Sunday, 4 June 2017

Private equity, fund managers looking at Egypt opportunities


What We’re Tracking Today

DEVELOPING STORY- London is reeling this morning from two terror attacks overnightthat appear to have claimed at least six lives. A van drove into a crowd of pedestrians on London Bridge, killing at least one person. At least one attacker then left the van and proceeded to Borough Market, a popular spot for pubs and restaurants on the southern side of the Thames, where he attacked civilians. Armed police are said to have killed two or three attackers, but there were conflicting media reports at dispatch time as to whether officials believed that all the attackers were accounted for. The attacks took place shortly before 10pm London time and “come days ahead of a June 8 election and less than two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a pop concert in Manchester,” Reuters noted.

US President Donald Trump said the attack underscored the need for his travel ban on individuals from majority-Muslim countries, the newswire said. The Trump administration has asked the US Supreme Court to reinstate the ban, Politico notes.

Tons of legislative news today: The Ismail government made substantial progress on its legislative agenda this weekend as it enacted the Investment Act, passed five key decisions on mobile payments in a first step toward easing our reliance on cash, and tightened controls on imports. We have coverage of all three stories in Speed Round, below.

Whatever the progress, the backlog of things yet to be done is long enough that the House of Representatives might postpone its summer recess to late July or early August, well-connected Rep. Moustafa Bakry tells Al Shorouk. The 2017-18 budget is obviously at the top of the list, but in addition to key pieces of economic legislation (tap here for our updated list), Bakry said MPs also need to finalize talks on the transitional justice law and sort out the handover of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia once and for all.

The Tourism Promotion Authority will launch its international tourism promotion campaign this week, Al Shorouk reports. The ads will reportedly run on international networks including CNN, National Geographic and Eurosport. Other target markets for national-level campaigns include Germany and Poland, TDA chief Hisham El Demery said. A TPA campaign targeting Italy and another aimed at Arab tourists launched last week.

Situation in Libya to feature prominently in busy week for Shoukry: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is scheduled to meet today with his Saudi counterpart Adel Al Jubeir in Cairo, Ahram Online reports, without providing further details. Shoukry will then head to Algeria on Monday to discuss the situation in Libya with the Tunisian and Algerian foreign ministers. The conflict on our western border will also feature in talks between Shoukry and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who arrives in Cairo on Thursday.

Oil in the fifties is our new economic reality, Bloomberg says. “A crude price in the USD 50s is the new reality for bosses of some of the world’s largest producers as output caps from OPEC and its allies are balanced out by rising U.S. shale.” The business information service cites comments from senior execs at Royal Dutch Shell, Lukoil and Gazprom.

Want to get ahead in business, gentlemen? Have a daughter. And hire more women. Those are the bedrock conclusions from a new study that found “in Silicon Valley, the venture capitalists who invest in tech start-ups are significantly more likely to hire a female investing partner if the hiring partners have daughters, according to a new study by researchers at Harvard. Having mixed-gender teams in turn improved venture capital firms’ financial performance — providing rare quantifiable evidence of the business benefits of diversity.” You can read the study from the US National Bureau for Economic Research here (pdf) or drill deeper into the story into, uhm, somewhat more accessible language in the New York Times’ The Upshot.

So, when do we eat? Maghrib prayers are at 18:53 CLT in Cairo, and the cutoff time for sohour is 3:09am. The fasting day just got two minutes longer.

On The Horizon

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi could be heading to Berlin on 12 June. Look for an Egyptian-German business and investment forum to take place at the same time. The Investment and International Cooperation Ministry have met with the Arab-German Chambers of Commerce to get the ball rolling on the forum, according to an emailed statement from the ministry.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

There’s nothing to report. Zero. Bupkis. The most uninspiring night of talk shows in months.

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

The new Investment Act is now the law of the land: The long-awaited Investment Act has come into effect after being signed by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and published in the Official Gazette (pdf) on Thursday. The House of Representatives had passed the bill — which offers a range of tax and non-tax incentives meant to encourage investment — early in May, after months of deliberation.

A quick refresher on the Investment Act: In addition to bringing back private sector-run free zones, the act offers investors tax breaks as high as 50% for doing business in specific under-developed areas and also promises attractive rebates on the cost of land acquisition if factories begin production within two years of breaking ground. Companies benefitting from the tax breaks have to be established within three years of the executive regulations to the law being issued, and the incentives will be mainly geared towards strategic industries, including auto and pharma, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil told the press on Thursday. Among its other provisions:

  • GAFI is now the General Authority for Investment (GAI), and it will have new service standards: It will have one day to accept or reject a request to incorporate and must rule on board and general assembly resolutions within 15 days;
  • Online incorporation: The GAI is tasked with coming up with a way for companies to incorporate and obtain their commercial registration certificate online;
  • Companies incorporated under the act will be able to employ up to 20% foreign labor, but will likely be required to prove or declare that there are insufficient qualified Egyptians to take the positions;
  • New sectors: Companies in waste recycling / refuse-derived fuel sector, education, sports, river transport and manufacturers of agricultural production inputs will all be eligible to incorporate under the Investment Act.
  • New tech zones will roll out under the Ministry of Communications and IT.

Executive regulations still to come: Investment Minister Sahar Nasr tasked a cabinet committee on Thursday with completing the final draft of the executive regulations within the government’s 90-day window (which expires in the first of week of August), according to an official statement (pdf). Chatter at a cabinet meeting last week had suggested that the Investment Ministry is expecting to deliver the final draft to the Council of Ministers by mid-June.

Law and regulations to be accompanied by administrative policies: The act and executive regulations will also be accompanied by a number of structural and administrative policies, Nasr also said in the statement. Those will include unifying and digitizing most investment-related procedures, setting deadlines for state bodies to issue licenses and permits, and launching operations at the investor service center; which will act as a one-stop-shop to serve the needs of business.

Nasr also promised full disclosure and transparency, stressing that under the new act, the General Authority for Investments will issue detailed annual reports that list incentive beneficiaries as well as their projects.

Investment Act is significant, but not enough on its own: The Investment Act coming into effect is a significant milestone that signals improvement in the overall economic climate, but this one law alone isn’t enough, Egyptian Businessmen’s Association (EBA) head Ali Issa tells Al Ahram. Other important pieces of legislation include the Bankruptcy Act, the new Companies Law, and a unified law for industry. (Tap here for our updated list of core business-related bills now before the House and other government agencies). “This law is a positive development for the investment scene but the devil is in the details,” Arqaam Capital economist Rehaam El Desouki tells Reuters. She added that the law looked like an improvement on what was there before as it sets a time cap on several bureaucratic processes, but investors will wait for more details before rushing into Egypt.

A huge step forward on mobile payments framework: A number of key decisions to set up a mobile payments framework for the country were taken by the National Payments Council at its inaugural meeting headed by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi on Saturday, Al Mal reports. The council, which includes as members Central Bank Governor Tarek Amer and the ministers of finance, planning, ICT, justice, interior, and defense, took five key decisions yesterday:

  • It will present draft legislation governing all non-cash payments and transactions within six months;
  • All state bodies are banned from making cash payments or payments using bank cheques for amounts over EGP 20,000 to private sector entities until 1 July 2018;
  • All state bodies that serve the public must develop a non-cash payment option;
  • Eliminating fees on opening mobile payment accounts for one year after, and cutting mobile transaction fees by half for six months;
  • Developing a strategy for e-governance, and tallying services which can be made electronic.

Developing a mobile payments strategy as part of an overall “financial inclusion” policy by the government had been announced last year (see our Year in Review: The new New Deal). The National Payments Council was formed early this year with an eye to developing such a strategy. More recently, CBE Governor Amer had hinted that a mobile payment strategy was in the works. We’re beginning to see action and groundwork being laid for the policy.

Tightening control of imports: The Trade and Industry Ministry issued amendments to the executive regulations of the Importers Registry Act on Saturday meant to tighten control of imports, Reuters says. The amendments — which complement changes to the Importers Registry Act that were issued in March — raise the minimum capital requirement for the smallest importers to EGP 500k from EGP 10k previously, EGP 2 mn instead of EGP 15k for limited liability companies, and EGP 5 mn for joint stock companies. These measures, which come at the heel of amendments to import-export regulations last week, are meant to curb the import of low-quality goods and encourage local investment and industry, the ministry said in a statement, according to the newswire. The government is giving companies six months to comply with the new directives and submit the necessary paperwork (listed here on Ahram Gate). The new regulations will come into effect once published in the Official Gazette.

The ministry will also be sending this week its final draft of the executive regulations for the Industrial Permits Act to the Council of State for review, Youm7 reports. The act is meant to cut red tape for businesses looking to license new plants and upgrades.

The news on the importers’ registry comes as Egypt is looking to increase its exports to USD 40-50 bn from their current “low” levels of USD 15-20 bn, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy said, according to Al Ahram. He said one third of Egypt’s imports originate from the European Union, but that bloc accounts for only a quarter of our exports. El Garhy’s comments were made on the sidelines of economic talks with an EU delegation in Cairo.

Carlyle eyeing investments in Egypt: Private equity outfit Carlyle is eyeing two investment opportunities in Egypt through its USD 700 mn Africa fund, according to Bloomberg’s Colin McClelland. The fund will commit between USD 30 mn and USD 100 mn on each, managing director Eric Kump said, declining to name industries or be more specific. “We are being more active in North Africa, specifically Egypt … They’ve gone through a painful dislocation and done the right things on the macro level, and it’s a very populous country with a lot of well-managed businesses,” Kump says. McClellan notes that “Carlyle’s Africa fund has been on a buying spree in the past year, purchasing stakes in telecom CMC Networks Ltd., promotional products supplier Amrod Ltd. and debt rating company Global Credit Rating Co., all based in Johannesburg. Its portfolio also includes tire retailer TiAuto Investments Ltd. of Johannesburg, Luxembourg-based mining services company Traxys Sarl and Nigerian lender Diamond Bank Plc, fund documents show.”

Investors have been returning to Egypt since the end of last year, “scenting opportunity — and bargains,” Siona Jenkins writes in the Financial Times. Andrew Brudenell, head of frontier markets at Ashmore, expressed a similar sentiment to Carlyle’s Kump, saying “given the size of Egypt, its demographics, the level of education, the low-hanging fruit of reforms — in terms of longer-term opportunity, the country is one of the big ones.” Charlemagne Magna Mena fund’s lead portfolio manager, Akhilesh Baveja, says he became bullish on Egypt after the devaluation. He is betting on Egypt’s demographics: “As a nation, Egypt has a long, strong identity. The future may not be perfect, but demographics will bring things back.” While Baveja notes that “we have passed the worst,” EFG Hermes’ Simon Kitchen says it is going to take a long time for our consumer spending power to recover domestically as “real incomes have been hit very badly.”

Going against the sanguine sentiment is Crispin Hawes, MENA Managing Director at Teneo Intelligence, who is bearish and says “the economy is better now than at any point in the past five years, but there is little reason to believe it can be maintained” and that investor appetite is opportunistic and does not reflect “the need for fundamental structural change and the weakness endemic in the structure of the economy.”

Speaking of foreign investment: Egypt is one of five top destinations for Chinese M&A under the Belt and Road initiative, according to a report by released by Thomson Reuters, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Tsinghua University. Egypt joins Kazakhstan, Russia, Israel, and Singapore in making the top five, Xinhua reports. Finance, energy and telecom services were the sectors that saw the most M&A activity from China in the Belt and Road countries. China’s M&A transactions in the Belt and Road initiative to USD 9.8 bn in 2016 up from USD 2.3 bn in 2014, overtaking the US and Japan in the number of acquisitions in 2016, according to the report.

House to talk FY2017-18 budget amendments with ministers: The House of Representatives’ Budgeting Committee plans to call on Finance Minister Amr El Garhy and other ministers to discuss changes to the FY2017-18 budget, Al Mal reports. The committee has proposed amendments to budget submissions from five ministries including education, higher education, health, supply, and youth,according to Budgeting Committee chair Hossam Issa. Representatives are also finding some of the government’s estimates troubling, MPs Silvia Nabil tells the newspaper. Those include slush fund contributions to state coffers, projected figures for ration card subsidies, as well as estimates for fines such as building code violations.

The next review by the IMF as part of its USD 12 bn, three-year, funding package to Egypt will be in either November or December, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy said, according to Reuters. Egypt completed a review last month and the reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF to disburse a second tranche of USD 1.25 bn of the loan. Egypt is set to receive the second tranche this month, El Garhy said (see reports in Al Mal and Reuters’ Arabic service). According to the proposed schedule of purchases under the agreement, the proposed date to disburse the third tranche is 11 November, 2017.

You can expect more land seizures in the days and weeks ahead: The state will continue to clear unlicensed development and repossess illegally occupied land until the issue is resolved once and for all, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said at a meeting with governors and Local Development Minister Hisham El Sherif on Thursday, Ahram Gate reports. The government will present a final report on land reclamation to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi this week, El Sherif told the press after the meeting, according to Al Masry Al Youm. As we noted last week, an agriculture ministry report puts the built up area of buildings torn down by the state since the campaign started at 18.39 mn sqm and the area of reclaimed state-owned land at 394.5k feddans of state-owned land

As if nothing ever happened, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour downplayed tensions between Sudan and Egypt, calling the relationship “sacred” following talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo. During a meeting postponed from earlier in the week, the pair discussed Sudan’s ban on Egyptian agricultural products, national security concerns, and President Omar Al Bashir’s accusations that Egypt had been arming rebels in Sudan.

Talks were positive, but no breakthroughs in easing tensions: Ghandour spun the ban as being due to “technical issues that came at the wrong time.” He said both sides should enact prior agreements visas and travel between the two countries, while Shoukry also said that they agreed to hold monthly political consultations, according to Al Masry Al Youm.

Sudan sticks to its guns on security issues: Ghandour did not back down from Al Bashir’s accusation that Egypt was arming rebels, said the claim was made based on “reliable intelligence” and adding that “security experts” are looking into the matter. Ghandour proposed establishing a joint border patrol force, the Sudan Tribune reports. Conspicuously absent from the official statements was mention of Halayeb and Shalatin.

Tensions lurk beneath the surface: Ghandour’s statements on joint border security come amid reports of the Sudanese military deploying over 90,000 troops on its border with Egypt in response to Egyptian forces reportedly “arriving in big number[s]” in the area, according to the Libyan Express. Egyptian street vendors have also reportedly been banned from working in the North Darfur region of El Fasher, according to Sudan Tribune. The paper says Khartoum had also issued a similar ban last Monday on “Egyptian household utensils vendors.”

Three US Republican senators criticized the newly ratified NGOs law, calling it a “draconian” and “repressive” crackdown on human rights, Reuters reports. “President al-Sisi’s decision to ratify the draconian legislation … that regulates the work of nongovernmental organizations is the latest sign of a growing crackdown on human rights and peaceful dissent in Egypt," Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham said in a joint statement. Sen. Marco Rubio called the law “repressive” and said it would have a “terrible impact” on Egypt’s ability to make reforms, condemning it as a “direct attack on independent civil society in Egypt.”

McCain and Graham hinted at imposing conditionality on aid to Egypt, saying Congress should “strengthen democratic benchmarks and human rights conditions on U.S. assistance for Egypt.” In response, Egyptian lawmakers said “the law was necessary to protect national security.” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said “it is important to be vigilant about the intention of some civil society entities that have gotten used to working outside the law, and that were harmed by the issuing of the new law, to defame the image of civil society in Egypt.”

The late Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia’s guitar “Wolf” was sold for USD 1.9 mn last week, according to the Associated Press. The auction was set up by Guernsey’s and the proceeds are earmarked for the Montgomery, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center. The guitar was previously owned by Daniel Pritzker, a philanthropist, musician and film director who bought the instrument in 2002 for USD 790,000. Wolf is famous for having been played by Garcia everywhere from San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom to the Pyramids in Giza, where the Grateful Dead recorded their live album Rocking the Cradle: Egypt 1978. Here is a picture of Garcia posing gloriously near the Step Pyramid of Djoser.

The global backlash against Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate treaty has begun: To the delight of his supporters, Donald Trump has said he will pull the US out of the Paris climate treaty. Big business is leading the opposition in the US: Elon Musk and the CEO of Disney have both resigned from a Trump business council, and Bloomberg boss Mike Bloomberg has put together a growing coalition that is “preparing to submit a plan to the United Nations pledging to meet the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions targets under the Paris climate accord.” Members so far include more than 100 large businesses, 30 mayors, three governors and the heads of 80 universities and colleges.” China has said it will not back away from its treaty commitments, The Economist reports, and France and India (the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses) have said they will both stick to the Paris accord. Oddly enough: Many US small businesses cheered the withdrawalfrom the climate agreement. Politico has a solid Q&A on the event. Cartoon: The New Yorker.

Barclays is out of Africa: Following the sale of its Egyptian unit, Barclays sold down on Thursday its stake in its 12-country African unit to just 15%, raising GBP 2.22 bn from the sale, which saw the lender “shed more of its stake than initially expected due to strong investor demand. (Wall Street Journal)


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Image of the Day

The leaning tower of Alexandria: A13-storey building in Alexandria tilted across a street into another apartment block on Thursday, with images from the near collapse trending over the weekend on social media and in the local and foreign press. Thankfully no one was hurt. Police had evacuated the area and the army has been called in to demolish the tower. The owner of the building has also reportedly been arrested, with Alexandria Governor Mohamed Sultan ordering an investigation of all those involved in the licensing of the building.

Egypt in the News

Topping coverage of Egypt in the foreign press this morning are talks between the foreign ministers of Sudan and Egypt to diffuse tensions between both countries. Some outlets, including the Associated Press, note the usual platitudes of brotherly love, but have also picked up on the lack of tangible progress on hot issues between the two countries, particularly the dispute over Halayeb and Shalatin. Most, however, such as Voice of America and Xinhua, are reporting the talks a positive step towards mending ties, which hit a new low when President Omar Al Bashir accused Egypt with supplying Sudanese rebels. Almost all sources reporting the meeting note the role the media in both countries has played in inflaming the situation.

The NGO Law continued to be the topic of discussion for a number of outlets. Heba Saleh pens a piece for the Financial Times which suggests that the move to regulate civil society activity in Egypt is part of a move to squeeze outlets for dissent ahead of the presidential elections in 2018. “Of course these moves are in preparation for the election, and maybe also to pre-empt any reaction on the street if parliament still votes to hand over the islands to Saudi Arabia,” said Khaled Ali, a human rights lawyer and potential presidential candidate who is on trial on obscenity, who makes an appearance in the piece.

Rare criticism of the NGO act in the GCC press: Arab News columnist Mohamed Nosseir says the law is counterproductive to the fight against terror. He believes that civil society organizations offer a productive outlet for citizens to help reform societies, and empty a vacuum which terrorists can exploit.

Stick to the hagiography of the IRA, boyo. The world’s most trusted source of analysis of Egyptian affairs — why, the Boston Herald of course — has its editorial board pulling a hatchet job on Egypt. Our noting it here probably doubled its Egypt readership.

Other coverage worth noting in brief:

  • Egypt’s economic problems are similar to Turkey’s, Patrick Werr writes in The National. “The two neighbours are at odds with one another, but with remarkably similar turbulent financial histories – and in both cases, with no clear path to long-term economic stability,” he writes.
  • The Ikhwan’s prejudice against Coptic Christians is one of the driving forces fueling terror attacks on the nation’s largest minority group, writes Sonia Farid for Al Arabiya.
  • Egypt’s reaction to the Minya massacres had to be strong to match the severity of the act, writes Emil Amin for Asharq Al-Awsat.
  • The fact that all bars and liquor stores close down in Egypt during Ramadan has reignited the debate on whether such “bans are hypocritical, discriminatory and detrimental to tourism,” Rami Galal writes for Al Monitor.
  • Egypt’s transgender community is suffering and its members continue to live “hidden lives,” Aya Nader writes for Foreign Affairs.

On Deadline

The Supreme Media Council needs to pull back from its decision demand the Prosecutor General open an investigation into journalist Ibrahim Eissa, Al Masry Al Youm’s Hamdy Rizk writes. Council head Mohamed Makram Ahmed should have, at most, reported Eissa to the Press Syndicate’s board, rather than taking action that seeks to encourage the return of a “long gone” era of repression. Meanwhile, Mohamed Abdel Hafiz takes to the pages of Al Shorouk to stress that Ibrahim Eissa is but one voice and silencing him will not solve Egypt’s bigger problems. If anything, Eissa’s critical voice is a point of strength for the nation and will help keep us on course during this transitional period, Abdel Hafiz argues. Former Press Syndicate chairman Yehia Qallash also condemned the move to investigate the suspendered-one, Al Mal reports.

Worth Watching

The art behind the colorization of black and white photos: Ever wonder what it takes to get those retouched and colored images of old black and white photos look so recent (for lack of a better word)? While one would think that improvements in technology was the most crucial part of the process, in reality it all comes down to meticulous homework, artist Jordan Lloyd explains to Vox (watch, runtime: 6:59). Colorization artists have to do an immense amount of research in order to determine the historically correct colors. To do this, they talk to specialists, reference museums, and cross-reference notes made at the time of the photograph. You can see just the difference between the old methods of coloring and the new in the image above.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Iraqi business owners want to increase their investments in Egypt, Iraqi ambassador to Egypt Habib Al-Sadr told Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr in a meeting, the ministry said. Prime ministers of both countries will meet in Baghdad for the Egyptian-Iraqi Joint Committee’s third meetings soon.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail discussed increasing bilateral trade with Uruguay’s President Tabaré Vázquez in Cairo Thursday, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The Cairo Chamber of Commerce also signed a cooperation agreement with Uruguay’s investment and export promotion agency Uruguay XXI to boost trade between the two countries, according to Al Mal.

The Egyptian-Lebanese Business Council convened in Beirut on Saturday to discuss ways to enhance economic ties and encourage mutual investment, Youm7 reports.


Misr Financial Investment Company to establish renewable energy subsidiary

The state-run Misr Financial Investment Company (MFIC) will establish a new renewable energy arm in July to build two 20 MW EGP 120 mn waste-to-power generation stations in Kafr El Sheikh, MD and Chairman Atef Al Mahmoudi tells Daily News Egypt. MFIC, a subsidiary of Misr Holding for Insurance, plans to put up EGP 36 mn, or 50%, of the company’s capital through the Misr Investment Fund, with the balance secured through bank loans.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Juhayna sales volume drop 20-30% y-o-y, Ramadan to provide bump

Juhayna says its sales volume across all offerings dropped 20-30% y-o-y, but its market share remains intact, the company’s management said in its 1Q2017 earnings call. The call’s notes from Pharos Holding say that “management has indicated that volumes improved in April, and in line with expectations, so far May is the best month in 2017 due to Ramadan preparations and June is expected to even be a better month as Ramadan-effect kicks in.” Juhayna said in the call, also covered in Al Borsa, that it will invest EGP 400 mn this year, not in expansion, but in maintaining production levels.

Real Estate + Housing

Sarwa issues Amer Group securitized bonds worth EGP 233 mn

Three tranches of securitized bonds worth EGP 233 mn from Amer Group were issued by Sarwa Capital, Amer announced in a bourse statement. The three tranches given a local rating of AA+, AA, and A by MERIS.


Italian companies to organize 12 flights a week to Sharm El Sheikh starting July

Italian tour operator Balkan Express said that most Italian companies will be organizing at least 12 flights a week to Sharm El Sheikh come July, the company’s Egyptian representative tells Al Shorouk.

Telecoms + ICT

Egypt’s four mobile network operators will receive their 4G frequencies this month

Egypt’s four mobile network operators will receive their 4G frequencies this month (inshallah), a source from the ICT Ministry tells Al Mal. There are rumors printed by the newspaper which suggest that the MNOs and state entities have set a deadline of 30 June to receive their full frequencies. There was no word yet whether the CIT Ministry had successfully reached an agreement with security entities to free up additional frequencies. Minister Yasser El Kady had said that MNOs will receive their frequencies upon all of them signing domestic roaming agreements with Telecom Egypt (TE). Delays in reaching an agreement with all three MNOs was reportedly the reason behind why 4G has not been successfully launched yet, sources tell Youm7. The sole holdout right now is Vodafone Egypt, which is expected to sign a domestic roaming agreement with TE this week.

VimpelCom changes name to VEON

Global Telecom Holding announced that its majority shareholder, VimpelCom, has changed its name to VEON Ltd. The company owns 57.7% of Global Telecom’s shares.

Banking + Finance

Mortgage finance increases by 98% y-o-y in 4M17, financial lease up by 21%

Mortgage financing in the first four months of the year increased by 98% y-o-y to EGP 722 mn, according to a report by EFSA. 87% of the mortgage contracts signed were for residential purposes. Financial leasing also grew by 21% y-o-y to EGP 8.5 bn, the report noted.

Other Business News of Note

Dell EMC to expand labor force by 25% in Egypt, adding 250 new staff

Dell EMC is going on a hiring spree in Egypt and is looking to hire 250 new employees, increasing its current workforce by 25% before the end of the year, GM for Egypt and Libya Mohamed Tantawi says, Al Borsa reports. Tantawi says the company is focused on implementing projects in the new administrative capital as part of its expansion.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Raised interest rates won’t harm industry in the long run, says Kabil

The CBE’s decision to hike interest rates by 200 bps last month will not harm industry in the long run, and that the increase has short-term effects the industrial sector must cope with, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil said on Thursday. Kabil also said that the ministry is working to finalize the agreement on the Russian Industrial Zone, which Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said last week will likely be signed this fall.

Foreigners bought EGP 6.6 bn worth of treasuries on Thursday, yields drop

Foreigners bought EGP 6.6 bn worth of six-month and one-year treasury bills in Thursday’s action, the head of public debt at the Finance Ministry, Sami Khallaf, told Reuters. The average yields on the 182-day bills decreased to 20.441% from 20.661% at the previous auction, with the yields on the 357-day bills dropped to 20.494% from 20.588% previously, the newswire said.

Supreme Constitutional Court rules article 52 of Press Act unconstitutional

The Supreme Constitutional Court ruled on Saturday that article 52 of the 1996 Press Act is unconstitutional, AMAY reports. The article — which stipulates that only joint stock companies can hold licenses to publish newspapers — restricts the right to establish newspaper to a specific segment of society, which violates rights guaranteed in the 2014 constitution, the court said.

Senior Supply Ministry official cries wrongful termination for revealing graft

Supply Ministry Ali El Moselhy reportedly reassigned the ministry’s head of internal trade Sayed Haggag from his position on Thursday, Al Shorouk reports. Haggag claims that the move took him by surprise, and that it came after he presented a report to El Moselhy with evidence of graft and squandering public funds at the ministry’s internal trade department. Haggag tells the newspaper that he plans on releasing the report to the public soon, and will take legal action against the ministry for what he claims is wrongful termination.

On Your Way Out

Once upon a time, Israel was going to nuke us. Our neighbor to the east, now a stalwart ally on regional security issues, once had a hastily-assembled plan to drop a nuclear weapon on a Sinai mountain range “as a warning to Egyptian and other Arab forces” on the eve of the 1967 war. “If the order came to detonate, the blinding flash and mushroom cloud would have been seen throughout the Sinai and Negev Deserts, and perhaps as far away as Cairo,” the New York Times reports, citing an interview with an Israeli general. The piece and many others mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 war.

12 Egyptian artists are taking part in exhibition showcasing work on cheapest and most fragile artistic medium — paper, Amira Sayed Ahmed writes from Al Monitor. The exhibition at the Gypsum Gallery in Cairo, named Paper Trail, was put together by the curators “with the aim of breaking the general perception that works of art on paper were not complete artworks on their own, but sketches or drafts.” One piece on display is Islam Zaher’s Investigations of a Dog, which refers to Franz Kafka’s 1922 story of the same title where many existentialist questions are posed through the canine.

The markets yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 18.0324 | Sell 18.1353
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 18.05 | Sell 18.15
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.95 | Sell 18.05

EGX30 (Thursday): 13,467 (+1.0%)
Turnover: EGP 1.1 bn (41% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +9.1%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session up 1.0%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended up 1.3%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were: Heliopolis Housing up 5.0%, TMG Holding up 3.1%, and Qalaa Holdings up 2.5%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were: Orascom Construction down 1.9%, EFG Hermes down 1.7%, and Emaar Misr down 1.1%. The market turnover was EGP 1.1 bn, and regional investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +11.5 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -37.2 mn
Domestic: Net Long | EGP +25.7 mn

Retail: 46.5% of total trades | 44.5% of buyers | 48.5% of sellers
Institutions: 53.5% of total trades | 55.5% of buyers | 51.5% of sellers

Foreign: 26.6% of total | 27.1% of buyers | 26.1% of sellers
Regional: 18.3% of total | 16.6% of buyers | 19.9% of sellers
Domestic: 55.1% of total | 56.3% of buyers | 54.0% of sellers

WTI: USD 47.66 (-1.45%)
Brent: USD 49.95 (-1.34%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.00 MMBtu, (-0.30%, July 2017 contract)
Gold: USD 1,280.20 / troy ounce (0.80%)

TASI: 6,863.62 (-0.11%) (YTD: -4.81%)
ADX: 4,478.81 (+1.16%) (YTD: -1.49%)
DFM: 3,351.73 (+0.37%) (YTD: -5.07%)
KSE Weighted Index: 406.12 (+0.41%) (YTD: +6.85%)
QE: 9,939.58 (+0.39%) (YTD: -4.76%)
MSM: 5,435.41 (+0.25%) (YTD: -6.01%)
BB: 1,325.20 (+0.41%) (YTD: +8.58%)

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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.

6 July (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee to review policy rates.

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.

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

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.

28 September (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee to review policy rates.

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.

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

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.

28 December (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee to review policy rates.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. 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. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of HSBC Egypt (tax ID: 204-901-715), the leading corporate and retail lender in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Mashreq (tax ID: 204-898-862), the MENA region’s leading homegrown personal and digital bank; Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt; Hassan Allam Properties (tax ID:  553-096-567), one of Egypt’s most prominent and leading builders; and Saleh, Barsoum & Abdel Aziz (tax ID: 220-002-827), the leading audit, tax and accounting firm in Egypt.