Sunday, 4 September 2016

Lagarde lauds Egypt reforms + Uber Egypt chief lobbies for reform

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

The Eid Al Adha vacation begins on Sunday, 11 September with the waqfa. That means the first day of Eid be Monday, 12 September, according to a statement from Dar Al-Ifta. As usual, the Powers that Be are yet to inform us when we’re officially back to work, but regulatory considerations make it impossible the whole week will be a vacation. That’s not stopping Enterprise from bridging: We’ll be off the full week and will resume publication on Sunday, 18 September.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is in Hangzhou, China to participate in the G20 summit. The US and China formally committed themselves to the Paris climate change agreement last night at the summit. Notes the New York Times: “Countries accounting for 55 percent of the world’s emissions must present formal ratification documents [to bring the accord into effect] and together, China and the United States generate nearly 40 percent of the world’s emissions.” The summit got off to a strained start involving an awkward confrontation on the tarmac as a Chinese official was seen angrily confronting US National Security adviser Susan Rice, requiring the Secret Service to intervene.

El Sisi met with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde on the sidelines of the summit, according to a statement from Ittihadiya. The two reportedly spoke on the preliminary agreement for a USD 12 bn extended fund facility, where Lagarde reportedly “lauded the Egyptian government’s effort to develop the economy by applying the necessary economic and structural reforms,” according to the statement. The meeting was also attended by Finance Minister Amr El Garhy Central Bank Governor Tarek Amer, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil. Lagarde’s positive sentiment on Egypt’s reform plan was echoed in her comments to Reuters in a wide-ranging interview. We have more on the interview in today’s Speed Round.

The Arab Trade & Supply Chain Finance Conference opens today under the patronage of the Arab League at Al Saraia Hall at the InterContinental Hotel, City Stars and runs until Monday. Registration opens at 8:30 am.

What We’re Tracking This Week

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during the second day of the G20 Summit tomorrow.

Markit Emirates NBD PMIs for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE will be released tomorrow at 6:15am CLT.

The EFG Hermes London MENA and Frontier Conference runs tomorrow through Thursday (5-8 September) at the Emirates Arsenal Stadium in London.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan’s water ministers are set to meet in Khartoum from Monday-Tuesday (5-6 September) to sign contracts with French consultancy firms Artelia and BRL for impact studies on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, according to sources speaking to Al Ahram.

250K feddan of the 1.5 mn feddan project will be tendered to the private sector ‘sometime this week’ as part of the first phase of the project, Planning Minister Ashraf El Arabi told Al Masry Al Youm.

A GUEST OP-ED

Uber’s Egypt chief is lobbying for regulatory change

The House of Representatives’ ICT committee held hearings last month into ride-sharing apps Uber and Careem that have seen MPs push for changes to the companies’ business models, suggest that certain of the fees they charge should be amended (or are illegal), and demand that taxi drivers somehow be integrated into the program (see examples here and here). Uber wants to invest USD 500 mn in Egypt. Do we really want to make that impossible?

Readers may have noticed that the House’s suggestions incensed us, so when Uber’s boss in Egypt, Anthony Khoury, reached out and asked if we’d run a guest op-ed on the issue, we said yes. His piece appears below; feel free to reach out to us at editorial@enterprise.press if you have an op-idea idea you’d like to pitch.

When cars were first invented, people had to walk in front of them waving red flags as a safety measure. It seemed a sensible way to regulate a new technology at that time. But the earth moved onward — quite literally — and the regulations changed.

Today, this change is happening quickly. Uber — an app through which people can connect with drivers to get from A to B in a safe, reliable and affordable way — is now available in almost 500 cities across more than 70 countries. Just six years ago, mobile phones lacked the battery power for Uber to work. Regulatory reform, on the other hand, has been much slower in many countries. Based on current dialogue, however, we are hoping for Egypt to lead the way for the MENA region. Tap here to read the full op-ed and view a map of the areas Uber is serving in Cairo today.

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde says the institution is likely to downgrade its global economic growth forecast in October — the sixth such downgrade in the past 18 months — over weakening demand, falling trade volumes and the delayed effects of the potential fallout from Brexit and slowing economic activity, according to a Reuters interview on the sidelines of the G20 summit. “You could argue that Brexit is not really delivering the massive crisis that we had expected, you could argue that the Chinese transition is proceeding reasonably well… however, when you look deep down at the economic growth prospects… we are not getting very good signals, and we will probably be revising down our forecast for growth in 2016,” Lagarde said.

Egypt loan agreement: Lagarde also commented on the preliminary agreement between the IMF and Egypt, saying that the “agreement with the IMF is an indication that they [Egypt] are taking their economic restructuring, their economic objectives seriously, and that should encourage either friendly neighboring countries or other bilateral partners to actually participate in the funding,” she said. Interestingly, aside from Gulf Arab allies, Lagarde indicated this may also include other countries that “are willing to chip in,” she added.

On a related note, the US-Egypt Business Council has sent the IMF board a strong recommendation to approve the USD 12 bn facility penned by John Christmann, Chairman and CEO of Apache Corporation. The council represents 54 corporations including General Electric, Coca Cola, Exxon Mobil and Boeing. Scroll past Al Borsa’s Arabic summary to read the letter in full in English.

The USD 3 bn eurobond issuance will most likely take place in October and possibly could be done in phases, Youssef Bishay, an executive at BNP Paribas, tells Al Ahram. The exact date and timeline of the issuance has yet to be determined, however, and will depend on market conditions, he added. Bishay said that low interest rates which have dropped to as low as 1.5%, are optimal conditions for the issuance. BNP Paribas was one of the investment banks selected to manage the issuance along with JPMorgan, Citi and Natixis.

A case study on the value of coherent, timely communication with the public: Dozens of angry mothers, holding their babies in their arms, (Arabic, 9:43) temporarily blocked the Nile Corniche in Shubra on Thursday in front of the state-owned Egyptian Pharmaceutical Trading Company to protest the lack of subsidized baby formula, Ahram Online reported. The company’s spokesperson blamed the shortage on a Health Ministry decision in July that required the company to distribute its products throughout the country through a smart card system. The ministry, it suggested, had not made an effort to communicate the decision to the public.

According to the Associated Press, infant formula prices increased by 40% following the decision to cut subsidies and limit the distribution of subsidized formula for those mothers who meet certain criteria, such as having “twins, working for more than seven hours a day, or having medical records that show poor health.” Riot police later moved to reopen the street without engaging with protesters. Health Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed (who also called in to ONTV in the preceding clip) later called-in to the television program Red Line, saying subsidized formula is disappearing from shelves because it is being sold to confectionary shops, Egypt Independent reported.

Army spokesperson Brig. Gen. Mohamed Samir gave a different explanation, saying companies importing infant formula are engaging in monopolistic practices, which in turn have driven up prices. The Armed Forces is responding by stepping in to import infant formula starting 15 September, which they will sell at pharmacies for EGP 30 per pack, versus the full price of EGP 60 per pack.

Neither the ministry nor the military pointed to the role the FX crunch may be playing in the shortage of infant formula. For the past several weeks, 100% of the FX available at the Central Bank of Egypt’s weekly auction has been provided for the import of pharmaceuticals and infant formula. Our take: The diversion of subsidized formula to confectioneries and other buyers has likely long been a “feature” of corruption in the system. The ready availability of FX provided a buffer so that the intended beneficiaries didn’t feel the full impact of corruption; full FX availability also provided a shock absorber for well-meaning experiments such as the smart card for subsidies. Take away the FX, you take away the mask over the corruption and limit the system’s ability to absorb shocks such as the smart cards.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is cooperating with Egyptian authorities in their investigation into an outbreak of hepatitis A linked to frozen strawberries imported from Egypt, according to an update from the FDA. As of Thursday, the number of cases has widened to reach 70 infected individuals, up from 55 reported on Wednesday. Though the infected individuals are spread out through seven states, all were linked by their consumption of frozen strawberry smoothies from a cafe chain in Virginia and nearby states. “The FDA’s investigation into the source and distribution of the strawberries is ongoing, and the agency has been in touch with the Egyptian International Health Regulations National Focal Point to discuss the investigation,” according to the statement.

For domestic consumption only: With regard to the outbreak, the only question on the domestic media’s mind is whether this is all the result of an Israeli conspiracy or that of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Ahram’s “agricultural experts” believe it may be an Israeli conspiracy to tank Egyptian exports. An alternate theory floated in the same article is that the accusation of the hepatitis A outbreak being linked to Egyptian strawberries is a retaliatory action in response to the ergot zero tolerance policy, which itself is presented as “a triumph for the health of the Egyptian people and an abolition of the import of wheat.” Did you read that? No more wheat imports. Mabrouk. Published on Thursday, the piece says that there are only three confirmed cases of the outbreak in the United States and that Agriculture Minister Essam Fayed has ordered the formation of a committee to investigate. Also, something about tying this all together with the sacking of Supply Minister Khaled Hanafy for good measure.

Youm7 op-ed writer Wael Semary begins his own investigative piece with the wise, cautious words “I’m not personally inclined to rely on conspiracy theories, but…” Semary is primarily concerned about the source of the story he is examining about the outbreak, Al Araby Al Jadeed (cached), founded by Azmi Bishara, an Israeli Arab Christian. Semary goes on to argue that the article appearing in Al Araby Al Jadeed is part of a Brotherhood plot to destroy the Egyptian economy.

The UK business press has picked up on the deadlock between Vodafone group and Telecom Egypt over VFE. The Telegraph writes that TE’s acquisition of 4G license last week, “has raised fears at Vodafone and among its shareholders about the governance of its Egyptian branch, one of the British giant’s fastest growing international businesses. There is concern that state-controlled Telecom Egypt’s new mobile operation could gain an advantage through its presence on a rival’s board.” TE appoints four of nine board members to Vodafone Egypt and holds a 45% equity stake.

El Sisi’s state visit to India: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi signed a maritime transport agreement on Friday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Daily News Egypt reported, during the president’s three-day visit which concluded on Saturday. The two leaders also agreed to step up military and counterterrorism cooperation. El Sisi concluded his meeting with Prime Minister Modi by inviting him to visit Egypt.

El Sisi also met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in New Delhi, where they discussed the US government pushing for Egypt to receive the 12 bn IMF facility, said Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, according to Al Borsa. The discussions also looked at regional security.

Business on El Sisi’s mind during the visit: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met with representatives of three major Indian businesses during his visit, including automobile manufacturers Tata and Mahindra as well as finance conglomerate Hinduja, according to an emailed statement from Ittihadiya. The companies all said they were interested in participating in Egypt’s national projects including the Suez Canal Area Development project. Egypt is particularly interested in benefiting from India’s experience in developing the SMEs and IT sectors, the president said in an interview with the Hindu Times. He expressed his hope that more Indian companies open up shop and participate in developing the Suez Canal Development Area.

Other companies interested in Egypt includeNMC Healthcare, which is looking to build the Tiba medical city with investments of up to USD 1.6 bn, said Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil, who accompanied El Sisi on the trip, Al Mal reports. The UAE-based company, headed by Indian national BR Shetty, is sending a delegation to Egypt within the coming weeks. El Sisi had reportedly discussed moving the project to the new capital in his meetings with the Egyptian business delegation that accompanied him.

And that’s not all: Indian companies operating in Egypt are looking to increase their investments, Kabil said, according to Al Mal. Al Mansoura Resins and Chemical Industries is increasing its investments by EGP 300 mn, while carbon black specialist Aditya Birla are looking to increase exports to Europe, he added. On the flipside, Egyptian paint manufacturer Kapci Coatings is launching a new USD 50 mn factory in Bangalore , company Chairman Mohamed El Sayed told Al Mal. The factory was built in India to avoid 40% customs on exports from the company’s main factory in Port Said, he added. UAE-based hypermarket chain Lulu, headed by Indian national MA Yousuf Ali, is planning two new branches and wants to export from Egypt to some 140 branches in neighbouring countries, said Kabil.

The House of Representatives will begin its ‘summer’ recess after its session this Tuesday — and MPs are so eager to get to Sahel, they’re not even stopping to write the traditional report on its work over the past eight months, Al Ahram reports. Instead, they’ll make due with a speech outlining the House’s “accomplishment,” most of which took place in the last month. The state-owned daily does not say when MPs plan to convene for their fall session.

**Earnings Watch: Among the companies that reported their earnings:

  • Housing & Development Bank recorded 1H2016 consolidated net profit of EGP 406.4 mn, an increase from EGP 326.6 mn in 1H2015, according to a bourse statement.
  • Dice Sport and Casual Wear reported 1H2016 consolidated net profit of EGP 4.5 mn, down from EGP 17.45 mn recorded in the same period last year, according to a bourse statement.

Israeli minister on natural gas roadshow, points to Egypt as export market and regional hub: Israeli energy minister Yuval Steinitz is currently taking part in an investor roadshow in Singapore and London to drum up interest in Israel’s next round of licensing for offshore natural gas deposits, pointing to Egypt as a potential export market and a shipping point for its exports to Europe via liquefied natural gas terminals, Reuters reported on Thursday. Having long been confounded by regulatory challenges and demands that natural gas be retained for domestic use, Steinitz insisted that “the regulation is fixed, generally speaking.” Steinitz also outlined the oft-repeated possible pipelines running either to Turkey or to Greece through Cyprus, the latter of which would be complicated by Turkey-dominated Northern Cyprus’ objections. As we noted last week, Egypt signed a preliminary agreement with Cyprus on Wednesday to import gas from the offshore Aphrodite gasfield via direct subsea pipeline.

Meanwhile: Egypt is expected to sign a Mediterranean border realignment treaty with Greece this month, government sources tell Al Shorouk. The move is part of a wider regional border demarcation agreements between Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and Israel to cooperate on natural gas extraction in the East Mediterranean. Turkey may be a potential sticking point in the agreement as it has raised objections over two islands which may part of the demarcation, according to diplomats.

Equity futures began trading on Nasdaq Dubai on Thursday, according to a statement from the exchange. Shuaa Capital is providing market making services, while EFG Hermes, Arqaam Capital, Al Ramz Capital, Mena Corp and Mubasher Financial Services are acting as brokers. Futures on offer provide exposure to Aldar, Arabtec, DP World, Dubai Islamic Bank, Dubai Parks and Resorts, and Emaar Properties. A total of 1,630 contracts for 163.6k shares exchanged hands on the first day. While it marked a “slow and steady start,” as noted by Nasdaq Dubai’s Chief Executive Hamed Ali, a Nasdaq Dubai spokesperson added: “Activity on the market looks set to increase steadily over coming months… more market participants will come on and the range of futures offered will expand in stages.”

Samsung announces global recall of Note 7 on exploding battery fears… Even avowed iSheep like us had to admit that the Note 7 is a great piece of kit: Very nicely designed, TouchWiz is reasonably muted for a change, and the stylus didn’t get stuck if you jam it in backward, as was the case with its predecessor. But reports of at least 35 cases of violently exploding batteries prompted the company to announce a global recall (official statement) in a way that hasn’t left a good taste in the mouths of US officials. The images of the carnage are ugly — you don’t want this happening in your pocket.

…but you may have a tough time returning a device in Egypt: An Android Central reader in Egypt has posted a screenshot of what he says is a Facebook conversation he had with a Samsung Egypt customer service rep in which the latter says the recall has nothing to do with Samsung here. Why? Not because the Note 7 isn’t being retailed here (you can only reserve one at present, according to Samsung’s Egypt website). Instead, the rep says it’s because only devices made in China are affected. Except that, in point of fact, China is one of the only markets in which Samsung hasn’t recalled the Note 7, because batteries for models sold there are made by a different supplier.

Apropos nothing whatsoever: Apple’s fall event will take place on Wednesday, 7 September at about 8pm CLT. You’ll be able to watch a livestream of the event here. The latest leak from yesterday: Expect a waterproof iPhone 7 with a very-much improved camera, a super-fast processor and two new colors from which to choose (replacing our favourite, space grey). Oh, and they’re doing away with the audio jack in favour of some kind of wireless earbuds, but will provide Lightning-to-audio adaptor in the kit.

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Egypt in the News

Eshtebak (Clash) was selected as Egypt’s submission in the Oscars’ foreign-language category for 2017 (trailer, runtime 01:37). The film, critically acclaimed at the Cannes film festival, was described by critic Deborah Young “as ‘powerful and very disturbing,’ remarking on how it refused to take sides, a move that raised it ‘about a purely political discussion in favor of a sweeping criticism of prejudice and inhumanity’.” The Hollywood Reporter says “Egypt may not yet have had a foreign-language nomination, but it enjoyed its first Academy nomination in 2013 when Jehane Noujaim’s The Square – chronicling the events during the civil war – found its way into the final five of the documentary category.” Civil war in Egypt? Father forgive them for they know neither their geography nor their current events.

The Economist has no kind words on the latest mystery to emerge from Egypt: a zero tolerance policy for ergot which led to traders boycotting the most recent wheat tender, prompting its cancellation altogether by state buyer GASC. Excerpt: “There is perhaps no better example of the Egyptian government’s incompetence than its handling of wheat.”

We at Enterprise are a bit late to this: Hassan Allam, CEO of Hassan Allam construction, spoke to The Oil and Gas Year about the Egyptian petrochemicals sector and competition between companies operating in Egypt and the wider GCC. Allam says Egypt can attract international investment throughout the oil and gas value chain by developing “a very clear investment law, and this still has a long way to go before it is finalised. Moreover, Egypt needs to complete its energy and logistical national infrastructure schemes that are currently under construction. Investors need to know the relevant advancements and logistics are in place and can help their projects succeed.”

The Antiquities Ministry will allow archaeological sites to hold social events, including weddings, birthday parties and conferences, and Al-Monitor’s Rami Galal is not too happy about it. The scheme is aimed at increasing the ministry’s revenues given the drop in tourist arrivals. "Organizing such celebrations amounts to an insult toward Egypt’s archaeological heritage," Nashi El Dib told Galal.

The Guardian published a letter by Irish dual national Ibrahim Halawa detailing the conditions of his imprisonment. Halawa, the son of the highest Muslim cleric in Ireland, was arrested in 2013 along with 493 other people for “attending an illegal protest” in Rabaa and has been detained ever since. “It’s normal to be cursed, stripped… beaten with a bar, or put in solitary confinement…They might also torture another prisoner in front of you. Of course you never forget. Ever.”

Former Morsi aide returns to Canada after three-year detention without charge: Following a three-year detention without charge, Canadian resident Khaled El Qazzaz, a former aide to Mohamed Morsi and with whom he was arrested, returned to Toronto, the Globe and Mail reported on Friday, citing a statement from El Qazzaz’s family. Egyptian authorities reportedly released him on medical and humanitarian grounds.

A report (pdf) by Liverpool University in Britain lecturer Sean Columb on organ trafficking in Egypt has been picked up on by the RT. The report found that [redacted] workers were used to seduce migrants into selling their organs to traffickers with hospitals helping cover it up. “Should a transplant professional (surgeon) suspect that an organ has been donated illegally there is no legal duty to report this to the relevant authorities," one broker told Columb. "The doctors don’t want to know anything. They take the money without question.”

On Deadline

The Al Masry Al Youm columnist with the pseudonym Newton says the government’s priority should be to eliminate parallel prices on everything from the USD to wheat. Official prices don’t reflect supply and demand, while parallel rates reflect fear and anxiety, he says, and neither reflects real value.

Al Ahram columnist Farouk Goweda says the state should have begun requiring ministers after 2011 to submit personal statements of income.

Image of the Day

Sign of the times: Billboards are going up around Cairo as part of the government’s campaign to prepare Egyptians for the impact of upcoming economic reforms, the Associated Press reports. Notes the inimitable Hamza Hendawi: “The campaign’s main slogan is: ‘Oh, Egypt, with bold reforms, we shorten the road.’ Other messages include ‘Fear and skepticism lengthen the road,’ as well as ‘Rationalize our consumption, reduce our imports.’” (Image by Hamza Hendawi, AP)

Worth Watching

Egyptian soprano Fatma Said is one of the six musicians picked by BBC Radio 3 for the New Generation Artists scheme. New Generation Artists is a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 to nurture young musical talent, launched in 1999. According to her profile on BBC Music, Fatma, a Cairo native, had her first singing lesson at the age of 14, joining the Vocal Studio of Dr. Neveen Allouba at the Cairo Opera House before moving to Berlin, where she studied opera singing. She has performed on stages all over the world, winning international opera competitions including the 2016 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition, which brought us this clip of her beautifully singing Je veux vivre, from Roméo et Juliette at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, Ireland (runtime 03:49).

Basic Materials + Commodities

Red meat prices to go up by 40-50%

Red meat prices are expected to rise by 40-50%, a member of the Cairo Chamber of Commerce told Amwal Al Ghad. He blames the price increase on the Eid season as well as the EGP’s devaluation and FX shortage. He says importers are refraining from entering into new contracts as they are expecting the CBE will devalue the EGP further still. This comes despite Egypt having imported 250K tonnes of meat, fish, and dairy and over 107K head of livestock in July-August of this year, according to Al Mal.

Manufacturing

70% of quarry sector stops work as a result of increased fees

70% of quarry operators have reportedly halted their work as a result of the increase in licensing fees and the short duration of licenses to operate quarries, according to the head of the quarries division at the Federation of Egyptian Industries Ibrahim Ghali, Al Borsa reported on Saturday. Licensing fees have doubled recently, eating into revenues of companies, Ghali says. He added that a one year licenses simply aren’t long enough, especially as the year includes exploration, eating into actual production time. Between exploration and waiting for new approvals, operators only end up working on projects for four months out of the year. Ghali added that Egypt has lost significant share in the global market as a result of the increase in the cost of production, putting it in great risk of losing its position as a top marble exporter.

Real Estate + Housing

Tourism Authority to tender 7.6 mn sqm of land to 20 companies

The Tourism Development Authority is set to tender 7.6 mn sqm of land to 20 companies, a sale worth EGP 2.7 bn in investment, the authority’s chief Serag El Din Saad tells Al Borsa on Saturday. Land will be allocated across the North Coast, Ras Sedr, Ain Sokhna and Sharm El Sheikh. The move is part of a plan by the authority to tender 48.9 mn sqm of land across 73 locations to around 112 investors who have expressing interest in setting up projects.

Tourism

Germany’s FTI plants to bring in 9,000 tourists to Egypt per week starting November

German tour operator FTI Group is to bring 9k tourists a week to Egypt for a six-month trial period starting in November, according to the head of its Egypt operations, Ali Okda, Al Borsa reported on Saturday. The firm support 55 flights per week to airports in Hurghada, Luxor and Marsa Alam on flights operated by Air Berlin, Condor and Sun Express. The firm, 30% owned by Egyptian businessman Samih Sawiris, plans to continue its campaign to attract German tourists into Egypt, despite not receiving dues promised to them by the Egyptian government for launching discounted flights to Egypt, Okda added. Egypt is looking to attract 2 mn tourists from Germany in 2017, Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed had said in July.

Tourists preferring Nile hotels, occupancy rates reach 65% in Cairo

Hotel occupancy rates in Cairo are currently around 65%, industry operatives told Al Borsa. Around 80% of Cairo tourists are preferring hotels overlooking the Nile, with five-star hotels doing significantly better than lower-grade facilities; most tourists currently in Cairo are Gulf Arabs. The head of the Tourism Ministry’s hotels department says the outlook for the winter season remains unclear given various travel advisories on Egypt.

Amer Group launches Porto Sharm Hotel in December

Amer group is launching its Porto Sharm Hotel in December, CFO Riad Refaat told Daily News Egypt. The group will manage the hotel during the first phase of operations until an agreement is reached with an international hotel management company, he added. Amer Group recently signed an agreement with Accor Hotels to manage Porto Sokhna.

Telecoms + ICT

TE begins talks with MNOs, NTRA says it will price agreements

Telecom Egypt has already begun negotiations with the three local MNOs to operate a mobile virtual network, Al Shorouk reported. The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority gave TE two months to reach an agreement and a source says it will dictate the interconnection prices of any such agreement.

Automotive + Transportation

Transport Ministry mulling proposals for price hikes

It’s a never-ending saga: The Transport Ministry is said to be mulling two proposals for Cairo Metro ticket price increases, according to Al Mal. The first proposal is that ticket prices be based on the distance of a passenger’s trip, pricing trips at EGP 2 for a 3-4 km ride all the way to EGP 4 for an end-to-end trip. The second proposal would simply raise tickets across the board to EGP 2-2.50. A transport ministry source told Al Mal that the final proposal will need to be approved by the cabinet and House of Representatives. The source affirmed denials by the Transport Minister that price hikes were set for September

Banking + Finance

Misr Iran Development Bank approves EGP 200 mn in syndicated loans

Misr Iran Development Bank’s BoD approved participation in two syndicated loans, Al Borsa reports. MIDB will contributed EGP 100 mn to a facility for EGPC and a further EGP 100 mn to an EGP 1 bn syndicated facility to for Egyptian Electricity Holding Company.

SAIB to issue a card to facilitate remittances from Egyptian expats in Kuwait

SAIB Bank plans to release a card which would facilitate wire transfers of remittances by Egyptian expats from the GCC. The “Arab Union Card,” which is awaiting approval from Kuwaiti regulators, will offer lower fees on transferring funds to Egypt from the GCC, according to Al Borsa. A SAIB official said that the bank hopes to release the card in the UAE at a later date.

Banque du Caire’s assembly approves EGP 650 mn capital increase

Banque du Caire’s general assembly approved a EGP 650 mn capital increase to EGP 2.2 bn, Al Borsa reported on Saturday. The lender currently awaits the approval of the Central Bank of Egypt and Chamber of Commerce for the capital increase, which will be partly financed via EGP 550 mn in retained earnings, said CEO Moneir Zaher. An unnamed official states that the bank will need at least three months to complete listing procedures for its expected IPO.

NBE’s real estate loan portfolio reaches EGP 40 bn as of June

The National Bank of Egypt’s is targeting a 20% to 25% increase in its real estate loan portfolio by the end of the year to reach EGP 50 bn, Al Borsa reports. Real estate loans by the bank reached EGP 40 bn as of June, said an unnamed official from the bank on Saturday. The source also added that NBE received EGP 4 bn worth of funding requests from five real estate companies during 1Q2016, which the lender is currently evaluating.

Other Business News of Note

Abou Hashima announces new channels on ONTV

Ahmed Abou Hashima, steel tycoon and chairman of ONTV’s parent company Egyptian Media, unveiled ON network’s soon-to-be-launched news, sports, variety, and other channels on his Instagram page, Youm7 reports.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Gov’t to implement National Food Project, create 500k jobs

The government is working on ensuring all the requirements for the National Food Project are in place, Agriculture Minister Essam Fayed told Al Mal. The project, endorsed by President Abdelfattah El Sisi, aims to increase agricultural yield, improve its quality, and reduce water consumption. Fayed says the project will involve constructing 100k glass houses nationwide as well as raising 1 mn heads of cattle. The minister also says the project will create 500k job opportunities.

On Your Way Out

The Egyptian fintech scene is growing rapidly, with startups occupying the space in saving and investing, digital payments, and mobile money. Wamda’s Radwa Rashad covers the “who’s who” of the fintech startups included platforms like MoneyFellows, Fawry, Dopay, and TPay.

The markets yesterday

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USD CBE auction (Tuesday, 30 Aug): 8.78 (unchanged since Wednesday, 16 March)
USD parallel market (Saturday, 03 Sep): 12.70 sell, 12.50 buy (from 12.77 sell, 12.57 buy on Wednesday, 01 Sep, Al Mal)

EGX30 (Thursday): 8,136.4 (-0.3%)
Turnover: EGP 331.1 mn (21% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +16.1%

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +35.3 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -19.3mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -16.0 mn

Retail: 58.1% of total trades | 57.0% of buyers | 59.3% of sellers
Institutions: 41.9% of total trades | 43.0% of buyers | 40.7% of sellers

Foreign: 24.4% of total | 29.7% of buyers | 19.0% of sellers
Regional: 7.6% of total | 4.7% of buyers | 10.5% of sellers
Domestic: 68.0% of total | 65.6% of buyers | 70.5% of sellers

WTI: USD 44.44 (+2.97%)
Brent: USD 46.83 (+3.04%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.79 MMBtu, (-0.04%, Oct 2016 contract)
Gold: USD 1,328.80 / troy ounce (+0.16%)<br
TASI: 6,021.8 (-1.0%) (YTD: -12.9%)
ADX: 4,480.7 (+0.2%) (YTD: +4.0%)
DFM: 3,511.8 (+0.2%) (YTD: +11.5%)
KSE Weighted Index: 347.0 (-0.1%) (YTD: -9.0%)
QE: 10,836.7 (-1.4%) (YTD: +3.9%)
MSM: 5,7144 (-0.4%) (YTD: +5.7%)
BB: 1,143.3 (+0.1%) (YTD: -6.0%)

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Calendar

04-05 September (Sunday): Arab Trade & Supply Chain Finance Conference, InterContinental City Stars.

04-05 September (Sunday-Monday): President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is expected to be in China for a state visit coinciding with the G20 summit.

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

05 September (Monday): Markit Emirates NBD PMIs are out for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE at 6:15am CLT.

06-08 September (Tuesday-Thursday): Citi’s 2016 Global Technologies Conference, New York.

08-09 September (Thursday-Friday): Regeni case prosecutors from Egypt and Italy set to meet in Rome.

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

14-16 September (Wednesday-Friday): Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Healthcare Conference 2016, London, UK.

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

19-20 September (Monday-Tuesday): Arqaam Capital MENA Investors Conference 2016, Park Hyatt Dubai, UAE.

19-21 September (Monday-Wednesday): Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Consumer and Retail Conference 2016, London, UK.

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

22 September (Thursday): Deadline for mobile network operators to accept the final terms for 4G mobile broadband network licenses.

27-29 September (Tuesday-Thursday): Citi’s Frontier Markets Symposium – London 2016, UK.

28 September (Wednesday): Narrative PR Summit organised by CC Plus in partnership with the American University in Cairo, Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Cairo.

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

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

11 October (Tuesday): 2nd Annual Leasing Conference entitled “New insights to stimulate financing instruments”, Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel, Plaza Ballroom, Cairo.

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

26-27 October (Wednesday-Thursday): The Marketing Kingdom Cairo 2 event, Cairo.

31 October (Monday): Deadline for Telecom Egypt to reach an agreement with MNOs over using their 2G and 3G network infrastructure

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

14-16 November (Monday-Wednesday): Bank of America Merrill Lynch MENA 2016 Conference, The Ritz Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre, 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.

29-30 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Citi’s Global Consumer Conference, London, UK.

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

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

07-08 December: Citi’s 2016 Global Healthcare Conference, London, UK.

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.

13 December (Tuesday): Amwal Al Ghad’s top 50 most influential women in Egypt women forum, Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel, Cairo.

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

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