Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Is it devaluation day in Egypt?


What We’re Tracking Today

The Central Bank of Egypt’s weekly currency auction takes place this morning amid market expectations of a significant devaluation, as we noted yesterday. We have more in Speed Round.

House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal is due to arrive in Moscow today for high-level talks, set to last until Friday.

The solar-powered Solar Impulse 2 should be more than half-way to Cairo by the time we dispatch this morning. Catch the live video feed from its cockpit (often with one of the pilots chattering). The aircraft will take just over 50 hours to fly from Seville, Spain, to Cairo on the second-to-last leg on an around-the-world odyssey to promote clean technologies. The final flight will stretch from Cairo to Abu Dhabi.

What We’re Tracking This Week

We’re expecting the Ismail cabinet to raise electricity rates charged to industry and high-volume consumers when ministers convene around the cabinet table this week, most likely on Wednesday. Rates for the first three tiers of consumers will remain unchanged.

Speed Round

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Is further devaluation nigh? It’s FX auction day in Egypt. The Central Bank of Egypt’s weekly currency auction is today, and traders were cautious yesterday about the prospect of devaluation, trimming an early-morning rally to close the day down 0.15% on heavy turnover. The bourse had advanced 4.7% on Sunday. There having been no regular auction last Tuesday, the CBE’s most recent regular auction was on 28 June, when it accepted bids for USD 117.1 mn at EGP 8.7800. Its last exceptional auction took place on 16 March, when it offered USD 1,205 mn at the same price.

As expected the Importers’ Division of the Cairo Chamber of Commerce is warning of disaster if there’s further devaluation. Division chief Ahmed Sheeha tells Al Mal that the resulting inflation will outstrip the rate of devaluation, “destabilizing the country and threatening national security.” Sheeha says prices rose 20-150% as a result of the last 14% devaluation, saying any further slippage would spell doom for a market “that imports 80%” of its needs.

Conventional wisdom: Devaluation is happening. Two-thirds of the 77 financial analysts and banking and financial services workers surveyed by the CFA Society Egypt believe that devaluation (and not the apocalypse) is coming, DNE reports.

The EGP weakened on the parallel market yesterday in anticipation, falling to EGP 11.40 to the greenback, according to Al Mal.

The Finance Ministry is forecasting a budget deficit of 9.8% of GDP for FY2016-17, Reuters reported. The budget targets revenues of EGP 669.7 bn and expenditures of EGP 974.8 bn, according to a ministry statement. The newswire adds that the budget was approved by the House of Representatives on 28 June. To put the figure in perspective, the deficit recorded in just the first 10 months of FY2015-16 was 9.8% of GDP. Fitch Ratings already questioned the government’s target, saying it expects the deficit to reach around 11% of GDP, down from the 11.6% of GDP it expects the government to record in FY2015-16.

Telecom Egypt has agreed to amend the price it charges telecom operators to use its infrastructure. The move comes as forces in the industry shift in anticipation of the issuing of 4G mobile licenses and the expected entry of TE as the fourth mobile network operator. The state-owned company says it has agreed to let the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority to set new fees for third-party use of its infrastructure. In parallel, TE is asking the NTRA to negotiate the rate at which the fixed-line monopoly will be charged for using existing mobile network operators’ infrastructure when it launches its 4G services. Renegotiating fixed-line infrastructure use fees has been a major bone of contention between private telecoms and the state-owned operator for years, with TE repeatedly refusing to reduce prices. Al Borsa had a piece out last night quoting “sources close to the negotiations” as saying that the NTRA has completely overstepped its bounds as a regulator by negotiating on behalf of the company.

“Around 50% of the total grain reported at silos visited by a House of Representatives’ fact-finding committee probing the domestic wheat collection figures was missing,” House committee member Galal Awara tell Al Masry Al Youm. Awara does not state how many storage facilities were visited as of Monday. He did, however, rule out rumors that around 30% of the harvest has been lost due to poor storage facilities. Another committee member, Yasser Omar, called into question Supply Minister Khaled Hanafy’s claim that 2 mn tonnes of surplus wheat was achieved. The committee had claimed yesterday to have found evidence of fraud worth more than EGP 365 mn in this year’s harvest.

FEI says it will accept House report, claims media coverage is politically motivated” The Grains Division of the Federation of Egyptian Industries announced that it will accept the committee’s report on corruption in wheat storage facilities, but suggests “media speculation” about corruption in this year’s harvest may be “politically motivated,” AMAY reports.

Meanwhile, resolution on ergot? We may have finally reached the end of the line on Egypt denying entry to imported wheat contaminated with ergot: The Official Gazette carried on Monday the Agriculture Ministry’s directive that Egypt accept ergot contamination as high as 0.05%, in line with the UN FAO standard, Amwal Al Ghad reports. The Agriculture Ministry told Reuters last month that implementation of the decree was delayed due to a months-old judicial order from the prosecutor general banning all ergot from shipments. There is no confirmation whether this order was lifted.

Abu Dhabi-based Emirates National Group (ENG) acquired 70% of Egyptian Advanced Company for Public Transportation, also known as Misr Bus, through a capital increase from EGP 5 mn to EGP 32 mn, sources told Al Mal. The company’s name was changed to “Mowasalat Misr” following the acquisition. Shuaa Capital acted as financial advisor for ENG, while Premiere Securities acted as financial advisor for Misr Bus. The company aims to grow its fleet to 300 vehicles from 90, the source added, using investments of around EGP 300 mn through a combination of debt and self-financing.

Sigma Capital has IPOs worth c. EGP 100 mn for 3-4 medium-sized businesses in the pipeline for execution on the Nilex by year-end, head of investment banking Khaled Hamza told Amwal Al Ghad. The piece names neither the companies nor the sectors in which they do business.

Cottonil, ONTV face probe over ‘racy’ advert: The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) is asking the Prosecutor General’s office to investigate Cottonil, ONTV Plus and the Nile Production agency (not to be confused with state broadcaster Nile Television) for failing to abide an order by the CPA board’s to pull a Cottonil advertisement off the air, CPA Chief Atef Yacoub told Al Masry Al Youm. The CPA had given the companies 24 hours to remove their advertisement on the grounds on the grounds it “violated public morals” he said, but the ads resurfaced after Ramadan ended.

Regional ride-sharing outfit Careem says it’s investing USD 100 mn in growth: Careem announced it is investing USD 100 mn in research and development over the coming five years, growing its workforce in the UAE and Pakistan, in addition to establishing R&D centers in Egypt and Germany, The National reported. The company needs to “double-down on R&D" to continue innovating in the region, said Careem co-founder Magnus Olsson. Careem currently has 3 mn registered users, over 50k drivers, and has backing from investors including Saudi Telecom Ventures, Abraaj Group, Al Tayyar Travel, and Wamda Capital.

China agreements finalized on day two of ministerial visit to Beijing: Trade Minister Tarek Kabil and Investment Minister Dalia Khorshid inked final agreements with Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng and chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission Xu Shaoshi for 18 projects, all of which appear to have been previously announced, Al Masry Al Youm reported. There are no surprises so far in the list of projects, highlights of which include two power plants in Hamrawein on the Red Sea coast; an electricity distribution grid upgrade project; and the first phase of the new administrative capital, which includes 12 ministerial buildings, an exhibition centre, a conference hall, a House building and a Cabinet building.

Not mentioned: The USD 1.5 bn-plus Six of October monorail project, where a consortium of Bombardier and Orascom Construction is still going head-to-head with China’s AVIC. Some of the projects are now in the execution phase, while others are still on the drawing board, Kabil told the Middle East News Agency. Today is the second of the ministers’ three-day visit to Beijing.


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Worth Reading

EVERYTHING IS COMING UP ROSES… Two Goldman Sachs Asset Management bosses are bullish on emerging markets, writing for the FT’s Beyond Brics that after underperforming developed markets by more than 70% over the past six years, they are receiving a “record number of queries from institutional investors” amid suggestions it is “possible that emerging markets are finally poised to outperform: growth opportunities are superior and valuations less demanding. More importantly, we believe that EM is amongst the richest of all equity markets in alpha opportunities, or the potential to generate excess return. Alpha matters a lot in a low return world.”

The trick, they say, is to look beyond the 800 or so companies on the MSCI EM benchmark to a universe of more than 6,000 investible EM equities.

The Goldman team likes: ecommerce, not telecom operators; listed EM stock exchanges, not the equities that trade on them; and consumer plays, where demographics mean “spending on everything from biscuits to washing machines to medicine will dramatically increase.”

(Just don’t get us started on the fallacy that Brexit is going to be good news for EM.)

…NO, DISASTER IS AROUND THE CORNER: For a nuanced counterpoint, head over to the New York Times’ “The Upshot” for “Can We Ignore the Alarm Bells the Bond Market Is Ringing?” After convincingly taking us through the argument that yield curves for the bond market imply disaster ahead (including a 60% chance of recession in Amreeka within the next 12 months, according to Deutsche), the author then makes the even scarier argument that yield curves may be unreliable narrators.

The bottom line: “The bond market right now is like a speedometer that is miscalibrated and therefore unreliable. It may be less useful than usual, and is not to be interpreted literally — but it’s still telling us something. And that something is that we should be worried about the possibility the world is in a nasty deflationary economic trap that won’t get better anytime soon.”

Egypt in the News

Unnamed Israeli official claims Israel conducted drone strikes in Sinai with Egypt’s permission: A highly-cited piece by Bloomberg (autoplay video) on Monday carries potentially incendiary remarks by an unnamed senior Israeli official who, in praising the level of cooperation between Egypt and Israel, claimed that Israel “conducted numerous drone attacks on militants in Sinai in recent years with Egypt’s blessing.” The quote is already receiving wide coverage in Israeli press, including Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel, as well as Islamist press highly critical of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, such as Middle East Eye.

The unnamed official’s claim is not the first of its kind; at least as far back as August 2013, there were claims of Israeli drone strikes conducted in Sinai with Egypt’s permission.

It also wouldn’t be the first time that an Israeli official’s comments on improved relations threaten to undermine those very relations — or at the very least, create obstacles to their public consumption. Last February, Israeli energy minister Yuval Steinitz claimed Egypt flooded Hamas tunnels allegedly “because we asked him [El Sisi] to,” prompting Egypt to say it was cancelling a planned visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Saudi media reports relayed by Arutz Sheva. Netanyahu’s office denied he had a scheduled visit to Egypt, and Steinitz later apologized for his comments’ “unintended impression.” His comments reflected “the serious disease of uncontrollable talking” by Israeli officials, according to Israeli commentator Yossi Melman.

On the front page of the Wall Street Journal’s digital edition, with a prominent photo: Egyptian Women Use Social Media to Test Roles: ‘Confessions of a Married Woman,’ an invitation-only Facebook group, has grown quickly in a country where women often face harassment and violence.”

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Turkey has not taken any steps to normalise relations with Egypt, “but would like to restore ties,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday. Reuters reports that the statement was made “at a regular news conference in Ankara. Turkey last month announced the restoration of diplomatic ties with Israel after a six-year rupture and expressed regret to Russia over the downing of a warplane, seeking to mend its strained alliances.” Less than a week ago, Erdogan ruled out reconciliation with Egypt.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry was due to have left Egypt this morning for the 27th African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, set to take place between 17-18 July, Al Mal reported. The summit is themed “2016: African Year of Human Rights – with particular focus on the Rights of Women,” and will be preceded by the 29th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council between 13-15 July, the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said.


Finance ministry considers amending oil sector tax treatment

The Finance Ministry is considering amending the tax treatment of the oil sector in Egypt, Al Mal reported. As it stands, the system entails having Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) collect taxes for the oil companies on behalf of the Tax Authority, then reconciling the difference between what is collected and what is owed to it in energy subsidies. It is unclear how different the new the system will be, but a source told Al Mal it could result in reconciling EGP 45 bn for FY2015-16 alone.

Egypt needs USD 7.7 bn to complete petroleum product investments to meet demand -El Molla

Egypt will require USD 7.7 bn in investments in order to be able to supply domestic demand for energy products, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said, according to Al Masry Al Youm. The sector’s strategy to implement the investments is moving an adequate pace and generate a suitable return on investment, he noted. El Molla said the investments include building vapor recovery and naphtha catalytic units, amongst other.

Government to sign final contract with Shanghai Electric in September to build “clean” coal plants

The electricity ministry is set to sign a final contract with China’s Shanghai Electric to build a series of “clean” coal power stations with a total generation capacity of 2.6 GW in the district of Al Hamrawein during President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s visit to China in September, Al Borsa reported on Monday. The USD 3 bn power stations will be funded by the Chinese firm with low-interest financing from three Chinese banks; the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company is set to repay the amount over 15 years. The EEHC signed a conditional EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contract (pdf) with Shanghai Electric in January during El Sisi’s last visit, an agreement which was conditional on the completion of technical studies. A conditional EPC contract (pdf) was also signed with Dongfang during the same visit.

For context: There is no such thing as “clean” coal plants; perhaps “cleaner coal” would be a rather less misleading name. The phrase is a blanket term used to describe differing technologies — including everything from carbon-capture to burning coal at higher temperatures and pressures — all of which attempt to mitigate the effect of burning coal with various degrees of efficacy. With regard to the contracts signed with Dongfang and Shanghai Electric, the project sets out to build six sets of 660 MW ultra-supercritical (USC) coal-fired power stations over two phases. USC coal plants operate at temperatures and pressures higher than that of the subcritical plants built in the 1960s-70s and supercritical plants of the 2000s, resulting in an increased efficiency in burning coal by several percentage points, according to a 2013 report (pdf) from the International Energy Agency. Increased efficiency, in turn, produces less carbon emissions, hence the “clean” moniker pushed by those such as the global coal lobby the World Coal Association.

Basic Materials + Commodities

PICO Modern Agriculture seeking EGP 100 mn loan

PICO Modern Agriculture, a subsidiary of the PICO Group, is tapping a number of domestic banks for an EGP 100 mn loan, Al Mal reported. PICO Modern Agriculture is seeking the loan to restructure the company and expand its operations. A source said the company is nearing an agreement with one unnamed bank to provide the funding in full, with an agreement expected to be signed within the next few days.


Sidel invests EGP 15 mn in Six October factory

Packaging equipment manufacturer Sidel invested EGP 15 mn into upgrading its Six October factory by adding new production lines to meet demand on dairy and liquids packaging equipment, company CEO in Egypt Riad Sabra told Al Mal. The company has inked four contracts in 1H2016 worth a total value of USD 12 mn, he added, most notably with Nestle Egypt.

Health + Education

NUCA to build EGP 100 mn hospital in Obour

The New Urban Communities Authority is looking to build a hospital in the Obour industrial city over an area of roughly 8,500 sqm at a total cost of EGP 100 mn, according to Qalyubia Undersecretary for the Health Ministry Nassif Al Hefnawy, Al Borsa reported. The health ministry has completed the necessary studies and procedures for the land plot, he added. The hospital will be the first health ministry-affiliated establishment in the industrial city.

Real Estate + Housing

Karma Real Estate to invest EGP 600 mn in Egyptian real estate market

Karma Real Estate is set to inject EGP 600 mn in investment in Egypt as part of its expansion plan in the domestic market, CEO Ahmed Moustafa said, Shorouk reported on Monday. The firm plans to develop 1,000 homes and retail stores in three phases ending in 2020. Karma currently has more than 14 projects in the works, including the EGP 600 mn Karma Al Nozha, which is expected to bring in returns exceeding EGP 1 bn.


EgyptAir launching “Agaztak fi Misr” campaign to promote domestic tourism

EgyptAir is launching a domestic tourism promotional campaign titled “Agaztak fi Misr” Al Masry Al Youm reported. EgyptAir companies will offer four-day programs at prices ranging from EGP 990 for three-star hotels, EGP 1,095 for four-star hotels, and EGP 1,350 for five-star hotels at the Red Sea and Luxor, said EgyptAir Holding Company Chairman Safwat Mosallam. The offers will run from 14 July to 5 September.

Tourism ministry offers benefits to charter airlines that reach 70% seat occupancy rate

The Tourism Ministry will provide charter airlines with a host of benefits and incentives if they manage to fill 70% of their seats, the ministry’s economic consultant Adla Ragab tells Al Borsa. Charter airlines have in turn requested a decrease in landing fees, and a reduction in fuel costs, which they claim are much higher than those at other regional airports. Ragab added that the Egyptian Airports Company had given preliminary approval to decrease departure fees by an unspecified amount.

Automotive + Transportation

Maersk director meets with El-Sisi for talks on investment opportunities

Kim Fejfer, CEO of APM Terminals and member of the executive board of Maersk Group, met with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority Mohab Mamish to discuss opportunities in “shipping, transporting and unloading containers, establishing logistic centers and managing and operating ports,” according to a statement from Ittihadiya. Maersk ships represent 20% of the ships that pass through the Suez Canal, Fejfer said.

Banking + Finance

MNHD to receive offers for EGP 1.5 bn syndicated loan this week

Two banking consortiums are expected to present offers for a EGP 1.5 bn seven to eight-year syndicated loan this week to Madinat Nasr for Housing and Development (MNHD), a banking source tells Amwal Al Ghad. The loan will be used for developing projects with Palm Hills and developing Taj City project, both on Cairo-Suez road, in addition to financing operations for MNHD, the source said. NBE, CIB and the Arab African International Bank will constitute the first consortium, with the possibility of more banks to join, while Banque Misr, Banque Audi (Egypt), Emirates NBD (Egypt), the Egyptian Gulf Bank and the National Bank of Kuwait will comprise the other. We had noted last month that MNHD was in talks with four banking consortiums for the loan, which was then estimated at EGP 1.1-1.3 bn.

Other Business News of Note

Egyptian tech firm looks to launch electronic trade portal between Egypt, China

Information Technology and Service Company (ITSC) has inked an agreement with the General Authority for the Suez Canal Economic Zone, the Tax Authority, and the Customs Authority to establish an electronic trade portal between Egypt and China, ITSC Chairman Rahim El Keshky told Al Mal, with no specified timeframe given. The portal would aim to facilitate trade between the two countries by preparing a list of goods and services on demand, he added. ITSC signed an MoU with Chinese company SRP Group in May to cooperate on electronic trade and financial services, and establish a logistics zone in the Suez Canal Zone, he added.

National Security

Interior Minister signs security cooperation agreements with Germany

Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar signed a number of security cooperation agreements with the German government during his trip to Berlin. Abdel Ghaffar signed an intelligence-sharing agreement between Egypt and Germany, an extradition agreement including Interpol Red Notice warrants, and an agreement that would see Germany train Egyptian security personnel to investigate financial crimes, Youm7 reports.

On Your Way Out

The Egyptian Museum is going to be welcoming visitors in the evening, opening from 6-9pm thanks to an EGP 2 mn lighting system developed by El Sewedy Electric which will be completed end of this month. The museum has been undergoing an overhaul since 2013, expected to last six years, at a cost of EUR 10 mn, funded jointly the German ministry of economic cooperation and development and the European Union, Al Borsa reports.

Six Egyptians who were kidnapped in Libya have returned to Egypt, Al Masry Al Youm reported. Libyan authorities escorted the six freed workers to Egyptian authorities at the Salloum crossing, an official at the crossing said. Originally, seven Egyptians had been reported missing after being detained at Misrata’s south-eastern entrance.

Schadenfreude: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has received the cold shoulder from a growing number of individuals from his alma mater, despite name-dropping them when he reminded everyone he “went to the Wharton School of Finance,” during a speech last year in Arizona. In the same speech, he also reminded the world that he speaks like a preteen as he declared “I’m, like, a really smart person,” or something. In an open letter published on Friday and signed thus far by 2,822 Wharton alumni, faculty and administration titled ‘You do not represent us,’ Trump was told: “We have been deeply disappointed in your candidacy… we … are outraged that an affiliation with our school is being used to legitimize prejudice and intolerance… we do express our unequivocal stance against the xenophobia, sexism, racism, and other forms of bigotry that you have actively and implicitly endorsed in your campaign.” What would be really great is if Wharton Alumni Relations now hits him up for a donation.

The markets yesterday

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USD CBE auction (Tuesday, 28 June): 8.78 (unchanged since Wednesday, 16 March)
USD parallel market (Monday, 11 July): 11.40 (against 11.12 on Sunday, 10 July)

EGX30 (Monday): 7,506.18 (-0.15%)
Turnover: EGP 834.67 mn (90% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +7.13%

THE MARKET ON MONDAY: EGX30 ended the session marginally in the negative territory; 0.2% down. EGX30’s largest constituent, CIB, along with Global Telecom, were the sole EGX30 constituents to end the session in the green territory on high volumes. The former rose 0.5% while the latter jumped 2.9%. On the flip side, today’s biggest losers were Juhayna, TMG Holding, and GB Auto as each plunged 5.7%, 5.5%, and 5.4%, respectively. On the regional front, major regional indices came in mixed as Dubai’s General Index ended the marginally in the green territory while Abu Dhabi’s General Index fell 0.6%. At a market turn­over of EGP 834.7 mn, regional investors were the sole net sellers during the day.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +5.9 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -50.7 mn
Domestic: Net Long | EGP +44.8 mn

Retail: 52.5% of total trades | 55.6% of buyers | 49.4% of sellers
Institutions: 47.5% of total trades | 44.4% of buyers | 50.6% of sellers

Foreign: 24.3% of total | 24.7% of buyers | 24.0% of sellers
Regional: 9.2% of total | 6.1% of buyers | 12.2% of sellers
Domestic: 66.5% of total | 69.2% of buyers | 63.8% of sellers

WTI: USD 44.94 (+0.40%)
Brent: USD 46.48 (+0.50%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.71 MMBtu, (+0.37%, August contract)
Gold: USD 1,358.00 / troy ounce (+0.10%)

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12-15 July (Tuesday-Friday): House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal in Moscow for high-level talks.

17 July (Sunday): House of Representatives committee investigating allegations of fraud in the wheat harvest is due to table its report.

23 July (Saturday): Revolution Day, marking the 1952 Revolution. We’re betting that Sunday will not be a national holiday despite the statutory day falling on the private-sector weekend.

28 July (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meets to review rates.

28 July (Thursday): Ruling expected on charges of disseminating false news against former Central Auditing Organization head Hisham Genena.

07 August (Sunday): Deadline for mobile operators to submit applications for 4G licences

05-08 September (Monday-Thursday): The 6th EFG Hermes London MENA and Frontier Conference, Emirates Arsenal Stadium, London, UK.

11-13 September (Sunday-Tuesday): Eid El Adha (national holiday, tentative date).

19-20 September (Monday-Tuesday): Euromoney Egypt conference, venue TBD.

22 September (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meets to review rates.

02 October (Sunday): Islamic New Year (national holiday, tentative date) .

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

November (TBD): Delegation of German companies in the renewable energy sector due to visit to discuss investment opportunities.

11-12 October (Tuesday-Wednesday): Global Islamic Economy Summit, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai.

17 November (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meets to review rates.

27 November (Sunday): 2016 Cairo ICT, Cairo International Convention Centre.

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

04-06 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Electricx exhibition, Cairo International Convention Centre.

11 December (Sunday): Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday (national holiday; date to be confirmed).

11-13 December (Sunday-Tuesday): The Middle East Fire, Security & Safety Exhibition and Conference (MEFSEC), Cairo International Convention Centre, Cairo.

29 December (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meets to review rates.

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