Thursday, 30 March 2017

Snubbing Qatar, making up with KSA

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

It’s MPC day: Expect the central bank’s monetary policy committee to keep interest rates on hold when it meets later today. 14 out of 15 economists surveyed by Reuters expects the bank will hold overnight deposit rates at 14.75% and overnight lending rates at 15.75%. Pharos Holding’s Ramy Oraby also expects the MPC to keep the rates unchanged as financial conditions are tight and inflation levels remain elevated, ruling out movement.

Cabinet approved the FY2017-17 budget yesterday during its weekly meeting. The budget now goes to the House of Representatives for approval, according to a cabinet statement. Total state expenditures are expected to ring in at EGP 1.2 tn, with revenues projected at EGP 830 bn. Subsidies and social benefits will cost state coffers EGP 331 bn, marking a 19% increase from last fiscal year’s allocations, while allocations for state investments are set to increase 38% year-on-year to reach EGP 125.4 bn. The budget targets a deficit of 9.1% of GDP, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy said at a press conference, Reuters reports. The government’s growth target for FY2017-18 is 4.6% and it has plans to return to international lending markets by the end of 2017 or early 2018, according to the newswire. Al Mal also has a breakdown of the budget’s key figures.

We made up with Saudi Arabia yesterday. Rather publicly, at that, with smiles all around. And forgive us for being as petty as Qatar is tiny, but we rather enjoyed the part where President Abdel Fattah El Sisi led the Egyptian delegation out of the chamber right in the middle of the Qatari emir’s speech. Their destination? To meet King Salman, who also skipped the Qatari’s blathering. We have more on rapprochement with KSA in Speed Round, while the snub of Qatar was the talk of the town on Last Night’s Talk Shows.

In a development that bodes well for Egypt’s bid to once again be allowed to (in effect) buy US weapons on credit, US President Donald Trump has dropped the US’s demands that Bahrain address its human rights record before selling it F-16 jets. “The U.S. State Department told Congress it backs the sale of 19 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16 fighters to Bahrain without preconditions on improved human rights previously demanded by the Obama administration,” Bloomberg reports. US Central Command boss Gen. Joseph Votel, who was in Cairo for talks in February, also told the House of Representatives yesterday that “foreign arms sales to allies shouldn’t be burdened with preconditions tied to human rights because they could damage military-to-military ties.”

More countries will join the US ban on in-cabin electronics use on flights out of theMiddle East, claims the Republican chairman of the House Transportation Security Subcommittee, who offers no further detail. The congressman made the comments after receiving a classified intelligence briefing.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are out. We fear the inclusion of this Bixby AI assistant thing will be the new TouchWiz (it’s why we’ve always preferred Nexus, Google Play Edition and now Pixel phones when we walk on the Android side), but there’s no denying the hardware looks nice. We like Dieter Bohn’s video roundup for The Verge (runtime: 5:14); there’s text below the opening video for those not inclined to watch this morning. Or hop over to the official Samsung site for the handset. The S8 looks set to debut in the US and Canada on Friday, 21 April and in the UK and most other global markets starting Friday, 28 April. We couldn’t find specific mention of an Egypt release date.

On The Horizon

House committee wraps Investment Act review, setting up a vote on Monday, 10 April? There may be some tinkering left to do, but we’re nearly at a final draft of the Investment Act. The House Economic Committee has finished its review of the Investment act and will be sending the Investment Act to a plenary session of parliament for a vote within a week, General Authority for Free Zones and Investment Mohamed Khodeir told Al Borsa on Wednesday. The bill could be put to a vote in Monday, 10 April’s general assembly meeting, according to Economic Committee chair Amr Ghallab, but he added that MPs will be holding final review sessions during the week to arrive at a final draft, says AMAY. Neither story had details of the apparent splitting of the act in two to make it “easier” for poor, dumb investors to understand, which the Economic Committee signed off on last week.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

The Arab Summit in Jordan was at centerstage on the airwaves last night, particularly President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s meeting with Saudi’s King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz and the cold shoulder both leaders gave Qatari Emir Tamim Bin Hamad (more in the Speed Round). The punditocracy has about as much love for the Gulf statelet as we do, so the talking heads were quick to jump on the opportunity to dish out some criticism.

On Kol Youm, Amr Adib took potshots at Qatar’s continued support for the Ikhwan and said that he’d love to sit down with Bin Hamad for a cup of tea to try to understand why he’s such a fan of all things Ikhwan (watch, runtime: 5:37).

An unapologetic Lamees El Hadidy aired the video of El Sisi and his team marching out of the meeting hall as the Qatari Emir gave his speech, which she saidwas meant to send a message to Qatar to express Egypt’s objection to its political choices. “We have suffered greatly thanks to Qatar,” El Hadidy said (watch, runtime: 1:35).

Meanwhile MBC’s Sherif Amer covered the squabble between the judiciary and House of Representatives and followed up on the meeting the Judges Club held yesterday, where they agreed to take the matter up with the presidency.

Meanwhile on Mehwar’s 90 Minutes, the surge in the prices of umrah packages was on the brain. The cheapest package will now set you back around EGP 12,000, according to MP Ahmed Samih, a member of the House’s Tourism Committee, who urged viewers who tend to take the trip often to try and cut down to avoid adding pressure on the economy and give others a chance to make the journey (watch, runtime: 30:27).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

Saudi-Egyptian reconciliation at Arab Summit: With the cameras rolling, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman invited President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to visit the Kingdom in a public show of good relations following months of tension. El Sisi welcomed the invitation and in turn invited Salman back to Egypt, according to a statement from Ittihadiya on Wednesday picked up by Reuters. The Saudi Foreign Minister said that the trip will take place in April, according to Youm7. Both leaders denied the existence of tensions. The public show of brotherly love came at a joint summit between the two heads of state on the sidelines of the Arab Summit in Jordan, where the two discussed coordinating on mutual regional issues.

Meanwhile in Egypt, there appears to be headway on funding projects pledged by the Saudi Fund for Development as a delegation from the fund concluded talks with Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar said yesterday, AMAY reports. The projects include USD 1.5 bn in development aid for Sinai, an USD 120 mn upgrade of Qasr El Aini Hospital, and USD 80 mn in irrigation and wastewater projects.

Also coming from the Arab League Summit: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi (read or watch: runtime 17:25) stressing the need to resolve regional conflicts, support the fight against international terrorist organizations, and refusing foreign intervention in the region. El Sisi and other Arab leaders reaffirmed their backing for a Saudi-led peace initiative to recognize Israel in exchange for a return to the 1967 borders, Bloomberg reports. El Sisi also met with his Yemeni, Sudanese, and Tunisian counterparts to discuss enhancing cooperation in addition to holding a joint Egyptian-Jordanian-Palestinian summit, according to statements from Ittihadiya.

Among all the expressions of brotherly Arab love and rejections of foreign hands we’ve come to expect of these summits, there was plenty of drama to go around. El Sisi and King Salman began their one-on-one session right in the middle of the Qatari Emir’s speech (watch, runtime: 0:51) — you know our longstanding views on Qatar, so you know we approve rather heartily. The opening was also marked by Lebanese President Michel Aoun taking what looked like a hard fall (watch, runtime 0:21) before the first session.

Economic optimism has increased and foreign investors are attracted to Egypt following the stabilization of EGP, according to real estate consultancy JLL’s Q1 Cairo report. Highlights:

The hotel and tourism industry has in particular benefited from the devaluation, as Egypt has become a more affordable destination for international tourists, the report says. Demand for hotels in Cairo is picking up significantly as security issues are addressed, travel bans removed, and tourism promotion campaigns increased. Occupancy rates have already increased significantly to reach 69% in the year to January 2017 as market-wide average daily room rates dropped to USD 89 over the past year, but are expected to recover throughout 2017.

For Cairo’s office market: New Cairo continues to be the most active location in terms of new office supply. “Banks are the most active participants in the offices sector at present, while FMCGs are negotiating their lease terms in order to reduce their market exposure. Oil & gas occupiers are generally reducing their activities due to current market conditions, but are expected to show increased demand in the medium term on the back of new field explorations.”

The residential market continues to see strong demand for units through 1Q2017 and “is expected to remain steady.”

Cairo’s retail market is adapting to economic pressures and, following the EGP devaluation, “landlords have revised their contractual terms to assist tenants. After correction for prime units’ rents and accounting for the applied capping mix, the average rental rate has dropped to USD 800 per square meter per annum.”

IPO WATCH- Raya Contact Center (RCC) announced its intention to float (pdf) on the EGX. The company is just under 49 mn shares equivalent to about 49% of outstanding shares. The transaction will include international offer to institutional investors and an Egyptian retail offer. Raya Holding for Financial Investments, the selling shareholder, will effectively reinject EGP 100 mn of the proceeds from the IPO back into RCC to fund growth. “RCC is a leading provider of business process outsourcing, serving multiple clients in Europe and the Middle East with 77% of revenues generated is denominated in foreign currency, predominantly in USD,” the ITF reads. EFG Hermes is sole global coordinator and bookrunner for the IPO. Dechert LLP is international counsel to the issuer, Zaki Hashem and Partners is local counsel to the issuer, Matouk Bassiouny is local counsel to the sole global coordinator and bookrunner.

Ridesharing service Careem is looking for acquisition opportunities and is considering an initial public offering but has no timeframe in mind, founder Mudassir Sheikha told Reuters. Asked if 2019 was a target date, he said “it is hard to predict,” noting that the company has not hired bankers or advisors.

Egypt will repay half of everything it owes international oil companies “within weeks,” Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said, according to Reuters. Egypt’s overdue arrears to IOCs are estimated to be USD 3.5 bn. A source told Al Shorouk the payments will be made using the African Development Bank’s and World Bank’s second tranches of their loans to Egypt. El Molla also said the agreement to import about 1 mn barrels of crude from Iraq should be completed within a month. He also said Egypt will look into exporting natural gas from 2019.

The Trade and Industry Ministry sees Egyptian exports rising to USD 34 bn by 2020 from a current figure of USD 19 bn, Reuters reports. The Ministry says it has completed a strategy to grow exports “through implementing specific export plans and policies and targeting new export markets,” according to a statement.

House committee to study port fee hike: The House Transport Committee formed a committee to coordinate with maritime companies in studying the repercussions of the Transportation Ministry’s decision last year to hike port fees by as much as 100%, Al Borsa reports. The committee will send its first report to the House within the next two weeks. As we noted earlier this month, five major shipping lines pulled out of East Port Said Port and transferred their activities to Greece in response to the fee hikes. Meanwhile, port workers have called on President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to roll back the fee hikes, Al Mal reports.

Egypt will not ban the private sector from importing wheat while it buys up the local harvest, according to a statement from the Supply Ministry picked up by Reuters. The move appears to contradict statements made by Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy earlier this week in which he said imports of wheat will be restricted to the General Authority for Supply Commodities during the local harvest procurement season this year to avoid mixing locally sourced wheat with imported wheat. The ministry added that it will focus on monitoring private sector imports closely during the procurement period.

EARNINGS WATCH- Cheese maker Obour Land recorded a net profit of EGP 162 mn in 2016, up from EGP 92 mn in 2015. The company says it key financial indicators are all, and reported robust sales volume growth, and overall enhancement in margins, despite macroeconomic challenges. The company’s revenues grew by 24% y-o-y to EGP 1.45 bn in 2016.

Cabinet decided yesterday to suspend government-issued school meals for the remainder of the academic year and will bring back the program at the beginning of the upcoming academic year, according to a statement. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail met with the committee tasked with reviewing the school meal program after hundreds of school children fell ill due to food poisoning from the meals, which said that samples taken from the meals did not conclusively determine the cause of the outbreak. According to the committee’s report, the food poisoning cases affected one out of every 100,000 students nationwide.

The Finance Ministry and Social Solidarity Ministry also signed an agreement to restructure the Finance Ministry’s EGP 56 bn debts to the government employees’ pension fund.

Moody’s believes the pace of economic reforms in Egypt will continue to show gradual improvements but the recovery could be slower than expected, according to an emailed report. "The implementation of the IMF program’s targets, including reductions in fiscal deficits and government debt levels, as well as improvements in Egypt’s external liquidity position, will help address Egypt’s key credit challenges … However, ambitious fiscal consolidation targets will be challenging to achieve and could face implementation risks in a scenario of mounting public discontent,” said Steffen Dyck, a Moody’s Senior Credit Officer and co-author of the report. Moody’s also believes the IMF’s economic projections for Egypt are too optimistic and assumes “somewhat lower growth assumptions and potential fiscal slippage, both in the near- and medium-term.” The report suggests the fiscal deficit will hit 11% of GDP in FY2016-17 dropping to 8.5% of GDP by FY2018-19, higher than the IMF’s forecasts 10% and 6.1% of GDP for the two years, respectively. It also anticipates that the current account deficit as a percentage of GDP will rise in the fiscal year ending this June, but start falling a year after.

However, Moody’s expects the structural reforms to lead to “slow but steady improvements for the sovereign credit profile beyond the timeframe of the IMF program” and sees incoming funding to Egypt through investments and the IMF as supporting the balance of payments and international reserves position. Dyck says “even if all reforms are successfully implemented and notwithstanding the significant improvement we expect, Egypt’s credit profile will still be marked by very weak fiscal strength. Credit improvements are likely to occur in the longer term, subject to sustained reforms and (geo)political stability, which would in turn support a return to higher growth rates.”

Spotlight

We stopped in on the Cityscape Egypt real estate conference yesterday, where we are proud to have seen our friends at SODIC win two awards. The real estate developer took home hardware for the Best Community, Culture & Tourism Project Award for its Westown Medical Centre project and Best Commercial Project Award for its office park, the Polygon. SODIC has received several awards in recent years for projects within SODIC West, including two Euromoney awards for best office / business developer for the Polygon and best residential developer for SODIC West in 2014 and 2016. It previously took home Cityscape awards for Polygon and Allegria in 2013.

We also attended two talks by government officials. Highlights of their remarks:

Khaled Abbas, Assistant Housing Minister:

  • The government is apparently still in talks with China Fortune Land Development Company, which had announced it was investing USD 20 bn in the New Administrative Capital. The company finished the master plan and negotiations are revolving around financing for the project. It will be clear in about two months if the MoU to develop 14,000 feddans will turn into a contract or not, Abbas said.
  • The Ministry is only considering partnerships with large private-sector developers in the new capital and will be tendering larger land plots for development.
  • The Housing Ministry will tender land of up to 100 feddans for medium-sized developers within a week to ten days, Abbas said, without specifying where.

Assem El Gazzar, chairman of the General Organization for Physical Planning:

  • Space for urban development cannot keep up with Egypt’s population growth rate of 2 mn a year.
  • Affordable housing is the biggest challenge for the Ministry.
  • Generating job opportunities in new urban communities is what makes housing projects successful. Developments need to create economic value by housing commercial buildings.

Egypt in the News

In the run-up to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s White House meeting next week with The Donald, the global press is going to be putting Egypt under a microscope and dissecting us to learn more about our anti-democratic, anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ, anti-capitalist, anti-everything authoritarian hearts. That process began yesterday with none other than the Financial Times:

The view that Egyptian leadership is in control is not borne out by the pile-up of policy debris, David Gardner writes in The Financial Times. He suggests: “If Egypt cannot chart a way forward between extremism and autocracy its prospects, as well as those of a region in turmoil, are bleak… Encouraging authoritarian rule risks taking the country so far backwards that it risks joining the pyre of failing states in the region. Except Egypt is not just another state.”

Breitbart News cutting “shady” agreements with El Gindy? A former Breitbart News writer alleges the site was acting as an illegal influence operation for its Washington DC landlord, Egyptian MP Moustafa El Gindy, according to an exclusive piece from The Daily Beast. Reports emerged last August that El Gindy owns Breitbart’s DC headquarters, which El Gindy says was rented out by his tourism company and had nothing to do with Trump’s presidential campaign. The relationship with El Gindy is allegedly why Breitbart was denied permanent congressional press credentials. A US Department of Justice complaint alleges Breitbart was paying El Gindy below-market rental rates which, if true, would amount to in-kind payments “and, taken with friendly coverage of El Gindy, could be seen as payments from a foreign government official in exchange for supportive media coverage.” Other Breitbart writers say the relationship between El Gindy and Breitbart is not entirely clear.

Italian media hounds El Molla over Regeni: Oil Minister Tarek El Molla was asked by Italian media about progress in the Giulio Regeni murder case on the fringes of the Offshore Mediterranean Conference 2017, according to ANSAmed. El Molla said Egypt will not give up until the case is solved, adding that he “can confirm that great progress has been made with the cooperation between Italian prosecutors and Egypt.”

Other international news stories worth noting this morning include:

  • The unearthing of a plank of wood believed to belong to the Pharaoh Khufu, builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza, has been receiving widespread coverage.
  • Irish lifestyle magazine Her is running a glowing review of the ski slope at the Mall of Egypt.
  • Anadolu is noting the two-year sentence given to Muslim preacher and charlatan Sheikh Mizo for claiming to be the Messiah.

On Deadline

Egypt’s columnists went on a collective rant against the House of Representatives after its hasty approval of amendments to the judicial code sparked a ruckus with the judiciary. Starting off the conversation is Al Masry Al Youm’s Amr El Shobaky, who wastes no time in declaring that it is the worst legislation related to the judiciary to be issued since the monarchy and pointing out that the amendments essentially strip the judiciary of its independence from the executive branch of government. Ashraf El Barbary takes an equally hysterical tone, writing in a column penned for Al Shorouk that the House seems to be working actively to bring the state to the brink of collapse. Sami Abdel Aziz points to the immature and emotionally and unstable nature of the MPs as the crux of the issue, writing in Youm7 that anybody following the goings-on of the parliament can see that they need some lessons in politics and self-control. The AMAY columnist writing under the pseudonym Newton, meanwhile, reminisces about the bicameral parliamentary system Egypt had under Hosni Mubarak’s rule, which he says was devoid of the shenanigans being witnessed in Ali Abdel Aal’s parliament largely because of their technical and legal expertise.

Worth Reading

Food sales at Egyptian supermarkets and hypermarkets are expected to double from their 2011 levels by 2017, according to a report by the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service. Smaller supermarket outlets opened by Turkey’s BIM and home-grown hard discounter Kazyon represent a growing percentage of the modern supermarket retail channel in Egypt. They are expected to continue growing in the coming year, but even with recent growth in modern supermarkets, they still only account for less than 1% of the establishment and around 23% of the total sales. “The Egyptian retail food market is still dominated by small, privately held grocers, butchers, bakers, etc.; a situation that will not change very rapidly.”

BIM, Kazyon, Carrefour, and Ragab Sons led the market in terms of sales in 2016, according to the report. The report also suggests that “firms interested in exporting to the Egyptian market should begin by identifying an Egyptian importer or distributor, with whom they can build a relationship.”

Worth Watching

AI is bringing back the dead: In the Black Mirror episode “Be Right Back,” a grieving widow uses an AI service, which imitates her dead husband’s digital footprint to allow her to converse with an AI version of him. CNN Money has found an AI startup which has managed to do just that (watch, runtime: 22:46). Eugenia Kuyda developed an AI algorithm to map her best friend Roman’s digital footprint and create a bot of Roman which would converse with her as if he was alive. She found herself carrying a conversation with her dead friend for a half hour. Her startup is part of a wave of companies looking to create digital immortality and challenge the very concept of death. We do not see ourselves as Luddites, but needless to say, the Black Mirror episode does not end well.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Egypt and South Korea signed a defense cooperation agreement on Wednesday, according to Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. The MoU signed between the defense ministers of both countries would promoted defense industry cooperation and the exchange of military hardware. The move is part of an effort by South Korea to seek cooperation with Africa with an eye towards isolating North Korea.

Irrigation ministers of the Nile Basin Initiative countries have agreed to hold a new extraordinary meeting soon in Entebbe to resolve disputes over the Nile Water Framework Agreement, Al Masry Al Youm reports. Egypt will present at the meeting an outline of its path to rejoining the initiative, said Egypt’s Irrigation Minister.

The Egyptian-Lebanese Business Association wants to bolster tourism flows between the two countries and Suez Canal Economic Zone boss Ahmed Darwish in the state press this morning saying he’s trying to lure German manufacturers to the SCZone.

Energy

Int’l funding institutions to begin meetings with Electricity Ministry over FiT phase two funding

International financing institutions will be meeting extensively with Electricity Ministry officials over the coming period to discuss funding solutions for renewable energy projects being developed under the feed-in tariff (FiT) program’s phase two, Al Mal reports. Representatives from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, OPEC, IFC, and France’s Proparco already began touring project sites this week and had given their preliminary approval to provide funding needed for the projects.

Schneider Electric signs contracts for 5 projects in energy, water, food sectors

Schneider Electric signed five contracts with Beyti Food Industries, India’s TCI, China’s Sinoma, the Sukari gold mine, and Al Galala Mountain Project, Al Borsa reports. Schneider will develop the electrical grid and install power transmission stations for TCI’s factory by the end of October, and agreed with Beyti to supply the electrical grid for its Sixth of October factory within three months’ time. Schneider will also supply the Sukari gold mine with pressurizers.

Electricity Ministry signs USD 200 mn contract with Worleyparsons for consultancy on Dabaa nuclear power plant

The Electricity Ministry inked a USD 200 mn contract with Australian engineering consultancy firm Worleyparsons to provide project management consulting on the Dabaa nuclear power plant project, Al Borsa reports.

El Molla meets with Edison chief executive

Edison is working to increase its exploration activity in Egypt, said Edison CEO Marc Benayoun at a meeting with Oil Minister Tarek El Molla on the sidelines of the Offshore Mediterranean Conference, Al Ahram reports.

Infrastructure

Arab Contractors looking for more work in African countries

Arab Contractors is in negotiations in a number of African countries for contracts to complete infrastructure projects, Al Borsa reports. The projects include road works and water and sanitation pipelines in countries including Uganda, Nigeria, Togo, and Kenya. The company says it is still facing challenges with payment collections in some African countries that are impacted by the drop in oil prices. A writer at MEED had suggested that Egyptian contractors should begin looking for more work abroad following the EGP devaluation.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egyptian delegation to visit Saudi Arabia to discuss reversing pepper import ban

An Egyptian delegation is visiting Saudi Arabia next week to discuss removing the blanket ban on importing Egyptian peppers, Al Mal reports. The delegation will include representatives from the agricultural quarantine authority, exports councils, and trade representatives and will outline new measures taken to ensure the quality of exports. Al Mal says Saudi Arabia, which banned Egyptian pepper imports in December, was their single largest importer.

Manufacturing

LG Egypt looking to increase exports to USD 85 mn in 1H2017

LG Egypt is targeting increasing its television exports to USD 85 mn in 1H2017 from USD 62 mn in 1H2016, Al Borsa reports. The company’s plant in Tenth of Ramadan underwent a capacity increase and LG Egypt is looking to open new export markets. A source said the company is not facing any challenges in accessing trade finance.

IDA mulling new framework for allocating land to industrial utilities developers

The Industrial Development Authority is mulling a new framework and pricing structure to allocate land to industrial utilities developers, Al Borsa reports.

Health + Education

Court places 6 October University in receivership

A court issued a decision yesterday placing 6th of October University in receivership and granting Misr Insurance the right to manage the university, Ahram Gate reports. Misr Insurance had filed a lawsuit against the university after the latter refused to give the insurance company its shares of the revenues in the university.

Tourism

EgyptAir losses post EGP float exceeded EGP 15 bn

EgyptAir’s losses after the EGP float grew to EGP 15 bn, Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy said, according to Al Masry Al Youm. He said that the company did not receive any financial support from the government, unlike other companies in similar financial straits. The company’s losses before the EGP floatation in November amounted to some EGP 400 mn, Fathy adds, blaming people’s perception that EgyptAir’s tickets are overpriced on the fact Egyptians having the tendency to be late bookers. Fathy went on to complain that the average breakeven price of a seat on EgyptAir is USD 80, which makes it difficult for the national flag carrier to bear extra costs and add new services, Ahram Gate reports.

Egypt to inaugurate antiquities lab by Giza pyramids

Egypt will inaugurate largest on-site antiquities laboratory to restore the second ceremonial boat of Pharaoh Cheops, according to the Associated Press. “The project, funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Higashi Nippon International University, is set to complete the initial phase of repairs of the 4,500-year-old vessel by 2020.” The head of the project’s restoration team, the on-site lab was necessary as the pieces of the boar are too fragile or large to move.

Gov’t plans to turn Siwa into a global medical, eco-tourism hub

The government plans to turn Siwa into a global center for medical and ecotourism, announced Matruh Governor Alaa Abu Zeid at the Siwa Oasis Medical Tourism Conference yesterday. The conference will look at projects which could be developed in the fields of medical and eco-tourism, Al Masry Al Youm reports.

Automotive + Transportation

EIB to facilitate funding for the overhaul of Cairo metro’s first and second lines

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is interested in facilitating funding for the Transport Ministry’s planned overhaul of the Cairo Metro Line 1 and 2, a delegation of EIB representatives told Transport Minister Hisham Arafat during a meeting in Cairo on Wednesday, Al Borsa reports. The EIB has provided around EUR 600 mn in funding for the development of the Cairo Metro Line 3 and has also made an offer to chip in for the renovation of the Alexandria tram which received funding from the French Development Agency, the newspaper adds.

Other Business News of Note

CDM Smith, COWI A/S, ERM win government tender to manage recycling projects worth EUR 62 mn

CDM Smith, COWI A/S, and Environmental Resource Management won tenders to manage recycling projects in four governorates worth EUR 62 mn for the National Solid Waste Management Program, unnamed government sources tell Al Borsa. The government will pay EUR 17 mn of the total cost in EGP equivalent, while the remaining EUR 45 mn will be provided by a German grant. The projects will be implemented in Kafr El Sheikh, Gharbiya, Qena, and Assiut.

Orascom Development Holding issues 3.5 mn EDRs

Orascom Development Holding AG has issued 3.5 mn Egyptian Depositary Receipts (EDRs), bringing the total number of company EDRs being traded to 186.3 mn, according to an official bourse announcement picked up by Youm7.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Judges agree that pleading their case to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi may be the best course of action

Judges Club heads from across the country agreed to resign the fate of the controversial amendments to the judicial code adopted by Parliament to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, AMAY reports. The Club’s 22 branch leaders, who met in Cairo on Wednesday to coordinate a joint response, issued a statement objecting to the amendments — which give the president rather than the judiciary the right to elect judicial leaderships. Club Head Mohamed Abdel Mohsen will be scheduling a meeting with El Sisi to press for their demands that the House roll back the amendments. Judges at the Council of State have also called for a meeting on Saturday to further deliberate on the matter. Tape here for the full statement, courtesy of Al Shorouk.

Ikhwan strongman Khairat El Shater sentenced to 15 years on wiretapping charges

A military court sentenced Ikhwan strongman and deputy leader Khairat El Shater to 15 years in prison on Wednesday on charges of wiretapping government offices ahead of the 2012 presidential elections, Al Shorouk reports.

National Security

Military Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazy meets with ARCENT commander

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazy met with Lt. Gen. Michael Garrett, commander of the US Army Central (ARCENT) in Cairo yesterday to discuss military cooperation between the two countries, Al Shorouk reports.

On Your Way Out

Car owners may soon be ineligible for welfare payments under the government’s Takaful and Karama programs, a government officials tells Youm7. We noted earlier this month that the ministry had already eliminated some 72,000 moochers from the programs.

The markets yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 18.0794 | Sell 18.1841
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 18.10 | Sell 18.20
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 18.00 | Sell 18.10

EGX30 (Wednesday): 12,988 (0.0%)
Turnover: EGP 762 mn (135% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +5.2%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 ended Wednesday’s session almost flat. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended 0.6% down. EGX30’s top performing constituents were: Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals up 3.8%, Eastern up 3.7%, and Credit Agricole up 2.8%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks included Egyptian Iron and Steel down 2.2%, GB Auto down 1.5%, and Arab Cotton Ginning down 1.4%. The market turnover was EGP 762 mn, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +26.5 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -1.1 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -25.5 mn

Retail: 67.1% of total trades | 77.9% of buyers | 56.4% of sellers
Institutions: 32.9% of total trades | 22.1% of buyers | 43.6% of sellers

Foreign: 12.8% of total | 14.1% of buyers | 11.5% of sellers
Regional: 4.4% of total | 4.3% of buyers | 4.5% of sellers
Domestic: 82.8% of total | 81.6% of buyers | 84.0% of sellers

WTI: USD 49.56 (+0.10%)
Brent: USD 52.42 (0.00%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.22 MMBtu, (-0.43%, May 2017 contract)
Gold: USD 1,254.70 / troy ounce (-0.17%)TASI: 6,949.0 (+1.1%) (YTD: -3.6%)
ADX: 4,435.9 (-0.8%) (YTD: -2.4%)
DFM: 3,447.4 (0.0%) (YTD: -2.4%)
KSE Weighted Index: 413.0 (-1.2%) (YTD: +8.7%)
QE: 10,416.8 (-0.4%) (YTD: -0.2%)
MSM: 5,553.5 (+0.2%) (YTD: -4.0%)
BB: 1,380.3 (+0.2%) (YTD: +13.1%)

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Calendar

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.

22-24 April (Wednesday-Friday): Food Africa, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo.

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 – 08 May (Friday-Monday): 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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