Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Gov’t launches full-court press on investment and tourism

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

The Ismail government owns the news agenda this morning as the private sector took yesterday off to observe Sinai Liberation day. We saw great three-part harmony from Finance Minister Amr El Garhy, Investment Minister Sahar Nasr and Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed. Nasr is in the early days of a global campaign to promote investment to strategic and public markets investors alike, while Rashed was chatting up reporters about the nascent recovery in the industry and the government’s plan to diversify inbound flows. We have more on both Nasr and Rashed in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

The second phase of the economic reform agenda is now underway after thesuccessful conclusion of the first wave of reforms, El Garhy said at a meeting with investors, bankers institutions including BNP Paribas and the Business Council for International Understanding on the sidelines of the World Bank and IMF spring meetings. He noted hikes in fuel prices and the curbing of spending on electricity subsidies as part reforms undertaken, according to a ministry statement. That’s in line with the International Monetary Fund’s expectations: A senior IMF official said during the meetings that “We will need to discuss with the government the sequencing of measures to achieve their goal of eliminating subsidies on most fuel products during the program period.”

The economy was also at the heart of remarks yesterday by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi at a youth conference. The troubles the country faces are temporary, El Sisi said, according to Ahram Online. More on that, too, in Speed Round, below.

Legislation watch: The House Planning and Budget Committee is scheduled to begin its discussion of the FY2017-18 state budget this week, while the House Economics Committee could wrap discussion of the long-awaited Investment Act.

Expect ‘Francis Mania’ to kick into high gear today as the capital city prepares for the visit this weekend of Pope Francis. The pontiff, who arrives on Friday for a two-day visit, has chosen not to travel in a bulletproof vehicle, The Telegraph reports. “The Pope will use a closed car to move around, but not an armoured one … That’s how he wanted it,” said Greg Burke, the Vatican spokesman. Burke said security is an issue “everywhere, not just in Egypt … Are we worried? I wouldn’t use the word ‘worry’. The security measures are similar to many trips. The Egyptians obviously want everything to go well.”

We aren’t taking any chances: Security and intelligence officials have been ramping up security measures in the lead-up to Francis’ visit by conducting door-to-door checks in Zamalek and prohibiting parking around the Vatican residence, the Associated Press reports. Security has also been tightened in Maadi, with house-to-house visits in one area near a high-profile church.

Pope Francis said in a video message that he is coming to Egypt as a “friend and a messenger of peace and a pilgrim to the country that was a refuge to the Holy Family 2,000 years ago,” the Associated Press reports. Francis also said in a Vatican video that he wants his two-day visit to carry a message of friendship and reconciliation with people of all religions (watch in Arabic, runtime 4:19). Reuters says some conservative Catholics are less than pleased with the Pope’s visit in light of the recent attacks against Christians in Egypt and believe Pope Francis should not engage in dialogue with Islam.

Oh, and brace yourselves for an exceptionally negative Egypt in the News section this morning, including grumping about Egypt in the US Senate, rumors that VOIP calls are being blocked (as we discussed before yesterday’s holiday) and allegations of extrajudicial killings in the Sinai. We rather like Pope Francis, but expect his visit will draw more of the same negative coverage, so expect a rough week or so on the international media front.

On The Horizon

Egyptian business community heads to DC to knock on doors in the halls of Congress. One of us is headed off to the United States shortly, where we’ll be covering the American Chamber of Commerce’s annual Door Knock mission to the US. C-suite officers and other top execs from AmCham members will descend on the Hill to give lawmakers a view “on the ground” in Egypt. With all of the needless negativity about Egypt in some pockets of late, the visit couldn’t come at a better time.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

It was another mixed bag on the airwaves last night, with the Youth Conference in Ismailia being the most talked about topic. (We have more on President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s remarks there in Speed Round, below).

Kol Youm’s Amr Adib (being especially insightful last night) noted how today’s youth have inherited their parents’ sense of entitlement by questioning the president incessantly on how he plans to fix their personal economic problems. He said the government controls only a fraction of the economy, with the lion’s share being in the private sector’s hands (watch, runtime: 15:50).

Adib thinks El Sisi will run for office once again after reading the tea leaves and watching the president’s remarks at the conference (watch, runtime: 1:03).

Yahduth fi Masr’s Sherif Amer spoke to head of Sinai Reconstruction Agency Mohamed El Sakka, who justified a lack of progress on the ground by saying development projects there started only two years ago. These projects are mainly focusing on preparing infrastructure for private-sector investment, he added. El Sakka added that EGP 1 bn development projects are ongoing in Sinai, with 13 cities now ready for private sector projects.

The National Press Authority will be announcing changes to the chairmen and editors in chief of the country’s state-owned newspapers this week, authority member Alaa Thabet told Amer on Monday’s episode, Al Mal reports.

Changes to Al Azhar coming? House Social Solidarity Committee deputy chair Mohamed Abu Hamed told Hona Al Asema’s Lamees Al Hadidi that around 200 MPs have approved amending the law that governs the selection of the upper echelon of Al Azhar, without getting into the nitty gritty of what that might constitute (watch, runtime: 7:24). In keeping with her religion-themed episode, Lamees aired Pope Francis message to Egyptians (watch, runtime: 4:12).

Manpower Minister Mohamed Safaan told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal that Prime Minister Sherif Ismail ordered the Finance Ministry to disburse the 10% social welfare bonus as soon as the law is approved by the House and signed by the president (watch, runtime: 6:24).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

Egypt is open for business. That’s the message Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr plugged in an interview with Bloomberg’s David Westin (watch, runtime 4:29). "We’re rebranding Egypt, improving the business environment, and making sure that more investments come in from the US and other partnering countries," she said. The new Investment Act now in the House of Representatives’ pipeline and amendments to the Capital Markets Act are key legislative drivers behind the rebranding, Nasr said.

Nasr said she is finalizing the disbursement of the third tranche of a USD 3 bn WorldBank loan, a process she said could take up to four months. The minister said the loan will be used to back opportunities in energy and manufacturing, she said.

Bloomberg’s Yousef Gamal El-Din then brought a regional analyst in to note that for Egypt, thedevil is in the implementation. Nasser Saidi (Twitter) is the former Lebanese economy minister and ex-Lebanese central banker who went on to become chief economist and head of external relations at DIFC. Now in private practice, he runs the eponymous Nasser Saidi & Associates and was brought on to say that it’s one thing to pass new laws, another to implement them. The key is to see how investor respond to the measures, he said, tipping his hat to Nasr, who he said is a “professional. … it’s always very encouraging to have a professional.” On Egypt’s economy as a whole, Saidi says we’re now at the start of the upswing in the J-curve. (Watch, 4:04)

Nasr’s appearance on Bloomberg comes as part of a media blitz that began immediately after IMF and World Bank spring meetings to support her ministry’s “global investment promotion campaign to highlight Egypt’s value proposition to global public market and strategic investors as the country continues to roll-out an ambitious economic reform program.”

Touching base with the World Bank… At the meetings, Nasr met with World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim on supporting the private sector and attracting more foreign investment, according to a ministry statement. Kim “commended the government’s economic program and the progress made during a short period of time, in addition to improving the business climate and taking the procedures necessary to attract further foreign investments,” the statement read. Nasr also highlighted opportunities in the Suez Canal economic zone and the new administrative capital in a sit-down Keiko Honda, EVP at the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. The agency is interested in supporting investment in Egypt over the coming three years, Honda said.

…and top New York-based investors. Nasr has been in the Big Apple the past couple of days, where EFG Hermes and ABANA hosted an institutional investor roundtable for Nasr to introduce her to “leading figures in the US investment community,” said ABANA Chairperson Mona Aboelnaga Kanaan in a statement (pdf). (The ministry’s statement on the same appearance is here.) While in New York, Nasr also discussed investment in petrochemicals and renewable energy with the Export-Import Bank of the United States deputy vice president Hala El Mohandes. Nasr also met with Mourad Wahba, director of the UNDP’s regional bureau for the Arab states.

Among the other meetings on an exhausting schedule: Discussion of sanitation, energy and transport projects with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. A mission from the AIIB is set to visit Egypt, the ministry said in a statement. Nasr also re-opened talks on a USD 1.5 bn loan for development in Sinai from the Saudi Fund for Development. Talks on the second tranche of the loan had been on hold since January, after a court blocked the transfer to Saudi control of the Red Sea islands Tiran and Sanafir.

(And speaking of ABANA, we’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall for its 2017 US-MENATech Summit, held yesterday. Check out ABANA’s Twitter feed for highlights.)

Terror attacks targeting Egypt of late are no different than those that have taken place in London and Paris, Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed told Reuters, adding that “these things happen.” “I think it’s proven [that] Egypt is secure. It is safe and tourism is back,” Rashed said on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai. He attributes this revival in tourism in large part to the buzz generated by a series of major archeological discoveries in Egypt. Egypt could attract as many as 10 mn visitors this year, Rashed said, a figure in line with a target of between 10 mn and 12 mn he gave a year ago for 2017.

Egypt plans to promote religious, medical and luxury travel — and develop new markets in India and Eastern Europe in its drive to revive the tourism sector, Rashed told Bloomberg TV (watch, runtime 11:17). “The final target is to get to the 2010 numbers … We should be able to get as close as possible to the target in the next 18 to 24 months,” Rashed said. The revival plan will expand beyond traditional antiquities (Cairo, Luxor) or surf and sun offerings (Red Sea, Sinai) and will include “Holy Family” tours to eight destinations and chasing a slice of the medical tourism industry by capitalizing on the lower cost of some procedures in Egypt.

Rashed also said Egypt will ease travel for residents of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries through an e-visa program as part of a broader plan to boost visitors and encourage longer stays and more spending. Germany remains the top growing market for Egypt, but it is followed by Middle Eastern markets led by Saudi Arabia. Rashed also told Bloomberg 1Q2017 suggested a “very optimistic” outlook for the market, which he said is “well-positioned” to see the return of tourists by diversifying source markets and developing Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan as luxury destinations.

Promotion campaigns in Ramadan, Eid and this summer will target tourists from the GCC, Lebanon, and Jordan, Rashed said, according to an e-mailed statement. The minister met with several leading travel companies on the sidelines of the ATM, and Al-Jazeera Airways has agreed to boost its number of direct Kuwait-Sharm El Sheikh flights. The airline will then do the same with its direct Kuwait-Hurghada route, Rashed said. Fly Dubai and Emirates have also reportedly expressed willingness to increase weekly flights to Sharm El Sheikh, the North Coast, and Hurghada, Al Shorouk reports. Arabs accounted for 36.3% of tourist arrivals in 2016, Rashed said.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi touched on the economy and social issues at the third National Youth Conference, which kicked off in Ismailia yesterday. El Sisi reaffirmed the importance of the government’s “difficult but necessary” economic reform program. He said that the state is working on creating more job opportunities to improve unemployment rates and cut down on the bloated public sector, which he said requires 20% of its current staff level at most. The president also discussed the country’s mines and quarries, which he said could bring in as much as EGP 17 bn of revenues for the state. According to El Sisi, the state has not been able to bring in EGP 1 bn, which highlights to reform the industry (watch, runtime 3:16). He also announced that the Damietta Furniture City, which will be host to some 1,000 workshops, will be inaugurated “within days” (watch, runtime 1:54).

El Sisi also vowed to respect the outcome of next year’s presidential election, and called on Egyptians to participate in the voting process to ensure their voices are heard. He also apologized to Sinai locals for the persistent security issues in the peninsula, and criticized the media for its portrayal of the situation. El Sisi also announced that 2018 will be the year for individuals with special needs. You can watch the full conference here (runtime 2:15:54).

Egypt currently has 2.6 months’ worth of wheat reserves and expects to buy up to 3.8 mn tonnes from local farmers, Supply Ministry Ali El Moselhy told Reuters. The remarks came as El Moselhy inaugurated the wheat harvest season. He said the reserves figure does not include “quantities of wheat contracted for by GASC but which have not yet arrived and it is unclear how much remains outstanding.” El Moselhy added that the government “always” aims to have four months of reserves, but they are now below the threshold because it is the beginning of the harvest season. The newswire notes that the government had said it is aiming to buy 4-4.5 mn tonnes of wheat initially, higher than the figure quoted by Moselhy, who said “I’m always underestimating.”

…Separately, El Moselhy said he could not comment on increasing subsidies until deliberating the issue with the Finance Minister and that he would not want to give false promises, according to Al Mal. Also, mandatory pricing is practically unfeasible, El Moselhy says, as the government does not produce enough commodities and Egypt runs on a free market.

Goodbye, Social Fund for Development. Hello, SME Development Authority:Prime Minister Sherif Ismail has signed off on the establishment of a small- and medium-sized company development authority under the auspices of the Trade and Industry Ministry as a replacement for the Social Fund for Development. The decision was published in the Official Gazette (pdf) on Monday. The authority, which will meet at least once every two months, is mandated with putting in place a roadmap to encourage investment in SMEs and help smaller companies grow their exports. The authority also looks set to push for land and licensing procedures that are more SME-friendly. The authority’s board will include representatives from the ministries of trade and industry, planning, local development, finance, social solidarity, investment and international cooperation, and CIT as well as the heads of the Federation of Egyptian Industries and the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce.

The Social Solidarity Ministry had apparently raised the minimum requirement employers must pay in social insurance, said the ministry’s legal counsel Ahmed Shehat in a meeting with the Union of Egyptian Investors Associations. He did not state how much the ministry had raised this minimum requirement, according to statements picked up by Al Masry Al Youm. The commies with veins of green are apparently feeling a little less socially generous. After taking every opportunity to spout Nasser-era rhetoric, members of the Union have been haggling with the ministry to reduce that amount by up to 40%. So much for putting your money where your mouth is.

MOVES- Lafarge CEO Eric Olsen will step down in July, reportedly under pressure from three big shareholders with strong opinions about how he should do his job, the Financial Times says. Among those shareholders: Nassef Sawiris. Oddly enough, the FT reports, it was Lafarge’s acquisition of Orascom’s contruction arm in a decade ago that saw the company acquire a presence in Syria that led directly to Olsen’s ouster. Olsen led the post-acquisition integration of Orascom into Larfarge as the group’s head of human resources.

EARNINGS WATCH- Arafa Holding recorded a consolidated net profit of USD 7.8 mn in 2016, down from USD 12.45 mn in 2015, a 37% dip. The company said the float of the Egyptian pound had no effect on its results.

New Zealand is considering restricting laptops and other large electronic devices on flights from some Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East, Reuters reports, citing the country’s Prime Minister. The move would follow similar restrictions imposed by the US, UK, and Australia. The restrictions would affect passengers flying from Dubai and Doha, where carriers Emirates and Qatar Airways, respectively, fly direct to New Zealand.

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Egypt Holiday Photo of the Day

Today’s Egypt Holiday Photo of the Day is of Qulaan in Marsa Alam. Almost all Egyptian mangrove stands, particularly in Marsa Alam, are now protected as their dense root systems filter out sediments and protect coral reefs. The image was shot for CIB’s 2016 Annual Report (microsite and print edition) by Zeina Abaza at Inktank Communications, which has produced the bank’s annual report for the past eight years.

Image of the Day

Multinational drum troupes tour historical sites: Drum troupes from 25 countries filled Moez Street on Friday evening to launch the fifth edition of the Drums Festival under the theme “Drums for Peace,” Daily News Egypt reports. Organized by the Tourism, Culture, and Youth and Sports ministries, the seven-day festival has seen the troupes taking their drums to the Sultan Al-Ghuri complex, the Port Said palace, the Talaat Harb cultural center, and the Cairo Opera House, among other cultural spots.

Egypt in the News

Pickups of Pope Francis’ message of peace to Egypt ahead of his visit this weekend and Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed’s comments from Dubai on the state of Egypt’s tourism industry are dominating the narrative on Egypt this morning. Not satisfied with the Minister’s statements, Al Jazeera is saying that the Palm Sunday terror attacks could further damage the already crippled sector. Brilliant insights from the propagandists for the statelet.

A spate of negative coverage and opinion pieces on Egypt emerged inthe foreign press over the Sinai liberation break. We begin with Foreign Policy, which takes note of the testimony of three experts — including the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Michele Dunne — at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday. The three cast a shadow on the merits of continuing to provide aid to Egypt without pushing it on human rights, a factor which one of them says is shifting sympathies at home towards the militants and away from the military (clearly he hasn’t been here in awhile). Dunne (Twitter) calls for more investment in education rather than aid, a message which is resonating among lawmakers including Sen. Lindsey Graham. “We need to reshape the relationship in a way that’s sustainable,” he said, adding that the military cannot be the strongest player in the economy. Negative coverage is being driven in part by videos that have gotten wide attention in the international press, including in the Guardian and The Hill.

Aya Hijazi is still on the radar after Trump hailed her release as one of the successes of his administration during his first 100 days. The Washington Post’s editorial board could not miss the opportunity to pick at that statement and Egypt as a whole. They cite the release of Mohamed Soltan in 2015 as an example of how the Obama administration pressured Egypt to release an American citizen without the need to invite President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to the White House. In another petty partisan article, WaPo is noting the irony of Trump declaring that one of his successes was saving a Muslim woman.

Meanwhile, Irish detainee Ibrahim Halawa wrote “an impassioned plea” to Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny to secure his release, saying he “feels abandoned” after seeing Aya Hijazi released last week, The Sun reports.

Egypt’s regional role has been eroding over the past few years due to its adoption of a conservative foreign policy, Maged Mandour writes in Open Democracy. This is causing tensions with regional allies, Mandour says, “most notably Saudi Arabia.” He suggests that Egypt’s inclination to oppose intervention would raise concerns regarding its “willingness to play an effective role in any proposed conservative Sunni Arab alliance aimed at containing Iran.” Mandour says, eventually, “a choice will have to be made between a domestic crisis, loss of valuable allies and international support.”

Other coverage of Egypt in the international media worth a skim:

  • Egypt is considering tax reforms that could include potential rebates as high as 40% “offered to foreign companies working in food, education, electricity, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing,” Taxation News Info says.
  • Quartz is claiming that Egypt is blocking VOIP calls, picking up on a thread we noted earlier this week. We spoke with family abroad via FaceTime (on mobile and wifi) Sunday night with no problems.
  • If planned properly, reservoir management at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam could be beneficial to Sudan and Egypt “by providing for additional upstream storage, a more reliable flow from the Blue Nile, and protection from extended drought conditions,” experts tell The National’s Gavin du Venage.
  • The Cairo Criminal Court upheld death sentences handed down to 20 Islamists for their alleged involvement in an attack on a police station in Kerdasa in 2013 that killed 15, the Associated Press reports.
  • Egyptian authorities denied entry to, and deported, Sudanese journalist Al-Tahir Satti, who has recently penned columns critical of Egypt’s stance on the disputed Halayeb and Shalateen triangle, the Sudan Tribune reports.
  • Eman Abdel Aty, who was once dubbed the world’s heaviest woman, is in delicate health and may have suffered a stroke after undergoing surgery in India, Abdel Aty’s sister tells BBC. She also says Eman’s surgeon has exaggerated her weight loss from the surgery.
  • A four-year-old British boy passed away while on vacation with his family in Hurghada following an unspecified accident, The Sun reports.

On Deadline

As Pope Francis’ arrival in Omm El Donia inches closer, the avalanche of commentary on the visit is gaining speed. Al Masry Al Youm’s Ahmed El Gamal looks at the visit through a cultural and historical lens and says it will be another landmark in Egypt’s long religious history. Ashraf Sadek takes to the pages of Al Ahram to laud Pope Francis for following through on the visit despite “false” security threats, while Tarek El Sheikh echoes the same general sentiment in a conspiracy theory-infused column penned for the same newspaper.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi agreed on new channels of cooperation under the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, China’s CCTV reports. They met on the sidelines of the first Ancient Civilizations Forum in Athens, where Shoukry stressed Egypt’s role in fighting terrorism throughout history during his speech on Monday, Ahram Online reports. The forum aims to increase cooperation between 10 countries with ancient civilizations, namely Egypt, China, India, Italy, Iran, Iraq, Greece, Mexico, Bolivia, and Peru, according to the Associated Press.

The Egyptian-Saudi Trade Committee is set to meet in Riyadh mid-next month to discuss boosting trade and investment between the two countries, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil said on Monday, Al Borsa reports.

Commercial agreements worth USD 450 mn were signed during the Food Africa expo that took place earlier this week, the exhibition’s executive director Dalia Kabil said, Al Borsa reports. About USD 250 mn of that figure are export sales for Egyptian companies, with the balance being Egyptian purchases of production lines and equipment from foreign suppliers.

Energy

Energy spending will total USD 75 bn for the next four years

Egypt will need USD 75 bn to develop its energy sector between 2018 and 2022, according to the development strategies of both the Electricity and Oil ministries. USD 45 bn will need to be spent on developing the electricity sector, with a long term plan to generate 51.7 GW by 2030. From the looks of the plan — formulated by consultancy firm SOFRECO — most of that spending will be geared towards building up capacity of coal power, whose spending will reach USD 38.6 bn until 2030, Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker tells Al Borsa. No projections for electricity subsidies cuts were announced. USD 30 bn will be spent on developing oil and gas fields in the Mediterranean, said Oil Minister Tarek El Molla. Separately, El Molla discussed new funding for oil and gas projects with top officials from the China Development Bank, Al Masry Al Youm reports.

Five solar energy companies liquidate Egypt projects

Five solar energy companies have decided to withdraw from implementing USD 400 mn worth of projects and liquidate their businesses in Egypt, Daily News Egypt reports. The companies — El Serag 1, Bareq Capital, Gulf New Energy, Adenium Energy, and Smart Green Egypt — were among the 23 that withdrew from feed-in tariff program’s phase one.

EGEMAC targeting projects worth EGP 2 bn by year’s end

EGEMAC is targeting projects worth EGP 2 bn by the end of this year, up from last year’s tally of EGP 1.6 bn, EGEMAC president Medhat Ramadan tells Al Borsa. The company is also looking to increase its subsidiary XDEGEMAC’s projects to EGP 1.5 bn from EGP 850 mn.

Exports

UAE restricts some fruit and vegetables imports, bans Egyptian peppers

The UAE has banned imports of “all varieties of pepper” from Egypt, according to The National. The ban, effective on 15 May, spans a number of fruit and vegetables from Egypt, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon, and Yemen over concerns of high levels of pesticides. UAE’s Climate Change and Environment Ministry said “countries affected by the ban must submit certificates that indicate all other vegetables and fruits are free of pesticide residues before imports can resume and they have been asked to comply with the food safety standards adopted by the UAE.” Kuwait and Saudi Arabia had taken steps over the past few months banning Egyptian peppers as well.

Egyptian Steel, Harsco Corporation sign USD 60 mn mill contract

Egyptian Steel signed a 10-year, USD 60 mn contract with Harsco Corporation for steel milling services, Reuters reports. Under the agreement, Harsco will provide mill services at Egyptian Steel’s Ain Sokhna plant beginning January 2018.

Delta Sugar invests EGP 400 mn in two production lines

Delta Sugar will spend EGP 400 mn in developing two production lines at its plant in Kafr El Sheikh, sources tell Al Mal. The company targets increasing its production capacity to 19k tonnes of sugar per day from 14.5k tonnes currently.

Health + Education

US-Egypt Science and Technology Joint Fund approves 15 joint projects

The US-Egypt Science and Technology Joint Fund approved 15 joint projects in the fields of agriculture, energy, health, and water and its board also agreed to continue to dedicate a portion of its funding toward innovation-related activities, according to a US Embassy statement.

Pharma companies’ sales reach EGP 11.5 bn in 1Q2017

Pharma companies’ local sales increased 30% y-o-y in 1Q2017 to reach EGP 11.5 bn, Al Borsa reports, citing a report from American healthcare information company IMS Health. According to the report, Novartis’ achieved the highest sales of the quarter at EGP 980 mn, marking a 32% y-o-y increase.

Real Estate + Housing

EFSA allows real estate companies to swap shares in real estate funds

The Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority issued amendments governing subscriptions to real estate funds that would allow real estate companies to trade in shares of their company or properties for shares in real estate funds in an initial public offering, EFSA chief Sherif Samy said. Companies which subscribe to a real estate fund through their own shares must hold its traded stocks in the fund for a minimum of two years before selling them, according to an EFSA statement. The regulator lifted the cap in place on subscription in these funds through real estate shares, allowing the fund’s board to determine the limit.

Emaar unveils Address Marassi Beach, new hotels

Emaar Hospitality Group is building a new Address Marassi Beach Resort and Address Residences Marassi Beach Resort in Egypt, The National reports. The group, which is Emaar Properties’ hospitality and leisure arm, unveiled six new hotels as part of its regional and international expansion at Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.

Automotive + Transportation

NAT decreased Metro Line 2 air conditioned trains to 6 from 13

The National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) has reduced the number of air-conditioned trains it is planning to buy for Cairo Metro’s Line 2 to six from 13. Technical assessments have shown that the line did not require the 13 trains as projected initially, Al Borsa reports. NAT’s spokesperson says the trains will cost EGP 3 bn in total and the purchase will be financed partly by an EUR 100 mn European Investment Bank loan. On a related note, the Transportation Ministry will start evaluating financial and technical offers from Japanese companies to establish the first phase of Cairo Metro Line 4 in mid-July, Transport Minister Hisham Arafat says, Al Mal reports. The Japanese International Cooperation Agency is funding a part of the first phase, with a USD 1.28 bn facility, representing 40% of the EGP 25 bn line.

Transportation Ministry targeting completing railway renovations within 30 months

The Transportation Ministry is looking to complete renovating 1,200 km of railway in the next 30 months, Transportation Minister Hisham Arafat said, Al Mal reports. On a related note, the ministry is also currently in talks with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a EUR 300 mn loan to purchase 100 new railway cars.

Infrastructure

Engineering Authority to build EGP 1.4 bn multi-purpose station at Damietta Port

The Armed Forces Engineering Authority will build a EGP 1.4 bn multi-purpose station in Damietta Port after signing a cooperation agreement with the port authority, Al Borsa reports. The facility is expected to be completed in 18 months.

Banking + Finance

EFG Hermes Leasing looks to grow leasing portfolio to EGP 3 bn in 2017

EFG Hermes Leasing is targeting bringing its portfolio to EGP 3 bn by year-end, from EGP 1.4 bn currently, CEO Ahmed El Kholy says, Al Mal reports. El Kholy made the remarks as the company signed an EGP 20 mn facility to channel more funding to small and medium-sized industries. EFG Hermes Leasing has been focusing on renewable the energy and health sectors, Al Mal adds.

CIB launches mobile banking app

CIB launched a mobile banking app through which users can access digital services, the bank announced in a statement on Monday. “The new application allows CIB customers to request chequebook, control and change supplementary card limits, and report a lost/stolen card,” among other services.

On Your Way Out

Cargo-what? Two Egyptians see “cargotecture,” a concept merging cargo containers and architecture, as a possible solution for Egypt’s informal housing crisis. Youssef Farag and Karim Rafla co-founded Qubix one year ago to refurbish old cargo containers (including installing insulation systems to boot) and transform them into living or commercial spaces. The container homes require less time and money than traditional buildings, and would be safer and cheaper alternatives to illegally constructed slums, Nadine Awadalla writes for Reuters.

The markets yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 18.0382 | Sell 18.1409
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 18.05 | Sell 18.15
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.95 | Sell 18.05

EGX30 (Monday): 12,583 (+0.3%)
Turnover: EGP 725 mn (27% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +1.9%

THE MARKET ON MONDAY: The EGX30 ended Monday’s session up 0.3%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended up 1.0%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were: Global Telecom up 3.4%, Oriental Weavers up 1.2%, and CIB up 1.0%. Monday’s worst performing stocks included: Telecom Egypt down 8.8%, Credit Agricole down 2.2%, and Orascom Telecom Media & Technology down 1.5%. Total market turnover stood at EGP 725 mn, and local investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +336.5 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +254.8 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -591.3 mn

Retail: 34.0% of total trades | 38.2% of buyers | 29.8% of sellers
Institutions: 66.0% of total trades | 61.8% of buyers | 70.2% of sellers

Foreign: 22.4% of total | 33.3% of buyers | 11.4% of sellers
Regional: 13.0% of total | 21.4% of buyers | 4.8% of sellers
Domestic: 64.6% of total | 45.3% of buyers | 83.3% of sellers

WTI: USD 49.31 (-0.50%)
Brent: USD 52.10 (+0.97%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.04 MMBtu, (-0.20%, May 2017 contract)
Gold: USD 1,265.30 / troy ounce (-0.15%)TASI: 6,977.5 (+0.1%) (YTD: -3.2%)
ADX: 4,530.8 (+0.2%) (YTD: -0.3%)
DFM: 3,430.9 (-1.1%) (YTD: -2.8%)
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Calendar

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

26-27 April (Wednesday-Thursday): Corporate Governance Case Study Workshops by the Egyptian Private Equity Association and IFC.

27 April (Thursday): Shalakany law firm’s VAT & the New Taxation Landscape conference, Nile Ritz Carlton, Cairo.

28-29 April (Friday-Saturday): Pope Francis visits Cairo.

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.

05-07 May (Friday-Sunday): Egypt Property Show, DWTC, Dubai.

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

10-12 May (Wednesday-Friday) The 15th Middle East & North Africa International Franchise Exhibition, AUC Downtown Greek Campus, Cairo.

14-16 May (Sunday-Tuesday) CI Capital is planning to hold its fifth annual Egypt Investor Conference in Gouna this May, with 75 international companies expected to participate, Al Mal reports. The Investment and International Cooperation, Finance, Planning, and Supply ministers are also set to be in attendance.

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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