Sunday, 24 April 2016

Will the Central Bank of Egypt flood the market with USD today? Also: Bracing for possible protests tomorrow.


What We’re Tracking Today

Will the Central Bank of Egypt flood the market with USD today? With the EGP at an all-time low and heading in the direction of 12 to the greenback, the Central Bank of Egypt will likely hold a one-off special FX auction today, sources told Al Masry Al Youm on Thursday. Some banks have already contacted the CBE expressing their need for foreign currency liquidity. The expectation of a large-sized, unscheduled auction came before news of the pledge of USD 4 bn from the UAE (for more on the Emirati aid and deposit, see Speed Round, below).

Tomorrow, 25 April, is a national holiday for Sinai Liberation day. While the nation will be off, there are calls for protests over the return of Sanafir and Tiran islands to Saudi Arabia. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi denied media reports that he ordered a crackdown on the protests in a statement issued Thursday, according to DNE. On Wednesday, Al Shorouk had published a story quoting unnamed sources that said El Sisi had commanded his aides to tighten security ahead of the protests. Meanwhile on Thursday and Friday, dozens were reportedly arrested from cafes, private residences, and streets in several governorates, according to Mada Masr. Freedom of the Brave has a list of some of those allegedly arrested on their Facebook page. According to a count by the Front of Defence for Egyptian Protesters, at least 88 had been arrested during the security raids on Thursday and Friday, with fourteen released from custody since then, according to DNE. Meanwhile Lawyer Amr Imam tells Ahram Online the number is at least 100. The Prosecutor General’s Office ordered on Saturday the arrest of 33 people thought to be planning protests on Monday on charges of sedition, conspiring to overthrow the regime, and inciting violence in service of terrorism, Al Shorouk adds. The story is getting widespread attention in Western newspapers on the back of this report by the Associated Press.

** Enterprise is off tomorrow (Monday, 25 April) in observance of Sinai Liberation Day. The publication holiday will apply to both our Egypt and GCC editions. We’ll be back on Tuesday.

What We’re Tracking This Week

King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa is expected to arrive in Cairo tomorrow for a four-day trip. The Bahraini king comes at the head of a business delegation made up of Bahrain’s Industry, Trade and Tourism Minister Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayany and representatives of 40 companies that will take part in the Egyptian-Bahraini Business Forum, Al Ahram reports. The trip will also see the second meeting of the Egyptian-Bahraini Business Council, said Mohamed El Sewedy who heads the Egyptian side of the council.

The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference is being held on 26-28 April (Tuesday-Thursday) at the Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai.

On The Horizon

This coming weekend is a four-day break for Coptic Easter (Sunday), Sham El Nessim (Monday), and Labour Day (also Monday), all rolled into one.

The two-day Middle East Investment Summit 2016 is kicking off 2 May (Monday) at the Ritz-Carlton DIFC, Dubai.

The Cairo Food Africa Exhibition is taking place 4-7 May at the, Cairo International Convention and Exhibition Center.


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Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

The UAE is providing Egypt with USD 4 bn in support, including USD 2 bn to be deposited with the CBE to boost foreign reserves and the rest directed toward development projects in Egypt, according to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Reuters reported on Friday. Central Bank of Egypt sub-governor Tarek Fayed said he hopes to receive the deposit sometime this week. Bloomberg writes that it is unclear whether the support referred to the aid and investment promised at the EEDC when Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE each pledged USD 4 bn, including a total of USD 3 bn in deposits at Egypt’s central bank. Details of the UAE aid allocation came at the end of a visit by Abu Dhabi’s crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan to Egypt on Friday, during which he met with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, according to an Ittihadiya statement. FX reserves hit USD 16.561 bn in March and are expected to increase to about USD 18.5 bn after receiving funding from the UAE. CBE Governor Tarek Amer is targeting USD 25 bn in foreign exchange reserves before the end of the year and said in an interview earlier this year that that is the threshold at which he would consider further devaluation of the EGP.

Saturday saw the EGP gain strength in the parallel market, changing hands at EGP 10.80 to USD 1 after Wednesday’s record low of EGP 11.75, according to Al Mal. Tamer Shaker head of Golden Marriott Exchange attributed the rally to both the shuttering of nine FX bureaus last week and reports of the UAE deposit with the CBE.

US offering to mediate in Egypt-Israel gas dispute? The US State Department will apparently push Israel to drop an international arbitration ruling requiring Egypt pay USD 1.76 bn to Israel Electric Corp. for halted gas supplies in exchange for allowing Israel to export gas from Leviathan using Egypt’s infrastructure, sources tell Al Shorouk. The U.S. will also push American companies to invest more in Egypt’s oil and gas sector, the newspaper says. The State Department’s Envoy for Energy Affairs Amos J. Hochstein was in Cairo last Tuesday to meet Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Oil Minister Tarek El Molla in a bid to broker the agreement, the newspaper reported. While the spin on the story is clearly for local consumption (Egypt wants Israeli gas to run through our two liquefaction plans), the visit could yet prove to be significant. Worth remembering: Two factors stand in the way of Egypt’s desire to emerge as a regional gas hub using Israeli gas: The arbitration award and an Israeli High Court decision striking down a key set of 10-year guarantees in the Israeli state’s contract with the Leviathan partners.

Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority still holding up Beltone-CI Capital acquisition: The Court of Appeals decision settling CIB’s disputes with minority shareholders of CI Capital might not be enough to get EFSA to sign off on OTMT’s Beltone Financial acquisition of CI Capital. The source tells Al Mal the EFSA holdup also hinges on resolving what the authority sees as an issue with OTMT’s shareholding structure following the demerger in 2012, an issue yet to be resolved. EFSA Chairman Sherif Samy confirmed the authority is still reviewing the agreement, saying the issue is not yet resolved, according to Al Masry Al Youm.

Abu Dhabi’s Masdar said it completed the delivery of 30 MW of “utility-scale clean energy projects” and “7,000 solar home systems in remote and strategic areas across Egypt.” The projects, four in total, will power 25,800 homes and displace 42,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, Masdar said. The statement added that “the selection of the locations for the utility scale plants as well as the individual beneficiaries of the solar home systems was made in coordination with the Ministry of Electricity in Egypt and the local authorities in the designated localities. The programme, initiated and funded by the government of Abu Dhabi, extended over a period of two years from inception to completion of construction, testing and commissioning, and handover.”

Qalaa Holdings’ (QH) subsidiary Gozour signed a sale and purchase agreement to divest its entire holding in milk and juice producer Enjoy and El-Aguizy International for Economic Development. “The purchaser of both companies is Kamal Haggag, a domestic industrial investor who also bought Gozour subsidiary El-Misrieen in December 2015,” the company statement said. QH says it had “previously impaired the value of its investments in Enjoy and El-Aguizy … and thus their sale will have a positive impact on the P&L of Qalaa as it will be able to deconsolidate their losses. Both companies will be sold [without] bank debt, while the purchaser will assume all other liabilities.” Pharos Holding is the sell-side advisor on the Enjoy and El-Aguizy transactions.

Cleopatra Hospital Corporation is reportedly looking at an EGP 600 mn initial public offering before mid-year, reports Al Borsa. The company is presently waiting on an fair-value report from Grant Thornton for submission to the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority. EFG Hermes is reportedly leading the transaction.

House elects committee chairs, Pro-Sisi coalition dominates: The House of Representatives has elected chairs of the 25 committees that were formed following approval of its bylaws. The Economic Affairs Committee will be headed by Ali Al Moselhy, former Minister of Social Solidarity and one-time head of Egypt Post. Mohamed El Sewedy will head the Industry Committee, while Talaat El Sewedy will chair the Energy and Environment Committee. Hussein Eissa will head the Planning and Budget Committee, and Bahaa Abu Shaqqa was elected chairman of the Legislative Affairs Committee. Al Masry Al Youm has the full list. Speaker of the House Ali Abdel Aal has set out the agenda for the committees including: ratifying a number of agreements with international finance institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, and the Kuwait Fund; and ratifying the Local Administration Act and the National Elections Authority Act. Ahram Online’s Gamal Essam El Din has a solid committee-by-committee summary in English.

Was Tiran and Sanafir the reason behind the shakeup at Maspero? Prime Minister Sherif Ismail ordered the sacking of the head of Egyptian Radio and Television (ERTU) Essam Al Amir, replacing him with Safaa’ Hegazy, a 17-year veteran news anchor who has headed ERTU’s newsroom since 2013, according to Al Mal. Cabinet’s spokesperson Hussam Al Qawish stated that the reason behind this was to “inject new blood” in service of a new direction, Al Shorouk reports. However, sources tell that the true reason for this shake up was Al Amir’s failure to reign in some anchors, including Heba Ezz Al Arab, who called for protests on Sinai Liberation day over the handover of Tiran and Sanafir Islands.

Naguib Sawiris published an op-ed supporting President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s decision to handover Tiran and Sanafir Islands to Saudi Arabia. Sawiris writes of his doubts that an army man who has spent his career defending Egypt’s soil could turn over and sell land that truly belongs to Egypt. He added that the decision was the lesser of two evils, and stressed the importance of maintaining strong economic ties with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Reuters reports Regeni detained by police before death; Interior Ministry threatens legal action. Intelligence and police sources told Reuters that murdered Italian student Giulio Regeni “had been detained by police and then transferred to a compound run by Homeland Security the day he vanished,” contradicting an official Egyptian account that security services had not arrested him. The claims were made by “three Egyptian intelligence officials and three police sources independently.” Meanwhile, an official from Homeland Security, Mohamed Ibrahim, said, "There is no connection whatsoever between Regeni and the police or Interior Ministry or Homeland Security. He has never been held in any police station or here.” The Interior Ministry corroborated the statement, saying any claims to the contrary were in no way “grounded in truth” and adding that it had the right to pursue legal action against “promoters of false news,” according to a statement posted on their official Facebook page on Thursday. Ahram Online reported on Friday that security officials said the Legal Affairs Department of the ministry filed a criminal complaint with central Cairo’s Qasr al-Nil police station against Reuters and its Cairo bureau chief, Michael Georgy, accusing them of “spreading false news aimed at disturbing public order.” A Reuters spokesman told CPJ later Friday that the news agency could not confirm the wire was facing legal action The Interior Ministry later denied filing it at all, according to BBC. Meanwhile, the US has thrown its hat into the ring, saying “the details that have come to light since Regeni’s death have raised questions “…that we believe can only be answered through an impartial and comprehensive inquiry,” according to State Department spokesman John Kirby during a briefing.

…A different angle: CNN’s Sarah El Sirgany covers the story of Rasha Tarek, whose father, husband, and brother were killed by the police after being linked to the murder of Regeni. The Interior Ministry claimed they were outlaws killed in a shootout. Police said the family had “extensive criminal records and specialized in kidnapping and mugging foreigners, impersonating policemen to do so” but stopped short of accusing them of the murder him directly. Tarek admits some of those killed had criminal records, but says “her father and brother couldn’t read or write, much less speak another language to communicate with foreigners.”

CORRECTION- The ruling in favour of CIB in its dispute with minority shareholders of CI Capital was handed down by the Court of Cassation (essentially the nation’s highest appeals court), not the Court of Appeals. Arab Legal Consultants represented CIB in the case.


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The Macro Picture

China’s debt-fueled economy is looking a lot like the US in 2007-8, warned bn’aire George Soros, according to Bloomberg. “Most of [the] money that banks are supplying is needed to keep bad debts and loss-making enterprises alive,” he said. Andrew Colquhoun, the head of Asia Pacific sovereigns at Fitch Ratings, believes China’s debt-fueled growth is threatening to trample the entire financial system.

The bank of Japan (BOJ) is considering offering banks loans at negative rates to spur lending, Bloomberg quotes people close to the matter as saying. In case you hadn’t heard, the BOJ cut deposit rates for banks in January into the negatives. The policy in the works is “not dissimilar to the European Central Bank’s latest Targeted Longer Term Refinancing Operation (TLTRO-II), which will charge negative interest on loans to banks once they achieve a required level of lending growth,” according to Bloomberg.

Brexit is still all over the financial front pages this morning as the Financial Times (paywall) puts together a piece listing off options for trade agreements if the leave goes through, but it reads more like a list of just how complicated the move may be. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama toughened up his warning that the Brexit was a bad idea, saying it “could take as long as 10 years before the the UK and US came up with a new trade agreement. “We wouldn’t abandon our efforts to negotiate a trade [agreement] with our largest trading partner, the European market. But rather, it could be could be five years from now, 10 years now before we were actually able get something done.”

Egypt in the News

It’s the Financial Time’s turn to tell us that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s popularity is waning. The clandestine negotiations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia to hand over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir to our neighbors across the pond precipitated public discontent over the faltering economy, a continued crackdown on dissent, and icy relations with Italy over the death of Giulio Regeni, according to the piece. “Sisi has become less popular with time because it has been demonstrated that those who really rule in Egypt now are the agencies of the deep state — security organs and the bureaucracy,” said Osama al-Ghazali Harb, former leader of the opposition Democratic Front party.

“Arab Spring” caused by Russian wheat export ban, some guy writes in Bloomberg: A strong USD, climate change, rising competition, and yield stagnation are threatening American wheat competitiveness, Alan Bjerga writes for Bloomberg. In his piece examining the international wheat market, Bjerga could not help but include this facile statement: “A Russian drought in 2010 triggered an export ban, leading to bread riots in Egypt and the Arab Spring in 2011.” Thank you, enlightened white man. We’re eternally grateful to at last know what prompted 2011.

Romanticize Egyptology again to attract tourists, Patrick Werr suggests in The National. “The obvious game-changer could be the mysterious room thought to lie behind King Tut’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings. If it turns out to be the burial chamber of Queen Nefertiti, the world would be electrified,” he says, but there are other potential sites, including the temple of Amenhotep III as well as a canal connecting his palace on the West Bank at Luxor. Egyptologist Hourig Sourouzian “hopes to open the site to the public as an open-air museum within a few years, complete with pathways, stations with explanatory panels and a detailed model of the temple. Too many of the temple’s stones have been pilfered over the last three millennia for it to completely regain its former glory, but enough remains to make a spectacular tourist site — and to keep the romantic side of Egypt in the news.”

Parliament is confused as ever, this time over Abla Fahita: Al Monitor’s Walaa Hussein gives us the low-down on the case levied against puppet-at-large Abla Fahita by the House of Representatives. After criticizing the House in general and MP Elhami Ajina specifically, Ajina made public statements that he would submit an urgent motion to the government requesting that the show be cancelled. But Ajina told Al Monitor that he refused to sign a memorandum drafted by parliamentarians to cancel the program, saying, “Parliamentarians are public figures, the criticism of which is a given right. I asked that the issue be dealt with objectively.” He was also set to appear on the Abla Fahita show but pulled out, saying he received threats from other MPs that they would cut ties would him if he did. Ajina told Al Monitor he wanted to “appear on Abla Fahita’s show in order to show the people that their members of parliament do not oppose satirical criticism as a form of freedom of expression.” So to wrap up, freedom of expression is ok except when it isn’t. Glad they cleared that up for us.

Worth Watching

Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories – Prince – Chappelle Show, original air date: May 2004. (Watch, running time: 5:06)

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

There is nothing wrong with how La Marseillaise was performed during President Francois Hollande’s visit last week, the French Embassy in Cairo said, according to Al Masry Al Youm. The flap over how the French national anthem was played is essentially a waste of time, the embassy reportedly said, adding that the delegation was impressed by the respect and care shown throughout Hollande’s visit.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met with Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the CEO of the King Abdullah Foundation for Charitable and Humanitarian Activities, on Thursday to talk about the foundation’s activities in Egypt, according to an Ittihadiya statement. The pair primarily discussed the renovation of Al Azhar mosque, the establishment of the new Al Beouth Al Islamiyya complex, the construction of residential buildings in the existing complex, a building for the Al Azhar satellite channel, in addition to the development of Al Azhar printing house, among others.

Arab League chief Nabil Al-Arabi called Thursday for a special criminal court to be set up for Israel to condemn Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge on Sunday that it would never return the Golan, Ahram Online reports. Delegates of the 22-member Arab bloc based in Cairo are expected to pass a resolution denouncing the statement. Israel was acting like “a country that is above the law and accountability,” Arabi told delegates at the meeting.


Zohr in limbo as Eni cuts jobs, LeAnne Graves writes; Oil Ministry announces work begins on well four and gas treatment plant

The development of Eni’s supergiant gas field Zohr is “in limbo” as Eni has begun to downsize its upstream division in Egypt, LeAnne Graves writes for The National. Despite Eni’s claims of drilling appraisal wells successfully, one company source said Eni “fired all of the expatriates from exploration.” There could still be hope, Graves says, quoting a geopolitical analyst who says that Eni could be “focusing all of its cash on developing the Zohr and is not interested in other exploration opportunities because this is a full plate.” The Oil Ministry would disagree, announcing on Saturday that construction has begun on the onshore gas treatment facility servicing the Zohr field in Port Said by both Petrojet and Enppi, as well as the drilling of well four of the Zohr field.

Electricity Ministry racks up USD 148 mn in maintenance works by GE

General Electric is requesting payment of USD 148 mn for six months’ worth of maintenance and renovation costs at power plants from the Electricity Ministry, ministry sources tell Al Borsa. The move to renovate was a key element of the ministry’s preparations for the summer. Plants such as the Mahmoudia and North Delta have seen 8,000-36,000 man hours of maintenance work by GE. (Read in Arabic)

Basic Materials + Commodities

El Sisi to inaugurate 105 shounas, 17 silos during Sinai Liberation day

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will inaugurate 105 shounas and 17 wheat silos during Monday’s Sinai Liberation Day celebrations, Supply Minister Khalid Hanafy announced. The storage facilities, developed by Blumberg Grain Middle East and Africa and the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces, have already begun storing grain, with 60,000 tons having been stored in the East Qantara shouna, Al Ahram reports. These facilities will save 25% of harvests lost due to poor storage and increase storage capacity by 1.5 mn tons, said Hanafy. (Read in Arabic)


Federation of Egyptian Industries calls on government to increase export subsidies to EGP 10 bn

The Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) is calling on the government to increase export subsidies to EGP 10 bn annually, Al Mal reports. The increased subsidy, along with market regulations involving forgoing export revenues to Egyptian banks, will contribute to the country’s USD reserves, the statement adds. Any delay from the government in implementing the subsidy increase will further the USD shortage and prevent factories from obtaining production inputs, said FEI Chairman Mohamed El Sewedy. (Read in Arabic)

Most steel factories buy USD from parallel market- Metallurgical Industries Chamber

The USD shortage has driven most steel factories to buy USD from the parallel market, said Chamber of Metallurgical Industries head Gamal El Garhy. Average production cost has gone up by about EGP 1,800 per ton of domestic iron, driven by a 24% EGP devaluation against the USD and production inputs increasing in cost by USD 45-142 per ton. The government decided to reduce the cost of natural gas to steel factories to USD 4.5 mbtu from USD 7 mbtu, but the decision has not been implemented, said El Garhy, suggesting steel factories are operating at 50% capacity due to the USD shortage and the gas price. (Read in Arabic)

Environment Ministry sets minimum quota for waste-to-fuel reliance at 44% by 2020

The Environment Ministry has set a minimum requirement for sourcing energy from waste in cement plants at 44% by 2020 to reduce reliance on coal and mazut, said Environment Minister Khalid Fahmy. On average, companies including Lafarge, Assiut Cement Company, and Titan Cement have increased the percentage of waste in their fuel mix to 17-18%, he tells Al Borsa. He added that companies that fail to comply could see their licenses to use coal power revoked. (Read in Arabic)

Health + Education

Health, military production ministries sign agreement to import formula, build syringe factory

The ministries of health and military production signed a three-year cooperation agreement to import 20 mn units of infant formula per year to help bridge the gap with a demand of 40 mn per year. Both ministries have also invited 14 companies, including five Unicef-affiliated companies, to apply for a tender to develop phase one of a production line to manufacture smart self-destructing syringes. The new line hopes to produce 35 mn syringes per year. (Read in Arabic)

Real Estate + Housing

Investment minister to intercede on behalf of Al Hokair over Mall of Arabia expansion dispute

Investment Minister Dalia Khorshid promised to work with Housing Minister Moustafa Madbouly to resolve the dispute between the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) and Fawaz Al Hokair Group over a 60 feddan plot allotted for phase two of Mall of Arabia, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The promise came at a meeting with representatives of the company, who also discussed its upcoming expansions. The dispute arose after NUCA withdrew land tendered to the company for the Mall of Arabia expansion after Al Hokair failed to make installment payments due to the stalling of the project. (Read in Arabic)

Gov’t to tender land to UAE developers in 20,000 feddan Mohamed bin Zayed complex in new capital

The Housing Ministry is preparing to offer UAE-based real estate developers and investors land, including Emaar and investor Mohamed El Abbar, in the 20,000 feddan Mohamed Bin Zayed residential complex in the new capital, government sources tell Al Borsa. The land will be offered to companies for either full ownership or in partnership with the government. (Read in Arabic)

Telecoms + ICT

TE will sort out its monopolistic practices, El Garf says

Telecom Egypt (TE) has expressed a willingness to resolve issues that are currently in violation of antitrust laws, the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) said. ECA head Mona El Garf said the aim is to have a more competitive ADSL market, and TE said it is willing to cooperate to that end, according to a statement. (Read in Arabic)

Banking + Finance

Emirates NBD studies EGP 1.8 bn in loans to four industrial sectors

Emirates NBD Egypt is studying EGP 1.8 bn in loans to four industrial sectors, sources tell Al Borsa. The loans include EGP 800 mn to the building and contracting sector, EGP 400 mn to the energy sector, EGP 300 mn to assorted industries, including packaging and food, and EGP 100 mn to agricultural companies, he added. The bank plans on approving 40% of these loans by the first half of 2016, he said. The bank aims to grow its total company loan portfolio 30% to EGP 9.5 bn from EGP 7.2 bn, he added. (Read in Arabic)

Social Fund for Development signs EGP 250 mn loans from NBE

The Social Fund for Development has signed two loan agreements worth EGP 250 mn from NBE to refinance SME projects, director of SME financing at NBE Saad Mohiuddin tells Al Borsa. The interest on SME loans was reduced to 8.5% from 10%, with a cap of EGP 2 mn on regular projects and EGP 5 mn on industrial, agricultural, renewable energy projects, he added. The loans are to be paid back over five years, he said. (Read in Arabic)

Misr Clearing to begin charging fees for covering T+1 trades

Misr for Central Clearing Depository and Registry will begin charging brokerage houses fees of between 12% and 13% for covering T+1 transactions on the EGX, Al Borsa reports. Misr Clearing had been funding T+1 trades for brokers since February without fees through a EGP 500 mn settlement guarantee fund, said Awni Abdel Aziz, board member at Misr Clearing. (Read in Arabic)

Legislation + Policy

Gov’t drafting new bill to facilitate credit for SMEs

The government is drafting a new law to further facilitate credit for SMEs by setting out new financing mechanisms, said Industry and Trade Minister Tarek Kabil, without revealing further details. The move is part of a strategy to alleviate pressures on SME manufacturers, which included the new act to expedite industry licenses to within 30 days and amendments to the import registry, Kabil added. He stressed the need for Egypt to develop its own trademark goods as a means to boost exports, Al Mal reports. (Read in Arabic)

Egypt Politics + Economics

Importers are calling for the government to end point-of-origin inspection of imported goods

Importers are calling for the government to end point-of-origin inspection of imported goods as they require USD fees to be paid to foreign customs officials, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The head of the Home Appliances Division is requesting that these fees be paid to the General Organization for Export and Import Control. These measures are necessary as importers are currently facing bankruptcy, said the head of the Importers Division Fathy El Tahawy. El Tahawy also wants the government to extend customs payments as a means of alleviating importers who have been suffering under the FX crunch. (Read in Arabic)

Egypt does not need aid from IMF or GCC, says IMF mission head

Egypt does not necessarily need aid from the IMF or the GCC, said the IMF’s mission chief for Egypt Chris Jarvis in an interview with Lamees Al Hadidy on Hona Al Asima. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s goal to reduce dependence on foreign aid is in line with the IMF’s goals for Egypt, he added. Jarvis praised the government’s reform plan in the interview, stating that the IMF has offered technical assistance and advised on Egypt’s banking sector and taxation policy, Al Mal reports.

National Security

El Sisi meets US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to talk military cooperation

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford on Saturday, according to an Ittihadiya statement. The meeting centered on improving military and security ties. The US is keen on intensifying coordination and consultation with Egypt, said Dunford, who lauded Egypt’s counter-terrorism efforts and said the US “looks forward to continuing cooperation with Egypt in this area in order to address common challenges.”

Israeli air forces intercept Egyptian passenger plane in airspace

Israeli air forces intercepted an Egyptian passenger plane that entered its airspace on Saturday and escorted it to Tel Aviv, a spokesman from Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry said, Ahram Online writes. The Air Sinai Boeing 737 plane was travelling from Cairo to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, where it has permission to land, the Jerusalem Post reports. “The flight flew through Cypriot airspace but the Cypriot authorities were slow to provide necessary information to Israel,” according to Ahram Online. To make matters worse, “after taking off from Cairo the pilots failed to identify themselves on the air-to-ground communication system as they penetrated Israeli territory,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

On Your Way Out

Bassem Youssef went on Christiane Amanpour’s show to discuss his latest project, The Democracy Handbook, which discusses US politics “from a Middle Eastern perspective.” Youssef tells Amanpour he has “no regrets” for trying to push the boundaries in the Middle East with satire and he does not believe he went “too far.” (Run time 7:51)

The government had reached settlement agreements with 15 businessmen recently, following the settlement with East Mediterranean Gas owner Hussein Salem for over EGP 5 bn, said Legal Affairs Minister Magdy Al Agaty. He added that details on these settlements will be announced soon in an interview with Al Hayat Al Youm, Al Shorouk reports.

Uptick in ‘violations’ against journalists in 1Q16: The crackdown comes as NGO Journalists Against Torture Observatory issued a report stating that arrests and other incidents involving journalists and media personnel in Egypt grew 77.6% year on year in 1Q16 to 222 instances, up from 125 incidents in 1Q15, Al Mal reports. More than 70% of all cases reported were case of the state interfering with the work of journalists and media outlets, the newspaper says.

The markets yesterday

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USD CBE auction (Tuesday, 19 April): 8.78 (unchanged since Wednesday, 16 March)
USD parallel market (Saturday, 23 April): 10.80 (-0.95 since Wednesday 20 April, Al Mal)

EGX30 (Thursday): 7,781.45 (-0.24%)
Turnover: EGP 928.30 mn
EGX 30 year-to-date: +11.07%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 kicked off the session in the positive territory, reaching as high as 0.6% by mid-session, after which a selling wave hit the index causing it to close 0.2% down. While most of the EGX30’s constituents ended the session in the negative territory, five stocks surged during the day, the most notable of which were Orascom Telecom Media and Technology, United Arab Stevedoring, and index heavyweight CIB. The stocks that were most hard-hit were Amer Group, Global Telecom, and Ezz Steel. At a turnover of EGP 928.30 mn, foreign investors were the sole net buyers of the day. Regionally, Saudi Arabia’s TASI closed up 1.2%, Dubai’s DFM General Index 1.1%, and Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index 0.9%.

Foreigners:Net long | EGP + 13.2 mn
Regional:Net short | EGP + 3.0 mn
Domestic:Net short | EGP – 10.2 mn

Retail: 60.7% of total trades | 63.8% of buyers | 57.6% of sellers
Institutions: 39.3% of total trades | 36.2% of buyers | 42.4% of sellers

Foreign: 11.6% of total | 12.3% of buyers | 10.9% of sellers
Regional: 17.5% of total | 17.3% of buyers | 17.7% of sellers
Domestic: 70.9% of total | 70.4% of buyers | 71.4% of sellers

WTI: USD 43.73 (-0.48%)
Brent: USD 45.11 (-1.01%)
Gold: USD 1,230.00 / troy ounce (-1.31%)

TASI: 6,587.68 (+1.16%)
ADX: 4,636.75 (+0.89%)
DFM: 3,583.82 (+1.07%)
KSE Weighted Index: 363.68 (-0.30%)
QE: 10,396.25 (+0.28%)
MSM: 5,817.21 (+1.35%)

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25 April 2016 (Monday): Sinai Liberation Day (national holiday)

26-28 April (Tuesday-Thursday): Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, The Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai.

01 May (Sunday): Easter Holiday / Labour Day (national holiday)

02 May (Monday): Sham El Nessim (national holiday)

02-03 May (Monday-Tuesday): The Middle East Investment Summit 2016, Ritz-Carlton DIFC, Dubai.

04-07 May 2016 (Wednesday-Saturday): The Cairo Food Africa Exhibition, Cairo International Convention and Exhibition Center, Cairo.

10 May (Tuesday): Business News Foundation’s Third Annual Energy Conference: Energy and Sustainable Development, InterContinental Hotel Citystars Cairo. Register here.

16-17 May (Monday-Tuesday): Egyptian-Bahraini committee meets, Cairo.

25-26 May (Wednesday-Thursday): The Middle East and North Africa Solar Conference and Expo MENASOL 2016, Hyatt Regency, Dubai.

02-03 June (Thursday-Friday): The first annual EBRD Research Symposium on The Economics of the Middle East and North Africa, EBRD headquarters, London, UK.

06 October (Thursday): Armed Forces Day (national holiday)

27 November 2016 (Sunday): 2016 Cairo ICT Conference Group

04-06 December 2016 (Sunday-Tuesday): Solar-Tec exhibition, Cairo International Convention Centre, Cairo

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