Sunday, 29 October 2017

IFC channels USD 653 mn loan to Benban solar complex

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

Domestic industry at the heart of structural reforms as IMF delegation talks begin: The government will now start focusing on structural reforms to support manufacturers and exports, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy announced. The IMF delegation will meet with CBE Governor Tarek Amer and El Garhy on Sunday, a ministry statement read. Talks with the delegation have recorded “significant progress,” El Garhy said yesterday, Ahram Gate reports. The finance minister says the delegation’s review should wrap by 8 or 9 November and adds that support from the IMF, whose review should unlock another tranche of Egypt’s USD 12 bn extended fund facility, shows the potential of the Egyptian economy. Borrowing from the IMF will be directed towards deficit financing without any stipulation on how or for what specific purpose the funds could be used, Vice Minister of Finance Ahmed Kouchouk says.

Speaking of manufacturing and exports: Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil will speak today at AmCham’s monthly luncheon meeting. The topic: “Egypt: Industry and Trade Growth.” Members can register here.

The Oil Ministry has finished its review of the executive regulations to the Natural Gas Act and will be sending them to Cabinet for its sign-off soon, Minister Tarek El Molla said yesterday, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The regulations will outline the roles and duties of EGAS. The market regulator will be in charge of easing the state out of the industry and regulating both private and public players. If the law passes this year, it should permit the first licenses for imports and distribution to be handed out next year. EGAS has granted three companies preliminary approval for licenses. The regs to the Natural Gas Act are the latest in a string of reforms the Sisi administration has signalled it is fast tracking for the House of Representatives’ current legislative session. Cabinet approved last week of the Universal Healthcare Act (which now goes to parliament) and the executive regulations for the Investment Act last week.

US Vice President Mike Pence will be visiting Egypt and Israel in late December, according to the Associated Press. “One of the messages that I will bring on the president’s behalf to leaders across the region is that now is the time to bring an end to the persecution of Christians and all religious minorities,” Pence said. He also has plans to redirect funds aimed at supporting minorities away from the UN, saying the US “will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of ISIS. The United States will work hand-in-hand with faith-based groups and private organizations to help those who are persecuted for their faith… From this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through USAID.”

Were travel warnings issued by Germany and Russia in the wake of the El Wahatattack? The German embassy issued a statement on Wednesday clarifying that while it had updated its guidelines on travel and safety in Egypt last week in the wake of the El Wahat attack which killed 16 policemen, it had not issued a blanket travel warning nationwide. Travel warnings were only in place in “certain areas,” the statement reads without clarifying whether new places had been added. Egypt Independent is reporting that the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a similar travel warning to some parts in Egypt, though we were unable to find a statement from the ministry or the embassy.

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has supplanted Bill Gates as the world’s richest man according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index on Friday, on the back of a post-earnings surge in Amazon.com shares that saw his net worth rise to USD 93 bn. This is the first time Gates, whose net worth stands at USD 88.7 bn, was beaten out of the top spot in the index since 2014, Bloomberg notes.

What We’re Tracking This Week

Our friends at Trend Micro will hold a press briefing on The State of the Ransomware Threat in Egypt and insights into the Middle East cyber underground on Tuesday at the Nile Ritz Carlton, Cairo.

On The Horizon

EFG Hermes will hold its 7th Annual London Conference on 6-9 November.

The Investment Ministry’s investment map of some 600 projects will reportedly be ready by December and be out for bid by January.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Our daily roundup of Last Night’s talk shows is back tomorrow, but we do have some highlights from Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr’s sit-down with Kol Youm’s Amr Adib.

The World Bank’s upcoming Doing Business Report will list Egypt as one of the countries with the most-improved investment climate, thanks to the government’s reform programs and the recently enacted Investment Act, according to Nasr (watch, runtime 7:20).

The Investment Act slashes the time it takes for an investor to set up a company to 24 hours and cuts the red tape that business figures previously said was the biggest hurdle for investments, Nasr said (watch, runtime 1:40). The ministry has already set up a “one-window” investor services center with representation from various ministries and government bodies to allow investors to register their companies are receive the necessary licensing from one place (watch, runtime 4:36).

Arabs eye new capital and Alamein, Asian investors prefer Suez Canal? Nasr also said that Arab business figures participating in the Future Investment Initiative held in KSA last week showed significant appetite for investments in the new administrative capital and New Alamein City, while the Suez Canal Economic Zone was a more attractive destination to Asian investors (watch, runtime 5:29).

Speed Round

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The International Finance Corporation (IFC) will announce today a USD 653 mn debt package to finance the development of 13 solar power plants part of the feed-in tariff program in Benban, the IFC said in a statement this morning (pdf). The IFC is leading a consortium of nine international banks, which are backing Egypt’s renewable-energy sector for the first time, the IFC said, adding that “the project is the largest private sector financing package for a solar photovoltaic facility in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Consortium members: The African Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Arab Bank of Bahrain, CDC of the United Kingdom, Europe Arab Bank, Finance in Motion, FinnFund, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and OeEB of Austria. “Egypt’s reforms in its energy sector opened the door to private sector investments,” said IFC CEO Philippe Le Houérou. “For the Benban Solar Park project, those reforms and our innovative financial tools have helped attract a number of investors and financiers into the country for the first time,” he added.

The IFC’s announcement is the latest of some USD 1.8 bn in financing for the Benban complex which largely came from the IFC and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The latter has been providing funding under a USD 500 mn renewable energy framework to the Benban complex, which is expected to be the world’s biggest grid-connected solar power park upon its completion and generating up to 1.8 GW of clean energy.

More energy investments to come? The ministers of investment and electricity will be signing a number of MoUs on energy cooperation today in Cairo with the IFC’s Vice President of New Business Dimitris Tsitsiragos, Youm7 notes.

The wave in renewable energy funding has helped a number of companies reach financial close on their projects. Elsewedy Electric expects reach financial close on the development of a USD 75 mn solar power plant in Benban in the next few days, company sources tell Al Borsa. The project, which the company is co-developing with EDF Energies Nouvelles, is being funded by both the EBRD and French development finance institution Proparco. Funding for the project was one of the 16 agreement signed during President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s state visit to France last Wednesday. Shahid Law Firm acted as local legal advisor on the transaction. Shahid also advised on financial close of Voltalia’s two solar power plants — another of the 16 agreements signed in France — and Scatec Solar‘s 400 MW plant. As of last Thursday, some 20 solar power companies have submitted their preliminary documents for financial close on their projects in Benban.

Is Baidu exiting Egypt? Chinese search giant Baidu is backing away from turning Egypt into its regional headquarters as it backtracks on its Middle East expansion, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). The company has been gradually laying off its more than 30 employees and has closed its Cairo office in the past few months after the business didn’t meet its targets, said several former employees and tech execs. The move comes after six years of expanding operations in Cairo with a focus on developing Arabic-language applications, advertising platforms for the MENA region and even testing an Arabic search engine. The products simply failed to catch on, company insiders said. Company reps in Beijing (the WSJ could not find any in Cairo) told the newspaper that Baidu was focusing on mobile apps and that it had “tens of mns of monthly active users in MENA.” The pullback appears to be part of a trend among Chinese big tech companies who have been struggling to compete abroad with more established US firms such as Alphabet and Facebook.

On the flipside, Facebook grew its MENA user base by 20% between July 2016 and July 2017, MENA Managing Director Jonathan Labin told The National. Facebook inaugurated new regional headquarters in Dubai Knowledge Village with a capacity of around 150 staff, up from 40 previously. The social network has 164 mn monthly active users in the region as of July, up from 136 mn a year earlier. “We are very excited about the region; we are investing in the region and we see huge growth potential,” Labin says pointing to high demand for video and mobile services.

IPO WATCH- DICE shares priced at between EGP 22.60 and EGP 27.10: DICE Sport and Casual Wear announced on Saturday an indicative price range (pdf) for an offering of up to 33.05 mn existing ordinary shares, representing 62.35% of its outstanding share capital listed on the EGX. The offering has been priced at between EGP 22.60 and EGP 27.10 per share. The offering received regulatory approval from the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority, DICE’s head of IR Victor Fakhry tells Al Borsa. 85% of shares on sale will be offered in an institutional offering, while 15% will be earmarked for local retail investors, said Fakhry. He added that the sale should start in the coming few weeks, without giving a precise date. The selling shareholders are National Textile S.A.E, which holds 56.0% of DICE’s share capital, and other minority investors who hold a combined 6.4% stake. EFG Hermes is sole global coordinator and bookrunner for the offering and Matouk Bassiouny is local counsel.

IPO WATCH- Amwal AlKhaleej planning to IPO ECPP, has two M&As in pipeline for 2018: Saudi investment firm Amwal AlKhaleej is planning to list the Egyptian Company for Propylene and Polypropylene (ECPP) on the EGX in 2018 with the aim of raising USD 300 mn to finance expansion plans, Amwal’s Egypt Country Head Karim Saada tells Al Masry Al Youm. The first phase of the two-part issuance is expected to take place in 1Q2018 and raise as much as USD 120 mn in capital, he added, without specifying a date for the second phase. The ECPP — of which Amwal AlKhaleej holds 16%, alongside other stakeholders including Oriental Weavers Chairman Mohamed Farid Khamis and the EGPC — is hoping to raise its production capacity to 500-550k tonnes a year.

Amwal AlKhaleej also has two acquisitions in the pipeline for 2018 worth a combined USD 100 mn. Saada did not delve into the details, but told the newspaper that the transactions will be in the healthcare and retail sectors.

M&A WATCH- Online grocery delivery specialist Knock Mart has presented an offer to acquire the Dina Farms supermarket chain from Qalaa Holdings’ Arabian Company for Services and Trade, Al Mal reports. Knock Mart is being advised by Haykala Investment Managers and Matouk Bassiouny is legal counsel. Knock Mart has plans to expand to have 100 branches nationwide.

Egyptian-Saudi Business Council pledges to help raise Saudi investments in Egypt to USD 51 bn: Investment Minister Sahar Nasr has reportedly gotten the Egyptian-Saudi Business Council to push for raising Saudi investments in Egypt to USD 51 bn, according to a ministry statement on Thursday. Nasr apparently lobbied for the investments to be geared towards agriculture, tourism, renewable energy, education and manufacturing. The news came out of Saudi’s Future Investment Initiative conference.

On a related note, Nasr signed an MoU with HSBC Egypt which would see the bank help promote investments in Egypt, according to a statement from the ministry.

Keep an eye on SME exposure: A number of small factories have shut down recently because of their inability to secure funding in the current interest rate environment, according to a report by Al Mal. Small producers also cite weaker demand and a slowdown in business activity following the flotation as problems they face. A representative of the Industrial Modernization Centre said they are currently reviewing a number of cases to consider the possibility of extending financing to struggling small businesses.

MOVES- President Abdel Fattah El Sisi appointed Gen. Mohamed Farid as new chief of staff of the Armed Forces yesterday, replacing Gen. Mahmoud Hegazy, who was made the president’s adviser on strategic planning and crisis management.

The Interior Ministry also announced a shakeup in its ranks yesterday, replacing “the head of national security, a handful of generals, and a dozen senior leaders.” While the statement doesn’t give a reason for the shakeup, news reports point out it comes one week after a deadly shootout on the outskirts of Cairo killed at least 16 policemen. The officials being replaced had been in charge of security in the area where the attack took place, the AP says, noting that “the move was not unexpected after officials publicly evoked potential intelligence failures, lack of coordination, or incompetence as playing a factor in the losses.” The story appears to be on the foreign press’ radar, with coverage on Reuters and the WSJ (paywall), and the Associated Press.

On a related note, the Supreme Media Council is considering placing certain restrictions on media coverage of terror-related events in an effort to contain the flow of ‘false’ and non-official news, council member Gamal Shawky said on Saturday, according to AMAY. New regulations would make it mandatory for the concerned government authorities and the council to sign off on news reports before they are published or broadcast to confirm their authenticity, Shawky explained. This comes a week after State Information Services criticized Reuters and the BBC for citing anonymous sources claiming that more than 50 policemen had been killed in the Wahat attack.

Trump administration places temporary restrictions on refugee cases from 11 MEA countries, including Egypt: US President Donald Trump decided on Friday to place additional restrictions on refugee admissions to the country, temporarily delaying the processing of refugee cases from 11 countries, including Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and North Korea. “US officials said the changes were aimed at protecting US national security, but refugee advocates said they amounted to a de facto ban on refugees from the 11 countries and were unnecessary, since refugees are already heavily vetted,” Reuters reports.

IPO WATCH- Saudi Arabia plans to float shares in its USD 500 bn sci-fi robot-infested city Neom, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) said over the weekend, according to Reuters. “Without a doubt, at the end of the day Neom will be floated in the markets. The first zone floated in the public markets. It’s as if you float the city of New York,” he said on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh. “The first capitalist city in the world … this is the unique thing that will be revolutionary,” added MbS. Neom will join Aramco as another major IPO of the Saudi reform agenda. On the latter, MbS confirmed that the Aramco listing was on track for 2018, but the listing details are still under discussion.

It turns out that Saudi Arabia had apparently signed an agreement with Egypt last year to develop an industrial zone in Sinai order to “link it with Neom,” according to statements by MbS picked up by Bloomberg. “Neom will have a lot of ports. Some of them in Saudi Arabia and some of them in Egypt,” he added. The agreement would have seen the establishment of a freezone in North Sinai which would be connected to Neom.

…MbS also said he is in talks with major companies, including Amazon and Alibaba, to invest in Neom. “We are talking with everyone … We have the ‘who’s who’ from around the world engaging in this,” he says. Swiss engineering group ABB is “confident” it will get a slice of the USD 500 bn project. Bloomberg apparently cannot get enough of the idea, running an interview with MbS in which he tells everyone that they can go booze in Egypt and Jordan and not in Neom (we wonder what the Bender the alcoholic robot from Futurama would say about that) and a few infographics on the city. Meanwhile, Reuters Breakingviews’ Rob Cox says the plan for Neom is “so bonkers it just might work.”

Other international news worth noting in brief this morning include:

CORRECTION- In Thursday’s issue we mistakenly said that the recently-passed Universal Healthcare plan is expected to cover all of Egypt in 2022. The scheme will actually cover all governorates by 2032. The entry has been corrected on our website.

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Egypt in the News

Topping Egypt-related in the foreign press over the weekend was the release of the highly anticipated Assassin’s Creed Origins game which is set in Egypt. Reviews for the game appear to be favorable, with IGN.com rating it a 9/10, while other outlets are noting the historical accuracy of the game.

Coming in at a close second are wire pickups of a shootout between Egyptian security forces and militants in the Western Desert which led to 13 militants killed.

“So You Can Build It” hopes to bolster El Sisi’s popularity ahead of elections: With President Abdel Fattah El Sisi yet to announce a run for reelection next year, Reuters zeroes in on the “So You Can Build It” campaign which aims to bolster his popularity ahead of the elections. The campaign, which is made up of leading industry and academic figures as well as and pop culture icons, is hoping to lend legitimacy to El Sisi’s expected reelection bid in the absence of any formidable opposition, the newswire says in the report.

Price caps on private sector are a means to curb costs on universal healthcare: Imposing price caps on private-sector healthcare providers appears to be a means to limit expenditures on the new healthcare plan set out by the Universal Healthcare Act, argues Joseph El Cassabgui for the Huffpost. “Dozens of professional syndicates have voiced their opposition to the bill, fearing that the new bill, by allowing private companies to negotiate with the government, will push up healthcare costs,” he writes.

Coverage of the crackdown on the LGBTQ community in Egypt continued in the international media going into the weekend. Vice’s Mike Miksche writes about how dating apps are now working actively to protect their users. “We are being hunted,” a member of the community tells Bel Trew in a piece she wrote for The Daily Beast, in which the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights says the current crackdown includes the “highest number of arrests ever recorded in Egypt.” Rolling Stone gets the perspective of the band, Mashrou’ Leila, whose concert saw the rainbow flag raising incident that sparked the crackdown.

Also worth noting in brief:

  • Women’s rights to dress freely is under threat, according to a Global Post picked up by USA Today, as there are number of restaurants and bars that do not let in women wearing hijab.
  • An Egyptian sushi chef plying his trade in Rhode Island gets profiled by his local paper, The Jamestown Press.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal led a delegation to Washington D.C on Friday, where he’s set to meet with his counterpart Paul Ryan as well as other members of Congress’ foreign affairs, budget, and intelligence committees, according to Ahram Online. The delegation also has meetings lined up with the American Chambers of Commerce to discuss Egypt’s economic reform agenda.

The US State Department under Secretary Rex Tillerson has reportedly considered closing some consulates and embassies around the world, including the one in Alexandria, as mentioned in an extensive report by Bloomberg Businessweek. Tillerson’s redesign of the State Department “is expected to cut spending by USD 5 bn to USD 10 bn and slash about 8% of career staff.” The US Consulate in Alexandria only reopened in November following a period of operating from a temporary location.

EGX Chairman Mohamed Farid met with a Swedish business delegation on Thursday, according to a statement. Farid reportedly presented the delegation with investment opportunities through the bourse.

The Egyptian-Moroccan Businessmen’s Association is organizing a trip to Casablanca on the 19 November to study potential cooperation in fields including heavy-duty industry, as well as food, auto, textile, and fertilizer manufacturing, according to Al Ahram.

Energy

EGAS lifts upper price limit on natural gas purchases

EGAS lifted the upper price limit on what it could pay for the equivalent of a barrel of Brent crude in tenders to USD 65 from USD 60, Reuters reports. The move came after EGAS extended the bidding deadline for the 12 LNG shipments it’s looking to acquire. Traders speculate, however, “whether Egypt’s tender for first quarter 2018 supplies, which is lower than expected, would be followed by additional purchases through government-to-government [transactions], as happened after previous tender rounds.” They note that Egypt’s LNG shipments have been growing smaller as domestic output increases, particularly with Zohr coming online in December.

Nooros exceeds natural gas production targets

The Nooros natural gas field daily production capacity reached 1.1 bcf/d, exceeding the targeted 350-400 mfc/d, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said in a TV interview yesterday, Al Shorouk reports. The cost of investment in the gas field, which Italy’s Eni signed the concession for at the 2015 Economic Development Conference, also rounded off to USD 270 mn, below the projected USD 450 mn, El Molla added.

Infrastructure

Red Sea Ports Authority studying Chinese offer to build new terminal in Safaga Port

The Red Sea Ports Authority is studying a Chinese offer to build a multipurpose terminal at the Safaga Port for USD 250 mn, authority head Hisham Abu Saena tells Youm7. The new facility will primarily serve mining operations in the Golden Triangle area, and is expected to have the capacity to handle around 500k-1.2 mn containers a year.

Energy Recovery awarded USD 3.3 mn contracts

The California-based Energy Recovery Inc. was awarded a contract to supply desalination projects in Egypt with USD 3.3 mn-worth of its PX Pressure Changer technology,Reuters reports. The orders are expected to ship in 4Q2017.

Agriculture + Commodities

Egypt can go from substitute veggie exporter to main seller if logistics can be improved

Egyptian fruit and vegetable exporters can step out of the shadow of being mere substitute sellers to main markets to source agricultural goods if it can improve the logistics of trading with the EU, says our friend Omar Abdin of Leaf Egypt in Fresh Plaza. Most Egyptian exporters have depended on being called to export to the EU when those countries go through bad weather. Ensuring that Egyptian goods are able to reach European ports in quality condition would help Egyptian goods find a more stable market in the EU, he argues.

Manufacturing

Kabil inaugurates EGP 800 mn industrial complex

Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil inaugurated an EGP 800 mn industrial complex in Ain El Sokhna this weekend, according to an official statement. The 35k sqm complex houses 47 factories operating in industries such as fertilizers, paper recycling, and medical equipment..

Military Production Ministry signs MoU with Monzesi

The Military Production Ministry signed an MoU with Italy’s Monzesi this weekend that will see them establish a plant to make remote-operated milling equipment,according to Al Shorouk. No details on project financing or timeline have emerged.

IDA organizing Chinese textile manufacturers’ visit to Sadat City for new industrial zone

The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) is arranging for 25 Chinese textile manufacturers to visit Sadat City to settle on a final location for the planned textile industrial complex, Youm7 reports. As we noted last week, the IDA is currently in talks with the Chinese companies, including Sino-Egypt Minkai, to set up a 2 mn sqm complex at an investment value of CNY 5 bn (c. USD 753 mn).

Health + Education

Gov’t to cover a third of the cost of healthcare premiums -Maait

The government will cover payments of healthcare premiums for those who cannot afford them under the new universal healthcare scheme, Vice Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait told Al Masry Al Youm. He says the Finance Ministry already plans to cover a third of the scheme’s cost, but did not mention how much it is going to cost altogether. Maait also did not specify how the government will determine who can or cannot afford the plan.

Cleopatra Hospitals looks to fund new acquisition through EGP 700 mn capital increase

Cleopatra Hospital Group plans to raise its issued capital to EGP 800 mn from a current EGP 100 mn by issuing 1.4 bn new shares to existing shareholders at a share price of EGP 0.5. The company applied for approval from the EGX after receiving clearance from the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority a few backs. The increase will be used to fund the acquisition of a EGP 600 mn hospital and the repayment of a EGP 100 mn loan, CEO Ahmed Ezzeldin tells Al Borsa on Thursday.

AMECO and UK’s Kimal open USD 4 mn medical equipment plant in 6 October

The Arab Medical Equipment Company (AMECO) and UK medical devices manufacturer Kimal Plc have launched a USD 4 mn medical equipment plant in 6 October, according to a statement attributed to the UK embassy by Al Mal. The companies hope to export the plant’s goods to some 25 countries.

Real Estate + Housing

Hassan Allam Construction implementing EGP 1.4 bn worth of infrastructure works in new administrative capital

Hassan Allam Construction is implementing EGP 1.4 bn-worth of infrastructure projects at the new administrative capital, the company’s Managing Director for Financial Affairs Atef Barbary said, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The company has been mandated with constructing the new 8,000 sqm Justice Ministry building in the capital, which is expected to cost north of EGP 1 bn. Other projects include EGP 280 mn-worth of civil works such as sewage, water, and electricity networks, and nine residential buildings worth EGP 108 mn.

Tourism

Flights will begin landing at Sphinx International Airport in Giza in the summer of 2018

Flights will begin landing at Sphinx International Airport in Giza in the summer of 2018, Ahram Gate reports, citing remarks by Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy. The minister also noted that the national flag carrier is pushing forward with the acquisition of 45 aircraft as part of a fleet upgrade, according to Al Masry Al Youm. The national flag carrier has already received eight of the nine planes it purchased in the first phase of its upgrade plan, Fathy said.

Port Said starts work on EGP 5 bn tourist project

Port Said Governor Adel Al Ghadban broke ground on a EGP 5 bn touristic project in the city on Saturday, according to Al Mal. The 102-feddan project will house a 200-room Hilton and a mall once it’s complete in four years’ time.

Thomas Cook resumes flights to Marsa Alam from Birmingham and Gatwick

Thomas Cook is set to revive flights to Marsa Alam from Birmingham and Gatwick this week after halting them for several years,according to Al Shorouk. Trips from Birmingham are set to resume on Monday with Gatwick following on Thursday. The decision comes as a result of increased demand for Red Sea travel.

Automotive + Transportation

NRA’s purchase of 1,000 new train cars to cost EGP 16 bn

The National Railway Authority’s (NRA) planned purchase of 1,000 new train cars will cost EGP 16 bn, Transport Minister Hisham Arafat said at a press conference yesterday, Ahram Online reports. The purchases will be funded through facilitated loans, according to Arafat. The minister had previously said the NRA was deliberating two rival bids between Italy and Hungary for the train cars, and that Italian companies had offered to supply the cars 30% cheaper than the nearest offer. Separately, 24 transportation solutions companies are expected to present their offers for the electronic development of the railway to the NRA in November, deputy head of the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ ICT division Hamdy El Leithy said, according to Al Masry Al Youm. A bill is in the works to allow the private sector to participate in the development, operations, and management of the railway sector.

Raya Holding moves into car assembly

Raya Holding’s board of directors approved a decision for the company to move into assembling cars and two- and three-wheelers, according to a regulatory filing (pdf). The company will invest EGP 100 mn in this expansion, with EGP 60 mn self-financed and the remainder through a loan.

New Red Sea ferry starts operation

Hurghada received the first passengers on Thursday from a new ferry connecting Aqaba, Ain El Sokhna, and Hurghada, according to Al Mal. We had cited an incorrect report from Al Borsa on Wednesday saying that the third port was Aden. The story has been corrected on our website.

Other Business News of Note

ECETA to manage, operate EGP 600 mn mall in Cairo next year

The Egyptian Company for Entertainment and Tourist Attractions (ECETA) will manage and operate a EGP 600 mn mall in Cairo as of next April, Chairman Sherif Sultan said, Al Masry Al Youm reports. ECETA is preparing the feasibility and market studies for the project, which is being constructed by another unnamed company, according to Sultan.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Morsi’s son handed prison sentence

Former president Mohamed Morsi’s son has been sentenced to three years in prison on Thursday, Gulf News reports. Osama Morsi was handed the prison sentence over charges of illegally possessing a weapon.

National Security

Egypt receives warship from South Korea

The Egyptian Navy announced it received a frigate from South Korea, Ahram Online reports. South Korea gifted Egypt the vessel, which was named “Egypt Youth.” En route to Egypt, the vessel was part of “a joint military drill was conducted between Egyptian naval forces and their South Korean and Indian allies.”

On Your Way Out

USAID cosponsored entrepreneurship competition “Minyathon” in Minya over the weekend, according to an embassy statement. The competition brought together over 100 aspiring Egyptian entrepreneurs who developed and pitched ideas to start new businesses.

ON THIS DAY- On this day in 1956, the Tripartite Aggression on Egypt by Israel, France, and the United Kingdom began with the aim to regain Western control of the Suez Canal and to remove Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser from power. Black Tuesday, or the Wall Street Crash of 1929, also took place on this day, signalling the beginning of The Great Depression. The Convention of Constantinople, which regulated traffic through the Suez Canal and neutralized it was signed in 1888. China’s Communist Party announced the end of its one-child policy on this day in 2015. General Franco’s dictatorship over Spain ended on this day in 1975. In 1938, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who, in 2006 became the first woman to be voted head of state of an African country, was born. This time in 2015, Enterprise covered the news of GB Auto having downed tools at its assembly facility for 20 days because of the FX shortage.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.5993 | Sell 17.6991
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 17.58 | Sell 17.68
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.60 | Sell 17.70

EGX30 (Thursday): 13,955 (+0.4%)
Turnover: EGP 1.2 bn (28% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +13.0%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session up 0.4%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were: EFG Hermes up 3.3%; Qalaa Holdings up 3.0%; and Amer Group up 2.8%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were: Egyptian Iron and Steel down 2.6%; and CIB down 1.1%; and Kima down 0.4%. The market turnover was EGP 1.2 bn, and regional investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP -31.4 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +55.4 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -24.0 mn

Retail: 73% of total trades | 70.1% of buyers | 76.0% of sellers
Institutions: 27.0% of total trades | 29.9% of buyers | 24.0% of sellers

Foreign: 10.6% of total | 9.3% of buyers | 11.8% of sellers
Regional: 10.8% of total | 13.1% of buyers | 8.7% of sellers
Domestic: 78.6% of total | 77.6% of buyers | 79.5% of sellers


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PHAROS VIEW

External Debt Accumulation Slowed Down in 4Q2016-17: Egypt’s total external debt rose by 7% q-o-q in 4Q2016-17 to USD 79.0 bn (42.7% of GDP) from USD 73.9 bn (41.2% of GDP) in 3Q2016-17, it’s slowest pace since the EGP was floated last November. This was mainly driven by a 8.9% q-o-q increase in the medium-long term external debt to reach USD 66.7 bn in 4Q2016-17. The government contribution to the increase in the total external debt was 3.6% on the back of May’s USD 3 bn international bond issuance, followed by ‘other sectors’ contribution, which includes the private sector at 2.7%. You can read the full report here.

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Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.96 MMBtu, (-2.85%, December 2017 contract)
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29 October (Sunday): Announcement of financial close for Benban solar power plants, Fairmont Nile City Hotel, Cairo.

31 October (Tuesday): The State of Ransomware Threat in Egypt & Insights into the Middle East Cyber Underground press briefing by Trend Micro, Nile Ritz Carlton, Cairo.

06-07 November (Monday-Tuesday): Crisis Communications Conference, Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel, Cairo.

06-09 November (Monday-Thursday): EFG Hermes’ 7th Annual London Conference on 6-9 November, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.

14 November (Tuesday): SEMED Business Forum: Investing for Sustainable Growth, Conrad Hotel, Cairo.

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

19-21 November (Sunday-Tuesday): 11th Annual INJAZ Young Entrepreneurs Competition, Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Cairo.

26-29 November (Sunday-Wednesday): 21st Cairo ICT, Cairo International Convention Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

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

01-03 December (Friday-Sunday): RiseUp Summit, Downtown Cairo.

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

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

07-09 December (Thursday-Saturday): The Africa 2017 forum: “Business for Africa, Egypt and the World” Conference, Sharm El Sheikh.

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

12-14 February 2018 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show 2018 (EGYPS), New Cairo Exhibition Center.

17-21 February 2018 (Saturday-Wednesday): Women For Success – Women SME’s "World of Possibilities" Conference, Cairo/Luxor.

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