Let’s get one thing straight before we break out the early-morning Champagne: Russian President Vladimir Putin has not yet allowed direct flights to Egypt to resume. You’re going to be reading plenty in the domestic and international press alike about Putin agreeing to allow direct flights back into the air, but as is characteristic, the Russian leader left himself wide room to maneuver.
What did Putin really say on the flights? “Security agencies reported to me that we are generally ready to restore a direct air link between Moscow and Cairo.” An agreement, he said, could be signed “in the nearest time,” the Associated Press reports. The tourism industry is going to have to hold its collective breath before a market that once sent us up to 3 mn holidaymakers a year is back on the map. In the meantime, Russian tourists will have to keep sneaking in through Ukraine.
But it does seem as if the Daba’a nuclear power plants are going ahead. A statement from Rosatom said Putin and President Abdel Fattah El Sisi witnessed the signing of a “notice to proceed.” NTPs are issued to contractors to start work under a contract, implying that the final contract must have been signed. Communiques from both sides have been rather vague on that last bit, but its meshes with all that we’ve heard of late about hotels and rental stock on the North Coast being snapped up by Russians in the past months. We have more on yesterday’s developments in Speed Round, below.
Shares of Ibnsina Pharma begin trading today on the Egyptian Exchange under the symbol ISPH.CA. The company, Egypt’s fastest-growing and second-largest distributor of pharmaceutical products, will have a market cap of EGP 3.9 bn at the opening bell. The company will use some EGP 280 mn of its IPO proceeds towards a capital increase in 1Q2018 and the balance to cover exits by current shareholders. Beltone Investment Banking is sole global coordinator and bookrunner for the transaction, while Matouk Bassiouny is acting as counsel to the issuer. Inktank Financial is investor relations advisor. Read the full press release here (pdf).
Contrary to rumors spreading on social media in the past 36 hours, Egyptian banks have not bankrolled the construction of Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Ethiopian Dam by buying into bonds offering 36% interest. Central bank governor Tarek Amer described the notion as “hallucinations and myths” in a statement to state news agency MENA. (But really: 36%? I mean, if that offer was real, you’d be just about crazy not to take it.) The tempest in a teapot comes as Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is expected to address Egypt’s House of Representatives sometime this month. Cairo and Addis Ababa are locked in a war of words over use of Nile water as Ethiopia continues to build out GERD.
***Take our end-of-year survey — get a bag of Enterprise-branded coffee and cool mugs from which to drink it: It’s that time of the year again — we want you to help us gauge how well business went during the year. What are the biggest challenges you faced during the year? Where will the exchange rate stabilise? How big do you expect your employer’s raises to be? Are you hiring? Help us find out. You’ll get the chance to become one of 25 people who’ll get our end of year giveaway package consisting of Enterprise swag and our first-ever Enterprise-branded batch of coffee, which we’ve put together with good friends in the coffee business. (More on that in a later issue.)
Adventurer and entrepreneur Omar Samra and triathlete Omar Nour will begin their epic 5,000 km journey across the Atlantic ocean on nothing but a rowboat tomorrow. We wish them all them best.
This morning’s miscellany:
- It turns out that building a robot-powered hedge fund is a heck of a lot more difficult than it seems on first glance, according to this feature in the Journal.
- A US analyst looks at a diminished geopolitical future for the Middle East thanks to the rise of the US fracking industry in a piece penned for the Wall Street Journal.
- “Hyundai Motor is facing [nearly USD 1 bn] in production losses this year as union members at the South Korean carmaker continue the spate of partial labour strikes,” the Financial Times notes.
- Donald Trump wants to see America head back to the moon — and onward to Mars, the salmon-colored paper notes elsewhere.
- Being obese or having diabetes could put you at higher risk of cancers including tumors of the colon, gallbladder, liver and pancreas, the New York Times notes in a pickup of a recent study.
The Golden Globe nominees are out, and we’re a bit miffed that the kids from Stranger Things got nary a nod. The series was nominated for best drama, while David Harbour, the actor who plays Chief Hopper, was nominated for best supporting actor in a TV drama. The Golden Globes website is here, and you can read their official list of nominees here.
Speaking of Stranger Things: You may have more than a year to wait for the next season of the show, according to the aforementioned David Harbour, who told an interviewer in Dubai: “You probably won’t get [Season 3] until sometime in 2019 … like any good thing, [the writers] need time. And those guys work so hard. I mean, they just sit in their apartment and write for 12, 14 hours a day,” reports Time magazine, picking up an interview for Variety. You can watch the Harbour interview here for yourself (runtime: 4:51).
Random (rude) thought: Yes, we know you think Stoicism is cool. We occasionally listen to Tim Ferriss’ podcast, too, and he’s been banging on about this since at least 2009. Now, would you shut up about it for five minutes, please?