Sunday, 28 May 2017

Egypt launches airstrikes against terrorist camps in Libya after attack kills 29 on eve of Ramadan

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

We wish everyone a blessed Ramadan and hope day one wasn’t all bad for our fasting friends. Our first day was marked by sadness and disbelief that 29 Egyptians, some of them children, were murdered by terrorists on Friday, on the eve of Ramadan. Martyr prayers were held on Saturday at the Cathedral of Beni Mazar in Minya and the Church of the Sacred Family in the village of Dayr Jarnous, according to a statement from the Coptic Orthodox Church. They will be in our prayers and we hope they will be in yours.

Term limits have come to the EGX. The Ismail cabinet approved on Thursday a proposal from the Egyptian Exchange to limit the bourse chairman to a maximum of two four-year terms, according to Al Mal. Meanwhile, a seat on the EGX’s board reserved for a representative of the small cap NILEX will allow the representative to continue serving even if the company he or she represents sees its capital increase beyond the EGP 25 mn cap. We have more on the Thursday cabinet meeting in Speed Round, below.

You’ll want to check ahead before leaving for the airport this morning if you’re flying to or through Heathrow. British Airways canceled all of its flights through Heathrow and Gatwick yesterday “due to a major IT failure causing severe disruption to its global operations that is expected to run into Sunday,” the Guardian reports. “On Saturday night the operator said it intended to run a ‘near normal schedule’ at Gatwick on Sunday and the ‘majority of services’ from Heathrow,” the Independent added.

OPEC decided on Thursday to continue its 1.8 mn bpd production cuts for nine months through the first quarter of 2018, and judging from an offhand comment in a liveblog from The National, it seems Egypt did not join the production cuts. Saudi Arabia (the de facto leader of OPEC) and Russia (the largest non-member producer) led the agreement on continuing the production cuts. Reuters notes that oil plunged 5% after the meeting ended because of some vague analyst fantasy that the production cuts could have been deeper or lasted longer. The Financial Times also has coverage.

The Cairo metro will operate for one extra hour until the end of Eid Al Fitr, with operations starting at 5:30 am and ending at 1:00 am, the Egyptian Company for Metro Management and Operations announced, according to Al Masry Al Youm.

Rex Tillerson isn’t down with Ramadan. The US Secretary of State won’t hold an iftar or a gathering to mark Eid Al-Fitr this year, breaking with an 18-year tradition that has been upheld by both Democratic and Republican secretaries of state, Reuters writes in an exclusive this morning. In a great example of a non-answer that simultaneously passes the buck to US embassies, a State spokesperson said: “We are still exploring possible options for observance of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan. U.S. ambassadors are encouraged to celebrate Ramadan through a variety of activities, which are held annually at missions around the world.”

Now imagine how the story would be written if it happened in Egypt and you flipped the religions around: “A man fatally stabbed two passengers aboard a Portland, Oregon, commuter train after they tried to stop him from harassing two young women who appeared to be Muslim, police said on Saturday,” Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, the New York Times is teaching Americans about home cooking during Ramadan and throwing in its favorite collection of Ramadan recipes for good measure. Time to read only one thing? Go for the recipes, which include staples and oddities.

Looking for a book to read as an antidote to Ramadan mosalsalat? Bloomberg View’s Barry Ritzholtz has recommendations from a former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, the CEO of Vanguard, and hedgie and would-be Trump official Anthony Scaramucci, among others. Check out Summer Reading Season Starts Now. In our queue are tomes from the late, amazing David Halberstam, who covered everything from war to baseball, rowing and business in his storied career. Check out:

When do we eat? Maghrib prayers are at 18:49 CLT in Cairo, and the cutoff time for sohour is 3:12am.

What We’re Tracking This Week

Budget debate moves to the floor of the House: The House of Representatives will be discussing the FY2017-18 in general assembly sessions this week starting tomorrow, AMAY reports. MPs expect to ratify the budget before they go on summer holiday starting 30 June. The new state fiscal year begins 1 July 2017.

The House of Representatives is reportedly studying alternatives to the Contractors’ Compensation Act, since it would cost more than EGP 10 bn to implement and would strain state coffers. This comes even though chatter in the media suggests that the bill, which MPs approved in March, could be coming to a plenary session vote as early as this week.

The Petroleum Ministry is expected to announce the results of its gold exploration tender before the end of this week, according to officials.

On The Horizon

The executive regulations to the Investment Act will be released in a couple of weeks’ time, Federation of Egyptian Industries’ Investment Committee chair Mahmoud Soliman tells Youm7. Government officials, however, didn’t give a clear timeline for the regulations. The Ismail government is legally allowed to deliver the regulations within three months from the date on which the House passed the law; the Investment Act passed on 7 May. The regulations to the law are expected to tackle issues including export quotas to qualify for tax rebates, the allocation of industrial land, and the governance of private-sector free zones. They are also expected to clarify procedures for winding up a company, which will also be governed by the Bankruptcy Act that’s currently in the works.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Most of the nation’s talking heads took a break the first day of the holy month, with the exception of Amr Adib, who mostly covered the latest terror attack on Minya, which claimed the lives of at least 29 Coptic Christians on Friday (We have full coverage in this morning’s Speed Round).

On last night’s Kol Youm, Adib said that Egypt has only ever sent its air force outside the country when terror attacks hit its Coptic Christian minority, which the host said was the country’s Achilles heel (watch, runtime 0:49).

Former Ikhwani leader Mokhtar Nouh told Adib that Daesh plays the sectarian strife game in every country it has hit and has intensified its attacks on Egypt because so far they’ve proven unsuccessful (watch, runtime 1:09).

PROGRAMMING NOTE- Many talk shows run infrequently or go on hiatus during the Holy Month, replaced by the dreaded mosalsalat (Ramadan serials). We’ll have talk shows throughout the Holy Month when / if they run and include content other than some B-grade star / starlet “singing” a cappella in studio.

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

Terror attack in Minya kills 29 Christians, injures 11: Terrorists dressed in paramilitary fatigues and carrying firearms attacked a small convoy of day-trippers heading to the monastery St. Samuel the Confessor on Friday outside of the city of Minya. The death toll has been confirmed by a cabinet statement.

Children among the dead: Some of the victims were reportedly children, with eyewitnesses telling Reuters that a three-year-old and a four-year-old were among the dead. Bishop Agathon, Bishop of the Maghagha and Edwa Diocese, said three vehicles carrying a group of people were attacked.

Timeline of a massacre: A bus and a car carrying women and children were stopped on the road by three vehicles with armed men. The New York Times reports that “Claiming to be security officers, the gunmen ordered the passengers to get out. They separated the men from the women and children, and instructed them to surrender their mobile phones. They told the men to recite the shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith. When the men refused, the gunmen opened fire.” A statement from Maghagha Diocese confirmed the terrorists’ demands that the victims recite the shahada, while media reports claim that the attack on a third vehicle — this one with workers heading to the monastery — came after one of the terrorists’ vehicles got a flat tire.

Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack on Saturday through its Aamaqpropaganda outlet, the Associated Press reports. This would be the fourth attack by the group targeting Christians since December, with the AP putting the total casualties of the four attacks at 104 mostly Coptic Christians.

A manhunt in Qena is focused on three perpetrators in specific, Interior Ministry sources told Al Shorouk on Saturday, and some of those suspected of being involved in the Minya attack were already on police wanted list on suspicion they played a role in the Palm Sunday bombings.

Protection for all convoys heading to religious sites: Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar issued a request that all planned group trips be run by the ministry so that armed protection could be arranged.

The Egyptian Armed Forces struck terrorist training camps in Libya on Friday andSaturday. The airstrikes were prompted by an intelligence finding that the militants responsible for the Minya attack had received training there.“The air strikes led to the destruction of the planned targets, which included concentrated areas for the training of terrorist elements that participated in the planning and implementation of the Minya attack,” according to a statement from the Egyptian Armed Forces on Saturday. State television said on Friday the strikes focused on the eastern Libyan city of Derna. Six airstrikes were reported to have taken place on Friday, Reuters reports, and forces commanded by Khalifa Haftar, the Libyan general close to Egypt, have reportedly taken part in the strikes.

International tie-in: The man believed to have been the suicide bomber who attacked the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last week is also believed to have received training in Libya.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi announced the strikes during a televised address to thenation on Friday evening (watch, runtime: 9:42). The president said Egypt will not hesitate to pursue terrorists beyond the nation’s borders and said the terror attack designed was to sow discord between Egypt’s Muslim and Christian communities. El Sisi implied that the state has been on alert and had anticipated attacks on the back of an influx of Daesh terrorists fleeing defeat in Syria. He gave an honest account of the threat they pose from Libya, stating that the Egyptian armed forces had destroyed over 300 vehicles that had crossed over from Libya to attack Egypt in the last three months alone. He called on the international community to punish countries that actively aid terrorists.

A message to Donald Trump: During his speech on Friday evening, El Sisi sent a direct message to US President Donald Trump, urging him to press forth with his global strategy to combat terrorism and lead the fight.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail traveled to Minya to visit with victims’ families, according to a statement from the cabinet.

INTERNATIONAL REAX- “America stands with President El Sisi and all the Egyptian people today, and always, as we fight to defeat this common enemy,” said US President Trump in a statement following the attacks on Friday. “America also makes clear to its friends, allies, and partners that the treasured and historic Christian Communities of the Middle East must be defended and protected. The bloodletting of Christians must end, and all who aid their killers must be punished.”

Trump was joined by host of other world leaders. Apart from Egypt’s close allies in the GCC (the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain), the Vatican issued the condolences of Pope Francis, who also declared at a clergy meeting in Genoa that there are more Christian martyrs today than in ancient times, reports the Associated Press. EU and Scandinavian allies including Germany and the United Kingdom also came out to express their condolences along with China. Turkey and terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah also came out with statements condemning the attacks.

MEDIA REAX- Both the foreign and local press focused on the anger of Coptsfollowing the attacks. Al Masry Al Youm is running two pieces on a protest which took place on Friday, where Christian mourners reportedly called for the sacking of Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar. Police reportedly called the protest off. Reuters is that grief turned to anger on Saturday at prayers for the victims. Some expressed their doubt over the state’s ability to protect them. While Reuters is at least on the ground, we get only overblown sensationalism from the opinion pages of the New York Times. Samuel Tadros suggests that the possibility of an exodus by Copts from Egypt in a manner of the Jews after the founding of Israel. Even the Wall Street Journal is noting that pro-Sisi sentiment in the Christian community is shifting in its over-simplistic five part tutorial on “Who are the Coptic Christians.”

The Libya connection is being more closely looked at by the Associated Press, which ran a lengthy piece on the history of militancy in Libya following the fall of Muammar Ghaddafi in 2011. The newswire is a series of explainer pieces on Coptic Christians, including a timeline of attacks on them, and tracing instances of “modern persecution.’ Meanwhile, the Financial Times is drawing the same conclusions as the president, running quotes by analysts on how attacking Christians is simply the standard Daesh sectarian playbook.

From the finger-wagging department: Today’s preachy condescension is brought to you by Fox News, with Lela Gelbert is running the line that the government has not done much to protect Christians and maybe will start now.

No more tax increase, El Garhy says: The economic reform program is driving the confidence that debt markets are showing in Egypt, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy tells Bloomberg TV. “We’re putting together a program to take the ailing condition we were into a more positive direction in the coming period,” El Garhy says. Given that the biggest concern investors had was the FX situation, “the decision to float [the EGP in November 2016] was very important,” he says. Second on the investors’ lists was how Egypt will attract investments to the country. El Garhy says the strong demand seen for the longer-maturity issuances of the 10 and 30-year bonds was “a vote of confidence in the economic reform program Egypt is adopting.” Egypt will consider tapping the bond market again not before 2Q2018, “between April and May,” he says.

The government is expecting to raise EGP 10-15 bn in proceeds from the IPOs of state-owned companies expected to take place starting in FY 2017-18, the finance minister added.

The government’s bid to shore up its revenue base will not see it hike taxes, El Garhy stressed, saying “nothing that will surprise people in terms of more additional tax rates in the coming period of time.” In regards to subsidies, El Garhy was less clear-cut, saying subsidy cuts taking place now are part of the reform plan announced in 2014 to curb the extent of subsidies that were “very harming to the economy and to the people.” The timing of the cuts has not yet been decided, he added, saying, it “is being studied … we need to ensure there is a social protection program to shield people from the impact of any economic reform program.”

Watch the full interview with El Garhy, runtime: 7:07.

Amundi Asset Management’s Sergei Strigo agreed with El Garhy, saying the eurobond sale is “coming at an attractive level and we are constructive on Egypt following recent IMF agreement … there is also a limited supply of high yield sovereign bonds in the market.” Aberdeen Asset Management’s Anthony Simond sang praises of the reform agenda, saying “we like the reform story a lot … They are implementing an impressive fiscal consolidation, which, coupled with the huge inflows of foreign capital since the devaluation, means that their balance of payments position is now much more sustainable.”

Why hasn’t the exchange responded to the interest rate hike? The EGP “can’t be fully freely floating at this stage, that’s really the key takeaway,” Credit Suisse Head of Middle East Research Fahd Iqbal told Bloomberg TV (watch, runtime: 4:23). “It doesn’t make sense for a 200 bps shift in rates to elicit a complete lack of response [in the exchange rate],” he adds. Iqbal believes the EGP ought to be strengthening over time, but there is some level of USD shortage, he says. Iqbal also notes that the market did not anticipate Egypt raising rates, because there was no “need” for it at this stage, “the fact they did reflects their commitment to the IMF program.” That sends a positive signal regarding the outlook of the reform process, he says, adding that the overall position of the Egyptian economy will improve, not just by the IMF package, but by complete commitment to the reform process.

Free float or not, there was an uptick in foreigners’ demand for Egyptian treasury bill at Thursday’s auction following the interest rate hike, Ahmed Feteha writes for Bloomberg. Overseas investors bought 63% of the EGP 15.8 bn worth of 6-month and 12-month T-bills sold Thursday, said Samy Khallaf, head of the Finance Ministry’s public debt division. “Khallaf said all foreigners took positions using the central bank’s repatriation fund, which guarantees expedited transfer of money abroad,” Feteha writes.

The state has cleared the way for foreign airlines and hotel companies to repatriate their profits, industry sources tell Al Borsa. The newspaper spoke to sources in Germany’s Lufthansa and an agent for the American and Japanese airlines in Egypt, as well as the managers at the Fairmont Nile City and Nile Ritz Carlton, who all confirmed that the caps on foreign currency transfers have been lifted and that they’ve been able to make transfers smoothly for some time now. Sources at some Arab airlines also tell the newspaper that they’ve been able to transfer at least 90% of their revenues.

K-Line says hike in port fees needs to be scrapped before it can return to East Port Said: K-Line, one of the five shipping lines that withdrew from East Port Said back in March, says that it’s willing to return to the port if the government scraps its decision to hike port fees, the company’s Egypt representative Mohamed Abu Hashish tells Al Shorouk. Company executives will soon be meeting with Transport Minister Hisham Arafat in London to discuss the issue, he adds. K-Line executives had also met with Transport Ministry officials last week.

IPO WATCH- DBK Pharma’s second attempt to list on the EGX is running into roadblocks, Al Borsa reports. Sources tell the newspaper that the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority has not yet approved the company’s fair value assessment. Financial consultancy Fincorp was reportedly working on fair value studies for the listing.

MOVES- Dr. Mona Zawbaa has replaced Mohamed Khodeir as the head of the General Authority for Free Zones and Investment (GAFI), according to a statement (pdf) from the Investment Ministry. Zawbaa was deputy head of GAFI under Khodeir. The decision was made at a GAFI board meeting headed by Investment Minister Sahar Nasr at which the board also approved the establishment of a 331-feddan industrial zone specialising in furniture in Damietta as part of the furniture city project, which President Abdel Fattah El Sisi inaugurated last week.

Egypt’s film, television, theater, and music industries will be charging VAT: The Tax Authority signed an MoU with Egypt’s various artists’ unions outlining how creative industries will be charging and paying the value-added tax (VAT), according to Vice Finance Minister Amr El Monayer, Al Shorouk reports. Under the agreement, music, television, film, theatre, and documentary producers will be required to charge 5% VAT on their services, while consultants and artists will have to charge 10%.

The Council of Governors voted on Saturday to impose harsher fines and prison sentences on individuals found to have illegally taken possession of state land, Local Development Minister Hisham El Sherif told the press without revealing any further details. The government has been pursuing campaign to retake possession of state land after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi instructed authorities to regain control of illegally acquired land earlier this month. Ras Sudr kitesurfing hub Kiteloop was razed to the ground last week, after the Tourism Development Authority said that the landlord was in default. The historic Dahab Island Palace in Cairo also got served with a demolition order, according to CairoObserver, which circulated the news through Facebook.

The Ismail government signed off on the executive regulations to the Civil Service Act during its weekly meeting on Thursday, according to a Cabinet statement. Cabinet also okayed six agreements between the Egyptian General Petroleum Company and unnamed IOCs for oil exploration in the Western Desert. Other key decisions taken during the weekly meeting include:

  • Approved term limits for the chairmanship of the Egyptian Exchange that would limit any one EGX head to two four-year terms.
  • Approved a draft bill that would change licensing requirements and regulations on the operations of retail stores;
  • Ratified a presidential decree to exempt CDM Smith from requirements on Egyptian contributions to the company’s capital and allow it to construct tunnels under the Suez Canal;
  • Approved establishing the Supreme Council for Administrative Development;
  • Granted preliminary approval to an MoU on financial and technical cooperation with the UAE to assess budget reforms;
  • Approved a cooperation agreement with Cyprus to protect cultural artefacts;
  • Approved amendments to the Antiquities Protection Law;
  • Approved a presidential decree to pardon prisoners in honor of Eid Al Fitr and the 25th anniversary of the 1952 revolution on 23 July.

The US is banking on Egypt to regain dominance in wheat exports: Egypt’s purchase of 115k tonnes of wheat from the US last week may have upended the global wheat market, allowing the US to displace Russia and world’s biggest exporter, write Isis Almeida and Megan Durisin for Bloomberg. This is reportedly the first time in three years the US nabbed the top spot. The irony of the situation is that a probe into alleged ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia could have tipped the balance in favour of US sellers: The scandal has put pressure on the USD, making American wheat exports so affordable that Egypt took notice. Eyes will be on Egypt to determine whether the US will remain the top exporter. “Last week’s tender was kind of a watershed event," a grains analyst tells Bloomberg. “I don’t know if Egypt’s going to be coming back consistently, but if they do and if the U.S. is included in the next tender, it should tell the market that we’re here to stay.”

Among the handful of international stories worth a read on this caffeine-less morning:

Donald Trump is at loggerheads with the G7 on the Paris climate change accords. Angela Merkel called the G7 meeting this weekend “very unsatisfying,” while French diplomats characterized the meeting as “tense and antagonistic” in remarks to the Financial Times. The best wrap-up of the meeting we’ve seen so far is from Politico, covering everything from the testiness over climate change to the G7 leaders appearing to compromise with The Donald on trade. The Wall Street Journal is running the story as front-page news.

Blackstone is taking a page out of EFG Hermes’ playbook by selling investment in Western infrastructure to Gulf-based sovereign investors. Where EFG Hermes has created one of Europe’s largest managers of renewable energy assets from scratch with the backing of a Gulf sovereign wealth fund, Blackstone has convinced Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman to invest USD 20 bn in “projects like tunnels, bridges, airports and other sorely needed infrastructure improvements, predominantly in the United States.” The New York Times has the story here and here.

Also from the pages of the New York Times: It’s all about making a buck by selling scarcity. That’s the takeaway from the emergence of an embryonic coffee growing industry in California that is playing off of nearly-spent avocado trees, of all things.

CLARIFICATION- The decree issued by Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr (number 94/2017) that says companies will have to issue their first call for a general assembly at least 21 days in advance rather than 15, applies for both listed and non-listed companies. The decree did not make reference to listed companies only. H/t Donia El M and Hassan M.

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Egypt in the News

Leading coverage of Egypt this morning was the Minya shooting, the most significant of which we noted in the Speed Round.

“There are thousands and thousands of wrongly imprisoned people [in Egypt,” recently released prisoner Aya Hijazi says in an interview with PBS (runtime 11:22).

And it wouldn’t be another day for Egypt coverage without someone beating up on Trump for his like of Egypt and other regional allies with human rights issues. This time it came from Alaa Shahine, who writes for Bloomberg about how Saudi’s inherent conservatism, and Egypt’s crackdown on Islamists, will not bode well for Trump’s anti-terrorism strategy.

Inflation bites: AFP and Reuters are beating the drum about how high inflation eroded consumer buying power in the run-up to the Holy Month.

On Deadline

Columnists were largely preoccupied this weekend with the terrorist massacre in Minya. Among them was Algeria’s Hadda Hezam, who asks in an op-ed carried by Al Masry Al Youm if Egypt’s Coptic population is paying the price of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s hard line at the Arab-American summit in Riyadh. She hypothesizes that El Sisi “pressed on the wound” of terrorism by addressing countries providing funding to terrorism, which instigated a backlash targeting Copts.

Meanwhile, Al Masry Al Youm’s Amr El Shobaky says that Egypt’s current fight against terrorism is different from the battle against the insurgency of the 1980s and 1990s, particularly as the nature of the attacks has become more violent and the surrounding environment has allowed these organizations to flourish. Emad Gad takes to the pages of El Watan to echo El Shobaky’s sentiments and remind us all that a counterterrorism strategy that relies entirely on security and military tactics will not succeed without measures to address the root cultural and ideological causes in tandem.

On a more practical level, Emad El Din Hussein says in a column penned for Al Shorouk that security forces should move to install security cameras in public spaces to discourage criminal and terrorist acts, and help them to identify perpetrators of any attacks that do happen.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

The UK wants to strengthen its investment and trade partnership with Egypt, the British Embassy’s Trade and Investment Officer Oliver Richards said, according to Al Mal. British companies in Egypt see investment opportunities in the oil and gas sector in particular, but investors need to see a stable investment climate, he added. A UK trade envoy visit to Egypt is set to take place this year for talks on bilateral trade, according to Richards.

Egypt, Belarus sign economic partnership framework agreement: Trade Minister Tarek Kabil met with Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko in Minsk over the weekend for cooperation talks and signed an MoU outlining the scope of both countries’ economic partnership between 2018-20. These involve Belarus establishing a major, commercial-scale dairy farm in Egypt and exporting beef and poultry products to the country. Belarus is also hoping to supply Egypt with train cars and open an Egyptian tractor manufacturing operation. Belarusian Trade Minister Vladimir Koltovich also said that his country would support Egypt in FTA negotiations with the Eurasian Economic Union.

…A delegation of Belarusian officials will also visit Egypt by July to explore investment opportunities in the up and coming Russian Industrial Zone, AMAY reports.

The government’s negotiations with Germany’s KfW to disburse USD 250 mn are moving forward, KfW director in Egypt Burkhard Hinz tells Al Mal. No date was set for the disbursal. The funding is part of USD 600 mn in third-party financing pledged by G7 countries to unlock the USD 12 bn IMF facility.

Egyptian and German auto component companies are set to meet in Berlin this September, CEO of the German-Arab Chamber of Industry Andreas Hergenröther said, Al Borsa reports. This will be but one a series of 10 meetings the organization is arranging between German and Egyptian companies in various industries in 2H2017. German members are looking into investing in Egypt, particularly in renewable energy and infrastructure projects.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met with Guinea’s President and the Chairperson of the African Union Alpha Condé on Thursday, according to an emailed Ittihadiya statement. The two presidents discussed increasing security and military cooperation to combat terrorism, as well strengthening economic and trade relations between Egypt and Guinea.

Energy

Eni finishes drilling all wells in first phase of Zohr

Italy’s Eni has completed drilling work on all eight wells of phase one of the Zohr gas field, an Oil Ministry official tells Al Shorouk. The company is currently focusing on setting up the pipeline that will transport the gas to the refineries, the official added.

Oil Ministry aims to install natural gas in 1 mn homes in FY2017-18

The Oil Ministry is aiming to install natural gas in 1 mn homes during FY2017-18 at a cost of EGP 4.2 bn, Al Shorouk reports. The Finance Ministry has allocated EGP 1.2 bn in the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year to connecting homes to natural gas.

Tourism

Cairo hotel occupancy exceeds 70% in 1Q2017 -Colliers International

Occupancy rates in Cairo hotels exceeded 70% in 1Q2017, while they have “constantly slipped over the last two years” in Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh, according to Colliers International’s quarterly report on Egypt’s hotels (pdf). The report expects occupancy to increase in both Red Sea towns over the course of the year, but says this boost is contingent on the lifting of travel bans and security warnings from European countries. Alexandria, meanwhile, enjoys a “relative stability [that] supports a healthier occupancy performance throughout the year when compared to Egypt’s other coastal destinations.”

Travel warnings draw on heightened risk, sourced from multiple sources -UK FCO representative

The UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is defending its system of travel advice against criticism, according to Travel Weekly. Benjamin Saoul, head of the crisis management department at the FCO, told an Abta Travel Law Seminar “advice has to be driven by issues of safety and security … Trade or political concerns do not affect our advice. We are driven by considerations for the safety and security of the public.” There have been concerns about the FCO’s continued advice against flying to Sharm El Sheikh. The UN World Tourism Organisation and World Travel & Tourism Council have also repeatedly criticised the Sharm ban. Saoul says “when we advise against all but essential travel it means we assess there is a heightened risk … It’s a difficult area, not least because of the wide variety of sources [we draw on] and how we use classified intelligence.”

Telecoms + ICT

TE, Etisalat Misr sign domestic roaming agreement

Telecom Egypt (TE) will sign a five-year domestic roaming agreement with Etisalat Misr in two weeks’ time, under which it will provide 2G and 3G services using Etisalat’s infrastructure, Reuters reports. Etisalat offered TE, which will introduce its mobile service to the market in September, a better price for the service than did Orange Egypt — which signed an agreement with TE last month — according to TE’s CEO Ahmed El Beheiry. Vodafone Egypt had also said last week that it was negotiating a domestic roaming agreement with TE.

Automotive + Transportation

General Electric proposes investments in railway development

General Electric is proposing a number of investments and expansions in Egypt’s railways, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The proposals aim to increase the network’s capacity, improve the service, and potentially add more train cars. The proposals came during GE’s President and CEO for North East Africa Ayman Khattab with Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr on Thursday.

Banking + Finance

Banque Misr, Blom Bank raise interest rates

Banque Misr and Blom Bank have raised interest rates on loans and certificates of deposit following the CBE’s decision to hike rates by 200 bps last week, Al Shorouk reports. Blom Bank increased interest on short-term CDs by a maximum of 200 bps, and is studying doing the same for long-term CDs, the bank’s managing director tells the newspaper. Meanwhile, Banque Misr raised interest on three-year investment certificates to 17.25% from 16%, while personal and auto loans now carry an interest rate of 18.5%, up from 16.5%. Other local banks, including the National Bank of Egypt, will look into increasing their interest rates as well this week, according to Al Masry Al Youm.

Euronet aims to invest EGP 400 mn in Egypt by end of 2018

Euronet Worldwide is aiming to invest EGP 400 mn in Egypt by the end of 2018, the company’s sales director for the Middle East and North Africa Mohamed Farouk said, Al Shorouk reports. Farouk said the company is currently in talks with an unnamed Egyptian bank to operate its ATMs and issue its credit cards. He also said he expects to see a leap in Egypt’s digital banking sector, particularly as the state is working towards moving the payment of government salaries to electronic channels.

National Security

Four security officers killed in Sinai attacks

Three soldiers were killed by Islamist militants who bombed their armored vehicle in North Sinai’s Rafah, Reuters reports. Separately, a policeman was killed by gunmen in Arish while he was shopping, the newswire adds.

Ikhwan Supreme Guide Badie, 50 others placed on terror list

A decision to place Ikhwan supreme guide Mohamed Badie and 50 other members of the organization on a terror list for three years was published in the Official Gazette on Saturday, Al Masry Al Youm reports.

On Your Way Out

The guy who practically invented tech journalism for non-geeks has retired. Walt Mossberg has penned his last column. His parting thought: We’re in a period of tech stagnation right now, but we’ll soon undergo an “ambient computing” revolution that’s going to stick computers and sensors in just about everything — and raise some really uncomfortable questions about privacy and hacking. “If the FBI can threaten a huge company like Apple over an iPhone passcode, what are your odds of protecting your future tech-dependent environment from government intrusion? If British hospitals have to shut down due to a ransomware attack, can online crooks lock you out of your house, office, or car?”

The markets yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 18.0259 | Sell 18.1288
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 18.00 | Sell 18.10
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.95 | Sell 18.05

EGX30 (Thursday): 13,094 (+1.6%)
Turnover: EGP 1.0 bn (40% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +6.1%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session up 1.6%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended up 2.6%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were: Orascom Telecom Media and Technology up 4.1%, Elsewedy Electric up 3.9%, and Telecom Egypt up 3.2%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were: Oriental Weavers down 2.5%, Heliopolis Housing down 1.5%, and Egyptian Iron and Steel down 1.1%. The market turnover was EGP 1.0 bn, and local investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +82.4 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +29.9 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -112.3 mn

Retail: 66.2% of total trades | 60.1% of buyers | 72.3% of sellers
Institutions: 33.8% of total trades | 39.9% of buyers | 27.7% of sellers

Foreign: 20.3% of total | 24.4% of buyers | 16.3% of sellers
Regional: 10.7% of total | 12.2% of buyers | 9.2% of sellers
Domestic: 69.0% of total | 63.4% of buyers | 74.5% of sellers

WTI: USD 49.80 (+1.84%)
Brent: USD 52.15 (+1.34%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.31 MMBtu, (+1.07%, July 2017 contract)
Gold: USD 1,217.40 / troy ounce (+0.92%)

TASI: 6,871.72 (-0.43%) (YTD: -4.70%)
ADX: 4,516.84 (-0.34%) (YTD: -0.65%)
DFM: 3,327.13 (-0.73%) (YTD: -5.77%)
KSE Weighted Index: 402.21 (-0.08%) (YTD: +5.82%)
QE: 10,060.52 (-0.27%) (YTD: -3.60%)
MSM: 5,403.14 (+0.20%) (YTD: -6.56%)
BB: 1,314.22 (+0.02%) (YTD: +7.68%)

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Calendar

26 May-23 June (Friday-Friday): Window for firms to submit expressions of interest to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for consulting on Egypt’s oil and gas sector reform, London, UK.

07-09 June (Wednesday-Friday): 19th Annual Africa Energy Forum, Copenhagen, Denmark.

11 June (Sunday): Egyptian Private Equity Association’s annual Sohour, Four Seasons Hotel Nile Plaza, Cairo.

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

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

13-15 July (Thursday-Saturday): AGRENA’s 19th Annual Poultry, Livestock, and Fish show, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo.

15-19 July (Saturday-Wednesday): SSIGE’s GeoMEast 2017 International Congress and Exhibition, Sharm El Sheikh.

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

03-05 August (Thursday-Saturday): Watrex Expo Middle East, Cairo International Exhibition & Convention Center.

26 August (Saturday): 27th Egyptian-Jordanian Joint Higher Committee meeting, Amman Jordan. (TBC).

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.

18-19 September (Monday-Tuesday): Euromoney Egypt conference, venue TBD.

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).

25-27 September (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Downstream Summit and Exhibition, Kempinski Royal Maxim Palace, Cairo.

03-05 October (Tuesday-Thursday): J.P. Morgan’s Credit and Equities Emerging Markets Conference, London, UK.

18-19 October (Wednesday-Thursday): Middle East Info Security Summit, Sofitel El Gezirah, Cairo.

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

11-12 October (Wednesday-Thursday): 2030 Mega Projects Conference, Nefertiti Hall, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo.

11-13 October (Wednesday-Friday): Middle East and Africa Rail Show, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo.

18-20 October (Wednesday-Friday): AfriLabs annual gathering with the theme “Smart Cities,” The French University, Cairo. Register here.

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

03-05 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Solar-Tec, Cairo International Exhibition & Convention Centre.

03-05 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Electrix, Cairo International Exhibition & Convention Centre.

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

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594). Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2016 Enterprise Ventures LLC.