Thursday, 10 November 2016

Is 19.25 the magic number?

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

The Simpsons presaged America’s Morsi Moment. Donald Trump is president-elect of the United States, and any pundit who chooses to pontificate this morning about what that means for America, for the global economy, for the Middle East or for Egypt is, simply, full of [redacted]. (H/t Taymour H. for the Morsi Moment reference. And yes, the Simpsons really did foreshadow that Winter is Coming, if not quite 16 years ago as the image above suggests. Tap the image above for the bit on the handover from the Trump Administration to the Lisa Simpson Whitehouse, or tap here for a bit last year making fun of Trump’s candidacy.)

We’ve worn our politics on our sleeves on this one. We’re too tired of it all to even crack a decent joke that this election was the equivalent of Mortada Mansour beating Suzanne Mubarak in a head-to-head contest. And so it was that in conversations with readers and friends yesterday about how Trump managed to pull off the political upset of the post-1945 US political order, we came back not to the failure of our colleagues in the media or to the difficulty of liking Sec. Clinton as a “candidate” as opposed to as a “policy genius,” but to this piece we ran in our 5 August 2015 Weekend Edition, when pundits said Trump’s campaign was dead in the water:

This is why Trump will win: Donald Trump is cratering. His campaign is in disarray. He’s alienating veterans. Trailing Hillary by 15 points. The GOP will dump him by September and focus on congressional races. And yet he could still win. He equaled Hillary Clinton in fundraising in July, and he’s got a base of support that could care less what he steps in between now and election day — he is, as Clint Eastwood suggested this week, just saying what “a lot of folks” are thinking. Those folks: Poor whites. If you really want to understand why Trump could become president, you need to read the American Conservative’s “Trump: Tribune Of Poor White People.”

What does all this mean for Egypt? We’d be the same full-of-it pundits we warn against if we said we knew. In this, the EGX30 speaks for us: The benchmark nosedived in parallel with global markets at yesterday’s opening bell, but powered back to close up 1.3% with EGP 1.9 bn in turnover (more than 4x the trailing 90-day average) and foreign investors once again strong net buyers. (Tangentially: That matches with what the investor relations community is telling us: Investors are asking much less about the macro backdrop, and instead actively probing into company fundamentals and when to buy in.)

We do know this: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi had a meeting of the minds with Trump when the two sat down together in New York, and the president was the first world leader to call Trump yesterday to offer his congratulations. Egyptian MPs similarly have no problem with Trump, Ahram Online reports. Reuters left Egypt out of the mix when it sat down to look at how the Arab world is considering the Trump White House (it inexplicable substituted Turkey, leaving Egypt to the “Sisi calls first” piece), and Mohamed El Erian — our favourite Egyptian in the US of A — is exactly on-point with his economic advice to Trump in yesterday’s Financial Times. Also worth a read on Trump’s victory:

The bottom line: Trump is a sideshow in Egypt (for now, at least). We have much more pressing issues with which to grapple, starting with the health of the interbank market for FX and how far the EGP has to overshoot to hit a market-clearing rate. Heading into this week, two concerns were high on our minds when it came to the float: Do dealing rooms have the experience — and professionalism — to run a free market for FX? And what, exactly, would be a market-clearing rate for the EGP?

Check-ins with our favourite bankers yesterday gave us heart. “It was definitely an open question whether the dealing rooms could work together, whether they knew what to do in this situation,” one told us. “But there’s definitely dialogue going on — there’s two-way communications between multiple market players, and you see that in the USD cooling to EGP 16.90 today.” The bottom line: This week has been about confidence-building, and insiders that’s in progress.

How far does the EGP have to overshoot to hit a market-clearing rate? Probably around 19.25 is the consensus of our (highly unscientific) straw poll. “The rate probably has to overshoot to lure-in those who bought USD at the peak — the people who bought at 17-18 and are waiting for it to recover. When we hit 18-19 or a bit north, you should start seeing an influx of USD from people have been made whole. When nobody has lost money, that’s when it takes off.” And by takes off: We mean, “The rate slides down to something more reasonable.”

How long should that take? Estimates varied between three weeks and 2-3 months based on the rate at which USD is flowing into banks, and our gut says something closer to 2-3 months is more realistic. And FCY liquidity is definitely entering the system. One banker tells us that inflows from clients fell 90% from their pre-2011 peak after the events of 25 January — and then by 75% again when Mohammed Morsi was elected. Volumes recovered to 2011 levels after 30 June 2013 before drying up almost entirely this year. Inflows in the past four days were perhaps 3x what they were on any day last year.

The next step: Provided the CBE leaves the float in place, banks will likely start opening letters of credit at an accelerated pace in the week to come as they continue to chip away at the backlog.

The Trade and Industry Minister is scheduled to host a conference today to discuss industrial and export-development strategies through 2020, according to an e-mailed statement. Major national business associations will attend as will MPs, the European Union and others.

On The Horizon

Next week is shaping up to be another busy news week:

The board of directors of the IMF will meet tomorrow to vote on a USD 12 bn bailout for Egypt. IMF boss Christine Lagarde is recommending approval. We have more updates in the Speed Round.

The CBE (and everyone in government and the media and no one else) appears to have 11/11 on the brain. The central bank has instructed banks to close on Friday for security reasons, the newspaper reported. Friday is a banking holiday, but banks were given the greenlight to remain open throughout the weekends since the float to maximize FX inflows. Lord knows we could have egg (or worse) on our face on Sunday, but we still maintain that 11/11 is a creature of the domestic press, not of activists.

Amer to meet bank chiefs on Sunday: Central Bank of Egypt Governor Tarek Amer will hold a meeting on Sunday with bank heads and other members of the Federation of Egyptian Banks to discuss their FX positions and liquidity in the market, Al Borsa reports. Sources speaking to Al Mal frame this as the first in a series of periodical meetings to touch base.

Also on Sunday: Finance Minister Amr El Garhy is expected to testify in front of the House of Representatives’ Economics Committee about the impact of the economic reform program on the state budget. Committee members are floating trial balloons on the possible implementation of a progressive tax bill to help close the budget deficit.

The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will convene on Thursday, 17 November to review interest rates.

The executive regulations of the value-added tax will be revealed sometime next week and will be put out for “national dialogue,” said Deputy Finance Minister Amr El Monayer. You can check out some features to look out for here.

Coffee With…

Coffee with Moustafa El Bahabety, Deputy Justice Minister for Arbitration and International Disputes and the Commissioner of the High Council for International Arbitration

Judge Moustafa El Bahabety is our kind of guy: He’s saving taxpayers significant outlays and working to restore investor confidence at the same time. In his role as commissioner of the High Council for International Arbitration — headed by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail — El Bahabety is the point man for resolving international disputes to which Egyptian institutions are party. He’s also chairman of the Ministerial Committee for Settlement of Investment Disputes. That committee, also headed by Ismail, focuses on significant investment disputes, whether they’ve escalated to the issue of arbitration or not.

We sat down for a cup of coffee yesterday.

THE TAKEAWAYS:

  1. Egypt is looking to reach win-win settlements
  2. Egypt has finalized a settlement with steel giant ArcelorMittal, which has dropped its USD 600 mn claim
  3. Settlements are in sight in open cases, including Union Fenosa Gas
  4. Egypt is regaining investor confidence, FiT amendments are a positive compromise, and economic reforms are a step in the right direction

Talking about the art of reaching settlement agreements, El Bahabety stressed that “no party comes out as a loser.” It is a fair process: “we [aim to] give counterparties their rights, and we [try to end it] without paying compensation.” A deft touch comes in handy when working out the rate at which interest will be calculated and other aspects of compensation. Best, though, is to head-off the issue before it reaches arbitration: “Mechanisms of dispute resolution like the ministerial committee […] are there to make sure the cases are resolved before they reach the final stage of arbitration,” El Bahabety said.

“In a settlement, the state sacrifices and the investor sacrifices. What sacrifice will you make if you can take your money, plus interest, plus compensation? Why would I settle with you? I could go to a court. So to avoid court for you and for myself, and to avoid losses and costs for me — and time and implementation constraints? This all comes at a cost.” Agreements are possible, he suggests, because “the investor is not [fundamentally] stubborn; the aim here isn’t to make undue profits. That’s why we eventually reach settlements.”

Among the most recent — and most significant — cases El Bahabety has led is Egypt’s settlement agreement with Luxembourg-based steel giant ArcelorMittal. The company, El Bahabety tells us, is the number-one producer of steel worldwide, so “a settlement with [ArcelorMittal] lends credibility to the state.” ArcelorMittal had filed for international against Egypt, asking for compensation of USD 600 mn, claiming disruption of electricity, natural gas, and water supplies as well as a land seizure.

The settlement resulted in the government paying a fraction of the original damages claimed, and ArcelorMittal will drop the case in return, El Bahabety said, noting that he will be traveling soon with Investment Minister Dalia Khorshid to sign the final agreement soon. The company also said it would consider coming back to Egypt at some point in the future, according to El Bahabety.

It’s not just ArcelorMittal. A settlement agreement will be completed soon with Steam Boilers Company, which was re-nationalized some 18 years after it was privatized by an order of the Administrative Court. “We are in the final steps for settlement,” El Bahabety said. He takes pride in cases in which he managed to save the Egyptian government from having to pay large settlements — and those in which he and his team are able to reach agreements to bring in revenues to the state. In total, 18 of the more than 30 cases in El Bahabety’s files — including both arbitration and investment disputes — have been settled since January 2015, saving EGP 110 bn that the state was going to pay and bringing in about EGP 24.5 bn in settlements paid to Egypt.

One ongoing case were are keeping an eye on is the dispute with Union Fenosa Gas, which runs a liquefaction plant in Egypt that has been mostly idle as most natural gas output was directed towards domestic consumption. This is “a very important case,” El Bahabety says, but he sees a resolution in sight for it as well, especially as Egypt’s output of natural gas increases with production from the Zohr gas field.

Separately, El Bahabety told us he is still unaware of any formal legal action taken by Qatari Diar against Egypt.

This all made us wonder: Why is there such a large number of international arbitration cases filed against Egypt in the first place? El Bahabety says it’s all because of the period of political transformation we went through. There was “no economic stability, no political stability. There was, to an extent, disparity in investment laws, some problems in decision-making and in the treatment of all investors in a common manner.”

But we’re on the right path now. “The general atmosphere is improving in everything, but it takes time,” El Bahabety said. He is optimistic about last week’s economic reform package, saying the measures are “painful, but right” and that they will “bear their fruits in a year’s time.” He praised the float of the EGP and tempered concerns of a spike in legal claims against Egypt. “There might be administrative problems and problems related to currency conversion, but it will not reach the level of arbitration [or investment dispute].”

Also: El Bahabety said giving scope for international arbitration for feed-in tariff investors outside of Egypt is a decent compromise.

El Bahabety’s recipe for improving the investment climate doesn’t call for new legislation, but rather more organizational rules in work and legislative stability. Investors will come — and stay — in Egypt once they see “political stability … economic stability … legislative stability” in a way that investors will know the law will not change. Some clarity on the FX rate, he added, would be an incentive, too.

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

We’re getting the IMF bailout next Wednesday? Egypt is scheduled to receive the first tranche of IMF funding on Wednesday if the package is approved at Friday’s executive board meeting, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy said, according to Al Masry Al Youm. If all goes to plan, Egypt should be receiving a second tranche of funding from the fund in April or May 2017, El Garhy added without specifying the value of either tranche. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde had said she will recommend the executive board approve Egypt’s request for a USD 12 bn bailout package at its meeting on Friday, 11 November.

The EGP closed yesterday at 16.95 to the greenback on the interbank market, after news broke on Tuesday that the IMF would vote on the bailout package on Friday and could disburse the funds as early as next week.

The Central Bank of Egypt has verbally instructed banks to refuse USD deposits of unknown origin from companies, an unnamed official told Al Borsa. The move comes as the CBE tightens its grip on parallel market transactions. The request essentially asks the banks to eliminate an article in the client’s credit note that allows for arranging USD liquidity of unknown origin if the bank is unable to provide the liquidity. The question at the moment, as the banking community sees it, is whether this is a move to choke imports or to increase FCY inflows into the banking system: The instructions yesterday do not preclude bankers from buying undocumented USD, meaning a client could conceivable sell the FX to the bank and then enter the normal queue to buy it back in the form of a letter of credit. Also yesterday, the CBE has asked banks to use variable pricing on short term loans, and three and five-year loans to financial leasing companies, which calculates return every year as opposed to a fixed rate.

CIB reports record results on YTD, 3Q basis: CIB reported late last night that its third quarter consolidated net profit had risen 28% over the same period last year to EGP 1.7 bn, noting: “CIB maintained its record performance in the third quarter, signaling a strong closure of the year despite the ambiguous macroeconomic environment.” Management said in a statement (pdf) that since the end of 2015, the bank has “correctly foreseen the possible forthcoming macroeconomic and regulatory circumstances. Since then, CIB has been taking a cautious stance regarding its capital adequacy and foreign currency position towards the long awaited increases in interest rates and exchange rates, both of which significantly materialized last week. By 2015 year-end, CIB underwent a cut in dividends in anticipation of a devaluation and interest rate hike along with higher regulatory capital requirements, such as the ICAAP and the Capital Conservation Buffer. Moving into second-quarter of 2016, and as the ambiguity of macroeconomic conditions continued, CIB took the lead in the decision to reclassify EGP 15 bn of the available-for-sale sovereign bond portfolio as held-to-maturity, as a precautionary measure to minimize the impact of interest rate movements on the Bank’s capital adequacy levels. CIB’s Management also continued its focus on lowering the Bank’s balance sheet duration, in order to maintain a proper balance sheet structure that would help boost the return to shareholders in light of an increasing interest rate environment, while maintaining its liquidity ratios comfortably above regulatory requirements. More impressively, and despite currently prevailing shortages in hard currency, CIB managed to exceed the minimum required liquidity ratios by Basel III in foreign currency, as Management has always been keeping an eye on international best practices together with CBE regulatory requirements.”

HSBC Egypt has mandated EFG Hermes to manage its EGP 1.6 bn money market fund previously managed by Beltone. The addition brings the EFG Hermes Asset Management division’s AUM in Egypt to EGP 10.5 bn. “In addition to growing our domestic market, our asset management business is serving European investors with the EFG Hermes MENA UCITS and the Frontier Equity funds launched earlier this year,” said Nabil Moussa, EFG’s head of Egypt Asset Management. “We look forward to further announcements of this type in the months ahead as we actively compete for new mandates,” added Khalil El Bawab, Managing Director at EFG Hermes Asset Management. EFG’s asset management division now manages 16 mutual funds, including six out of 26 money market funds in Egypt. Unless we’re mistaken, the change in manager on the HSBC fund is the first time an Egyptian money market fund has switched quarterbacks since EFG Hermes took over Credit Agricole from Lazard roughly a decade ago.

The UAE’s Dana Gas said it will have to review its 2017 investment plans for Egypt if the country does not repay dues by the end of the year, CEO Patrick Allman-Ward told Reuters. Egypt owes Dana Gas USD 242 mn as of 30 September. Part of the USD 12 bn IMF bailout package is meant to be distributed to the petroleum sector to meet outstanding debt, Allman-Ward said. “If it doesn’t happen, in keeping with our long-standing policy of balancing collections for investment, we would be forced to review how that balance can be maintained,” he said.

Meanwhile, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla met with officials from BP, Shell, and Eni to discuss current projects in the Mediterranean, Al Borsa reported.

Speaking of El Molla: Egypt is focusing its attention on the more costly deepwater gas exploration, with new terms on agreements to give incentive to companies in a bid to begin exporting natural gas within five years, reports The National. "Deepwater gas exploration is the future," said Oil Minister Tarek El Molla. The EGP float will “improve our USD terms and our inflows of foreign currency, investment environment and foreign direct investment which will, at the end of the day, avail more use. And we could be in a better posi­tion in paying," El Molla said. "Although domestic prices increased by 30-47% for most types of fuel, the currency effect could wipe out all of those gains," said geopolitical analyst at consultancy Energy Aspects Richard Mallinson. "So the subsidy bill for the imported fuels may actually rise, although it should be reduced for products produced by Egyptian refineries."

Given the lack of progress, it was bound to happen: The Armed Forces have taken control of the nation’s smart-card subsidy system, Al Shorouk reports.Cabinet positioned the move as a bid to “develop the system, which aims to ease pressure on citizens and provide the best service,” Reuters reports. We see this not as a power play by the military, but a frank acknowledgement that the program has failed after years to get off the ground, lacking so much as a standard roll of qualified beneficiaries, despite multiple announcements over the past two years that the database had been purged of duplicates and dead people.

Good luck buying a brokerage house if you already have market share: The Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority is using the newly amended executive regulations on the Capital Markets Law as of yesterday, Al Masry Al Youm reported. The amendments included requiring EFSA board approval on the acquisition of a stake greater than 33% of any brokerage with a market share of 10% or more; giving existing shareholders first right of refusal to subscribe to a new capital increase; and giving heirs up to two years to acquire EFSA sign-off on the inheritance of a one-third interest in any brokerage.

The final draft of the new Investment Law will be sent to cabinet for review by the end of the month, Investment Minister Dalia Khorshid said, Al Shorouk notes. Meetings with the business community are being set up so the state can get their views on the draft, Khorshid added. Speaking on the 17 investment incentives issued by the Supreme Investment Council, Khorshid stated that new legislation will need to be drafted to implement the decisions, according to the newspaper. A tight timetable has been set for implementing the decisions in cooperation with different ministries and government agencies, she added.

Transport Ministry revives EEDC electric railway project: The Transportation Ministry has revived the funding agreement over the USD 1.2 bn electric rail project connecting El Salam City to 10th Ramadan City — one of the abandoned projects from the 2015 Egypt Economic Development Conference— with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), Al Borsa reports. The ministry had given on its stipulation that the project be funded through direct investments instead of loans, a factor which had stalled talks with AVIC over the project. The new agreement will see the railway funded through a loan in exchange for Egyptian companies being tapped for the construction, said ministry sources. The agreement has been sent to the cabinet for approval.

The Ismail cabinet formed yesterday a committee to look at how to mitigate the impact of devaluation on the pharma industry without resorting to price hikes, Al Borsa reports. Manufacturers have reached out to the government to either be allowed to exchange FX under the old official rate or be allowed to raise prices of meds.The Prime Minister also tasked a committee of ministers to set up a database of citizens who are eligible to receive basic goods under the subsidies system as part of a wider policy to cut the fat (so to speak) from the subsidies bill, AMAY reports. The committee will also be drawing up metrics to assess the progress of this phasing out of supply subsidies beneficiaries. Other decisions taken by the cabinet include:

  • Designating private land required for construction of Cairo Metro Line 3 under eminent domain;
  • Approved signing an MoU with the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center to study developing oil shale concessions by Ganoub El Wadi Petroleum Holding Company;
  • Establishing an education fund to finance, develop and manage education project.

The devaluation and float of the EGP devaluation are major steps in Egypt’s external, monetary and fiscal adjustment and are positive for the sovereign’s credit profile, Fitch Rating said in a statement. But a large currency adjustment puts the spotlight on social and political risks in an already challenging policy environment, the statement adds. Over the medium term, the measures will support external rebalancing, raise portfolio inflows and ease FX shortages. Fitch noted, however, that “such a major FX ‘regime change’ does present risks, especially when compounded with other reforms to control spending. It will push up inflation, which was already high at 14.1% yoy in September, beyond our forecasts (we had projected inflation to average 12.9% this year and 13% in 2017). This will be unpopular, and could precipitate some social unrest.”

The float is also getting praise from the EBRD: “The competitiveness of the Egyptian economy is expected to grow as a result of the float,” said Hanan Morsy, the Lead Economist of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. She does predict an inflation rate of 18% this year, outstripping predictions made by the World Bank and credit agencies, Al Shorouk reports.

MOVES- Ayman Essam (Linkedin) will join Vodafone Egypt as its Legal Director replacing Khaled Hegazy (Linkedin), who has taken over as Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Etisalat Misr. Essam assumes his new duties in January 2017, Youm7 reports.

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Egypt in the News

It’s an epically slow news day for Egypt in the international press, with the only “new” news of note being wire service pieces on President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s congratulatory call to president-elect Trump.

Elsewhere: OilPrice picks up a piece by Zero Hedge looking at the role Egypt’s rapprochement with Russia had on the rupture in relations with Saudi Arabia. The LA Review of Books serves up “After the Fall: Women Writers on Post-Revolutionary Egypt.” And — brace for it — the World Socialist Website writes that “Egypt plunges into economic and social nightmare.”

Elsewhere: Egypt has slid into a “paradox” of “Orwellian populisms,” Amr Hamzawy writes for the Carnegie Endowment’s Diwan’s blog. “Nationalistic populism has been used by the ruling establishment to dismantle any infrastructure that supports the rule of law,” Hamzawy writes, “A clear case of undemocratic legal measures is the amendment of Article 78 of the Penal Code. It criminalizes foreign funding for all purposes, and in so doing make pro-democracy activists and independent nongovernmental organizations subject to harsh government retribution.” He says the “ruling establishment” uses religious and national populisms, along with repression, to maintain control over Egypt.

Worth Watching

Anger at a Trump presidency moves to the streets: To say many are unhappy about an upcoming President Trump (it was tough to type that out) would be an extreme understatement. But in a showing and in many ways unprecedented after a presidential election, many, mostly students took to the streets in protest (runtime: 1:03), with some lighting effigies of Trump and declaring him “not my president”. As we were told in the last presidential debate, Americans take pride in their “peaceful and orderly” transfer of power, with the irony being that Trump faced a wave of backlash for hinting that he might not have accepted the results of the election had Clinton prevailed. Day 1 since the election and Trump is already causing riots.

Energy

Two international companies present bids for three renewable energy projects

Two international companies have proposed building three renewable energy projects under phase two of the Feed-in Tariff program, Al Mal reported. Infinity Solar proposed two wind farms in Gabal El Zeit with a capacity of 100 MW and a total cost of USD 200 mn, Head of HR Hesham El Gamal said. Furthermore, Norwegian firm Scatec Solar proposed building a solar power plant with a capacity of 50 MW in Benban and a total cost of USD 100 mn, sources at the Electricity Ministry said.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Government studies increasing fertilizer prices

Seven fertilizer manufacturers are meeting with government officials to discuss raising prices following the EGP float, which added EGP 1,000 in costs per tonne, Al Mal reported. The seven companies, which included Delta, Abu Qir, Helwan, MOPCO, AlexFert, and El Nasr, suggested increasing prices by EGP 500 per tonne. The state-owned companies sell urea at EGP 1,790, and nitrates at EGP 1,690 to agricultural co-ops, while their free market prices are EGP 2,200 and EGP 2,000 respectively. Additionally, exporting manufacturers will benefit from the float, while Abu Qir, which supplies domestic farmers, will incur annual losses of EGP 1.6-1.9 bn.

FEI announces food price increases in December

A wave of inflation in food prices should be expected in December as a result of the rising customs duties and the liberalization of the currency market, said Mohamed Shoukry of the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ food industries division, according to Al Mal. This follows reports we noted yesterday that food companies, including Domty and Golden Foods, were mulling upping their prices as of next week. So much for Amr Adib’s initiative to keep food prices low.

Manufacturing

LG opens six month USD 11 mn letter of credit with Banque Misr, asks for more

LG Egypt has opened a six-month revolving letter of credit with Banque Misr valued at USD 11 mn to finance production expanses, sources told Al Borsa. Company sources tell Al Mal that LG Egypt is also pushing to increase that amount to USD 15 mn. LG Egypt is aiming to increase monthly TV production to 90,000, and is looking to increase exports. The company has incurred losses from the FX shortage and has halted sales to domestic distributors until it can come up with a new pricing strategy in view of the float of the EGP, according to the newspaper. The factory in Tenth of Ramadan requires USD 18-20 mn to maintain operations at full capacity, but banks were only providing USD 6-7 mn in August, he added. LG and a number of other electronics companies are due to meet with ICT Minister Yasser El Kady today to discuss the issue of pricing in the sector.

Potential upcoming cement auction on 22 November

After numerous delays the auction for the eight new cement licences will take place on 22 November, an unnamed source from the Industrial Development Authority told Al Mal.

Real Estate + Housing

Samcrete issues three tenders for Pyramids Heights

Real estate developer Samcrete issued three limited tenders worth a combined EGP 650 mn to speed up construction work at its Pyramids Heights Residence project, Amwal Al Ghad reported. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2020, CEO Hisham El Kheshen. El Kheshen expects real estate prices to rise next year by around 20% as building materials rise by 15-20%, he said in a separate interview with Al Mal.

Reservations on MNHD’s Sarai project exceeds EGP 1 bn

Madinet Nasr Housing & Development (MNHD) announced on Wednesday that reservations on its Sarai development reached EGP 1.06 bn since the launch of the project on Sunday. The company sold-out the 463 units of the project’s first phase on launch day. MNHD CEO Ahmed El Hitamy also announced that the company is finalizing talks over EGP 2 bn eight-year syndicated loans, according to Al Borsa. EGP 900 will go to funding Sarai, while EGP 600 mn will be directed towards its Taj City project, he added. The company is also raising its targeted sales projections for next year 15% to over EGP 4 bn to offset inflation, said El Hitamy.

Tourism

Egypt begins tourism promotion campaign in UK next week

The Tourism Development Authority is set to launch a tourism promotional campaign in the UK next week, Al Borsa reported. The authority had contracted JWT in August 2015 for three years to create promotional campaigns in 27 countries. The UK campaign will run for two months.

Cairo Airports Company upgrading security equipment

The Cairo Airports Company has completed the first phase of a project to upgrade security equipment at Cairo International Airport, Al Borsa reported. Forty-four of 87 x-ray machines for the second phase will arrive in Egypt within 60 days, said Chairman Magdy Ishaq. Additionally, Egypt is importing 48 bomb-detection machines, installing full car and truck scanners, 35 body scanners, and luggage scanners, he added.

Automotive + Transportation

Uber, Careem use incentives to drivers to offset rising gas prices

Uber is offering daily bonuses for drivers in Cairo and Alexandria based on the number of completed trips to offset the rising gas prices, head of operations Abdel Latif Waked told Al Mal. The company will issue an EGP 20 bonus for every five rides completed, EGP 35 for 10 rides, and EGP 50 for 15 rides, he added. Fuel prices went up 31-47% over last weekend. Meanwhile, Careem is giving drivers an extra 10% incentive on rides following the decision to raise fuel prices, until a new pricing scheme is reached, General Manager Hadeer Shalaby told Al Borsa. Growth was unaffected by the recent hike, maintaining a steady 30-40% rate, she added.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Importers division wants Finance Ministry to fix the exchange rate for custom duties

The ever-whining importers division of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce has asked the Finance Ministry to fix the exchange rate for customs duties. The division is also proposing cutting customs on strategic goods, stating that importers cannot bear the constant fluctuations of the FX market, according to Al Borsa. We invite the division to read the writing on the wall (or Enterprise for that matter): 1) everyone including the Finance Minister is expecting a period of volatility in the FX market; 2) With a growing budget deficit and numerous policy statements, how is the division not seeing that the government is trying to cut imports?

On Your Way Out

Can we not, and say we didn’t? The Support Egypt Coalition, the majority block in the House of Representatives, is saying it will table a bill next week to table yet another NGO bill, saying it “aims to organize the activities of civil society and non-governmental organizations, in addition to ending chaotic foreign funding of these organizations,” Ahram Online reports.

No trucks on Suez or Ismailia highways during rush hour. From Al-Ahram yesterday: No more transport trucks on the Suez or Ismailia highways during morning (6am-9am) and afternoon (1pm-4pm) rush hours.

We don’t often agree with Brookings’ Shadi Hamid, but on this one? Well, let’s just say that (a) one of us was devastated reading Francis Fukuyama’s paper “The End of History” (pdf) in grad school and imagining there would be no massive world events to cover on the scale of the Second World War, 1968, Viet Nam, the Cold War, etc and (b) now, after 15 years of calling this amazing country home, wonders whether the End of History as Fukuyama defined it might not have been a bad thing. Eternal thanks to R.S.T. for the introduction to the paper in the first place.

Hamid’s tweet: The final paragraphs of @FukuyamaFrancis‘ "End of History" make for a fascinating, prescient read 27 years later.

The markets yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.0100 | Sell 17.6957
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 16.90 | Sell 17.25
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 16.95 | Sell 17.25

EGX30 (Wednesday): 10,225.5 (+1.28%)
Turnover: EGP 1.892 bn (335% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +45.95%

Retail: 60.3% of total trades | 57.4% of buyers | 63.1% of sellers
Institutions: 39.7% of total trades | 42.6% of buyers | 36.9% of sellers

Foreign: 17.0% of total | 26.4% of buyers | 7.6% of sellers
Regional: 7.9% of total | 8.4% of buyers | 7.5% of sellers
Domestic: 75.1% of total | 65.2% of buyers | 84.9% of sellers

WTI: USD 45.15 (-0.27%)
Brent: USD 46.36 (-)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.70 MMBtu, (+0.22%, December 2016 contract)
Gold: USD 1,287.30 / troy ounce (+1.08%)

TASI: 6,379.62 (+0.82%) (YTD: -7.70%)
ADX: 4,323.39 (-0.56%) (YTD: +0.37%)
DFM: 3,278.93 (-0.84%) (YTD: +4.09%)
KSE Weighted Index: 359.89 (-0.12%) (YTD: -5.71%)
QE: 9,974.60 (-0.11%) (YTD: -4.36%)
MSM: 5,406.44 (-0.60%) (YTD: 0.0%)
BB: 1,145.53 (+0.11%) (YTD: -5.79%)

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Calendar

11 November (Friday): IMF Executive Board meeting to discuss Egypt’s request for financial assistance under an Extended Fund Facility for the amount of USD 12 bn.

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

15 November (Tuesday): Egypt Trade & Export Finance Conference 2016, Fairmont Nile City, Cairo

15 November (Tuesday): Egypt Mega Projects Conference, Four Seasons, Cairo

16 November (Wednesday): Projected date of arrival for first tranche of IMF funding if approved by executive board, according to Finance Minister Amr El Garhy.

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

18-20 November (Friday-Sunday): 4th Africa-Arab Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

22 November (Tuesday): Industrial Development Authority cement auction (unconfirmed report)

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.

30 November (Wednesday): OPEC’s 171st ordinary meeting, Vienna, Austria.

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

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.

09-11 December (Friday-Sunday): RiseUp Summit, Downtown Cairo.

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): Egypt Petroleum Show 2017 (EGYPS), CIEC, Cairo

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