Monday, 24 October 2016

Edita, Pepsi stop some production lines after state sugar seizure

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

Is a cabinet shuffle in the offing? Rep. Moustafa Bakry, one of the prime architects of the campaign to bring down former Supply Khaled Hanafy earlier this year, certainly thinks so, telling reporters yesterday that 10 of cabinet’s 34 ministers would exit stage left “in the coming few days.” Longtime readers know Bakry isn’t our cup of tea. He’s also reasonable well-connected — it was his tweetstorm in February 2015 that presaged the release and deportation of imprisoned Al Jazeera English journalist Peter Greste, for example. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said late last week that there would be no shuffle any time soon. The last major cabinet shuffle was in March, and saw Amr El-Garhy tapped as finance minister and Dalia Khorshid take investment.

The Ismail government is rolling out the red carpet for large US business delegation: Four members of the Cabinet economic group will speak at on panel today, the first public event associated with the arrival in Cairo of a US business delegation to Egypt led by David Thorne, senior advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry. Set to speak: Finance Minister Amr El Garhy, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil, Investment Minister Dalia Khorshid and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr. The gathering is being hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce’s US-Egypt Business Council, the Egypt-U.S. Business Council, and AmCham Egypt. Khorshid is expected to brief the business delegation representing 54 companies on the new investment to get their opinion, Al Borsa reports. We’ll have coverage tomorrow.

Tomorrow will see Oil Minister Tarek El Molla and Energy Minister Mohamed Shaker headline a breakfast panel for a talk moderated by Hisham Fahmy. That’s followed by a press conference to be attended by Thorne, the US Chamber of Commerce’s Greg Lebedev and Khush Choksy, Omar Mohanna representing the US-Egypt Business Council, and Anis Aclimandos from AmCham Egypt. The day will be capped by a lunch talk by Suez Canal Economic Zone Chairman Ahmed Darwish.

The Reuters Middle East Investment 2016 summit runs this week. The virtual summit takes the form of interviews with major figures in the business community across MENA. We have coverage of yesterday’s interviews in Speed Round, below, or you can jump straight to their landing page here.

Think we have issues to deal with? At least we’re not about to be taken over by the Pirate Party: A party of “anarchists, hackers, libertarians and Web geeks” that didn’t exist four years ago is on the verge of winning Iceland’s national elections this coming Saturday, the Washington Post tells us. Oh, and there’s the fact you have to look up potential dates in Íslendingabók, or the Book of Icelanders — “an online database that contains the full genealogy of 720,000 Icelanders, living and deceased” — to make sure you’re not cousins before saying yes, the Wall Street Journal (paywall) adds.

Season 7 of the Walking Dead kicked off overnight in the US of A. Just saying. No spoilers here.

We’ll have the results of our first-ever reader poll tomorrow morning. We’re running plenty of graphs, so look for a separate email later in the morning to enjoy over a coffee or lunch break. Winners of our mug draw will be announced in Thursday’s edition.

What We’re Tracking This Week

The China-Arab Cooperation Forum will be held Tuesday through Thursday in a number of Chinese cities, Ahram Gate reported. Egypt will be looking to drum up interest in electricity and energy projects, among others.

President Abdelfattah El Sisi is organizing a three-day youth conference scheduled to begin tomorrow in Sharm El Sheikh, according to Al Ahram. The agenda includes a panel discussion featuring Egyptian-American space scientist Farouk El Baz; attendees will also mull education reform and job creation strategies. Delegates are from political backgrounds as varied as the Conservative, Al-Nour, and El-Wafd parties.

Speed Round

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Edita and Pepsi halt production on some lines after government seizes sugar stocks: Edita’s Beni Suef candy plant has been idle for four days after the government seized a three-week supply of sugar, said Edita’s chairman Hani Berzi in a call-in to Lamees El Hadidy’s Hona El Assema (runtime: 4:36). An order came down initially to confiscate the sugar and sell it to the general public, but an intervention by another agency reversed the decision, said Berzi. “Our sugar has been purchased legally through a certified long-term supplier, and I want to know what did we wrong,” he added. Investors have also been frantically calling the company to understand what’s going on, he tells Lamees, asking what message is the government sending to investors when it treats them like criminals instead of sitting down and discussing the issue with them. The story has crossed into the international press with a piece by Reuters’ Eric Knecht and Amina Ismail.

The news comes amid reports that Pepsico has also halted production on its factory as a result of sugar seizures, according to Al Masry Al Youm.

Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil urged Prime Minister Sherif Ismail yesterday to order the seizures stop. The raids have been organized by the Supply Ministry under minister Mohamed Ali El Sheikh, government sources told AMAY. The sources added that the ministries of trade, supply, interior, justice and health met on Sunday to discuss the issue. As we noted yesterday, President El Sisi had ordered an increased crackdown on traders and merchants allegedly involved in price gouging amid the ongoing sugar shortages.

An emergency board meeting at the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ condemned the seizure of inventory and stocks of basic goods, Al Borsa reports, echoing the Egyptian Federation of Chambers of Commerce’s remarks last week.

Industry attacks profit-margin directive: The news came as industry turned on the Ismail government’s formation of a committee to set profit margin caps on the sale of basic commodities including sugar, Al Borsa reports. Both the FEI and the Chambers of Commerce called the move illegal. FEI head Mohamed El Sewedy called on the government to rely more on the Egyptian Competition Authority to monitor for price gouging. If the government was serious about setting price caps, it would have to first acknowledge that there is a separate parallel market rate and have the Central Bank of Egypt permit FX bureaus to issue receipts for FX bought at the parallel market rate, he says.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail apparently told El Sewedy that the populist price caps would only be implemented when absolutely necessary. El Sewedy, traditionally a backer of government economic policies, maintained that the cabinet does in fact have the right to set prices for basic goods, despite his organization voting to call the move illegal. The Federation of Chambers of Commerce counters that the move would run counter to Article 10 of the Investment Law, which protects businesses from the government setting prices.

El Sewedy’s point about the impact of FX is echoed by Bloomberg in the latest take in the international press on the sugar crisis. “Traders have one of two options, either factor in the USD in the final price or give up the commodity altogether,” Senior Researcher at the US Department of Agriculture office in Cairo Mohamed Hamza told the newswire. “This is applicable to all imports, not just sugar, but because sugar is such a sensitive commodity, people can now feel it,’’ he said. Egypt consumes about 3 mn tonnes of sugar annually, but produces just over 2 mn tonnes, according to data from the USDA. The UN index of global retail sugar prices has risen 47% this year, on track for the biggest annual increase since 2009.

The Supply Ministry has hiked the price of sugar at subsidized retail outlets to EGP 7.00 per kg, up from EGP 6.00.Outlets affiliated with the Agriculture Ministry have no sugar on offer, while those falling under the Armed Forces and Supply Ministry do, Al Mal reports. (Al Borsa puts the price per kg at EGP 7.50). The news comes as the Armed Forces continue to plunge deeper into the basic goods game, announcing it would be clearing a third shipment of 500k boxes of infant formula through customs by week’s end for distribution at pharmacies, Al Mal reports.

BNP Paribas: “A necessary but insufficient devaluation.” BNP Paribas’ Pascal Devaux writes in a recent research note that while “devaluation of the Egyptian pound is necessary, it is nonetheless a risky process for two reasons: the external accounts will continue to show a big deficit at least through 2018, and its potentially negative social consequences. The external financial support promised for this fall will have to be extended for at least the next two years.” The piece is well worth reading for its comparison of the impending devaluation to Egypt’s last two major rounds (earlier this year and in 2003) as well as Argentina. Tap here for the full note, but wait ‘til you’re at the office and do it on your PC / Mac: The link takes you to a summary, and you’ll need to scroll down and spawn the embedded PDF to view it. In other words: Not mobile friendly.

Meanwhile: The EGP weakened on the parallel market yesterday with greenbacks changing hands at EGP 15.65 to the USD, compared with EGP 15.40 Saturday, according to Al Mal. Al Borsa reported the rate unchanged at 15.40.

Has the government already begun repricing services ahead of devaluation? A number of government agencies and companies including EgyptAir have begun repricing their services using a rate higher than the official USD:EGP benchmark set by the Central Bank of Egypt, Al Borsa claims. While rates have differed from ticket to ticket, pricing in EGP has lately implied a USD rate significantly higher than both the CBE rate and the parallel market rate, contends the newspaper. The national flag carrier is merely following standard industry practice, which has seen private sector companies reprice their goods based on the parallel market rate, said a source from an unnamed investment bank. The paper is suggesting, however, the move is indicative that devaluation is imminent and EgyptAir is getting a head start.

Orange committed to new investments, TE talks with VFE take a “positive turn”: Talks on a pact that could see Telecom Egypt rent network infrastructure from Vodafone Egypt have taken a “positive turn,” Al Shorouk quotes unnamed TE official as saying. The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) had given TE two months, starting in September, to negotiate infrastructure-sharing agreements with the three existing mobile network operators. The authority said it would impose “market rates” if no agreements were reached. The MNOs have to invest around USD 1-1.5 bn each to offer 4G services, while TE has to come up with c. USD 3 bn to set up a network from scratch, but would rent infrastructure from the existing players in the meantime.

The NTRA is requiring TE sign an interconnection agreement with Etisalat Egypt before it can offer mobile services, Al Borsa reported. The agreement, similar to the agreements signed by Orange and Vodafone, determines shares in revenue from fixed line to mobile phone calls, an official at the NTRA said.

Orange are committed to increasing investments in Egypt, Orange MEA CEO Bruno Mettling said in a meeting with CIT Minister Yasser El Kady and Orange Egypt CEO Jean Marc Harion, Al Masry Al Youm reported. Egypt represents 25% of Orange’s Middle East and Africa activity, he added.

DBK Pharma is planning to relist on the EGX by the end of November, a source from the company tells Al Borsa. Pioneer Holdings will be managing the listing of 25% of its shares. Fincorp, the same company behind the Beltone Financial fair value report flap, has issued the FV report on DBK’s shares. Ibrachy & Partners were selected as legal advisors, while KPMG Hazem Hassan is auditor. The listing is expected to fund the company’s expansion into new product lines including veterinary products.

The Council of State (Maglis El Dowla) plans to complete its review of the long-awaited Natural Gas Act by December, a source from the Maglis tells Al Borsa. The act has been parked at the council for a year now. The issuance of gas import and export permits to the private sector has been on hold until the House of Representatives passes the law, which would deregulate the natural gas industry and see the state step back to become the market regulator and provider of pipelines. Five companies have so far applied for licenses, an Oil Ministry source says. Meanwhile, the Council of State has signed-off on the Industrial Permits Act, which expedites the issuing of permits for factories. The legislation is now before the House of Representatives. The Industrial Permits Act was drafted in August 2016, while the Natural Gas Act has been sitting on the Council’s collective desk since October 2015.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed financing agreements with the Ismail government totaling EUR 740 mn, Al Borsa reports. These include a EUR 500 mn loan to the National Bank of Egypt and a EUR 100 mn facility for the QNB-Egypt, both of which will fund SME financing programs. EIB has also extended EUR 30 mn in financing for the Export Development Bank. The International Cooperation Ministry also signed a EUR 75 mn loan with the EIB to purchase 13 trains for Cairo Metro Line 2, Al Mal reported. The ministry also signed a technical assistance agreement for the Safaga Mining Port with EIB and the International Finance Corporation.

SPOTLIGHT ON: Reuters Middle East Investment Summit 2016

Egypt is racing to speed up the development of major gas discoveries with a stated goal of achieving energy self-sufficiency by 2020-2021, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla told Reuters. Egypt is looking to boost natural gas production to 5 bcf/d by FY2017-18 as Eni’s offshore Zohr field and BP’s North Alexandria fields enter production. Gas consumption is set to spike in the same year, when the three Siemens power plants come online. Egypt has contracted a third floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) for arrival in June 2017 to tackle the surge in demand, El Molla said. Notably: “Egypt’s import bill for LNG this year would be roughly USD 3 bn and that Egypt spends some USD 700-800 mn on both LNG and petroleum products monthly.” El Molla sheds no light on why Aramco cut off petroleum product deliveries in October.

(Elsewhere yesterday, El Molla is reported to have told the House Energy and Environment Committee that the Aramco contract has not been terminated. El Molla also reiterated that the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation was not informed ahead of time that the October shipments would not arrive, according to Ahram Gate. The move should not be framed politically and is “normal”, the minister said, as the company must have encountered circumstances stopping it from shipping to Egypt. He reportedly told the committee the UAE provided fuel to compensate for October’s shipment at almost the same preferential terms, according to Al Borsa, adding that Egypt is not actively considering other offers. A ministry source tells the newspaper that Aramco had not officially confirmed that it would provide a shipment in November. The halt came prior to Egypt’s vote for a Russian-back UN Security Council resolution on Syria.)

Beltone could still make a run at CI Capital: Beltone Financial CEO Bassem Azab tells Reuters that the firm is still interested in acquiring CI Capital and re-open talks if granted regulatory approval by the EFSA, he added. The regulator has been blocking the acquisition until Beltone’s parent company OTMT resolves a dispute related to the 2011 demerger of Orascom Telecom Holdings.

Appetite for IPOs is on the rise with investors in a rush to buy before capital gains tax comes into effect in May 2017, Azab noted. Strong demand for fresh offerings means Beltone can “pick and choose” which ones to take on, he added, noting that “investment banking will do very well next year because of this rush." The company expects to manage three IPOs this quarter and two more in the first quarter of next year, with a total value of EGP 3.5-4 bn, Azab said. Beltone is looking to diversify away from money market funds, which represent 80% of the firm’s assets under management. (We’re a bit more cautious on IPO appetite: The FX overhang has muted appetite, and fears of how devaluation may impact consumer spending will see sentiment turn against consumer stocks. We’d expect sentiment to improve sometime after 1Q2016, presuming devaluation happens sooner rather than later and that there’s some flexibility in the exchange rate.)

UAE-based hospital operator NMC Health are planning to enter Qatar and Oman by the end of the year, as well as expand in Saudi, deputy CEO Prasanth Manghat told Reuters. While several sectors including construction and banking are hurt by shrinking oil and gas revenues, essential services like healthcare can benefit from the gap left by governments who’ve been forced to cut spending and state investment. “The penetration of private hospitals is low in these countries and governments are not spending on infrastructure,” he added.

The slump in Saudi’s retail sector may be coming to an end, Jarir Marketing Company chairman Muhammad Alagil told Reuters. Alagil attributes the slowdown in the decline to consumers dipping into their savings as well as new spending by millennials largely unaffected by debt or family obligations. The Saudi retail and wholesale sectors shrank 0.6% y-o-y in the second quarter of this year.

Egypt and the European Union are in talks about Cairo’s export registry, Acting EU Ambassador Reinhold Brender said, according to Al Borsa. The export registry, which aims to curb outflows of FX by allowing imports only from registered sellers, was reportedly the subject of an EU complaint to the World Trade Organisation. Brussels is reviewing its funding programs to Egypt to determine its project priorities, including one to curb Egypt’s budget deficit, Brender said, adding that the EU is backing Egypt’s bid for USD 12 bn IMF loan. Egypt’s exports rose USD 1 bn and imports are down USD 7 bn in 9M2016, according to figures released by the Trade and Industry Ministry yesterday, Ahram Online notes.

Elsewhere: The Trade and Industry Ministry is working with export councils to build a five-year export development plan, Al Borsa reports.

Investment company Qalaa Holdings has entered into a preliminary agreement to divest its full stake in ASEC Algeria Cement for c. USD 60 mn, according to a regulatory filing (pdf) with the Egyptian Exchange. The transaction could close by year’s end; Qalaa controls 37% of ASEC Algeria Cement.

** EARNINGS WATCH: Among those reporting earnings yesterday:

  • Cairo Poultry’s 9M16 standalone net profits dropped by 51.3% year-on-year to EGP 80.4 mn from EGP 121.7 mn, according to an EGX statement.
  • Misr Hotels reported a drop in net loss by 46% year-on-year to EGP 2.7 mn in 1Q2016-17 compared to EGP 5.0 mn same period last year, according to a company statement on the EGX.
  • Suez Cement reported net losses before minority interest of EGP 13.1 mn in the first nine months of 2016 against net profits of EGP 49.6 mn in the same period last year, according to a regulatory filing.

MOVES- Jose Maria Magrina was appointed the new Managing Director at Suez Cement Group replacing Bruno Carre, according to a company statement. Magrina was most recently chief executive at Arabian Cement Co.

Dar El Efta has apparently issued a fatwa prohibiting speculative trading on the stock market. The edict was posted on its Facebook page (modernity, right?). The religious authority claims following your gut on trade not only harms financial markets, but amounts to the sin of gambling. EGX chairman Mohamed Omran is quoted as having told Al Mal that the fatwa is in line with capital markets regulations and “promotes constructive and purposeful investments.” We look forward to seeing Azharites doing guest spots on CNBC’s Squawk Box and Bloomberg’s morning Mideast program.

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The Macro Picture

The ugliest words we’ve read this week: “If you’re a big multinational that’s typically not wanting to invest, then it’s easy to look at the top three in Africa and say, ‘there’s no point’,” RenCap chief economist Charles Robertson tells the Financial Times in a look at European appetite for investment in Africa’s dairy sector. Adds Pierre-André Térisse, Danone’s top exec for Africa: “I don’t think it’s the right timing for people to make big bets and meaningful investments in Africa,” he says. “I think yes our bet is the right one. I think other people will follow but I don’t think it’s going to be immediately.” Read “European groups bet on Africa’s appetite for dairy” in the Financial Times (paywall).

Egypt in the News

It’s another comparatively quiet morning for Egypt in the Western press, with major stories being limited to follow-ons about the killing in Cairo of a senior military officer (VOA) and the ongoing sugar crisis (Bloomberg). Many correspondents are using the latter as a way into the wider story of what’s ailing our economy.

Case in point: Tensions are amounting amid a deteriorating economy, Reuters says: If the Central bank of Egypt makes a meagre adjustment to the FX rate, downward pressure will continue to mount on the EGP, economists tell Reuters, but if it makes an EGP 6-8 adjustment, the political and social impact could be “explosive.” The piece highlights the difficult balance between implementing an economic reform program and maintaining social stability as the sugar crisis exacerbates an already volatile situation. "Food price inflation in Egypt…is at a level that is politically toxic," Chief Operating Officer at Pharos Holding Angus Blair said.

Al Monitor, meanwhile, has a reasonable take on relations with KSA headlined “Are Egyptian-Saudi disputes just a passing crisis or a decisive storm?

The other side of the coin: It’s no secret that we’re not terribly enamored of Islamist (sympathizing) and / or Turkish media, but still, it doesn’t hurt to check in with them every now and again. Among the more popular memes in the past week: Drooling over a “widening rift” between Egypt and the GCC:

And while we’re at it, Al-Jazeera’s English service can barely control its salivary glands as it promotes “Is Egypt Facing a Crisis? The presenter doesn’t even both with the question mark in his opener, intoning, “Crisis in Egypt: A little known armed group takes responsibility for killing a high-ranking military officer. As well as security, the country struggles with food shortages and price hikes.” Watch (runtime: 25:14) if you worry your blood pressure might be a bit low this morning. Bonus points if you can tolerate him calling the Daeshbags in Sinai “armed groups, including those [the Ismail government] says are linked to Isil.”

Oh, and Tuktuk Preacherman is not dead: The tuk tuk driver famous for his rant about the economy last week had a chat with Al Arabiya to prove that he’s very much alive, not dead after police torture. Tuktuk Man has been laying low at his in-laws’ to avoid the media storm, he says, denying “reports of his arrest, as claimed by sources close to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.” More on Al Arabiya, where Arabic-language coverage is rather more graphic than what they’re running in English. His original rant on Al-Hayat is here.

On Deadline

El Watan’s Emad Gad asks why religiously-affiliated parties maintain a presence in parliament when the parties should have been dissolved under the new constitution.

Mahmoud Khalil and Emad El Din Adib both published pieces calling for a clamp-down on corruption, with Adib going as far as to say “corruption among the authorities is the most severe threat to national security … [particularly given] its threat to . ..the 33% of families who earn less than EGP 12 a day.” Meanwhile, Khalil praised the 20% discount initiative, but says moving forward with investigating corruption files is more critical, which the authorities have allegedly not paid “enough attention” to. Citizens won’t be convinced by arguments for austerity unless corruption is more thoroughly probed, he says.

The Al Masry Al Youm columnist with the Pseudonym Newton says the state should be blamed for being shortsighted on the sugar shortage. Traders should not be blamed for stockpiling sugar to lock in profits: Traders will always serve themselves, whereas the state should serve all people.

Image of the Day

Michael Bolton rode a camel at the Pyramids. He also said nice things about our country (bless him). End of text.

Worth Watching

We still don’t understand how this wound up on our Youtube recommendations, but it may have something to do with the resident nine-year-old’s recent fascination with the notion that her dad has shaved his head since ‘round the time Moses descended Mount Sinai with some edicts engraved on slabs of stone. In any case: We can think of no better argument in favour of shaving your head than this video. “My body chemistry doesn’t allow for tape in the front part” indeed. (Watch “Frontal Hair Attachment with Rob”, run time: 14:02)

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Spanish Agriculture Minister Isabel Tejerina is visiting Egypt “soon” to discuss a EUR 12 mn food safety project, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel said in a press conference, Al Mal reported.

Energy

Three more companies to sign PPA under FiT phase one

Five more companies will shortly sign power purchase agreements with the state under phase one of the feed-in tariff program for renewable energy. Total-Beltone Solar Venture plans to sign for its 50 MW project in Gouna “in the next two days”; the project will be self-funded. Spanish solar developer Dhamma and a French firm are also reportedly set to sign offtake agreements, Al Borsa reports. Meanwhile, Al Mal notes at least two other projects that were to have signed yesterday or that will soon close PPAs. Elf Energy and Infinity Solar have already signed agreements, we reported yesterday; 12 firms are expected to sign by the 26 deadline for financial close of phase-one projects.

EGAS decreases gas imports by 50 mcf/day

The Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company cut its imports by 50 mcf/d to 1.05 bcf/d from 1.1 bcf/d, an EGAS unnamed source told Al Borsa as demand from power producers fell with the onset of cooler fall temperatures.

House committee on energy agrees to 6 E&P agreements

The House Energy committee approved six E&P agreements yesterday with a number of companies and the Oil Ministry, Ahram Gate notes.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Misr Hytech Seed investing EGP 50 mn next year, planting “drought-resistant” crops

Misr Hytech Seed are investing EGP 50 mn in the domestic market to purchase new land, equipment, and to upgrade laboratories, Managing Director Raman Sehgal told Al Mal. The company is focusing on “drought-resistant” crops, he added. Hytech Seed are looking to bolster exports to 25% of production in the coming four years from 10% today.

Tourism

British ambassador John Casson says no date specified for flight resumption

Don’t get too excited about British global travel company Thomas Cook resuming flights to Sharm: British ambassador John Casson said on Friday that there is no set date for direct flights to resume, adding that Egyptian and British authorities are coordinating on the matter, Al Mal reported.

Banking + Finance

Banque Misr in talks with China Development Bank for USD 500 mn loan

Banque Misr is in talks with the China Development Bank for a USD 500 mn loan, unnamed sources told Al Shorouk. NBE is reportedly in similar negotiations with the same bank for a USD-denominated facility, the source added without revealing the amount. Both loans are meant to boost USD availability at the banks.

Suez Canal Bank files lawsuit against Arab Co. For Engineering Works for EGP 394.6 mn in debts

The Suez Canal Bank has filed a lawsuit against the Arab Company for Engineering Works over EGP 394.6 mn in non-performing loans, Al Borsa reported. The Economic Court has frozen the case for three months to draw up a settlement agreement.

National Security

El Sisi orders “increased security at vital facilities” after assassination of senior army officer

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has ordered “increased security at vital facilities” after the assassination on Saturday of a senior army officer, Ahram Online reports. The Associated Press has more on the “little-known group” that claimed responsibility for the murder of Brig-Gen. Adel Ragai.

Sports

Zamalek lose CAF Champions League title to South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns

Zamalek won last night’s match to South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 in front of a full-capacity crowd in Borg Al-Arab, but lost the two-match fixture 3-1, giving the Sundowns the CAF Champions League title for 2016. The Sundowns won the first match 3-0 in Pretoria last week, becoming just the second RSA team to win the championship in 21 years, the Associated Press reports in a piece the Daily Mail has leavened with some rather nice match photos.

On Your Way Out

The Engineering Syndicate and the Commercial Professionals Syndicate (read: accountants) have joined the Lawyer’s Syndicate in their bid to escape the VAT simply because they think they shouldn’t have to pay. 650K lawyers were named as plaintiffs in the suit. The first hearing in the case began yesterday, AMAY reports. The Syndicate had filed a suit in the Administrative Court demanding to be exempted because they their profession is classified as “Free” or “independent” under Article 198 of the constitution. Channeling their inner Chamberlain, the Tax Authority began Munich talks with them a few weeks ago.

EgyptAir flight MS799 from Cairo to Paris landed in Athens due to a technical failure, after which the company sent another plane to take passengers to Paris, an unnamed source at the Civil aviation ministry said, Al Mal reported.

Ashraf Shahin, the Alexandrian taxi driver who immolated himself last week, has died in hospital of his injuries, Egypt Independent reports. His family reportedly claims Shahin committed suicide after becoming despondent he was falsely accused of robbery.

A 36-year-old Alexandrian woman weighing 500 kg is “thought to be” the world’s fattest woman. Thank you, Daily Mail, for that edifying story.

The markets yesterday

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USD CBE auction (Sunday, 23 Oct): 8.78 (unchanged since 16 March 2016)
USD parallel market (Sunday, 23 Oct): 15.65 (from 15.40 on Saturday, 22 Oct)

EGX30 (Sunday): 7,274.15 (-0.04%)
Turnover: EGP 358.72 mn (15% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +18.10%

THE MARKET ON SUNDAY: EGX30 closed almost flat. Yesterday’s top performers were Heliopolis Housing, Orascom Construction, and TMG Holding where gains were offset by Domty, Porto Group, and Orascom Telecom Media and Technology closing in the red. Market turnover was an anemic EGP 358.7 mn, with local investors the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net short | EGP -40.9 mn
Regional: Net short | EGP -4.3 mn
Domestic: Net long | EGP +45.2 mn

Retail: 74.5% of total trades | 79.9% of buyers | 69.1% of sellers
Institutions: 25.5% of total trades | 20.1% of buyers | 30.9% of sellers

Foreign: 12.1% of total | 6.6% of buyers | 17.7% of sellers
Regional: 6.1% of total | 5.5% of buyers | 6.7% of sellers
Domestic: 81.8% of total | 87.9% of buyers | 75.6% of sellers


***
PHAROS VIEW

Profit Margin Control Initiative: Adding Insult to Injury

Last week, the Egyptian government formed “a cabinet-level” committee to set profit margins in order to control basic goods’ price increase. While the government did not specify further details, the Egyptian prime minister explained that this is not a price control. we believe that profit margin control is effectively a price range control mechanism that ultimately leads to the same outcomes of price controls. Pharos believes that price-range control would lead to commodity shortages, the emergence of a parallel market, result in insufficient allocation of public resources and send a negative signal to investors. Tap or click here to read the full commentary (pdf).

***


WTI: USD 50.47 (-0.75%)
Brent: USD 51.45 (-0.64%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.03 MMBtu, (+1.07%, November 2016 contract)
Gold: USD 1,263.60 / troy ounce (-0.32%)

TASI: 5,739.9 (+1.6%) (YTD: -17.0%)
ADX: 4,299.4 (+0.1%) (YTD: -0.2%)
DFM: 3,355.4 (+0.4%) (YTD: +6.5%)
KSE Weighted Index: 348.2 (+0.6%) (YTD: -8.8%)
QE: 10,434.0 (0.0%) (YTD: 0.0%)
MSM: 5,538.0 (-0.4%) (YTD: +2.4%)
BB: 1,147.4 (-0.4%) (YTD: -5.6%)

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Calendar

24 October (Monday): EBRD executive meeting in Egypt on sustainable development strategy.

24-29 October (Monday-Saturday): The 2016 Dubai Design Week Iconic City exhibition Cairo NOW City Incomplete, Dubai Design District (d3), Dubai

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

30 October (Sunday): El Mal GTM’s Real Estate Debate Conference, Grand Nile Tower Hotel, 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.

2-6 November (Wednesday-Sunday): Petroleum Housing Conference, Petrosport Club, New Cairo, Cairo

3 November (Thursday): The Emirates NBD PMI for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE compiled by Markit comes out here.

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.

25-26 November (Friday-Saturday): 27th Energy Charter Conference, Tokyo, Japan.

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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