q2015 according to data sourced from the International Data Corporation (IDC). The market for tablets also declined, albeit by a more modest 6.1% y-o-y. Much of the decline in the PC and tablet markets was driven by “high inflation, political instability, and the onset of the Ramadan season,” a senior IDC analyst said adding a forecast of a 17.3% y-o-y decline in the market. Smartphones continue to acquire market shares from PCs and tablets, with dependence on PCs waning “even further with the rising popularity of smartphones sporting larger screens.” (Read)
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose: Telecom Egypt CEO Osama Yassin has let it be known he’s rather feverishly lobbying new CIT Minister Yasser El Qadi for a full 4G mobile operators’ license that would allow the company to launch its own mobile network as early as next year, Al Mal reports. The newspaper goes on to recap the backstory, including suggestions that the three existing mobile network operators be allowed to pay a surcharge to upgrade to a ‘universal’ license that would allow them to offer landline services and control their own international gateways.
“Before I left London to become the British Ambassador to Cairo in 2014, an Egyptian friend told me to enjoy the posting but warned against having a Twitter account,” British Ambassador John Casson writes in an Arabic-language op-ed for Al Shorouk that sounds a lot like a goodbye letter. A year later, Casson has already racked over 100k Twitter followers. His op-ed lists three lessons he says he’s learned from communicating with them: all parties need to listen to each other more often; we should have faith in the Egyptian people; and that government accountability is helpful — if not always easy. Casson is not a pioneer in this form of open diplomacy, but it does seem to be a British trend. The UK’s outgoing Ambassador to Lebanon, Tom Fletcher (who was, coincidentally, succeeded as the Private Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the Prime Minister by none other than John Casson) famously kept an active presence on social media and just recently penned his last, and very Beiruti-titled, blog post: “So…Yalla, Bye.“ Fletcher was also the topic of the very relevant recent BBC World Service documentary “The [redacted] Diplomat“ (listening time 27:18).
Water crisis in Giza: Residents of Giza’s Faisal district blocked the Ring Road during the morning rush-hour to protest a lingering water outage, Al Shorouk reported. The road was reportedly reopened at 9 am. Giza Governor Khaled Zakariya El Adly apologised to residents and said he is working on restoring the water supply as soon as possible. He said the large number of unlicensed buildings and the high population rate was to blame. The head of Holding Company for Water and Wastewater offered no practical solution, preferring instead to blame poor urban planning and residents who are “living in unlicensed apartment blocks … 11-14 storeys high … in streets 5-8 metres wide … and waste water on washing cars.” Al Masry Al Youm dug deeper and laid the blame on the Irrigation Ministry, which reportedly did not clear the water intake sources from impurities and algae causing the water treatment plants running inefficiently. El Adly later stated that the water crisis will be solved by next summer at a total cost of EGP 615 mn, Al Masry Al Youm reported.
The bodies of eight slain Mexican tourists were set to be sent home to be laid to rest on Monday, according to the AFP. Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu reportedly said that the bodies were expected to arrive by Wednesday.
You could be driving an Apple Car as early as 2019. Whether you’ll need an adapter to plug-in your iPhone 6s Plus while driving it is another question. Apple is fast-tracking the development of a passenger car, the WSJ reported yesterday in the most authoritative report yet that the company is building and electric vehicle. The WSJ story comes after three days of speculation on Twitter that BMW is again in talks with Apple about serving as the computer maker’s contract manufacturer for a car, much as Taiwan’s Foxconn does for iPhones. BMW’s electric i3 vehicle has been suggested as the starting point for an Apple Car. Unlike Google’s venture, Apple’s car is reportedly unlikely to be self-driving. Don’t want to wait until 2019? Apple’s CarPlay operating system is due to roll out to vehicles ranging from BMW to Fiat, Mercedes-Benz to Jeep starting late this year or early next. (Prefer Android? Read more about Google’s self-driving car or the Android Auto operating system.)
Have we mentioned we think in-flight broadband is a lousy idea? It was nice to have one last place where not answering a call or ignoring email was not just socially acceptable, but practically impossible. In-flight WiFi, until now a more common feature on long-haul flights, is gaining steam. The latest: Britain’s Inmarsat and Germany’s Deutsche Telekom have teamed up to offer internet even on short-haul flights within Europe, Reuters reports, at speeds “comparable to home broadband services.”
The Republican race to the bottom the White House: And then there were … still quite a lot: Scott Walker announced he is dropping out of the race for the Republican nomination, during a brief news conference on Monday as reported by the New York Times. Walker “started the year at the top of the polls but has seen his position gradually deteriorate, amid the rise of Donald J. Trump’s populist campaign and repeated missteps by Mr. Walker himself.”
Ben Carson, the perpetually sleepy-sounding neurosurgeon and Republican candidate, has created more problems for the Republican party during a segment on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. The remark in question came during a question about Donald Trump failing to take to task an audience member whose question to Trump opened with: “We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims.” Todd then asked Carson if he thought that Islam is consistent with the US Constitution, to which Carson replied: “No, I don’t, I do not … I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.” (Read the transcript and or Watch the segment in question, running time: 2 minutes). Carson, when given the opportunity to clarify or retract his comments to The Hill, instead dug in his heels, likely in an attempt to benefit from deep-seated xenophobia already stoked by other candidates such as Trump.
Speaking of Trump, last Saturday the frontrunner attempted to recast his feelings toward Muslims, fielding a question from a high schooler about whether he would consider including a Muslim in his cabinet. (Watch, running time: 48 seconds).
Trump finally got one thing right. One: Republican candidate Carly Fiorina only managed to grow the company’s revenue by buying other companies, including Compaq. Her record as a CEO is dissected and criticized by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, whose name came up in the debate, for Politico. Also in Politico, Democratic politicians and strategists list what they believe are Hillary Clinton’s greatest accomplishments, in light of Fiorina’s talking point that Clinton has none.
Finally: Zamalek SC defeated their archrivals El Ahly 2-0 in Monday night’s Egypt Cup final, reports KingFut (game recap + highlights video on the same page). This marks the 24th time that Zamalek has won the title. A video of the goals can be found here.
One-time media darling and former parliamentarian Amr Hamzawy conceals his limitless ambition long enough to score his first meaningful political point in ages. Hitting the usual notes about dictatorship (overblown), the rise of the security state (nothing new there), and McCarthyism (he has a point), Hamzawy argues that it’s time for liberals to admit defeat. Only then, he says, will they gain the perspective they need to find new ways of agitating for change. Whether there are any liberals left in the country to listen to him is an open question. Read: We’re defeated (Arabic) in Al Shorouk.
Libya’s House of Representatives slams UNSMIL: The internationally-recognized government of Libya, the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR), has rejected the United Nations Support Mission in Libya’s (UNSMIL) condemnation of the Libyan army’s recent airstrikes. The strikes, dubbed ‘Operation Doom, took place on Saturday and were led by General Khalifa Haftar. “The army is fighting IS terrorists in Benghazi, who do not believe in civil government,” said HoR’s spokesperson. “And the people are supporting the army,” the statement read, as reported by the Libya Herald. A negotiated settlement between Libya’s warring factions was jeopardized last week as the HoR withdrew its representatives after the Islamist rebel General National Congress (GNC) based in Tripoli proposed a number of amendments.
According to Reuters, Haftar’s airstrikes were targeting Daesh, and not the Islamist rebels operating out of Tripoli, with whom the House of Representatives is in engaged in on-again, off-again UN-brokered talks to create a unity government. The Tripoli Islamists were themselves recently attacked by Daesh last Friday, the New York Times reported. A small number of Daesh terrorists attacked a prison located within the air base that is being used as Tripoli’s airport (after the Tripoli rebels had stormed and ransacked Tripoli airport when taking the city).
Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid communicated on Monday Egypt’s concern over the missed deadline for Libyan factions that came and went on Sunday, Ahram Online reported, expressing Egypt’s growing impatience with continued chaos on its border. “It is no longer acceptable that the international community waits forever for the implementation of the political agreement, as fighting terrorism in Libya is a top priority, especially for the neighbouring countries that consider terrorism in Libya to be a direct threat to their national security,” the statement said.
That Haftar’s airstrikes were targeting Daesh and not the Tripoli-based GNC makes the UNSMIL’s statement on Sunday, which sought to lay the blame at the missing of the deadline on Haftar’s strike, as all the more seemingly nonsensical: “The airstrikes are ‘a clear attempt to undermine and derail the ongoing efforts to end the conflict’ at a time when the negotiations currently taking place in Skhirat, Morocco, have entered “a final and most critical stage.’”
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission of the UNSMIL Bernardino León spoke with journalists on Tuesday evening, according to a series of tweets by the UNSMIL, beginning with this tweet announcing that Leon was about to speak. Leon is quoted as saying that the UNSMIL’s work is now complete, as is the text of the final agreement, and that it is up to the concerned parties to say whether they approve or disapprove. He also went on to say that the names in the unity government will be announced after Eid.
Independent Resources signs JV agreement with Nostra Terra Oil & Gas
LSE | 21 Sep 2015
Independent Resources plc (IRG) announced it signed a strategic joint venture agreement with Nostra Terra Oil & Gas plc, according to a statement sent to the London Stock Exchange. “Under the terms of the Agreement, the parties will co-operate in areas of project identification and due diligence, financing, geological exploitation, technical support, operations and procurement with a geographical focus on North Africa with immediate attention focused on Egypt and Tunisia.” The joint venture will have a specific focus on cash flow and growing its portfolio through improving field, reservoir, and well management to improve production as well as reducing operational costs. (Read)
IOC share in production falls in USD terms with oil price drop, El Molla says
Al Borsa | 20 Sep 2015
International oil companies’ share in oil and gas production dropped to the equivalent of USD 650 mn from USD 880 mn a month last fiscal year due to the drop in oil prices, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said. Also compared to a year earlier, IOC partners’ monthly share in domestic crude oil production has fallen back to USD 380 mn, compared to USD 600 mn. However, El Molla stressed that receivables are being paid promptly to keep the state’s dues to the companies from growing. He added that a large portion will be paid off before the year’s end. (Read in Arabic)
EEHC inks EUR 395 mn maintenance agreement with Siemens
Al Borsa | 21 Sep 2015
The Egyptian Electricity Holding Company inked a twelve-year maintenance agreement for a number of its subsidiaries’ power plants at a total cost of EUR 395 mn to be self funded by the corresponding company. The maintenance agreement involves repairs and spare parts for eight gas units with a capacity of 2040 MW as well as two units in the combined cycle plant in Koraymat, according to Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker. (Read in Arabic)
Hassan Allam partners with Siemens in EUR 910 mn railway projects
Al Borsa | 21 Sep 2015
Hassan Allam is forming a consortium with Siemens to build EUR 910 mn in railway projects. The Egyptian Railway Authority is studying an offer from Siemens and Hassan Allam to upgrade the lineside signalling on the Alexandria-Cairo-Aswan line as well as the import of some 100 locomotives, among other improvements. (Read in Arabic)
Licenses for four logistics zones by year’s end, gov’t says
Al Mal | 21 Sep 2015
The Internal Trade Development Authority plans to launch integrated logistics zones in Six October, Beheira, Assiut and Luxor by year’s end, an official at the authority said yesterday. The four facilities have an aggregate investment cost of c. EGP 1.65 bn. (Read in Arabic)
REAL ESTATE + HOUSING
Ministry of Housing begins development in ten informal settlements
Al Mal | 21 Sep 2015
The Central Agency for Reconstruction has begun development work in 10 informal settlements across five governorates that had been agreed upon by the Ministry of Urban Renewal and Informal Settlements before it was merged with the Ministry of Housing, and the governorates. The neighbourhoods include 15 May and Manshiyat Nasser in Cairo, El Samakeen in Sohag, as well as other settlements in Luxor, Aswan, and Qalyubia, according to agency head Mohamed Nasser. (Read in Arabic)
TELECOMS + ICT
Global Telecom will move HQ to Amsterdam
EGX Disclosure, Reuters | 21 Sep 2015
Global Telecom Holding (formerly Orascom Telecom Holding) is moving its operational headquarters from Cairo to Amsterdam, the firm said. “The strategic move is a natural evolution in GTH’s development following VimpelCom acquisition of a 51.9 percent stake in 2011 and the reorganisation plan announced by the company on Jan. 4, 2015,” Global Telecom said, according to Reuters. The move will have no impact of the company’s listing in Cairo; Global Telecom will also continue to have a registered office in Cairo. (Read and in Arabic)
BANKING + FINANCE
USD 300 mn loan to fund projects, says Banque Misr
Al Masry Al Youm | 20 Sep 2015
Banque Misr inked an MoU with the Bahraini Arab Banking Corporation (ABC) to prepare USD 300 mn to fund projects that require foreign currency, says Banque Misr Chairman Mohamed El Etreby. He denied allegations that his bank was backtracking on issuing dollar bonds at around USD 550-300 mn to fund domestic projects. Etreby is also working on a USD 525 mn loan to the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company to pay off its dues. (Read in Arabic)
LEGISLATION + POLICY
Legal Affairs Minister to manage parliamentary administrative and financial issues if it is dissolved
Al Borsa | 20 Sep 2015
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail issued a decree granting the Minister of Legal Affairs and House of Representatives the parliament’s authorities in case of its dissolution. The authorities mentioned exclude legislating but include administrative and financial affairs. Prior to this decree, the law granted the Prime Minister the right to assume those responsibilities. (Read in Arabic)
EGYPT POLITICS + ECONOMICS
Russian consulate, factories to be built in Red Sea governorate, governor says
Ahram Gate | 21 Sep 2015
An agreement was reached with Russian Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov to have a number of Russian factories built in the Red Sea governorate, Governor Ahmed Abdallah said. The projects will be discussed at the Upper Egypt development conference, which is planned before the year’s end. Russia has also approved the opening of a new consulate in Hurghada, Governor Abdallah added. (Read in Arabic)
‘Majority’ of disqualified parliamentary candidates were rejected after positive drug tests
Ahram Online | 21 Sep 2015
High Elections Committee (HEC) spokesperson Omar Marwan is quoted in Ahram Online as saying the majority of the 535 parliamentary candidates whose applications were rejected were disqualified on the basis of testing positive for recreational drug use. Ahram Online confirms this with the deputy health minister Nassif Al-Hefnawy and Hassan Nagy, a health ministry official. “We were surprised that those who want to represent citizens in parliament are heavy drug users,” said Nagy, although at least one candidate has filed an appeal, claiming his innocence. One of the applications rejected due to drug use was allegedly that of a candidate from the Salafist Nour Party in Luxor. (Read)
General Hegazy’s visit to the UK marks new step in British-Egyptian military cooperation: The British Embassy in Cairo released a statement on Sunday noting Egyptian Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Lieutenant General Mahmoud Hegazy’s four-day visit to the UK and his meeting with UK Chief of Defence Staff General Sir Nicholas Houghton, among other military officials, including Defence Secretary Michael Fallon. General Hegazy also visited Longmoor training camp, where 15 Egyptian military officers are receiving close protection training. (Read)
ON YOUR WAY OUT
Cairo Airport’s airspace was closed for 90 minutes yesterday for the third day in a row. Al Ahram said the closure was due to military drills taking place.
Indonesia recalls domestic workers from 21 countries, bans further migration: The Indonesian government will ban Indonesian nationals from working as domestic help in 21 countries; a full recall of domestic workers will take place within 15 months, Al Mal reported. The 21 countries include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, the UAE, Lebanon, and Egypt.
Christopher Poole sells 4chan to Hiroyuki Nishimura, founder of 2Channel: 4chan, the anonymous and amoral message board that receives 20 mn unique monthly visitors, has been sold to Hiroyuki Nishimura, the founder of another anonymous message board for an undisclosed sum, according to the New York Times. The NYT piece points to a profile on Nishimura by Wired in 2008.
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