Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Sit back, ladies and gentlemen, and enjoy the show

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

Cairo’s ban on flights from Qatar to Egypt kicked in at 6:00am CLT today. And forgive us for being all Qatar, all the time today. We tried to focus on other news, but when even the Financial Times devotes five stories to the severing of ties by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, it’s big news. Our views on the Statelet have never been secret, but we’ve tried to be as objective as possible on this one — and regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, it’s difficult to see yesterday’s developments as anything less than the most significant shakeup in regional geopolitics in a decade, perhaps ultimately in a generation. It’s not “Sadat makes peace with Israel” big, but…

Meanwhile, the US embassy prohibited yesterday its diplomats from visiting religious sites outside the Greater Cairo area, saying in a security message to US citizens that terrorists have been targeting Christians in “both urban and isolated settings [and] additional attacks are possible.”

Apple held a blockbuster event last night, finally getting serious about the iPad as a productivity tool with new features including an actual, honest-to-god exposed file system in iOS 11, announcing a new 10.5 inch iPad, unveiling a pretty cool answer to Amazon’s Alexa, teasing the iMac Pro(which positively vibrates with computing power, but won’t be out until December), and releasing incremental updates to its MacBook and iMac lineups alongside tweaks of macOS and watchOS. Bloomberg has an exclusive interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook (text and video), while the homepages of iMore, Apple Insider and 9to5 Mac have rundowns on the announcements last night. You can also watch Apple’s stream of last night’s WWDC event.

The Egyptian Private Equity Association will be hosting Investment Minister Sahar Nasr for its annual sohour today at 10pm at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel in Garden City. RSVP details here if you would like to attend.

So, when do we eat? Maghrib prayers are at 18:54 CLT in Cairo, and the cutoff time for sohour is 3:09am.

What We’re Tracking This Week

With a very busy economic agenda still ahead of it, it remains an open question whether the House will go on summer recess at the end of June. Either way, little moved forward on the economic front yesterday as MPs (like the rest of us) were agog at developments with Qatar.

On The Horizon

The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) will launch an awareness campaign for the Industrial Permits Act in a couple of weeks’ time, IDA chief Ahmed Abdel Razek said on Sunday, AMAY reports. The Industrial Permits Act — which is meant to expedite licensing procedures for manufacturers— came into effect last week. The Trade and Industry Ministry expects to send the law’s executive regulations to the Council of State for review this week.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Amr Adib and Lamees Al Hadidy were both back on the airwaves last night to cover the fallout from Egypt and other Arab countries’ decision to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar.

Lamees, who was live on CBC’s Extra News, was concerned that Qatar might retaliate by backing new terror attacks, stressing that the decision will have many economic repercussions for the statelet (watch, runtime 5: 52). She also noted that Egypt must prepare itself for the possibility that many of its nationals might want to leave Doha in light of the escalating tension and suggested that our GCC pals might be generous enough to “support the Egyptian economy” by taking on the 200k+ Egyptian workers currently employed in Qatar.

Manpower Minister Mohamed Saafan quickly reassured Lamees though that the government was ready for any scenario and is closely following the status of its nationals in Doha (watch, runtime 2: 54). Immigration Minister Nabila Makram also said that the ministries of manpower, housing, social solidarity, and education are readying themselves for the possibility that Qatar might choose to expel its Egyptian expat workforce (watch, runtime 3: 58).

We’re still letting Qatari ships through the Suez Canal, Suez Canal chief Mohab Mamish told Lamees, as mandated by international laws governing its waters. Mamish explained that passage can only be denied in three instances: In case the ship belongs to a country that’s currently at war with Egypt or in cases of drug or human trafficking (watch, runtime 2:16).

Amr Adib urged Egypt to not respond to reported Kuwaiti efforts to mediate the crisis (watch, runtime 1:54). Cairo University political science professor Moataz Abdel Fattah told Adib that a reconciliation would mean Qatar admitting its role in funding and harboring terrorists (watch, runtime 5:12).

Adib then proceeded to air footage of empty shelves in Doha’s supermarkets, which cleared out after the breakoff of ties was announced. Qatar imports almost all of its food (watch, runtime 2:56).

Speed Round

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Qatar’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying a move by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Yemen to cut diplomatic ties had no legitimate justification and is founded on baseless allegations. Interestingly, the Statelet’s official statement acknowledged only that Saudi, the UAE, and Bahrain had cut ties, largely sidestepping Omm El Donia. The folks in Doha said Qatar was “exposed to an instigation campaign based on allegations that amounted to … fabrications, which proves that there are premeditated intentions to cause damage to the State.” Great writing there, folks. Not turgid or facile in the least. Don’t you have a few pet khawaget you could have paid to apply some polish?

The statement also included a promise that Qatar’s citizens and economy will be shielded from any impact. What’s looking more and more like a straight-out blockade will “not affect the normal course of life of the citizens and residents of the State and that the Qatari Government will take all necessary measures to ensure this and to thwart attempts to influence and harm the Qatari society and economy.”

Yes, it’s a blockade (or nearly so): Qatar imports nearly all of its food, and 40% of it comes in via the land border with Saudi. Saudi Arabia’s closure of Qatar’s only land border resulted in trucks carrying food for Qatar lining up across the border, unable to enter the country, according to Bloomberg. “That could mean significant trouble for Qatar, which relies on food trucked in from Saudi Arabia,” the Associated Press reports. An Iranian official said his country is willing to export food to Qatar by sea.

Also cutting ties with Qatar: Yemen, the Tobruk-based internationally recognized government of Libya, the Maldives and Mauritius all joined the fray. The Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels also expelled Qatar from its alliance, according to BBC.

Silent yesterday: Oman and Kuwait, also members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Kuwait is positioning itself as a mediator (more below), and Oman is both (a) a very quiet diplomat and (b) reportedly struggling with the illness of its leader.

Gulf airlines are canceling flights to Qatar, with UAE flag carrier Etihad, Saudi Arabia’s Saudia, Emirates, Flydubai, and Air Arabia suspending flights there. Egypt’s ban on flights from Qatar started at 6:00am CLT today. Egypt had announced suspended air and sea links to Qatar and closed its airspace to Qatari planes.

Qatari shares were down 7.3% yesterday. The Statelet’s USD-denominated bonds “tumbled and contracts used to bet the Qatari riyal will weaken surged the most since 2009,” according to Bloomberg. “The potential risks that Qatari investors face, including the QIA, are going to increase and new deals are probably going to become more difficult to complete and face greater scrutiny,” Sven Behrendt, managing director of political risk consultant GeoEconomica, tells Bloomberg.

On the macro level: The impact of the severing of ties appears to have not shaken investors, who see these events as a regular occurrence. Prices of crude oil fell 1% yesterday, after rising 1.6% when the break was first announced, according to Reuters. Emerging markets investors downplayed the effect this would have beyond Qatar’s equity markets, Bloomberg reports. Disruptions of air travel so far appear to be the greatest issue on hand, with global airlines group, the International Air Transport Association, calling for countries to open up air routes, Reuters reports. Bloomberg sees Qatar Airways are being the biggest loser from the whole blockade.

Okay, so what’s happening here at home?

Egypt gave Qatar’s ambassador two days to leave. Egypt also recalled its chargé d’affaires from Doha, and Egyptian diplomatic sources tell Al Shorouk the siege could yet be escalated.

Egypt is asking Greece to look after the interests of Egyptians in Qatar, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday. Greece has reportedly accepted, according to Reuters.

El Sisi calls for punishment of nations “proven to support terrorism”: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi explained Egypt’s severing of ties with Qatar at a meeting with France’s Defense Minister Sylvie Goulard in Cairo yesterday to discuss military and security cooperation, according to an Ittihadiya statement. He reiterated his calls for countries to punish nations that have been proven to support terrorism. The three also discussed military and security cooperation and conflict in Libya.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail formed a committee to look into the status of Egyptians living in Qatar. He assured the public that the severing of ties would not have an impact on Egypt’s gas imports, Al Masry Al Youm reports.

As for Qatar’s investments in Egypt, Ismail said it was too soon to tell how that would be impacted. He added that Qatari students currently studying in Egypt would be impacted.

Egyptian banks have reportedly halted dealings with Qatari banks following the decision to cut diplomatic ties, sources told Reuters. Four bankers Reuters spoke to said the “halt to transactions with Qatari banks came on internal orders from management at their banks, and excludes the opening of letters of credit required for imports. Some banks have stopped accepting Qatari currency while others are halting some treasury transactions, the bankers said. Bankers at three other lenders said they had not received any orders and that it was business as usual so far. There had been no official communication to banks from the Central Bank of Egypt on the split, the bankers said.”

If you’re banking with QNB Alahli, don’t panic: The central bank issued a statement reiterating that QNB Alahli Bank is an Egyptian joint stock company that operates as an independent legal person under the jurisdiction of the Central Bank of Egypt, Al Borsa reports. QNB Alahli retains a strong financial position and continues to serve its clients, the statement added.

Egyptians living in Qatar fear losing their jobs, Amina Ismail writes for Reuters. “Egyptians are scared. They have jobs and a stable life here with their families. There is a state of panic,” one person told her. The status of some 250k Egyptian workers there is so far unchanged, said Manpower Minister Mohamed Saafan.

Naguib calls for business boycott of Qatar: Egyptian businesses should withdraw their investments from Qatar and halt dealings there, Naguib Sawiris said via his spokesperson.

The official reaction internationally did not carry much substance:

Kuwait, which did not join its other GCC neighbors in cutting ties with Qatar, appears to have positioned itself as a mediator. Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Subah Al Ahmed Al Subah urged Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim to work to calm the situation, pressing him in a phone call not to take any action which would make matters worse, Kuwait News Agency reports. Diplomatic sources said that Kuwait delivered a final ultimatum to Tamim on behalf of KSA, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain before the four broke off ties.

Iran blamed “The Great Satan,” of course, saying US President Donald Trump’s visit to the region stage for yesterday’s events — and warning that “it is not unlikely that we would witness more negative incidents in the region,” according to Reuters. The head of Turkey’s parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy says Turkey was “sad” and offered to work “to normalize ties.” Russia issued a benign statement calling for a “stable and peaceful” situation in the GCC and hoped the rift will not affect “the common determination and resolve” in the joint fight against “international terrorism,” Reuters says.

Donald Trump has vowed to “calm the Gulf flareup,” Bloomberg reports. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson briefly remembered he had a voice, saying, “We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences, and we — if there’s any role that we can play in terms of helping them address those, we think it is important that the GCC remain unified.”

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman was cheering from the sidelines and said now would be a great time for Israel to collaborate with others on fighting terrorism, Times of Israel reports.

The western English-language press is, by and large, taking the same line: Qatar had it coming, but US President Donald Trump is also to blame. See coverage in the Guardian, the New York Times and the Financial Times.

New export orders growing at survey-record pace was the highlight of an otherwise disappointing May reading of yesterday’s Emirates NBD Egypt PMI. The gauge came in at 47.3, broadly unchanged from last month’s 47.4. Overall business conditions worsened in May, marked by reductions to output and new orders. The rate of contraction, however, was the second-weakest in nine months. Another positive note was the increase in purchasing activity for the first time in 21 months. “Egypt’s private sector appears to be stabilizing, with the PMI largely unchanged from April. Encouragingly, new exports orders rose at the fastest rate on record in May, suggesting that the sharp devaluation of the pound in November is having a positive impact on exports,” Khatija Haque, Head of MENA Research at Emirates NBD, commented.

Deutsche Bank takes a positive near-term outlook on Egypt’s economy: The near-term outlook for Egypt is positive, bolstered by a growing FX reserves, capital inflows, and improvement in its current account position, according to Deutsche Bank research “special report” (pdf) which came out yesterday. The bank notes that Egypt’s FX reserves had reached USD 28.6 bn in April (it grew to USD 31.1 bn in May), but warns that sustained net inflows are needed to cover significant financing needs in FY2017-18 and FY2018-19. The bank expects GDP growth to come in at 3.9% for 1Q17.

Private sector inflows have exceeded expectations, the bank said, noting the USD 7 bn Egypt had attracted in both its eurobond issuances in January and May. Egypt’s risk premiums have diminished, the bank said. DB analysts also find it remarkable that foreign inflows into Egypt’s debt market surged following the CBE’s move to raise interest rates by 200 bps. Foreign direct investment appears to have recovered, but still remain below its pre-2011 rates. The bank does believe that Zohr coming online in 2018 will help attract significant FDI.

On the fiscal side, the state’s take from taxes on goods and services is set to rise 41% in FY2017-18, making up 36% of total budget revenue, under the assumption that value-added tax will do most of the job. However, tax revenue is likely to fall below the government’s projections. The report suggests that while energy subsidies are expected to decline in FY2017-18, fuel subsidies will remain at the same previous levels.

The report expects inflation to come to about 20% by the end of 2017, partly on the back of the interest rate hike, which analysts say will take some time to take effect. If this does happen, GDP growth is projected to continue at a pace of 4%.

Investment bankers aren’t doing quite as well as they did in early 2016, but don’t cry for them — 1Q2017 was still their second-best opening quarter in nine years, according to Thomson Reuters’ Middle Eastern IB league table. Total IB fees generated in the Middle East rang in at USD 214.9 mn in the first quarter of this year, or 10% below 1Q2016 levels. Debt capital markets fees led the table at USD 75.3 mn (the best quarter since TR began compiling the table in 2000), followed by USD 65.4 mn in fees generated on syndicated loans, equity capital markets (USD 15.7 mn, down 6%), and M&A transaction (USD 58.6 mn, a 12% y-o-y dip and the worst opening quarter for M&A fees since 2013).

EFG Hermes were the only Egypt-based firm to place. Details below.

Who ran the most transactions by value?

  • Total M&A with any Middle East involvement was worth USD 11.9 bn, more than double 1Q2016. Citi, Credit Suisse, and HSBC led the table.
  • Total equity capital markets issuances stood at USD 528.2 mn, a 77% decline from the same period last year. The National Bank of Kuwait, PKF International, EFG Hermes and Emirates NBD were the region’s top bookrunners in 1Q2017, with EFG and ENBD tied for third place.
  • Total debt capital market issuances stood at USD 31.2 bn, or 6x the total raised in the same period last year. JP Morgan, HSBC and Citi were the three top DCM bookrunners in the quarter, while our friends at BNP Paribas came in eighth, largely on the back of their work on Egypt’s eurobond.

Speaking of which: Egypt’s January eurobond was the third-largest regional debt issuance in 1Q2017 at USD 4 bn, behind offerings from Kuwait (USD 8.0 bn) and Oman (USD 4.9 bn)

Which firms made out like bandits? The Chinese, thanks to an explosion in syndicated lending by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the Bank of China, which together kicked Sumitomo Mitsui to seventh place by fees in 1Q2017 from the number-one slot last year and drove Mitsubishi UFJ off the fee league table entirely.

  • The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the Bank of China and JP Morgan topped the overall Middle Eastern IB fees league table.
  • UBS, Credit Suisse and Rothschild made the most on M&A advisory fees.
  • PKF International, EFG Hermes and Emirates NBD were the best-paid ECM advisors.
  • JP Morgan, Citi and HSBC cleaned up on DCM fees.
  • And it was fees on syndicated loans that put ICBC and Bank of China over the top in the overall fee standings — each earned more than 4x what third-place finisher National Bank of Abu Dhabi took home.

China led inbound M&A with a 53% share of USD 5.1 bn in inbound flows, followed by the United States and the UK.

Saudi Arabia led outbound M&A with a 49% share of USD 4.5 bn in outbound flows, followed by Kuwait and the Statelet of Qatar.

Cabinet increases earmarks for fuel subsidy program in FY2017-18 budget: The cabinet economic group decided on Monday to increase the amounts earmarked for fuel and electricity subsidies by EGP 85 bn in FY2017-18, according to a cabinet statement. Around EGP 145 bn (up from EGP 110 bn) will be allocated to fuel subsidies, while EGP 80 bn (up from EGP 30 bn) will be allocated to electricity. All in all, total subsidies spending will hit EGP 330 bn on subsidies in FY2017-18, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail

Could this mean that the government will postpone the July energy price hikes? Rumors had suggested that cabinet could postpone a hike to energy prices planned for July to avoid fueling inflation. Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker had reaffirmed, however, that the hikes were a reality, as failing to raise prices could cost state coffers and additional EGP 60 bn. MPs had said last month that they plan to discuss the matter further with Oil Minister Tarek El Molla. Also: Cabinet has not yet made it clear when it plans hike water prices, said the chairman of the Holding Company for Water and Wastewater Mamdouh Raslan, Al Shorouk reports. MPs are also opposed to the water price hike.

The Social Solidarity Ministry will establish a new pension fund if the draft Social Welfare Bill were to pass. The act will allow the ministry establish a fund and set its own investment strategy, said Minister Ghada Wali. The law, which was completed in January, will also tie annual pensions increases to inflation and set a minimum pension rate, Wali added, Al Mal reports. The news comes one day after the Egyptian Union of Trade Federations said it was presenting the House of Representatives a draft social welfare bill that would government pensions for the private sector as well as the state bureaucrats.

Egypt to harmonize port fees nationwide: Transport Minister Hisham Arafat and Suez Canal Economic Zone chief Mohab Mamish agreed to set standard fees for Egyptian ports to eliminate competition between them, AMAY reported on Monday. No further detail was given on what the new unified price would be, but the question for the industry will clearly be whether this is a prelude to an across-the-board hike in port fees similar to the one we saw in March. At the time, five major shipping lines suspended operations at East Port Said Port a fee hike there.

CLARIFICATION-Tourah Portland Cement Company (TPCC) sent us a statement explaining that the 32 workers who were sentenced to prison for a sit in on company premises were never TPCC employees. They were employees of a private security firm contracted for services on the TPCC plant. The private security firm’s contract with TPCC expired on 30 April 2017 and TPCC contracted a new security firm that offered the old firm’s workers new contract that they refused. The employees had resorted to a sit-in on TPCC’s premises and refused to leave despite having “no contractual relationship with the Company,” TPCC clarified.

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Image of the Day

The Mosques that Christians built: Beniute Gregory, a Christian, is one of the first mosque builders in Sinai and was one of the early contributors to the spread of Islamic civilization in Egypt. Dr. Abdel Rahim Rihan, director of research in the Ministry of Egyptian Archeology, spoke to Al Arabiya on the normality of having a Christian help build a mosque, as the Muslims went west. You hear that, Mr. Daeshbag?

Egypt in the News

On a day in which the new diplomatic war with Qatar dominated coverage of Egypt in the global press, Mada Masr founding editor Lina Attalah writes in an op-ed by the New York Times that the state cannot “crush independent journalism.” Mada Masr, one of some 21 websites recently blocked by the state, will continue publishing news on their website for its audience outside Egypt and on Facebook and Google Drive, she writes.

On Deadline

The nation’s columnists are down with cutting off diplomatic ties with Qatar. Al Masry Al Youm’s Abdel Latif El Mennawy says it was the only logical reaction to Qatar’s antagonistic policies, which he says have wreaked havoc in the region. Abdel Nasser Salama takes to the pages of the same newspaper to agree that Qatar dug its own grave, and even succeeded in antagonizing the US during the Arab-American summit in Riyadh last month. Al Shorouk’s Emad El Din Hussein noted efforts from Kuwait to ease tensions. And nobody should expect a shift in Qatar’s policies or behaviour because its ruler has a longstanding affinity for terrorist groups, Youssef Ayoub writes for Youm7.

We’ve heard this one before: More needs to be done for the Investment Act to beeffective, Ziad Bahaa El Din writes in a column penned for Al Shorouk. Bahaa El Din repeats talking points that have become almost cliché at this point: A clear investment roadmap must be announced, the armed forces’ role in the economy must be circumscribed, and years-long legal disputes need to be resolved. Bahaa El Din also calls on the CBE to reassess its decision to raise interest rates.

Worth Reading

Among the Ismail government’s flagship welfare projects are the World Bank-backed Takaful and Karama cash benefits programs. Al Shorouk spoke with Hania El Sholkamy, one of the program’s architects, who explained they’re designed to combat extreme poverty. The difference between Takaful and Karama, she says, is that Karama is designed to be disbursed to the elderly and the disabled to provide them with a monthly financial support. The Takaful program was initially designed to support households with major seasonal expenditures and was thus designed to be disbursed quarterly. El Sholkamy believes the current implementation in which Takaful is paid out monthly is a mistake. She says the program has to continue to be conditional — ensuring recipients’ children remain enrolled in education and health care service, for example — but it’s proving challenging. The full interview is available here.

Worth Watching

Our friends at Tarek Nour Group have launched a national awareness campaign called “The Citizen’s Right to Know” to ask hard questions and tackle issues surrounding national unity. The campaign is not the usual Ramadan marketing fluff: It goes deep by asking the difficult question of what we, as Egyptians, want to see when we look in the mirror and how do we view ourselves as a nation? It features celebrities including Isaad Younis, Essam El Hadary, and Ibrahim Eissa, whose presence is both surprising and telling in the context of state-sponsored communication. The campaign is a nationwide call to seek knowledge and to examine and analyze the daily flow of information that washes over us all. Isaad Younis says she is, as an Egyptian woman, driven by both her mind and heart, and this leaves her with conflicting perceptions on how Egypt is doing. She says she decided to focus on one positive thing instead: promoting quality Egyptian products (watch, runtime 01:06).

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry began political consultations with his Algerian counterpart Abdelkader Messahel on the situation in Libya, Shoukry told the press after the meeting yesterday. Shoukry and Messahel agreed on coordinating Egypt and Algeria’s position on the issue. Shoukry is in Algiers for a two-day visit for tripartite talks on Libya and counterterrorism efforts with Messahel and Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui.

Sudan FM still laying the charm on thick: Egypt-Sudan relations are not as bad as some media outlets make them to be and ties remain strong, Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandourtold Al Masry Al Youm in an interview. Ghandour says President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and his Sudanese counterpart Omar Al Bashir spoke on the phone last week and there could be a face-to-face meeting at some point as well. Ghandour also said his country asked Egypt to provide it with a list of all suspected Ikhwan members residing there, but it failed to do so far.

Energy

Khalda to invest USD 800 mn in drilling in FY 2017-18

Apache JV Khalda Petroleum will invest USD 800 mn in drilling 53 development wells and 38 exploratory wells in FY 2017-18, Al Mal reports. Company production is expected to surpass 151,000 bbl/d of crude, condensates, and butane, and 800 mcf/d of gas. Khalda will also conduct 3D seismic surveys in West Kalabsha and Khalda-3 concessions.

Manufacturing

India-based Nuberg to build caustic soda plant in Alexandria

The Egyptian Petrochemicals Company tapped India’s Nuberg Engineering to establish a caustic soda plant in Alexandria, Business Standard reports. The plant, set to be built in cooperation with UK’s Ineos Technologies, targets producing 228 tonnes of caustic soda per day, to be later expanded to 342 tonnes per day. Production will be exported to Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Real Estate + Housing

SODIC to receive land for New Heliopolis project by November

SODIC is expecting to receive the land for its 655-feddan New Heliopolis project and begin work by November of this year in partnership with Heliopolis Housing, according to Amwal Al Ghad. The first phase of the project is scheduled for completion early next year, according to Heliopolis Housing’s Managing Director for Technical and Administrative Affairs, Khaled El Marasy. Heliopolis Housing will be responsible for installing utilities, while SODIC is expected to manage and market homes in the development, El Marasy said. We had noted in April that SODIC submitted its master plan for the development project.

Tourism

Tourism representatives call for sacking Minister Yehia Rashed

A number of tourism sector representatives called for Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed to be sacked at a meeting on Monday, according to a statement reported by Al Mal. They say Rashed’s policies are the reason why tourism is in poor condition, without explaining further. They also criticize the sector’s inability to create jobs and say it is “on the verge of collapsing.” The story reads to us very much like a settling of scores, so take it with a grain or two of salt for the moment.

Air Cairo presses on with expansion plans despite EgyptAir slump

EgyptAir subsidiary Air Cairo is pressing ahead with “ambitious plans to nearly triple in size” despite the headwinds its mother company is facing, says Arabian Aerospace. The company’s expansion strategy is counting predominantly on a recovery in demand from Europe. While that may be a “high-risk” strategy, says Air Cairo Chairman and CEO Yasser El Ramly, “the tide is slowly turning for Egyptian tourism” and this planned expansion places “Air Cairo at the front of the queue to benefit from gradual normalisation.” Air Cairo currently operates eight aircrafts and has plans to grow its fleet to 10-11 planes by the end of the year and 20 planes by 2020.

EgyptAir, Kenya Airways sign codeshare agreement

Kenya Airways signed a codeshare agreement with EgyptAir on the Nairobi-Cairo route that will see the Egyptian carrier placing Kenya Airways’ flight code on its four flights between the two countries beginning 1 June, Xinhua reports. The agreement “will allow [Kenya Airways] to resume direct market access between Nairobi and Cairo since its own operations were suspended in August 2013,” Kenya Airways Group CEO Sebastian Mikosz said. The Kenyan carrier had suspended operations to Cairo as a result of “changing market dynamics coupled with civil unrest.”

Automotive + Transportation

Nissan, Chevrolet, Hyundai continue to top sales charts in Egypt -AMIC

Nissan passenger cars topped sales in the market in the first four months of 2017 with a 21% market share (up from 13.1% in the same period in 2016) despite total market sales plummeting to around 36k units from around 66k last year. Chevrolet was a close second with a 20.5% market share, while Hyundai came in third with an 11.3% market share compared to 19.5% last year, according to the latest report from the Automotive Information Council (AMIC) picked up by Al Mal. Toyota was fourth at 5.8%.

Legislation + Policy

Amended Companies Act final draft to be discussed in Cabinet next meeting

The government is preparing to discuss the final draft of the amended Companies Act at the next cabinet meeting, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The draft is expected to be delivered to the Cabinet for a discussion in the next meeting, according to an official release from the Investment and International Cooperation Ministry. Minister Sahar Nasr discussed amendments regarding when to issue a call to the general assembly of listed companies with Justice Minister Hossam Abdel Rehim. The changes are meant to protect minority shareholders and target improving Egypt’s scores on the World Bank’s Doing Business Report and World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report.

Egypt Politics + Economics

CBE repays USD 500 mn owed to Saudi, says all Qatari deposits already repaid

The central bank says it repaid USD 500 mn in bonds owed to the Saudi Fund for Development, sources told Al Mal. The funds arrived at the central bank in 2012 and the amount was repaid at end of last week with 5% interest, sources say. Egypt owes nothing to Qatar, government sources tell Al Borsa. Egypt has repaid the statelet in full, with the last payment having been USD 1 bn returned in July 2016. Qatar had made USD deposits at the CBE worth USD 7-8 bn between 2011 and 2013, when the nation’s Islamist interregnum ended.

On Your Way Out

In the mood to redecorate your office? Have a few mn to spare? Check out Inc’s World’s 10 Coolest Offices 2017. Can’t get enough? The magazine’s 2016 feature is online, too.

The markets yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 18.0362 | Sell 18.1391
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 18.05 | Sell 18.15
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.95 | Sell 18.05

EGX30 (Monday): 13,520 (+0.2%)
Turnover: EGP 1.0 bn (40% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +9.5%

THE MARKET ON MONDAY: The EGX30 ended Monday’s session up 0.2%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended down 0.2%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were: Porto Group up 5.1%, Orascom Construction up 3.1%, and EFG Hermes up 3.0%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were: ACC down 2.4%, Oriental Weavers down 1.6%, and Ezz Steel down 1.2%. The market turnover was EGP 1.0 bn, and local investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +174.8 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +38.6 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -213.4 mn

Retail: 44.3% of total trades | 38.0% of buyers | 50.5% of sellers
Institutions: 55.7% of total trades | 62.0% of buyers | 49.5% of sellers

Foreign: 31.9% of total | 40.7% of buyers | 23.0% of sellers
Regional: 16.5% of total | 18.5% of buyers | 14.6% of sellers
Domestic: 51.6% of total | 40.8% of buyers | 62.4% of sellers

WTI: USD 47.39 (-0.57%)
Brent: USD 49.48 (-0.94%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.98 MMBtu, (-0.70%, July 2017 contract)
Gold: USD 1,281.90 / troy ounce (+0.13%)

TASI: 6,964.83 (+0.54%) (YTD: -3.41%)
ADX: 4,484.46 (+0.03%) (YTD: -1.36%)
DFM: 3,317.50 (-0.72%) (YTD: -6.04%)
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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.

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

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

22 June (Thursday): Nile Summit scheduled to be held in Uganda.

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.

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