Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Trump pledges to be “loyal friend” of Egypt, Clinton flags concerns (but no policy change — yet)


What We’re Tracking Today

We have detailed coverage on the first day of Euromoney, headlined by Finance Minister Amr El Garhy, International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr, and Deputy Finance Minister Ahmed Kouchouk.

Chief among the topics of concern was charting a way out of the nation’s FX crunch, with 55% of respondents from the conference survey sayingthey believe the EGP will reach 11.00 against the greenback, 27% saying 15.00, and 18% putting it at 9.50.

As for Egypt’s economic future: “we can’t live hostage to the tourism industry,” Finance Minister Amr El Garhy said. “And we can’t live off GCC aid forever.” Read our summary of “Euromoney Egypt — Day One” on our blog, with remarks from El Garhy (who referred to “unleashing the beast” in reference to the domestic economy) and Nasr as well as CI Capital’s Tarek Tantawi, NI Capital’s Ashraf Ghazaly, Citi’s David Cowan, AfDB’s Angus Downie, Rencap’s Ahmed Badr and our pal Patrick Werr, the veteran finance writer.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met with US Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump last night at the sidelines of the 71st UN General Assembly meeting. The 71st UNGA debate begins today, with El Sisi scheduled to deliver a speech in the afternoon. We have extensive coverage below in Egypt in the News and Diplomacy

It’s the second and final day of both Euromoney and of the Arqaam Capital MENA Investors Conference. Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil will take the stage at Euromoney (agenda, pdf).

A Russian security delegation is scheduled to arrive in Egypt today to inspect the Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh airports, Al Masry Al Youm reports. It’s the latest round of inspections in Cairo’s bid to have Moscow restore direct flights. Russian officials were in Egypt for inspections last week, too, and apparently left unimpressed.

Just when we thought summer was coming to an end: We’re about to be hit by a three-day heat wave, according to the Egyptian Meteorological Authority. The authority added that temperatures nationally will be in the 33-40 degrees range, Ahram Online reports.

What We’re Tracking This Week

Trading in Domty’s global depository receipts will begin on Wednesday, Al Borsa reports. As we noted yesterday, Domty shareholders can convert up to 21.67% of the company’s current outstanding share capital to GDRs (based on Domty’s current free float of c. 43%), under updated EGX regs.

Interest rate watch: The US Federal Reserve’s FOMC will set interest rates on Wednesday; conventional wisdom seems to be for a hike in December. The Central Bank of Egypt will set interest rates on Thursday. We’ve yet to see Reuters’ traditional poll of analysts on their expectations of the CBE decision.

4G decision day: Thursday is the deadline for existing mobile network operators to accept final terms for 4G mobile broadband network licenses.

Learn more about the New Administrative Capital: N Gage Consulting will hold a workshop (agenda) on the New Administrative Capital, also on Thursday

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

Egypt is in talks on a financing package from China that could be worth as much as USD 2-4 bn, but the finance and international cooperation ministries are giving different tallies. Reuters puts the figure at USD 2 bn, citing remarks by Deputy Finance Minister for Treasury Mohamed Moeit, who said talks with China are to start next week. Fellow Deputy Finance Minister Ahmed Kouchouk says negotiations for the loan are already underway, suggesting the preliminary groundwork has already been laid. The officials did not disclose any other information regarding the agreement, with Kouchouk adding that “all the details are with the central bank.” The value of the package is an open question: International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr said the government is in talks over a USD 4 bn loan from China, with USD 1 bn to be used to prop up the CBE’s FX reserves, while the remainder will be directed towards developmental projects.

To date: China and Saudi Arabia contributed most of the USD 6 bn in funding Egypt had secured to unlock the IMF loan agreement, a government source tells Al Borsa. The World Bank and the UAE deposit last month each contributed USD 1 bn to the pot, the source added. “We’ve managed to secure USD 15 bn in funding, of which USD 5 bn actually went into the country last year,” Nasr said at yesterday’s Euromoney conference.

IFC AND EBRD ARE NOT PUTTING EGYPT INVESTMENTS ON HOLD. Al Mal ran yesterday with an article claiming the International Finance Corporation and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have halted their Egypt operations over the disputes surrounding the feed-in tariff (FiT) agreements and complications with the Abu Rawash wastewater plant and Dairut power plant. The EBRD’s regional communication adviser for the SEMED region, Nibal Zgheib, tells us the bank did not invest in phase one of the FiT (as we reported previously), but continues to have normal operations in Egypt, refuting Al Mal’s story entirely. Likewise, the IFC’s head of communications for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Riham Mustafa, denied the story categorically, reiterating that the IFC has ramped up investments in Egypt after having invested a total of USD 352 mn in seven projects across the country in FY 2015-16.

…Explaining the IFC’s operations in Egypt, regional director Mouayed Makhlouf told Daily News Egypt “the IFC remains committed to Egypt’s energy sector and supporting the government’s agenda of promoting private, sector-led, renewable energy projects.” The IFC aims to build investor confidence by encouraging private sector growth, he adds, with a priority to infrastructure, energy projects and renewables, transportation and water, and education.

Surprise, surprise: No takers for third Egyptian wheat tender in a row. For the third straight time since the state re-imposed its ergot ban, GASC, the state’s wheat buyer, received no offers from international suppliers in response to its tender for wheat cargoes. GASC cancelled the tender, as traders had already told Reuters that the zero bids received all but assured GASC “will be forced to cancel its third consecutive tender.” In “normal” circumstances, Bloomberg says, Egypt’s tenders usually receive more than 10 offers.

…Wheat market participants see “Egypt’s import demand to have been ‘deferred’ for a few months rather than to have disappeared,” but the wheat trade globally has been “hit hard” by Egypt’s quarantine crackdown, Emiko Terazono and Heba Saleh write for The Financial Times (paywall). “The virtual absence of the world’s largest buyer comes as wheat markets are groaning under excess supplies… Theories surrounding the reason behind the latest decision have ranged from the need to annul contracts due to falling foreign reserves to infighting between government ministries.” Some traders are now watching to see whether newly-appointed Supply Minister Mohamed Ali Elsheikh “will take a more pragmatic view of the ergot policy and accept the international ergot threshold.” UN FAO senior grain economist Abdolreza Abbassian, is, nevertheless, not cutting his wheat import estimates for Egypt in FY2016-17, saying “I’m willing to bet that Egypt would get its wheat.”

But at what cost? The zero tolerance policy on ergot will cost Egypt around EGP 9 bn and make it liable to international arbitration, Agricultural Export Council Chairman Abdel Hamid El Demerdash told Ahram Gate. The Agriculture Minister should have first guaranteed the 10.5 mn tonnes of wheat required for domestic demand before restricting Egypt’s supply of wheat, he adds.

Alternate theory: Some traders say they believe that GASC’s failed tenders are an intentional strategy on the part of the world’s largest wheat buyer “to convince [other agencies of] the government to overturn the zero-tolerance policy as grain reserves come under pressure,” Reuters reports.

Investment Minister Dalia Khorshid spoke with Bloomberg’s Tamim Elyan and Abdel Latif Wahba, telling them the government is preparing to launch its IPO programme for oil-sector state-owned companies. The government aims to raise up to USD 10 bn within three to five years as part of the programme and will pick local and international investment banks to advise on the offerings. “Many companies will be restructured in the coming period, beginning with electricity companies, to prepare them for share sales on the bourse,” Khorshid said, noting that proceeds will be used partly to narrow the budget deficit. NI Capital is spearheading the IPO program for the state, Khorshid had said.

… NI Capital’s CEO Ashraf El Ghazaly told Reuters he expects Egypt “to privatise two or three state-owned companies via listings on the stock exchange in the first year of a privatisation programme.” El Ghazaly confirmed the timeline of the programme and that it will start with oil companies, adding that the listing drive will also include state-owned banks.

Kabil: “Egypt has been in a state of commercial chaos for years that we’ve only begun addressing recently.” So declared Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil in an interview with Al Mal that ran yesterday.

Cement licenses and public tender law: The delay in announcing the results of the bids on the new cement licenses was caused by a cabinet request to hold off until amendments to the Public Tender Law are made, he said. The results were expected last August. Kabil said eight bids were received, even though 14 licenses were on offer; in addition, a request filed with the Industrial Development Authority by a public-sector company that wants a license is now being studied. The Public Tender Law is awaiting approval by the House of Representatives, which is currently in recess.

Separately, Kabil says the Armed Forces did not request a license to build a steel factory, despite statements by the head of Armed Forces’ Engineering Authority that President El Sisi had ordered them to pursue steel manufacturing. Also, a land plot has been allocated for the Russian industrial zone in the Suez Canal Axis, said Kabil, but Russia had requested exceptional incentives and exemptions, to which Egypt responded with the available incentives but rejected the exceptional requests. Meanwhile, Kabil says the Russian-Egyptian-UAE investment fund is currently studying 20 investment projects.

Implementing the long awaited-automotive directive will be an eight-year process, said Kabil at the sidelines of his meeting with the Egyptian Automobile Manufacturers Association (EAMA) and auto industry leaders, which we noted yesterday. The automotive directive will hope to raise the domestic components in cars produced in Egypt to 60% from a current 45.5%, refuting statements made earlier this week by the head of the Egyptian Automotive Feeder Industry Association Ali Tawfik that domestic content will be raised to 80%. Kabil added that the ministry will begin drafting the directive’s executive regulations this week, in anticipation of when the House of Representatives approves the legislation after the recess. Kabil promised to include EAMA and the Federation of Egyptian Industries in the committee it is forming to set standards for the auto industry. At the meeting, GB Auto chairman Raouf Ghabbour called for greater cooperation with manufacturers and assemblers in implementing the strategy, Al Borsa reports.

Kabil also addressed the issue of the ban on Egyptian food exports, stating that the Saudi Food and Drugs Authority had cleared frozen Egyptian strawberries from Egypt of any harmful viruses, the newspaper reports. He denied that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had placed a blanket ban on Egyptian produce. He did acknowledge a number of Egyptian companies had been placed on the FDA’s “red list” of companies which have received warnings and whose goods must thus be quarantined, but all but one of these were listed before 2016. As we noted on Sunday, an outbreak of Hepatitis A in the US linked to Egyptian strawberries prompted investigations by the UAE and Jordan, while Russia imposed a ban on plant products from Egypt. Saudi Arabia had reportedly placed import limitations on fruit and vegetables from Egypt prior to the incident, according to Saudi media.

The issue could get worse, as a member of the Agriculture Ministry’s Agricultural Export Council stated that sewage had indeed been contaminating Egypt’s agricultural produce for some time now, Al Shorouk reports. Council member Wagdy El Walily blames this on the wave of construction that replaced agricultural land, with sewage systems being built adjacent to farmlands. Isabel Bottoms, writing for the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights and relying on CAPMAS data, blames the lack of wastewater infrastructure in rural areas for the contamination. El Walily believes that this may have a severe impact on exports at a time when the nation has shifted its policies to relying on them in light of the FX crunch. El Walily’s revelations confirm the widely picked up report by the US Department of Agriculture that sewage water seeping into irrigation systems was behind the Hepatitis A infections in Egyptian strawberries.

Gov’t, MNOs agree to raise prices of mobile recharge cards 10%: The Finance Ministry, the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) and mobile network operators have reached an agreement to raise the price of phone recharge cards 10%, 6 ppt of which will go towards the value-added tax (VAT), while the remaining 4 ppt will go to the consumer in the form of additional minutes of airtime, said Deputy Finance Minister Amr El Monayer in a call-in to CBC’s Hona Al Asema (runtime: 9:20). El Monayer said consumers should pay only the official price and will be able to report price-gouging retailers on a hotline and website the ministry is setting up. MNOs, the ministry and the NTRA have been locked on meeting for the past two days to determine the pricing of recharge cards post-VAT, after retailers begun significantly raising the prices following the adoption of the VAT last week.

Khorshid, Waly make Forbes power list: International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr was ranked second on Forbes Middle East’s list of the Arab World’s 10 Most Powerful Women in the Public Sector, while Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Waly was placed third. The list is glaring in its omission of National Security Advisor Fayza Aboul Naga.

CORRECTION- We had stated yesterday that President El Sisi attended the Non-Alignment Movement Summit in Venezuela. El Sisi did not attend the summit and his speech had actually been delivered by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. Please excuse the post-Eid break grogginess. H/t Gillane A., with gratitude for her having been so gracious as she pointed out our error.


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Egypt in the News

Driving the conversation about Egypt in the global press today: El Sisi’s meetings Clinton, Trump in New York. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s sit-downs with the two US presidential candidates dominated coverage of Egypt overnight and look likely to set the tone for coverage for today.

Don’t expect a lot of positive coverage. The pool of US reporters chosen to cover the meeting between El Sisi and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton are complaining of having been mistreated by Egyptian security officers, Politico reports: “Reporters traveling with Hillary Clinton got a taste of the Egyptian security state on Monday — and they didn’t much care for it. The Democratic presidential candidate was meeting Monday evening in New York City with Egypt’s increasingly authoritarian president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi,” the politics site said. The story goes on to tick off exactly the type of petty insults that drive journalists mad.

Politico also delivers this morning “Trump, Clinton blasted for meeting Egypt’s strongman leader,” picking up on a letter signed by think-tank types including Michele Dunne (Carnegie) and Elliott Abrams (CFR), and follows this up with “Trump praises autocratic Egyptian leader.”

Why do we care what Politico thinks? Politico is the insider’s guide to Washington. DC staffers and politicians alike want to see positive coverage of their principal and their issues in the Journal, the Post, the Times, but Politico is “their” publication. Negative coverage of Egypt there will have a spillover effect anytime Egypt (or our friends) ask for anything on the Hill, up to and including the reception that will be accorded to readers who participate in AmCham’s Door Knock Mission.

Trump pledges to be a “loyal friend” to Egypt: El Sisi met Trump at 3:25am CLT (9:25pm in New York). The Republican candidate was accompanied by Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency), two campaign advisors, the Associated Press reports. Trump’s campaign told the reporters the nominee told El Sisi that he “has high regard for peace-loving Muslims” and that under a Trump White House, the US would be “a loyal friend to Egypt, not simply an ally.” Trump said the two countries share a “common enemy [in] radical Islamic terrorism.” A full readout on the meeting is here on the Trump campaign website.

A Trump campaign advisor said the Republican candidate praised El Sisi’s tough stance on fighting terrorism in Egypt and region, and has reportedly promised to push for legislation to label the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Advisor Walid Phares’ was speaking with Al Masry Al Youm.

Clinton pushes for the release of Aya Hijazi and her husband: CNN has a solid look at how the two meetings feed into the US presidential race — and notes that Clinton used the meeting with El Sisi to raise the case of Aya Hijazi, who as we have previously noted “has been imprisoned in Egypt since 2014 after operating a non-profit in the country.” The case has been the subject of on-again, off-again coverage in the US media (including a column in the Washington Post), and Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently tweeted images of himself meeting with Hijazi’s family (here and here) with the note “US urges Egyptian government to drop charges & release Aya from prison. Helping children on street worthy of celebration, not incarceration.” Members of Congress are now joining the chorus demanding the release of Hijazi and her husband.

Meanwhile: The Egyptian Foreign Ministry denounced a statement by the White House calling on Egypt to drop all charges Hejazi, a dual American-Egyptian national, the MFA spokesman said in a statement. Hegazy and her husband have been in pretrial detention since May 2014 on accusations of [redacted] abuse of homeless children they had taken into their Belady Foundation for Street Children, as well as inciting them to protest against the government.

Clinton advisor: No imminent change in US policy on Egypt. A Clinton advisor told CNN (same story as above) that “the meeting on Monday did not augur any kind of policy change towards Egypt” and noted that “Egypt is facing its own terror threats and would be critical to any renewed effort at Israeli-Palestinian peace.” The caveat: “There are a lot of things that the Sisi government is doing that are concerning.”

Meanwhile: Eric Trager writes for the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog on “How Egyptians’ Conspiracy Theories About Clinton Explain Trump’s Appeal to Them” — a piece that largely picks up where we left off yesterday morning.

On Deadline

Former MP and Al Masry Al Youm columnist Amr El Shobaky says conspiracy theories are the reason the country’s problems are not addressed (and while we’re at it, let’s get rid of “cui bono” reasoning altogether — this was scathing enough in 2010 and still resonates today).Conspiracy theories are an integral part of political, domestic, and foreign policy, he says. The result is complacency and placing blame on external factors with cases including the Metrojet crisis and ergot contamination instead of identifying gaps and flaws and addressing them.

The Al Masry Al Youm columnist writing under the pseudonym Newton agrees, claiming Egypt’s system is neither parliamentarian or presidential, with people in power relying on conspiracy theories in some of their judgments. He mentions the ergot policy specifically, and closes by asking if local authorities are aware that domestic wheat, despite its significantly higher cost, is “full of ergot.”

Worth Reading

Will consumers largely abandon car ownership in the next ten years in favor of fleets of autonomous vehicles for hire? John Zimmer, president and co-founder of ride-sharing app Lyft, certainly thinks it will in major US cities in the next ten years, and mapped out his vision in a recently-published essay. He deplores how the layout of cities has been warped to accommodate not just cars, but parked cars, noting that “the average vehicle is used only 4% of the time and parked the other 96%.” Think Zimmer’s vision of the future is too rosy, given regulatory opacity, and the recent news that Uber lost an estimated c.USD 1 bn (autoplay video) in 1H16? Well, at least with regard to regulations, the US federal government yesterday just made its strongest endorsement of the long-term safety benefits of autonomous vehicles, with the US Department of Transportation issuing a 15-point safety standard for the design and development of autonomous vehicles (top link opens a pdf download). The guidelines open with the endorsement: “DOT [Department of Transportation] and NHTSA [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] policy is to facilitate and encourage wherever possible the development and deployment of technologies with the potential to save lives.” (Read The third transportation revolution)

Image of the Day

Ahmed Abou Hashima, CEO of Egyptian Steel Group (and more recently the new owner of ONTV) poses with members of the Egyptian community in New York and surrounding areas. Abou Hashima is part of the media delegation accompanying President Abdel Fattah El Sisi on his visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly. Photo credit: Ahmed Abou Hashima’s Instagram account.

Worth Watching

Friends don’t let friends get drunk in a hive of scum and villainy and then try to pilot a starship: In the spirit of today’s reading on making driving safer and saving lives, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released this Star Wars public service announcement in 1979 set in the Mos Eisley Cantina. (Watch, running time: 29 seconds)

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

President Abdelfattah El Sisi delivered an address at the Summit for Refugees and Migrants at the 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting yesterday in New York, covering national efforts to combat terrorism, illegal immigration, and human trafficking, according to Al Masry Al Youm’s full transcript of the speech. Egypt currently hosts over 5 mn migrants which the country is successfully attempting to integrate into society, he says, and is working on drafting a law to help combat illegal immigration flows out of Egypt. The annual UNGA general debate starts today and runs until next Monday.

El Sisi’s agenda yesterday also included discussing peacekeeping efforts with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the UNGA session, with Ban commending Egypt’s efforts to revive the peace process between the Palestinians and Israelis as well as other crises in the Middle East, according to an e-mailed statement from Ittihadiya. El Sisi also met with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, where they discussed moving forward with the gas agreement signed last month during Oil Minister Tarek El Molla’s visit and the Egyptian, Cypriot and Greek cooperation on exploration projects. President Anastasiades will be visiting Egypt next month. El Sisi accepted an invitation to visit Austria extended by Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern, and met with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk as well as Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

El Sisi also chaired an African Union Peace and Security Council meeting on Monday night in New York, which looked at setting up peacekeeping efforts in South Sudan, according to Al Shorouk.

The European Commission announced yesterday that it will grant Egypt a EUR 50 mn loan, Al Masry Al Youm reports. Of this amount, EUR 40 mn will be directed towards developing infrastructure for running water and sanitation projects, while EUR 10 mn is aimed towards female empowerment projects and promoting women’s rights. No detail was released on the project timeline.


GANOPE issues E&P tender for 10 areas

The Ganoub El Wadi Petroleum Holding Company (GANOPE) has issued an international tender for E&P projects in 10 areas in the Gulf of Suez and Western Desert, company chairman Sherif Soussa told Ahram Gate. Additionally, five other concession areas were awarded to American, Canadian, Malaysian, British, and Egyptian firms, with investments of at least USD 100 mn, he said without naming the winning bids.

Basic Materials + Commodities

First shipment of infant formula arrives in Dekheila port

The first shipment of infant formula imports by the Armed Forces arrived at Dekheila port in Alexandria yesterday, Al Masry Al Youm reported. The Armed Forces’ National Service Projects Organization had planned to import infant formula and sell it at a subsidised price of EGP 30 per pack to over 65,000 retailers to combat shortages domestically. We had noted yesterday that the Armed Forces had selected United Pharma, Pharma Overseas, Ibn Sina Pharma and Multipharma to distribute 80% of the imports.


Universal Group investing EGP 200 mn next year

Universal Group are investing EGP 200 mn next year to add new production lines, CFO Ashraf El Kahky told Al Borsa. The company recently launched a washing machine factory in Six October that produces 3 mn machines annually of which 70% is exported, he added.

Ismail, Kabil meet with Heidelberg Cement CEO

PM Sherif Ismail and Trade Minister Tarek Kabil met with the CEO Heidelberg CEO Cement Gerold Linzbach on Monday, with the latter pledging to grow the group’s investments in Egypt, Al Masry Al Youm reports. Heidelberg has already increased its investments in Egypt by around USD 25 mn to meet the expanding real estate development in places such as the new capital. Ismail stressed Egypt’s commitment to encouraging investments in the industrial sector and the cements segments particularly. As we previously reported, the firm had completed the acquisition of a 45% stake in Italcementi in July, which made Suez Cement (in which Italcementi owns a 55% stake) part HeidelbergCement Group.

Real Estate + Housing

Saudi’s Alhokair secures 100-feddan land plot in new capital

Saudi Arabia’s Alhokair Group has secured the rights to a 100-feddan plot of land in the new administrative capital under a 50-year usufruct agreement, Managing Director of the Administrative Capital for Urban Development Mohamed Abdel Latif told Al Mal. Alhokair will use the land to build another branch of the Mall of Arabia retail centre, as well as a 30-feddan mosque, and an Islamic museum, Abdel Latif says. He added that the Administrative Capital is currently studying offers from local and foreign companies to obtain land in the capital, with some firms offering to conduct payments in USD.

Banking + Finance

NBE in talks with 20 banks to manage upcoming international bond

The National Bank of Egypt is in talks with 20 financial institutions to manage its upcoming international bond issuance, said board member Hussein El Refaie, Al Mal reported. Among the banks being tapped are HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Citi, Deutsche Bank, and Morgan Stanley, he added. We had previously noted that the lender is planning to raise between USD 600 mn and USD 1 bn through an issuance in 1Q2017, however, El Refaie said the figure could reach up to USD 1.5 bn.

QNB Al Ahli retained earnings to expand in Egyptian market

QNB Al Ahli has retained its profits in Egypt to finance its expansion domestically, executive board member Tariq Fayed told Al Masry Al Youm. Fayed did not say if repatriating profits was a viable option but said the funds will be used to expand the number of branches domestically and to expand SME and megaproject financing. Fayed is quoted as saying QNB Al Ahli “does not have a problem” with the FX rate as it does not “speculate” on currency.

Raya Holding denies London or Dubai IPO of ITC business

Raya Holding Company for Technology and Communications has denied it is planning to list its shares in London or Dubai, according to a bourse statement. Earlier reports cited board member Samer El Waziri as considering to list on the DFM or LSE through issuing global depository receipts (GDRs). Separately, Bloomberg had reported back in April that Raya Holding was planning to sell as much as a 30% stake in its call centers business sometime in 2016.

Legislation + Policy

House Industry Committee has six bills on its docket for consideration after recess

The House of Representatives’ Industry Committee has a busy legislative agenda ahead, with Committee head Mohamed El Sewedy saying it aims to complete discussions of six laws, Al Mal reported. The committee will discuss legislation including the Mineral Resources Act, and laws to exempt factories from the real estate tax law, and a law to create a medication safety authority, amongst others El Sewedy added. The House is set to return from its summer recess in October.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Finance Ministry and SCZone to hold meeting to discuss investor incentives and taxation

Officials from the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) and the Finance Ministry are scheduled to discuss taxes and incentives in the SCZone, Deputy Finance Minister Amr Al-Mounir told Al Borsa. He added that no “new” taxation policies regarding the zone are confirmed as of yet, and that the ministry is currently studying more effective ways to collect arrears. President Abdelfattah El Sisi had “agreed in principle” that taxes in the SCZone ought to be reviewed from 22.5%, SCZone chief Ahmed Darwish announced in July. Darwish told the newspaper that he had consistently called for pushing the tax rate down to 10% in order to attract investors. The ministry and SCZone also held meetings last month to bring back the tax incentives at special economic zones. As we reported yesterday, SCZone is going forward with plans announced to make companies pay electricity and water utilities bills in USD, a move is unpopular among foreign companies despite statements to the contrary by Darwish.

National Security

Military Production Minister meets with British Defense Minister

Military Production Minister Mohamed El Assar met with UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon in Cairo to discuss developments in international and regional terrorism, Ahram Gate reported. The paper says the two discussed Egypt’s weapon manufacturing capabilities and the possibility of British assistance and expertise, without providing further details.

Military plane crashes in Sharqiya, kills two pilots

An Egyptian military plane crashed in Sharqiya yesterday due to a technical fault, killing the two pilots on board, Al Mal reported. The jet crashed during a routine military training, according to initial assessments.

On Your Way Out

Is it finally happening? Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia are set to sign contracts with French consultancy firms BRL and Artelia for impact studies on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam today, Al Mal reports. Technical delegates from all three countries held meetings yesterday with the consultants to iron out the fine print of the agreements. The consultancy firms pressed all three countries on the need for the utmost transparency in providing them with data, an issue which had hampered the hiring of previous consultants, Al Shorouk reports.

The markets yesterday

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USD CBE auction (Tuesday, 06 Sep): 8.78 (unchanged since Wednesday, 16 March)
USD parallel market (Monday, 19 Sep): 12.80 (from 12.80 on Sunday, 18 Sep, Sada El Balad)

EGX30 (Monday): 7,974.1 (+0.7%)
Turnover: EGP 389.7 mn (10% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +13.8%

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP -17.4 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +33.8 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -16.4 mn

Retail: 59.1% of total trades | 65.5% of buyers | 52.8% of sellers
Institutions: 40.9% of total trades | 34.5% of buyers | 47.2% of sellers

Foreign: 16.3% of total | 14.1% of buyers | 18.5% of sellers
Regional: 13.6% of total | 17.9% of buyers | 9.3% of sellers
Domestic: 70.1% of total | 68.0% of buyers | 72.2% of sellers

THE MARKET ON MONDAY: The EGX30 opened yesterday’s session on a positive note, rising 0.3% one hour into the session. The index closed up its highest intraday level of 7,974.1 points. The index was supported by heavyweights TMGH, EFG Hermes and CIB. Among the day’s worst performers were Edita, Eastern Company and Domty. The top gainers were Global Telecom, OTMT and Amer Group. Regional investors were the sole net buyers of the day.

WTI: USD 43.25 (-0.12%)
Brent: USD 45.95 (+0.39%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.94 MMBtu, (-0.10%, Oct 2016 contract)
Gold: USD 1,316.60 / troy ounce (-0.09%)<br
TASI: 5,936.0 (-2.0%) (YTD: -14.1%)
ADX: 4,482.5 (-0.1%) (YTD: +4.1%)
DFM: 3,484.8 (0.0%) (YTD: +10.6%)
KSE Weighted Index: 351.2 (+0.4%) (YTD: -8.0%)
QE: 10,152.8 (-4.0%) (YTD: -2.7%)
MSM: 5,762.7 (-0.3%) (YTD: +6.6%)
BB: 1,135.3 (+0.6%) (YTD: -6.6%)

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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): N Gage Consulting’s New Administrative Capital workshop powered by Hill International, Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel, Cairo. Register here.

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

26 September (Monday): Technical delegation from the ministries of agriculture and trade to visit Moscow to discuss lifting the ban on imports of Egyptian plant products.

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).

07 October (Friday): Deadline for phase one feed-in tariff investors to decide whether to remain under phase one conditions or move to phase two terms.

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.

10-13 December (Saturday-Tuesday): Projex Africa and MS Marmomacc + Samoter Africa, 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.

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.

14-16 February 2017 (Tuesday-Thursday): Egyptian Petroleum Show, Cairo International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

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