The countdown for the New Year has officially started. With only a handful of days left in 2017, we’re running shorter issues this week and returning to our regularly scheduled programing on Tuesday, 2 January.
Until then, we can expect to see more military and police presence on the streets, especially around houses of worship and other areas where crowds are known to gather during the holiday season. Security sources tell Al Shorouk that the Interior Ministry and Armed Forces have deployed additional personnel to hundreds of locations around the country, including churches, mosques, and touristic resorts to make sure New Year’s eve festivities run as smooth as possible.
Some good news ahead of the New Year: The government is supposed to have settled on 4-5 joint lead managers for the USD 3-4 bn USD-denominated eurobond issuance set to take place in around a month. 22 international banks, including “all the big names,” had thrown their hats in the ring, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy told Reuters’ Arabic service. El Garhy had previously said that Egypt would announce the joint lead managers and legal counsels of the issuance in two weeks’ time.
…. And some more good news: We’re hearing that Prime Minister Sherif Ismail could be returning to work in a few days’ time. A government source tells Ahram Gate that Ismail, who was on leave for a medical trip to Germany, will be on duty just a few hours a day and gradually increase the length of his work day as his health continues to improve.
In other news from the government, Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr is expected to sign today an agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Youm7 says, providing no further details on the agreement.
Perhaps a symptom of all the festive holiday cheer, Saudi authorities will be releasing a number of princes and officials that had been arrested in the Kingdom’s anti-corruption crackdown, the Financial Times reports. The Saudi government has reached financial settlements with names including former finance minister Ibrahim al-Assaf and former chief executive of Saudi Telecom Company Saud al-Dawash. It remains unclear how much each of them paid to secure their freedom.
Meanwhile, “dozens of businessmen and royals, including bn’aire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, remain detained at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. He has been asked to pay between USD 6 bn-7 bn to be released,” according to sources close to the matter. As we noted last week, KSA is hoping to recover as much as USD 100 bn from settlement payments with detainees.