Tuesday, 1 November 2016

A glimmer of sanity: Traders say EGP at 18 is overblown.


What We’re Tracking Today

Take 20 seconds and be happy you’re reading this: We all know the EGP is below 18 to the greenback, and we’re sure you’ve noticed from the subject line that the government had a tough go of it yesterday in talks with the House on the economy. But something is right in our world: We continue to dominate the world squash scene. “Egypt has become the first nation in the entire 40-year history of the iconic PSA Men’s World Championship to have six players in the quarter-final stage after Ramy Ashour, Fares Dessouky and Tarek Momen all won to bring the third round action to a close at the Wadi Degla Club in Cairo.” The news comes “just a day after Egyptian trio Mohamed ElShorbagy, Karim Abdel Gawad and Ali Farag booked their quarter-final berths,” the PSA World Tour website reports. (Read more)

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail appeared before the House yesterday, and we’re keeping a close eye on reports that his government is considering the introduction of a progressive tax regime in response to lobbying from MPs. We have more in Speed Round, below.

And, before we get off the topic of the House: Yesterday’s grilling is probably only the beginning, as the House Economics Committee has asked Finance Minister Amr El-Garhy and central bank governor Tarek Amer to testify this week.

The Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce will meet today to discuss whether the importers division will back a boycott of the parallel market for FX for two weeks. Members are also being pushed to stop importing for a three-month period. The federation’s retail division will also meet to discuss pumping supplies of basic commodities, especially sugar, into the market, Al Mal reports.

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov begins a visit to Egypt today. Ahram Online has an interview.

Luxor will host the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)’s fifth Global Summit on City Tourism: “Cities: Local Culture for Global Travellers,” taking place today and tomorrow, according to a UNWTO press release. The French and Argentinian Tourism Ministers, in Luxor ahead of the summit to attend a meeting of the UNWTO’s executive council, have promised to schedule additional direct flights to Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh, and Luxor, Ahram Gate notes.

What We’re Tracking This Week

The Emirates NBD / Markit PMI will be out on Thursday at 6:15am.

The Petroleum Housing Conference runs from tomorrow through Sunday, 6 November at Petrosport Club in New Cairo.

The first EU-Arab World summitwill take place this coming Thursday and Friday (3-4 November) in Athens. Greek PM Alexis Tsipras and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are due to attend; Dalia Khorshid is, so far, the only confirmed speaker from Egypt. Is a Turkey-style funding package in return for stopping the flow of migrants to the EU in the cards for Egypt? (Background here). The website for the 3-4 November summit is here, or you can skip straight to the agenda.

On The Horizon

The Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet on Thursday, 17 November to review interest rates.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s MENA 2016 Conference will take place in Dubai from 14-16 November (Monday-Wednesday).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

The notion that 18 is a fair EGP USD rate is nonsense — and the market is catching on: Greenbacks were quoted at EGP 18.25 per greenback on Monday, according to Al Borsa, while Reuters put the rate at 18.00-18.20, citing traders who stated that volumes were low. “I am not convinced with these prices … it is not real demand”, an importer who quit buying as part of an initiative called for the head of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce told the news service. Panic, not real demand, is playing a role, a commodities trader said: “Everyone is in panic …The Sudanese pound now is stronger than the Egyptian pound. Is the economy here worse than Sudan? This is all people panicking and turning their Egyptian pounds into dollars.”

As one of us was heard mumbling in the office yesterday: “I can ring you up, ask you what you’re willing to sell me USD for, and you tell me EGP 55, and that’s the price. But is anyone actually transacting at that price? It’s nonsense.”

Meanwhile, the CBE is reportedly training National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr staff to help monitor FX bureaux, Al Borsa reported.

Egypt’s agreement with the IMF could “theoretically be in early 2017,” Jean-Paul Pigat, senior economist at Emirates NBD, told Bloomberg TV’s Manus Cranny, despite his initial projection of an agreement in “early November.” Pigat is concerned about the developments in the currency market, saying that when the IMF first reached an agreement with Egypt, the parallel market’s premium over the official exchange rate was around 40%, which has since widened to “around 85%. … So, obviously, the assumptions that the IMF was working with back then might need to get changed,” he explains. “When we were previously talking about a devaluation of around 20% to restore investor confidence, that number might now be a lot larger.” On inflation, Pigat said it is the parallel market that matters as it is “where a lot of Egyptian people and businesses are basically going for foreign exchange.” Looking into 2017, he tells Cranny he expects inflation rates can “easily” go up to around 20% and links it to the possibility of the CBE having to implement a “quite aggressive” interest rate hike as a response. (Watch, runtime 02:55).

Prime minister on the defensive as some MPs call for vote of no confidence: Prime Minister Sherif Ismail faced a hostile reception at the House of Representatives yesterday as he spoke on the nation’s economic challenges. Reports suggest the PM’s remarks met with interruptions and jeers from the House MPs, who used the hearing as a forum to deliver their most scathing critique of the Ismail cabinet since their election — grandstanding on the order of Mark Anthony’s eulogy of Caesar.

Some MPs, including members of the House Budget Committee, have called for a vote of no confidence. Rising prices, the FX crisis, and last weekend’s floods were the biggest issues of the day. The frustrations began when Ismail and a number of ministers arrived late to the plenary sessions, Ahram Gate reports. Highlights of the day:

Ismail invited MPs to see the current situation as an opportunity to cut imports, strengthen reliance on local manufacturing and develop exports, Al Masry Al Youm reports. That said, the central bank will come up with a solution to the spiralling exchange rate soon, he added.

Devaluation is happening — but still no word on how (even if the IMF has already let slip the agreement was on a gradual easing): “We will take the appropriate action at the right time to ensure one single rate for the USD,” said Ismail.

An unexpected bombshell: The government is studying implementing a progressive tax after numerous MPs lobbied the government hard on the policy, Ismail said, according to Parlamany.

Speaking on rising prices and shortages of basic goods, Ismail noted that Egypt has reserves of basic commodities to last three months and pointed to recent announcements that the state would build a six-month reserve while allocating new funds to cover commodity imports. The government has pumped 250K tonnes of sugar into the market in October alone, he said.

Price controls would only apply to basic commodities, the PM said. If implemented, the controls would only be a temporary measure and are not reflective of the government’s preferred economic policy, AMAY quotes Ismail as adding.

Feeding into the mood in Parliament yesterday was continued fallout from weekend flooding that killed nearly 30 people after torrential rain in parts of the country. Ismail explained that the government had not planned for flash floods in Ras Ghareb, saying there have been none there in 50 years, adding that changing global weather patterns make preparations harder.

Surprisingly, one of the afternoon’s most vocal critics was Mohamed El Sewedy, head of the Support Egypt Coalition and the Federation of Egyptian Industries (yes, it’s legal to be both an MP and a member of a special interest group). El Sewedy blamed the government for its failure to contain the FX crisis and savaged the CBE for not providing a clear roadmap for how the crisis can be solved. El Sewedy said he regretted voting on legislation that imposed harsher sentences and fines on parallel market dealers without a guarantee that the CBE would make FX available, AMAY reports. As we noted yesterday, members of the FEI have begun calling for the government to sit down with FX bureaus.

The report on the state’s last fiscal year is in, and the government is giving conflicting reports: GDP growth in FY 2015-16 climbed to 4.3% y-o-y from 4.2% a year earlier, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail told Reuters. Ismail’s report differed from an initial quote by two Finance Ministry officials who said the growth rate came in lower at 3.8%. Both figures fell short of the government’s initial target of a 5% growth rate and its revised target of 4.4%. Fiscally, Egypt’s budget deficit for FY 2015-16 reached 12.2% of GDP, up from the 11.5% recorded in FY 2014-15, Deputy Finance Minister for Treasury Affairs Mohamed Maait told the newswire. Ismail, on the other hand, said the budget deficit figure came at 12.1% of GDP.

In other news yesterday, Egypt’s M2 money supply shot up 18% year-on-year as of the end of September to EGP 2.18 tn, Reuters notes.

The Consumer Protection Agency actually wants the Ismail cabinet to sharply limit trade between governorates to regulate the market. The agency sent a memo to Prime Minister Sherif Ismail calling for limits limit trade between governorates to those who have permits from the Supply Ministry so as to better regulate prices, said CPA head Atef Yakoub. As if the sugar raids and talk of price controls weren’t bad enough, Yakoub now wants to shut down the domestic economy. It seems that he may be leveraging public anger at the government to push his own Nasserist agenda. Yakoub had appeared before the House Economics Committee to discuss the Consumer Protection Act, saying the House had been reviewing an outdated bill and will be provided with an updated draft soon, Al Mal reports. The CPA has established its own squad to monitor price-gouging and supply-hoarding, he tells the newspaper.

Bankers told Reuters the CBE had cancelled its treasury auction on Sunday because “banks had asked for yields the government found too high.” Beltone head of research Hany Genena said the “cancellation is surprising. We have seen banks over the past three or four weeks submitting higher yields and getting rejected but last week was the first time a 1 percent jump was accepted” and he expected this to continue and believes the auction’s cancellation “to be sustainable because of high borrowing requirements." Reuters says the canceling the treasury auction on Sunday confounded market expectations of a steep hike in benchmark interest rates.

Some good news: The government’s new wheat inspection programme “will likely be easier to navigate and may lead to lower prices,” traders told Bloomberg. Alaa Ezz, the secretary general of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce, expects the new system to lower prices by 5% in international tenders. The General Organization for Export and Import Control (GOEIC) “will be the sole state body responsible for wheat inspections at shipping and arrival ports, replacing government inspectors,” Bloomberg’s Salma El Wardany explains. “Traders can now discharge the cargo into bonded warehouses before receiving approval … Previously, suppliers had to keep grain in the shipping tanker for up to 10 days pending final approval.” Hesham Soliman, president of Medstar for Trading, told El Wardany “the pain of dealing with three different government bodies, each with its own standards and regulations was really impossible … There’s finally some clarity now. We will be dealing with just one entity… Egypt will start seeing better prices and more offers.”

EFG Hermes has reportedly been chosen to manage the IPO of Nile Air which will take place next year, sources tell Al Borsa. The company plans to list 30% of its shares, the proceeds of which will be used to expand its fleet of airplanes. Nile Air’s parent company had initially planned to have the IPO, the first for an airline on the EGX, this year.

Egyptian frozen strawberries recalled in USA: The Hepatitis A case implicating Egyptian strawberries seems to be drawing to a close as the US FDA announced that Americana’s ICAPP is voluntarily withdrawing “certain lots of its frozen strawberries out of an abundance of caution in response to a[n] … investigation of an outbreak of Hepatitis A.” The FDA statement is here; the story is getting play in the trade press and, of course, continues to delight makers of TV graphics at local US news shows:

EFSA has granted its approval to Egypt’s first real estate fund, Chairman Sherif Samy told Ahram Gate. Samy says the sector needs financing solutions on both the developer and buyer sides. To help support the real estate market, he added, EFSA had also approved regulations for issuing revenue-backed bonds, which Samy says would help expand national infrastructure.

TV broadcaster Mehwar opted against airing an interview with former Central Auditing Organisation head Hesham Genena in fear that it might be interfering with court proceedings. The network, according to Ahram Online, said airing the interview “could constitute prejudice and also interfere in the work of the judiciary,” adding that “the channel’s legal team decided to postpone Mehwar’s broadcast of the interview with the former head of Central Auditing Organisation until a final judicial verdict in the case is reached.”

It took 46 attempts, but Lebanon has a president now: Michel Aoun was elected President of Lebanon when MPs met yesterday in their 46th attempt to vote in a leader for the country. The presidency was vacant for more than two years as Aoun’s candidacy has been blocked by the “Sunni-dominated” Future Movement and the “stalemate has paralysed Lebanon’s government.” BBC speculates that the Future Movement’s leader, Saad Hariri, will become prime minister.

Saudi replaces long time finance minister: Saudi Arabia’s finance minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf was replaced on Monday with Mohammed Al-Jadaan, formerly head of the kingdom’s Capital Markets Authority, after two decades in office. Bloomberg is positing the move as part of the ingoing shakeup in the Saudi cabinet as part of reforms, which among other reasons, target bringing in younger bureaucrats.

Also taking his leave was the Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Iyad Ameen Madani who announced to have resigned from his post yesterday due to “health reasons”, according to a statement by the OIC. Former Saudi Minister of Social Affairs Yusuf bin Ahmed Al-‘Uthaymeen was nominated as his replacement by Saudi, AMAY reports, a nomination which has the backing of Egypt’s Foreign Ministry. Madani’s resignation follows backlash over him having poked fun at President El Sisi earlier this week.

It’s otherwise a slow global news day to start the month of November, with the international press focused almost singularly on the US election as Americans prepare to head to the polls a week from today. The Financial Times has endorsed Hillary Clinton (no surprise), the FBI is probing ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, Hillary Clinton is abandoning her pivot to a “positive” campaign, and the New York Times says experts believe Trump’s 1990s tax doge is “legally dubious.”

Perhaps the most relevant regional news of the day: “Thousands” of protesters in Morocco took to the streets again yesterday in multiple cities to protest the death of a fishmonger crushed in a garbage compactor after a confrontation with police. And confidence in South Africa has been restored after prosecutors dropped what many saw as a politically-motivated case against respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan. Reuters has the details, and the Financial Times (paywall) has a strong take on the decision.


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Spotlight on: Waste-to-energy FiT program

The government is planning to launch a feed-in-tariff (FiT) program for waste-to-energy projects in December. The news came after the cabinet economic group completed its review of the program’s terms, Al Borsa reports, which set the FiT rate at USD 0.092 per kWh. The outline of the program is now with the Finance Ministry for review, said Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy. The model power purchase agreement would reportedly see the Electricity Ministry pay USD 0.042 per kWh, with the rest covered by both the Environment Ministry and the Local Development Ministry, according to Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker. Talks are underway to ensure that rate is not fixed and establish provisions which take into account FX costs and inflation, said Fahmy who did not elaborate on the point. A number of waste-to-energy companies, including BioEnergy and Empower, have reportedly put the brakes on expansion plans because of the FX crunch, Al Borsa says.

The Ismail cabinet has also ratified a plan which would see cement companies to rely on waste-to-energy projects for 15% of their energy supply by 2030, said Fahmy. Meanwhile, the International Finance Corporation found that Egypt’s cement producers could use waste-to-energy to power their plants to save USD 51 mn per year, replace 1.9 mn tons of coal, and prevent the release of 3.9 mn tons of carbon dioxide by 2025, in a study titled “Unlocking Value: Alternative Fuels for Egypt’s Cement Industry” (pdf). “The study, the first of its kind in Egypt, found the country produces enough alternative fuels to power the entire cement sector. It included a mapping tool (available at http://arcg.is/1ToAspz) that pinpoints the location of cement plants, sources of alternative fuels, and transport links,” according to an e-mailed press release.

As for solar and wind FiT projects, the New and Renewable Energy Authority and Ministry of Finance have completed drafting the Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) for phase two, sources at the Electricity Ministry told Al Mal. The PPA has been sent to participating companies, the sources added. The Council of State has given preliminary approval, and the clause on international arbitration has been sent to international lenders for review.

Egypt in the News

How slow a news day is it for Egypt in the international media? Bad enough we’re reduced to noting that the Daily Mail is running more ground-breaking coverage of Dr. Essam Aly, an Egyptian anesthetist who is accused of having lied about where he was working during a paid leave from the National Health Service.

The headline (we kid you not): “Doctor, 55, who was ordered to pay every penny of his £550,000 assets to his ex-wife in a landmark divorce case is struck off after he took on private work without telling his NHS bosses and then tried to cover it up.” That’s the headline. Not the lede. The good doctor’s divorce was apparently sufficiently interesting that the Daily Mirror also covered it last year.

Meanwhile, gold miner Centamin gets lots of love from the Financial Times (paywall), which notes the Egypt-focused producer’s strong 3Q2016 production figures and the potential held out by Centamin’s promised expansion to an underground site that seems to offer the potential of 9g of gold per ton processed against 1g per ton at its present open pit.

Over 120 images of ancient Egyptian boats were discovered along the interior of a building in Abydos, Livescience reported. The building dates back over 3,800 years. The series of images is called a tableau, and contained "large, well-rendered boats depicted with masts, sails, rigging, deckhouses/cabins, rudders, oars and in some cases rowers," wrote curator at the Penn Museum and excavation leader, Josef Wegner said.

And in the Islamist press, Al Jazeera reports on the case of a 22-year-old alleged to have been detained by authorities (the boy is reportedly apolitical, his father a member of the Ikhwan). The Qatar-funded website is also rambling on about how President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s “remarks about his fridge reveal just how much Egyptians have cooled towards him.” The brilliant lede: “You could say that Egypt has had its very own Watergate. But unlike its American counterpart, this was not about tapes and spying and political scandal, but about water, a refrigerator and scandalised social media.” Riiight… Not a stretch at all.

Also making the rounds this morning: Ruth Michaelson’s review in The Guardian of the Bab Aldonia bookshop and cafe in Cairo, which has a soundproof-ish “scream room.” Michaelson says screaming “‘can help cure disease,’ [a regular patron] says, puffing on a cigarette.”

On Deadline

Al Shorouk columnist Fahmy Howedi is concerned that the President forming a state-aligned parallel body led by youth means a return to the one-man-rule system. The youth conference in Sharm El Sheikh only included supporters, he says. The government and House are also state-aligned, and the initiative to train youth for leadership positions that includes the Prime Minister’s office, and the ministries of foreign affairs, planning, and defense all point in a worrisome direction, says Howedi.

Image of the Day

Tired of counting piles of cash, Venezuelans are now weighing them. The weighing of cash and the printing of higher-denomination banknotes all point to hyperinflation in Venezuela, which listeners of the Planet Money podcast we noted yesterday know is no longer printing official inflation figures. Writes Bloomberg: “At a delicatessen counter in eastern Caracas, Humberto Gonzalez removes slices of salty white cheese from his scale and replaces them with a stack of bolivar notes handed over by his customer. The currency is so devalued and each purchase requires so many bills that instead of counting, he weighs them.” (Read the full story on Bloomberg)

Oh, and a random fact: We’ve been here before. Per Inflationdata.com: Between 276 and 334 AD, Egypt saw “1 mn percent inflation in 58 years. A measure of wheat which sold for 200 drachmae in 276 AD increased to more than 2,000,000 drachmae in 334 AD.”

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi held a joint press conference with Singaporean President Tony Tan, Al Masry Al Youm reported. The two countries signed MoUs for projects in nine industries, including water, port management, education and technical training, civil aviation, e-government, SMEs and technology, Singaporean ambassador to Egypt Premjith Sadasivan told Al Borsa. Check the Straits Times to see how it’s playing back in Singapore, including coverage of Tan’s visit to an Azhar center that is tackling extremist thought.

The International Cooperation Ministry is in talks with the World Bank for a USD 200 mn loan to finance labor-intensive projects, Al Mal reported. Nasr invited the bank to cooperate with development partners to expand on the national school meals project. Meanwhile, the World Bank offered financing renewable energy production and storage projects, or providing technical assistance for tender systems, Al Borsa reported, as Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker met with Senior Energy Specialist at the World Bank Erik Fernstrom and the accompanying delegation to explore cooperation opportunities.

A Kuwaiti trade delegation is scheduled to visit Cairo early this month ahead of a Kuwaiti-Egyptian business forum, organized by the governments both countries, due to take place at Sharm El Sheikh in December, Trade Minister Tarek Kabil announced in a meeting with the Kuwaiti Ambassador to Egypt yesterday, according to Al Masry Al Youm.


Petroleum subsidies hit EGP 14 bn in 1Q2016-17

Petroleum subsidies have risen to EGP 14 bn in 1Q2016-17 after Brent prices crossed the USD 40 per bbl mark that was planned in the state budget, Al Borsa reported. Brent was trading at an average of USD 51 per bbl last week. The government is studying raising fuel prices to reduce the subsidy bill, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said, but industry insiders say any government action is unlikely to reduce the bill meaningfully as the weakened EGP has already pushed fuel subsidies up. The government has allocated EGP 35 bn this year for fuel subsidies. At this rate the bill by FY2016-17 will reach EGP 56 bn. On a related note, There is still no word from Aramco when and if it plans to send in its fuel shipments for November, said El Molla. In the meantime, FX-strapped Egypt will continue to buy fuel from other sources, he tells the newspaper. We noted last week that Egypt had reached an agreement with Kuwait on fuel shipments which will not include preferential terms, facilities, discounts or grants. Since May, Aramco had delivered USD 1.2 bn worth of petroleum products, El Molla noted.

On the production side, EGPC is projecting that the production of crude oil and condensates will increase to 705k bbl/d from the current 690k bbl/d by the end of FY 2016-17, Al Mal reported.

Devaluation will drive up costs of Power Ministry, which hopes to maintain subsidies -Shaker

The devaluation is one of the most pressing issues facing the Electricity Ministry, Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker told the House Energy Committee, in a statement whose timing leaves much to be desired. A devaluation by so much as EGP 1 could see the ministry’s expenses rise by EGP 5 bn, Ahram Gate reports. A devaluation would make Egypt’s fuel imports more expensive, especially as one third of them goes to power plants, and increase the financing gap for expensive energy projects. Shaker reassured MPs that this would have no bearing on subsidies, and the government will bear the brunt of the hit. Perhaps wisely, Shaker never reportedly elaborated that subsidies will only be maintained for the lowest consumption tiers as per the reform agenda.

EGPC grants SDX, PICO preliminary approval to extend drilling in South Ramadan

EGPC gave SDX Energy and PICO Petroleum preliminary approvals to extend drilling operations at the South Ramadan concession, SDX Energy’s country director Ahmed Moaz told Al Mal. The preliminary agreement does not specify a date for the extension and includes the operators spending USD 23 mn in the project. Moaz says the operators have not received a formal approval agreement yet, but says they are willing to agree to extending the drilling period terms even if they are just to July 2017, even though they have asked for it to be extended to July 2018.

Electricity Ministry contacts consultant for Ataqa power plant in December

The Electricity Ministry has completed studying the financial bids on the Ataqa power plant consultant tender and will contract the winning company by the end of the year, Undersecretary of the Electricity Ministry Sabah Mashaly told Al Borsa.

Al Nowais requests guarantees from Finance Ministry

UAE’s Al Nowais is requesting sovereign guarantees from the Finance Ministry to build its coal-fired power plant in Sinai, Al Borsa reports. The move would effectively make the ministry the guarantor for the loans the company is taking out to build the plant. Power ministry sources state that the technical, financial and legal contracts have been signed and will be sent to the cabinet for ratification. The power plant’s first phase will see the production of 1.3 GW of power.

Five companies bidding for 650 MW West Cairo power plant

Five companies submitted financial offers in a bid to implement civil work for the West Cairo power plant to generate 650 MW, Al Borsa reported. Competitors are: Hassan Allam Sons (EGP 1.098 bn), a partnership between Petrojet and Technic (EGP 1.165), Orascom (EGP 1.205 bn), Greece’s Archirodon (EGP 1.35 bn), and Arab Contractors (EGP 1.598 bn).


National Authority for Tunnels plans new route for Nozha Metro station

The National Authority for Tunnels is planning a new route for the Nozha station of the Cairo Metro Line three, Al Shorouk reported. The new route will be on ground level and not underground as previously planned, due to samples of soil revealing potential oil leaks, sources revealed.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt to sign cooperation protocols to export grapes to China

Egypt will sign cooperation protocols this month to export grapes to the Chinese market for the first time as of the upcoming harvest, head of the Agriculture Export Council Abdel Hamid El Demerdash asserted, according to Al Ahram.


Egypt to receive biometric equipment for airports in mid-November

Egypt will receive the biometric airport equipment recommended by Russian inspectors by mid-November, Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy said, according to Sputnik. The systems will be used to track the arrival and departure of airport staff. Fathy explained that after the systems’ arrival, airports will require “some time to install” them. He also added that parallel work with experts to install the systems is underway in "at least two airports," without specifying their names.

Germania resumes flights to Sharm El Sheikh, Thomas Cook to fly to Luxor from Manchester

German airline Germania has resumed direct flights to Sharm El Sheikh, director of the Egyptian Tourist Office in Berlin Tamer Marzouk told Al Mal. The company is sending one weekly flight from Berlin and Dusseldorf, he added. Also, Thomas Cook will start operating a flight from Manchester to Luxor (to which flights are already operating from Heathrow Airport) starting late November and another by Air Cairo, Ahram Gate reported.

Antiquities Minister against private sector involvement in running museums and historical sites

Antiquities Minister Khaled El Anany is against the notion of private sector involvement in managing museums or historical sites, according to Al Borsa. His remarks come as the cash-strapped ministry is under pressure to look at ways to boost revenues.

Telecoms + ICT

Etisalat 4G running trial operations

Etisalat is running first trials for 4G mobile services, Al Mal reported. The company said it is the only MNO that will not require customers a change of sim card for 4G services.

Automotive + Transportation

Transportation costs up by 20% due to FX shortage

Tourism-focused transportation companies have hiked the price of their services by 20% effective beginning of 2017 due to losses incurred by high prices of the USD, Al Borsa reported.

Other Business News of Note

Egypt calls for sanctions on Toledo Museum of Art

The Antiquities Ministry has banned cooperation with the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio after the latter put an Egyptian collection on sale at an auction, Ahram Online reported. The artifacts were sold last week for USD 12 mn. The UNESCO and International Committee of Museums have been contacts to halt the transaction and recover the artifacts, Supervisor General of the Antiquities Repatriation Department, Shaaban Abdel Gawad said.

Egypt Politics + Economics

El Sisi committee looking at releasing young detainees should be formed

The members of a new committee formed to look into releasing youth detainees as we noted last week should have been finalized yesterday, according to Mohamed Abdel Aziz of the National Council for Human Rights, Al Mal reports.

On Your Way Out

Driverless cars on Dubai’s roads within a year? Car-booking app Careem unveiled driverless pods in partnership with NEXT Future Transportation and expects them to hit Dubai’s roads within a year, according to a company statement. “The pods are electric, driverless and can move individually or by attaching themselves to other pods, to form a bus-like structure, allowing passengers to move freely from one pod to another. These self-driving pods are designed to operate as a mass transportation system whereby passengers can conveniently be picked up on demand and dropped off to different locations, as the pods link and detach accordingly, creating an efficient, safe and environmentally friendly mode of transportation.”

Reclaiming Egypt’s rooftops: Wamda’s Rachel Williamson profiled soilless farming startup Al Bustani. The founders say “the company has jumped on a slow trend in Egypt towards growing your own food. They provide the equipment for soilless urban farming, be it aquaponics, hydroponics or a medium-based setup that uses peat moss and treated volcanic rocks.”

The markets yesterday

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USD CBE auction (Sunday, 30 Oct): 8.78 (unchanged since 16 March 2016)
USD parallel market (Monday, 31 Oct): EGP 18.0 – 18.2 (from 17.50 on Sunday morning, 30 Oct, Reuters)

EGX30 (Monday): 8386.03 (+0.34%)
Turnover: EGP 492.56 mn (13% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +19.69%

Foreigners: Net short | EGP -48.4 mn
Regional: Net long | EGP +15.3 mn
Domestic: Net long | EGP +33.1 mn

THE MARKET ON MONDAY: The EGX30 closed up 0.3% after starting off the day in the red. Top gainers were Domty (up 6.0%), Edita (+4.6%) and OC (+4.3%). GTH and CIB were the day’s worst performers, each down a bit more than 1%. Trading was moderate, with total turnover at EGP 492.6 mn and foreign investors the sole net sellers.

Retail: 67.0% of total trades | 69.0% of buyers | 65.1% of sellers
Institutions: 33.0% of total trades | 31.0% of buyers | 34.9% of sellers

Foreign: 20.4% of total | 15.4% of buyers | 25.3% of sellers
Regional: 8.1% of total | 9.7% of buyers | 6.5% of sellers
Domestic: 71.5% of total | 74.9% of buyers | 68.2% of sellers

WTI: USD 46.97 (+0.23%)
Brent: USD 48.90 (+0.60%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.00 MMBtu, (-0.89, December 2016 contract)
Gold: USD 1,278.00 / troy ounce (+0.38%)

TASI: 6,012.2 (+0.6%) (YTD: -13.0%)
ADX: 4,300.2 (+0.3%) (YTD: -0.2%)
DFM: 3,332.4 (+0.3%) (YTD: +5.8%)
KSE Weighted Index: 354.0 (+0.1%) (YTD: -7.2%)
QE: 10,173.0 (+0.3%) (YTD: -2.5%)
MSM: 5,481.4 (-0.0%) (YTD: +1.4%)
BB: 1,148.8 (-0.2%) (YTD: -5.5%)

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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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