Thursday, 16 March 2017

Electricity prices set to rise as much as 40% this summer?

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

Good morning, friends, and happy Thursday from Enterprise Global Headquarters, where we’re enjoying a reasonably quiet news day and looking forward to a relaxing weekend with family and friends.

The US Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates — and emerging markets have, in effect,said “So what?” The US Fed hiked rates yesterday for the third time since the global financial crisis — and the second time in three months — suggesting it was confident that inflation is now approaching its 2% target, that economic growth will continue and that it’s acknowledging US job gains are real. The quarter-point rise brings the benchmark Federal funds rate to 0.75-1.00%, and the Fed signaled two more rate increases are in the cards this year. Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times have the blow-by-blow.

Most relevant to us here in Omm El Donia, particularly those of you whose jobs it is to pitch foreign portfolio investors: “It’s been a while since investors have shown emerging markets this much love. EM assets surged across the board on Wednesday as the market shrugged off the widely expected quarter point interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve and cheered instead the move by policymakers to stick to its forecasts for two more rate increases this year,” the Financial Times’ Fast FT writes, explaining that in the past, “The prospect of higher US interest rates tend to rattle EM assets — in part by driving up the greenback and raising the costs for countries that have a lot of USD-denominated debt and in part by drawing investors’ cash back into US assets at the expense of developing markets.”

Hello, bankers? Is there a lesson for Egypt anywhere in here? Togo-headquartered Ecobank thinks it can grow its customer base more than 7x in the next three years to 100 mn by 2020 using a new app “after announcing that it had signed up 1.5 million personal accounts” via mobile, Reuters reports. God knows the lessons may not be the obvious one, but this bears watching.

Also on the international scene: Dutch voters gave incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte areduced majority, but left his party “on course for a resounding victory over anti-Islam and anti-EU Geert Wilders” in yesterday’s election.

Meanwhile, in America: The Trump administration is proposing to cut the State Departmentand USAID budgets by some 30% each. The cuts should be in the budget blueprint expected to be released today, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Finally: Because 95 mn people just aren’t enough, we’re about to start giving work permits to penguins, an unspecified number of which will be arriving by the end of the year to toil at Ski Egypt at MAF’s Mall of Egypt, according to Daily News Egypt. If the penguins get citizenship before our resident khawaga does, we will be rather miffed. Oh, and visitors to Ski Egypt: Please treat the penguins nicely. We can only imagine the international media frenzy that would ensue if we were to mistreat the poor things.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Yahduth fi Masr’s Sherif Amer was right on the money with his selection of topics last night, speaking with Oil Ministry spokesman Hamdy Abdel Aziz to get the details on the resumption of Saudi Aramco fuel shipments to Egypt (more on that in the Speed Round, below). Hamdy told Amer that Aramco’s product accounted for 35% of Egypt’s petroleum imports. He also said that the Egyptian General Petroleum Company will no longer tender for cargos to replace the Aramco shipments. He added that the EGPC is working on a new shipment schedule with Aramco that will factor in existing agreements signed to compensate for its boycott. Those include a one-year, 1 mn-barrel-per-month agreement with Iraq.

House Legislative Committee member Alaa Abdel Moneim chewed Amer’s ear off about the committee’s dislike of the USD 12 bn IMF loan agreement, which will be put to a vote in a plenary session no earlier than 26 March. Stressing that the committee was tasked with reviewing the constitutionality of the agreement, not its economic viability, Abdel Moneim said that most MPs (himself included) were grumbling about the fact the agreement was signed without parliament’s approval. Can we stop talking about this now? Please?

DMC’s Osama Kamal sat down with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who talked about diplomacy, tourism and travel bans. Shoukry said that Egypt has “strong historic ties” with the United Kingdom that were complicated by the Metrojet crash in late 2015 (watch, runtime: 2:41) and denied that the rapprochement between Turkey and Russia could be the reason Russia has yet to resume flights to Egypt (watch, runtime: 4:14). Shoukry said he does not believe the continued Russian and UK bans on flights are justifiable, saying Egypt has worked hard to meet their respective needs (watch, runtime: 3:00).

Over on Al Hayah Al Youm, Tamer Amin hosted Immigration Minister Nabila Makram to explain why the ministry backed away from a proposal to exempt Egyptian expats’ cars from customs upon their return to Egypt (watch, runtime: 2:44). Makram also said that a government committee is studying a proposal to provide Egyptians working abroad with insurance coverage, including offering compensation in cases of work-related injuries and arbitrary dismissal (watch, runtime: 7:18).

Amin then spoke with the Insurance Federation of Egypt’s (IFE) Managing Director Saeed Gabr, who said that the IFE wants the government to set a USD rate for the insurance sector, as it did with customs. According to Gabr, domestic insurance companies rely on FX in reinsurance transactions in their dealings with international companies, and the fluctuating FX rate is coming down hard on the sector (watch, runtime: 6:50).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

Saudi Aramco is apparently going to start shipping oil to us once again, picking up deliveries on a five-year, USD 23 bn supply agreement with as much transparency as it cut them off in October. Oil Minister Tarek El Molla made the announcement in a statement yesterday. There remains no schedule for the resumption of shipments, but El Molla said there have been “ongoing discussions” between the two sides, stressing that the agreement had never been scrapped. Saudi state oil giant Aramco’s decision to unilaterally stop shipments last year came amid political tensions between Cairo and Riyadh over the situation in Syria and Yemen, among other issues. According to the ministry, the decision to postpone the shipments were due to commercial reasons, including changes in global oil prices and Saudi Arabia cutting back on its oil production.

When will shipments resume? Reuters asked if it would be a matter of weeks, but an unnamed official at the Oil Ministry replied, “No, no, we are talking about a very short time period.”

In other energy news this morning, the state electricity utility is pushing back on the schedule for the phase-out of subsidies, but will still hike prices by as much as 40% in July. The Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) committee tasked with studying new electricity prices for FY2017-18 is set on extending the timeline for the phase-out of electricity subsidies, unnamed sources from the Electricity Ministry tell Al Borsa, providing exactly zero further details. The committee’s decisions are far from sacrosanct, and it is preparing several suggestions and scenarios for the price hikes to present to Cabinet. The Ismail government has committed to completely lifting electricity subsidies over the next five years, according to the IMF staff report on Egypt’s USD 12 bn bailout. On the flipside, the sources say that there is no backing down from hiking electricity prices in July, further suggesting that price hikes will vary by consumption tier. The committee is reportedly suggesting increasing prices by an initial 40% for top consumption tiers, and gradually bringing up the rate of increase to 60%. Those using the least electricity would reportedly see a 10-25% bump.

The EGP continued its slide yesterday, changing hands at an average of EGP 18.23 to the USD, with the punditocracy saying the greenback is strengthening thanks to our insatiable appetite for seasonal imports for Ramadan. Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry has raised the exchange rate for customs to EGP 17 per USD 1 yesterday, according to Reuters, in line with market predictions. The rate, which was raised from EGP 15.75 per USD 1, will be in place until 30 March when it will be reviewed by the ministry.

The cabinet economic group approved yesterday the Finance Ministry’s proposed 0.125% stamp tax on stock market transactions, which will be discussed during the cabinet’s next regular meeting, Youm7 reports. The tax is expected to add EGP 1 bn in revenues to the state budget during the first year of its application, but it is difficult to estimate at this point how much it will bring in during its second year, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy told the press yesterday. The levy — which will be gradually increased to 0.175% by its third year — was proposed in place of a capital gains tax that has been temporarily shelved for the coming three years.

Mohamed Omran thinks 2017 could be the best year for IPOs in Egypt since 1998, telling participants at an event in Dubai that companies should raise a record amount through equity sales. The Egyptian Exchange chairman added that as many as 10 companies could tap the market this year. The economy is expected to stabilize, partly because the government allowed the EGP to float last year, a move that has increased the attractiveness of local stocks to foreign investors, Omran said. In its comparative report on regional equities markets, Bloomberg notes in the chart above that Egypt’s stocks have outperformed other MENA markets, rising 3.3% this year, while those of Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman, and Qatar have retreated.

Structure of incentives proposed under draft Investment Act to change, will delay passage of the act by at least a month: The structure of investment incentives offered under the proposed Investment Act could well change after Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said yesterday that amendments are coming. The changes to the bill, now before the House of Representatives, will be ready in a month’s time, he added, according to Al Masry Al Youm. The PM gave no hint as to what the changes might be. The House had been on track to pass the law before the end of this month. Ismail’s comments yesterday came after the chair of the House of Representatives’ Economic Committee said on Monday that the act might be split into two.

Khodeir looks to slide in amendments granting GAFI more powers: If media reports are true, it appears General Authority for Free Zones and Investment (GAFI) chief Mohamed Khodeir is tussling with the House Economics Committee looking to widen GAFI’s powers. According to Ahram Gate, Khodeir wants to amend clauses in the draft Investment Act that allow GAFI to suspend or revoke free zone licenses without requiring a verdict from the courts, something MPs are vehemently against, apparently. It’s hard for us to believe we’re saying this, but good on them.

The House Legislative Committee approved yesterday Egypt’s USD 12 bn loan agreement with the IMF and has referred it to the Economics Committee for further review. The agreement will then be put to a vote in a plenary session, Al Mal reports. The committee’s approval came despite a vocal minority that resisted the move at a meeting with Finance Minister Amr El Garhy yesterday. Several of the dissident MPs took to the media, denouncing the agreement, Ahram Gate reports.

From a constitutional standpoint, House approval of the IMF facility nullifies the need for a referendum on the agreement, said House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal, who attended the meeting, according to the newspaper. He then stressed that foreign treaties and agreements are the purview of the executive branch of government, which makes us wonder: Why, then, would it have ever needed House approval, let alone a referendum?

This comes as the IMF team due in Cairo to review progress on the reform agenda has postponed its visit to Egypt to 8 May from 28 April, El Garhy reportedly said on Wednesday, according to Reuters. The assessment is a condition for disbursing the second USD 1.25 bn tranche of the USD 12 bn IMF extended fund facility. IMF Egypt mission chief Chris Jarvis hinted two weeks ago that the tranche is expected to be disbursed in June. Meanwhile, a World Bank delegation still looks set to arrive in in April to go over many of the same points.

The value-added tax (VAT) is forecast to bring in revenues of EGP 190-200 bn during FY2017-18, the Finance Ministry VAT commissioner Abdel Moneim Mattar said at the Egypt Builders Conference yesterday, according to an emailed statement. According to Mattar, revenues from the tax — which is currently set at 13% and is due to rise to 14% in July with the start of the new fiscal year — are expected to reach EGP 170 bn by the end of the current fiscal year. The revenues from the 1 percentage point bump will be directed towards subsidies, he said.

The Finance Ministry will issue six directives on how the VAT is to be collected, Deputy Finance Minister Amr El Monayer told Al Mal. The instructions are expected in the coming days, he said. The ministry already issued this week a directive exempting some local restaurants from VAT. Mattar says the instructions will focus on how the VAT will be collected in specific sectors, including automotive manufacturing, contracting and jewelers. He added that the Tax Authority will sign cooperation protocols with professional service providers that could include exempting small-scale service providers for VAT.

Parliament’s Manpower Committee approves bill mandating a 10% annual raise for civil servants across the board: The House of Representative’s Manpower Committee has reportedly made good on its threat on Monday to unilaterally approve a bill that would grant all bureaucrats a 10% annual raise regardless of whether the law applies to them, Al Masry Al Youm reports. While the committee appeared to acquiesce to the Ismail cabinet’s counter offer of a 10% total annual raise, it has been pushing for this to be applied only to bureaucrats falling under the jurisdiction of the law. The committee also set a deadline of 27 March for government to respond to the move.

When all is said and done, CIB will sell 60-65% of CI Capital for total consideration of EGP 570 mn, unnamed sources close to the transaction tell Al Borsa. Arafa Group’s Alaa Arafa and Ismail El Turk, the Saudi owner of Habitat Furniture, will reportedly hold the largest stakes of any member of the acquiring consortium, the sources say, without clarifying exact figures. Tiba Group’s Saddiq Afifi, who said he was looking to acquire a 10% stake in the investment bank after previously announcing he was backing out of the transaction, is reportedly only getting his hands on 5%. Former Zamalek football club chairman Mamdouh Abbas and Compass Capital’s Shamel Aboulfadl remain out of the consortium of buyers. The transaction — which the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority gave the greenlight to earlier this month — is expected to be completed in around two weeks’ time.

Chinese yeast manufacturer Angel Yeast Company plans to invest USD 48 mn in a yeast extraction plant in Egypt, according to Reuters which cites regulatory filings (Chinese) by the company.

MOVES- Abed Ezz El Regal was appointed Chief Executive Officer of EGPC, according to Ahram Gate. Ezz El Regal was the Vice Chairman of EGAS. He succeeds Tarek El Hadidi, who says he submitted his resignation on Sunday. Oil Minister Tarek El Molla also appointed Osama El Bakly as head of EGAS. El Bakly succeeds Mohamed El Masry.

Former Helwan governor arrested in probe into Maadi corruption allegation: The former governor of Helwan (itself a now-former governorate, having been rolled into Cairo) has been arrested on corruption charges. Prosecutors ordered Hazem El-Qowaidi detained for 15 days pending a probe into whether he took possession of a Mercedes-Benz vehicle “in return for directly transferring an 800 metre plot on upscale Road 9 in the Southern Cairo district to a car company,” Ahram Online reports.

Libya’s eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar says his forces recaptured the key oil ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, as well as a petrochemicals factory and the nearby Harouge storage tanks, Bloomberg reports. “Haftar’s recapture of the two terminals will help boost the OPEC country’s oil exports to 550,000-600,000 barrels a day within days, Riccardo Fabiani, a London-based senior analyst at consultants Eurasia Group, said in an emailed report.”

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Egypt in the News

It’s a relatively quiet day for Egypt in the international press, with no one story dominating coverage.

Meet the Alexandrian butcher bringing basterma to Ireland: Rafea Abdelrazek, an Egyptian who moved to Ireland 16 years ago, is introducing Egyptian basterma to Ireland. Abdelrazek tells Dublin Inquirer his basterma takes five weeks to make, but sells out in a fraction of the time. He says that, while the cured beef has different styles in Middle Eastern countries, Egyptians use different spices and his recipe includes vinaigrette, cumin, paprika, chili powder, and garlic. “In Egypt, you can eat it in a sandwich and some people put it with fava beans. But me, I like to fry it with some eggs,” Abdelrazek says.

The New York Times’ Cairo bureau chief Declan Walsh sat down with a group of Cairo-based journalists to chew over press freedoms in Egypt and the region as a whole through a live video session. The play up what they say are restrictions on the press in Egypt, touching on the arrests of reporters such as the so-called Marriott Cell and still-imprisoned photojournalist Mahmoud “Shawkan” Abou Zeid.

The Times has also taken note of the 3,300 or so children who were hit by food poisoning by school-provided meals in Upper Egypt. The usual kicker applies: The incident, the Times says, “revived complaints over the declining quality of Egypt’s public education and health systems.” And in fairness: Revived? When did they die down?

Elsewhere in the Grey Lady this morning, Egyptian handbag designers Okhtein get some love from the New York Times Fashion page, where its occasional Scouting Report on fashion finds in the New York area notes in passing yesterday: “…the British retailer Wolf & Badger will open its first international outpost. There you’ll find an Okhtein mini-studded bag from Egypt (USD 430) and Wires glasses handcrafted in Zimbabwe…”

The Bankruptcy Act is important, but not enough to lure back investors, says Ayah Aman in Al Monitor, stating the obvious. This confused and self-contradictory article rehashes the point that policy stability is more important than new legislation. Fair enough if it wasn’t for the fact that she quotes (then ignores) statements by Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil explaining how the act was necessary to prevent floundering factories from shutting down.

Other coverage of Egypt in the international press worth noting in brief:

  • Former US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson is out of the running to become undersecretary of defense for policy, Reuters reports. Officials say Patterson ran into resistance on Capitol Hill that might have made it hard for her to win confirmation by the Senate.
  • Ibrahim Halawa’s family expressed dismay after he was not included in the most recent round of presidential pardons, Ellen Coyne writes in The Times.

On Deadline

In the ongoing drama with Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Issa Hayatou’s corruption allegations, we should be careful to distinguish between Hayatou and the organization he leads, Yasser Ayoub writes in Al Masry Al Youm. While Hayatou may ultimately be proven to have engaged in less-than-honorable activities, the organization as a whole has supported Egyptian football time and again, including honoring Al Ahly Club for being the best African team, Ayoub says. In any case, we might not have to worry ourselves with the distinction for much longer, as CAF is set to hold its elections for a new president today.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Egypt’s ambassador to the UN, Amr Ramadan, is reportedly engaging in a war ofwords at the UN’s Human Rights Council, declaring once again that Egypt respects human rights and civil society organizations. His statements come in response to criticism and “concerns” on Egypt’s human rights record from representatives of the US, EU, and most randomly, Switzerland, according to Youm7.

The EU wants to ensure that Ethiopia will be using the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam solely for electricity production and will steer clear of using it for irrigation purposes, head of the EU delegation to Sudan Jean-Michel Dumond said on Tuesday, Asharq Al-Awsat reports. European countries are calling on Ethiopia to allow all Nile Basin countries to benefit from the dam, Dumond said.

A German parliamentary delegation currently in Egypt to discuss illegal migration met with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry yesterday, Al Mal reports.

Further economic cooperation with Syria on the horizon: The Trade and Industry Ministry is currently studying establishing a 500K sqm Syrian industrial zone targeting the textiles industry, said Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil. He added that the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce will send a delegation to Syria in April to explore investment opportunities, Ahram Gate reports.

Meanwhile, Kabil arrived in Poland yesterday at the head of an Egyptian business delegation, Youm7 reports.

More love from central Europe: The Czech Foreign Trade Minister will be leading a business delegation to Cairo towards the end of this year to discuss investment opportunities with, Trade Minister Tarek Kabil said yesterday, Al Mal reports.

Energy

Royal Dutch Shell to increase gas production to 1 bcf/d in the next few years

Royal Dutch Shell is looking to raise natural gas production from its Mediterranean offshore concessions to 1 bcf/d from a current 500 mcf/d in the next few years, Ahram Gate reports, following up on a meeting yesterday between Shell Egypt Chairman and MD Gasser Hanter and Oil Minister Tarek El Molla. The company reportedly pledged to increase oil production from its Western Desert concessions to 200K bbl/d from a current 130K bbl/d at the same meeting.

BP to bring Fayoum, Giza concessions on stream ahead of schedule

BP is reportedly bringing the Fayoum and Giza natural gas fields into production ahead of schedule in November, Oil Ministry sources tell Youm7. The fields were initially slated to come on stream in 1Q19. BP is expected to produce 400 mcf/d from the concessions.

Manufacturing

Cement market sees 18 mn tons surplus in supply during 2016

The cement market produced 18 mn tons more than the local market wanted to buy last year, with total production reaching 72 mn tons, Al Tameer Cement’s Managing Director Samir Sabry said at the Egypt Builders Conference yesterday, according to an emailed statement. Sabry said that the surplus can be used in state construction projects currently being implemented, or can be exported. Industry players had previously said the market is saturated, but Sabry says there are six new production lines currently being added to the industry. The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) had tendered 14 cement licenses at the end of 2016, but only awarded three (to Egyptian Cement, South Valley Cement, and El Sewedy Cement). The IDA then opened tenders for the remaining 11 licenses in January, with seven companies filing papers to acquire the licenses as of early March.

Health + Education

Redcon to begin construction of EGP 800 mn medical complex in Alburouj

Redcon Medical is breaking ground on an EGP 800 mn medical complex in Capital Group Properties’ Alburouj compound, Redcon CFO Mostafa El Shibini tells Al Mal. The project’s costs had ballooned from EGP 500 mn prior to the float. The complex will be built out in three phases over three years.

Real Estate + Housing

Okay, seriously, what is the status of the contract with CSCEC and the new capital?

Administrative Capital for Urban Development Company head Ayman Ismail offered no clear answer on whether the China State Construction and Engineering Company (CSCEC) has backed out of the New Administrative Capital. Calling on our resident team of 8,000-year-old mystics and mind readers, the most logical interpretation we could offer is this: The company has indeed pulled out of its agreement to work on phase one of the new administrative capital and is renegotiating its role in the project. Ismail reiterated at the Egypt Builders Conference that Egyptian companies will take the lead on the development of the new capital and that 16 developers have presented offers, according to what may be the worst press release ever written.

Tourism

House Tourism and Civil Aviation Committee wants no new hotels built

The House Tourism and Civil Aviation Committee has demanded that Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed put a hold on new hotels being built until occupancy rates pick up again, without giving a specific time period, committee head Ahmed El Edrissy tells Al Borsa. El Edrissy says the supply of hotel rooms far exceeds demand, suggesting that building new room stock will only depress prices further.

Automotive + Transportation

Immigration Ministry suspends plan to exempt Egyptian expats’ cars from customs in exchange for FX deposit

The Immigration Ministry is scrapping its bid to exempt Egyptian expatriates from customs tariffs on their cars upon returning to the country in exchange for a USD deposit, minister Nabila Makram tells Al Mal. The ministries of trade and finance had both objected to the proposal.

Banking + Finance

EFSA exempts OTMT Acquisition, Americana Group from presenting mandatory tender offers on their acquisitions

The Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA) has exempted OTMT Acquisition from the requirement to launch a mandatory tender offer to acquire 51.66% of the shares of OTMT in the context of the demerger of Orascom Telecom executed in February 2012. The regulatory filing by OTMT also notes that EFSA approved the conciliation submitted by OTMT Investments and OTMT Acquisition to settle the contraventions relating to the undertaking issued by OTMT Investments on the demerger after paying the necessary fines, which Al Borsa says are in the range of EGP 10 mn. EFSA also exempted Americana Group from the requirement to launch a mandatory tender offer to buy 2.96 mn stakes in Cairo Poultry, Reuters reports.

El Sewedy Cement receives EGP 650 mn from NBE, QNB for cement license

The National Bank of Egypt and Qatar National Bank provided a EGP 650 mn bridge loan to Elsewedy Cement to finance its new factory, sources tell Al Mal. A EUR 14 mn tranche of the loan will be provided in foreign currency. The loan is meant to hold them over until NBE can arrange a larger loan of EGP 4 bn.

Other Business News of Note

EGP 2 bn projects to be contracted in Marsa Matrouh’s Siwa Oasis

Final contracts for five industrial, agricultural, and services projects worth EGP 2 bn in Marsa Matrouh’s Siwa Oasis will be signed end of March, Al Mal reports. The projects include a fish farm, an olive oil plant, and a mineral water bottling plant. The projects come as part of EGP 22 bn in pledges signed at the Marsa Matrouh economic conference back in 2015.

Legislation + Policy

Contractor Compensation concerns contracts from February till November 2016

Compensation for FX losses as part of the Contractor’s Compensation Act will be for contracts from February 2016 until the EGP float on November 3, House’s housing committee member Mohamed Abdel Ghany said, according to an e-mail press release. Housing Committee chairman Alaa Waly confirms it will be issued within the fortnight, as we noted yesterday.

Maglis Al Dawla completes review of Bankruptcy, Organ Trafficking Acts

The Egyptian Council of State (Maglis Al Dawla) has completed its review of the Bankruptcy Act and will be referring the legislation to Cabinet for approval, Al Borsa reports. The act, which creates a clear regulatory framework for bankruptcy proceedings in the private sector, is part of a basket of structural reforms meant to improve Egypt’s business climate and boost investor confidence. The Maglis also approved a law imposing harsher penalties on illegal organ transplants, Ahram Online reports. Under the law, penalties imposed on unauthorized organ transplant include fines of up to EGP 2 mn, prison sentences, and even the death penalty in cases where the victims have died as a result of the procedure.

Glaring issues still need to be addressed with the Importers Registry Law

Our friends at Sharkawy & Sarhan have highlighted a number of problems in the recently issued amendments to the Importers Registry Act. For one, the amendments — which allows foreigners to hold a 49% stake in an import company — does not resolve the issue of multi-tiered indirect ownership by foreigners. Prior to the amendments, foreigners would engage in indirect ownership of an importing company through an Egypt-based subsidiary. The amendments do not address whether they can hold a stake higher than 49% through the same means. Registered companies also have only six months to comply with the new capital requirements, which could see them lose their licenses. Minimum turnover requirements in the law may put off new entrants to the market.

On Your Way Out

Transportation startup SWVL (pronounced swivel) has apparently found a way to profit off of the tourism slump while claiming to provide quality cheap transport, Daily News Egypt reports. The company plans to make use of idle tour buses hired out from tour companies to operate cheap bus routes across Cairo. CEO and co-founder Mostafa Kandil believes that these higher quality buses would outcompete the eye and rear-end sore that are the public buses. The app, which will provide route information, has yet to launch and has already garnered 1,500 signups, says Kandil.

The markets yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 18.1221 | Sell 18.2294
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 18.20 | Sell 18.30
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 18.00 | Sell 18.10

EGX30 (Wednesday): 12,745 (-0.3%)
Turnover: EGP 1.1 bn (148% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +3.2%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 ended Wednesday’s session down 0.3%. Index heavyweight CIB declined by 0.1%. The EGX30’s top performing constituents were: Egyptian Iron and Steel up 5.7%, Arab Cotton Ginning up 4.2%, and Orascom Telecom Media and Technology up 1.5%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks included Cairo Oils and Soap down 6.2%, Domty down 3.7%, and Qalaa Holdings down 2.8%. Market turnover was EGP1.1 billion, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +68.2 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -15.5 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -52.7 mn

Retail: 57.2% of total trades | 56.9% of buyers | 57.4% of sellers
Institutions: 42.8% of total trades | 43.1% of buyers | 42.6% of sellers

Foreign: 25.5% of total | 28.7% of buyers | 22.3% of sellers
Regional: 8.8% of total | 8.0% of buyers | 9.5% of sellers
Domestic: 65.7% of total | 63.3% of buyers | 68.2% of sellers

WTI: USD 48.96 (+2.60%)
Brent: USD 52.12 (+2.36%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.98 MMBtu, (+1.33%, April 2017 contract)
Gold: USD 1,200.70 / troy ounce (-0.16%)TASI: 6,835.8 (+0.7%) (YTD: -5.2%)
ADX: 4,375.4 (-0.3%) (YTD: -3.8%)
DFM: 3,478.8 (+0.3%) (YTD: -1.5%)
KSE Weighted Index: 421.1 (+0.3%) (YTD: +10.8%)
QE: 10,291.9 (-0.2%) (YTD: -1.4%)
MSM: 5,660.2 (-0.7%) (YTD: -2.1%)
BB: 1,370.6 (-0.3%) (YTD: +12.3%)

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Calendar

18-19 March (Saturday-Sunday): Delegation of Japanese food industries companies visits Egypt.

20 March (Monday): SWIFT Business Forum Egypt 2017, Cairo.

29-30 March (Wednesday-Thursday): Cityscape Egypt Conference, Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo.

29-31 March (Wednesday-Friday): Balanced Development of Siwa Oasis International Tourism Conference, Siwa Oasis.

30 March (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

31 March – 03 April (Friday-Monday): Cityscape Egypt Exhibition, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo. Register here.

03-06 April (Monday-Thursday): Agri & Foodex Africa, Khartoum International Fair Ground, Khartoum, Sudan.

04 April (Tuesday): Emirates NBD Egypt PMI reading for March announced. The report will be available here.

08-10 April (Saturday-Monday): Pharmaconex, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo.

16 April (Sunday): Coptic Easter Sunday.

17 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim, national holiday.

20 April (Thursday): Closing date for the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority bid round number 1 for 2017 for gold and associated minerals.

24-25 April (Monday-Tuesday): Renaissance Capital’s Egypt Investor Conference, Cape Town, South Africa.

25 April (Tuesday): Sinai Liberation Day, national holiday.

25-26 April (Tuesday-Wednesday): MENA New Energy conference, Hyatt Regency, Dubai.

28 April – 5 May (Friday-Friday): IMF delegation visit to Egypt to assess economic reforms.

30 April – 03 May (Sunday-Wednesday): Cement & Concrete 2017, Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Center, Saudi Arabia.

01 May (Monday): Labor Day, national holiday.

08-09 May (Monday-Tuesday): Third Egypt CSR Forum, Intercontinental Citystars Hotel, Cairo.

16 May (Tuesday): Official expiry date for the decision to suspend capital gains taxes on stock market transactions.

22-23 May (Monday-Tuesday): North Africa Mobile Network Optimisation Conference, Cairo.

27 May (Saturday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

26-28 June (Monday-Wednesday): Eid Al-Fitr (TBC).

30 June (Friday): 30 June, national holiday.

23 July (Sunday): Revolution Day, national holiday.

02-05 September (Saturday-Tuesday): Eid Al-Adha, national holiday (TBC).

17-19 September (Sunday-Tuesday): Pipeline-Pipe-Sewer-Technology Conference & Exhibition, Intercontinental Citystars Hotel, Cairo.

20-23 September (Wednesday-Saturday): 2017 Automech Formula car expo, Cairo International Convention Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

22 September (Friday): Islamic New Year, national holiday (TBC).

06 October (Friday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

01 December (Friday): Prophet’s Birthday, national holiday.

08-10 December (Friday-Sunday): RiseUp Summit, Downtown Cairo.

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