Thursday, 4 January 2018

FX reserves surge to a new high of USD 37.02 bn at the end of 2017

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

We’re in for a long weekend. Sunday is an official holiday for the public and private sectors in observance of Coptic Christmas, as confirmed by the cabinet and central bank. We’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

We’ll be announcing the results of our end-of-year survey next week. We asked you to help us gauge how well business went in 2017, what the biggest challenges of the year were, and where you see FX rates stabilizing, among other things.

On The Horizon

The Finance Ministry meets next weeks with the five banks selected to manage the upcoming USD 4 bn eurobond sale, according to Minister Amr El Garhy. The ministry had selected HSBC, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley, and National Bank of Abu Dhabi to manage the issuance. Al Tamimi & Co. and Dechert LLP have been chosen as legal advisers.

The National Elections Commission will detail the timeline and procedures for the May 2018 presidential elections on Monday, 8 January, in a press conference.

Egypt will sign an MoU on tourism cooperation with Greek and Cyprus in mid-January, Al Shorouk reports. Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed will sign the agreements with his Greek counterpart Elena Kountoura and Cypriot Trade Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis during their upcoming visits to Cairo on 14-16 January.

The Trade and Industry Ministry is planning to launch an SME development initiative in 1Q2018. The program will aim to aid job creation and increase the sector’s contribution to national GDP.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

The nation’s talking heads had much to discuss last night, including the government’s price for sugarcane it purchases from local farmers and the apparent defamation of a Good Samaritan.

Filling in for Lamees Al Hadidi on Hona Al Asema, Lama Gebril spoke to Farmers’ Syndicate head Hussein Abo Saddam, who said that the price set by the government for sugarcane — EGP 700 per tonne — is unfair to farmers. Each 1 kg bag of sugar retails for EGP 9.5, which means that a tonne of sugarcane should cost EGP 1,000 to allow farmers a fair profit margin, Abo Saddam said (watch, runtime: 5:55).

House Agriculture Committee member Abdel Hamid El Demerdash phoned in to tell Gebril that it remains unclear how the government settled on the rate, claiming that farmers and sugar manufacturers use a hitherto unknown formula to calculate their costs and expenses. He suggested that the government sit down with sugarcane farmers to reach a middle ground on the pricing strategy (watch, runtime: 5:31).

Earlier in the day, the Farmer’s Syndicate announced that many farmers had intended to boycott the government with the start of the season to protest the low prices, according to Ahram Gate. We had reported earlier this week that the government had agreed to raise sugarcane prices to EGP 800 per tonne.

Al Hayah Al Youm’s Tamer Amin hosted Vice Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait, who recapped the main facts and figures of the Universal Healthcare Act, including premiums citizens will be required to pay into the system and taxes that will be levied to finance the scheme. Maait noted that state coffers can’t afford to provide free healthcare to all citizens under the new system, and that countries which do offer free coverage require citizens to pay higher taxes (watch, runtime: 29:26).

Kol Youm’s Amr Adib fixated on the backlash against the Interior Ministry, which is beingaccused of trying to “defame” Salah El Mogy the citizen who attacked the terrorist behind Friday’s events at Helwan’s Mar Mina church. Security forces have claimed since the incident that El Mogy has a criminal record, causing people to criticize the ministry for trying to steal El Mogy’s thunder after he helped thwart the attack. Adib had a long talk with Cairo University media professor Samy Abdel Aziz about the general decline in media ethics in recent years, that has culminated in the defamation of innocent citizens (watch, runtime: 9:27).

Over on Yahduth fi Masr, political commentator Mostafa El Fekki told Sherif Amer that a four-year term is not enough for a president to properly implement a comprehensive national strategy. He also said that the challenges during the next presidential term include developing the country’s anti-terrorism tools and carrying on with national projects to help them bear fruit.

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

The central bank’s net international reserves grew to USD 37.02 bn at the end of December, the central bank announced yesterday. The reserves figure closed 2017 growing from the USD 36.72 bn recorded in November and from USD 24.27 bn in December 2016, Reuters notes.

IPO WATCH- The Finance Ministry will unveil the details of the state IPO program in the second half of January, Vice Minister of Finance Ahmed Kouchouk tells Al Mal. Kouchouk refused to reveal any more details. We had noted last month that senior members of the Ismail Cabinet were pushing for the release the timeline this month, but had been met with some resistance from within their ranks. The committee Cabinet has tasked with running the state IPO program has yet to issue anything definitive about the program.

Petroleum services outfit Enppi is expected to be first up in the pipeline, with a listing planned for 1Q2018, according to statements made earlier by Investment Minister Sahar Nasr. Banque du Caire’s IPO, which was initially slated for last fall, is expected in 4Q2018, according to EFG Hermes’ Co-Head of Investment Banking Mustafa Gad. The listing was delayed as a result of the central bank’s shakeup of management at state-owned banks. EFG Hermes and HSBC are managing the issuance, while Baker McKenzie has been tapped as legal advisor.

M&A WATCH- Egypt Kuwait Holding (EKH) has placed a mandatory tender offer for 66.97% of Delta Insurance’s shares at EGP 20 per share, the Financial Regulatory Authority told the EGX. The Authority says it is currently assessing the offer. EKH had announced it received approvals to increase its stake in Delta Insurance to 99%. Zaki Hashem & Partners is legal counsel on the transaction, EKH’s head of IR Haitham Abdel Moneim tells Al Mal. He added that the transaction is set to cost EKH around EGP 300 mn and will be financed internally from capital gains made from its divestment from Egypt Hydrocarbons. Pharos Holding told us they are the buy-side broker on the transaction.

INVESTMENT WATCH- EFG Hermes’ Rx Healthcare fund has managed to raise USD 27 mn, sources told Al Mal. The paper says the fund took in USD 20 mn from GE Healthcare and USD 7 mn from the African Development Bank (AfDB). Sources added that the fund aims to reach USD 80-90 mn in size and targets 1H2018 for its launch. AfDB was first announced as an investor in the fund in October 2016, when it committed USD 20 mn. A year later, GE Healthcare was announced as an anchor limited partner of the fund. Rx Healthcare is an Africa-focused healthcare private equity fund led by former Health Minister Hatem El Gabaly.

Tax Authority reportedly takes action to seize EGP 990 mn from GTH: Global Telecom Holding (GTH) said it has received information about, but not formal service of, an administrative seizure order by the Egyptian Tax Authority (ETA) concerning its local bank accounts for a contested amount of EGP 990 mn. GTH says it has been contesting ETA’s claim in good faith and that senior management of the company were not made aware for this activity until 31 December 2017 and promptly provided initial notification to the EGX prior to the start of trading on 2 January. GTH says it will contest the unilateral seizure action by the ETA and will continue honoring all of its obligations. The contested amount is regarding 2016 disputed tax claims.

EARNINGS WATCH- GlaxoSmithKline’s local subsidiary reported 9M2017 consolidated net profits of EGP 235 mn, compared to net profits of EGP 69.146 mn during the same period last year, according to a bourse filing.

The Ismail Cabinet agreed yesterday to form a new Supreme Anti-Terrorism and Extremism Committee, according to an official statement. The new body replaces the Supreme Anti-Terrorism Committee established by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi last year, but it remains unclear whether the new committee’s mandate and powers will be any different from its predecessor. The ministers also signed off on a list of prisoners that will receive a presidential pardon on the occasion of Police Day and the 2011 revolution anniversary on 25 January.

Also approved during the weekly meeting:

  • A EGP 1 bn financing agreement with the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development to support development projects in North Sinai;
  • The EU’s EUR 432-528 mn financial and technical cooperation framework with Egypt for 2017-2022, which was signed in October;
  • Beginning of procedures to receive a USD 150 mn guarantee on the third USD 1 bn tranche of the World Bank’s USD 3 bn facility. The World Bank had agreed last month to expand the final tranche to USD 1.15 bn;
  • A trade cooperation agreement between Egypt and Gabon, including the establishment of a joint trade committee, which was signed in August;
  • A draft law to streamline property registration procedures in new urban communities;
  • A decision allowing the Housing Ministry to contract Dar Al Handasa to design the new administrative capital’s business park.

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Egypt in the News

Arab Israeli students heckled Egyptian-American lecturer Saad Eddin Ibrahim during a Tel Aviv University address on Egypt-Israeli relations, Times of Israel reports. The students staged a walkout in protest of Ibrahim’s willingness to address an Israeli audience, accusing him of being a “traitor” and for promoting normalization with Israel. “The university responded to the incident, promising to look into it further. ‘We take seriously the disruption of a lecture during an academic event,” according to Ynet.

Also worth a quick skim this morning:

  • Egypt, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Bangladesh are examples of potential export markets the UK should consider tapping post-Brexit, the FT suggests (paywall). “
  • The Universal Healthcare Act is expected to give President Abdel Fattah El Sisi a boost in the upcoming presidential race, Ayah Aman writes for Al Monitor.
  • Egyptian-American Hoda Kotb was named as as the permanent co-anchor of the “Today” show by NBC News, according to Bloomberg. Kotb replaces fired co-host Matt Lauer.
  • Egyptian student Abdulrahman Hussain has been dubbed the “smartest child in the world” after winning first place at The Intelligent Mental Arithmetic International competition in Malaysia, Sabrina Barr writes for The Independent.
  • The government is creating human rights departments, to receive complaints from citizens about human rights violations, in order to boost its human rights image, Rania Elabd writes for Al-Monitor.
  • Women in Upper Egypt are still relying on superstitious rituals to increase their fertility, despite the dangers associated with these methods, which are often unsuccessful, says Al Monitor’s Rasha Mahmoud.
  • Women-only pole dancing classes in Egypt are becoming more popular and less taboo, Emma Beswick writes for Euronews.

On Deadline

Emergency rule looks like it’s here to stay: The government’s quiet extension of the state of emergency, without preludes or justifications, seems to indicate that Egypt will permanently remain under emergency rule, Ashraf El Barbary pointedly says in Al Shorouk. He says the government has not provided (and does not seem intent on providing) any explanation, nor has it presented any substantial evidence proving the efficiency of imposing a state of emergency.

Worth Watching

Bioluminescent algae that lights up in a brilliant blue has been discovered off the coast of Tasmania. The location has been dubbed “underwater northern lights” because the algae that grows there responds to the slightest touch, turning the water to a shimmering bright blue, which has also earned it the name “sea sparkle.” (watch, runtime 0:37)

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

The Foreign Affairs Ministry denied news reports that Egypt was proposing excluding Sudan from Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations with Ethiopia. Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said “that the Egyptian proposal to invite the World Bank to participate as an impartial party in the GERD’s Tripartite National Committee (TNC) negotiations, has also been submitted to Sudan. He added that Egypt is awaiting the official response from both Ethiopia and Sudan on the proposal at the earliest convenience.”

Also from the Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday: The United Jerusalem Act violates international laws and resolutions about the status of the disputed city, Abu Zeid told the state news agency, according to a statement. The bill, which passed the Knesset on 2 January, aims to reaffirm Jerusalem’s position as an undivided capital of the state of Israel, preventing the Palestinians from making a claim for East Jerusalem as their capital in any future peace talks. Egypt said, however, that the newly-enacted legislation is an “obstacle” to the future of the peace process. The United Jerusalem Act was proposed in the Knesset after US President Donald Trump made an official declaration last month, recognizing Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel and vowing to relocate the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Separately, the Foreign Affairs Ministry launched its new website yesterday — a significant improvement over its previous iteration.

House of Representatives Speaker Ali Abdel Aal met with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh yesterday, according to the Saudi Press Agency. “Abdel Aal and his delegation arrived in Riyadh late Tuesday for an official visit to Saudi Arabia,” Anadolu Agency says. The details of their discussion are unclear.

An African Union (AU) commission had been planning to investigate claims into the lawfulness of death sentences passed in Egypt, after the Ikhwan’s Freedom and Justice Party approached the AU’s People and Human Rights Commission to file a formal complaint “ over the fate of several detainees put on death row and left with no appeal right,” African Bulletin reports. The commission’s request was overlooked and the Egyptian state went ahead with the execution of 15 prisoners last month, prompting another outcry from the Ikhwan’s political party.

Energy

Siemens Gamesa to supply wind turbines for Ras Ghareb

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy will supply turbines producing 262.5 MW to Ras Ghareb Wind Energy’s Gulf of Suez wind farm, Renews reports. The agreement “covers supply and commissioning of 125 G97-2.1 MW machines, as well as maintenance for 15 years once the project is operational.” The project’s installation is set to be complete by July 2019 and the facility is set to be operational by 2019’s end. “Ras Ghareb Wind Energy is a consortium French company Engie, Japan’s Eurus Energy Holdings and Toyota Tsusho Corp, and local outfit Orascom Construction,” Renews says.

Egyptera to renew, issue new energy production and transmission licenses for 34 companies

The Egyptian Electric Utility and Consumer Protection Agency (Egyptera) has agreed to issue new licenses and renew existing production and transmission licenses for 34 energy companies, Al Borsa reports. The companies whose licenses were renewed until 30 June this year include: Delta for Construction and Rebuilding, the Egyptian Resorts Company, United Group for Energy, and Sidi Krir Generating Company, among others. Egyptera also issued new energy transmission licenses to Sakkara for Tourism Investment, TEDA Egypt, and the City of Scientific Research and Technology Applications.

Finance Ministry to issue letters of guarantee for 30 solar power companies under FiT phase 2

The Finance Ministry is planning to issue letters of guarantee next week for 30 solar power companies and consortia under the second phase of the feed-in tariff (FiT) program, government sources tell Al Borsa. The Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company had accepted the financial models for their planned power plants in Benban last week, according to the newspaper. The companies will begin work on their respective projects once they receive the letters, according to the sources.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Fruit and vegetable vendors refuse to implement price-printing policy

A number of fruit and vegetable vendors are refusing to comply with the Supply Ministry’s price-printing policy, which requires them to clearly list the prices of the products they are selling, Al Shorouk reports. Some vendors speaking to the newspaper said the policy was “impossible” to implement because the prices of agricultural products are susceptible to daily changes based on supply and demand, and some distributors slash prices by the end of the day to push sales before the products spoil. The Supply Ministry has confirmed that there will be no exceptions for the policy, and that vendors have until the end of January to comply before facing fines as of February.

Cotton exports up 126% y-o-y

Cotton exports increased 126% to 800k qintars (40 tonnes) for the months of September-December up from 300k qintars (15k tonnes) during the same period last year, according to Al Borsa. The jump comes on the back of increased production, with 220k feddans planted this year compared to last.

Manufacturing

Raya signs USD 3.5 mn agreement with Samsung to manufacture washing machines

A subsidiary of Raya Holding signed a partnership agreement with Samsung to manufacture top-loading washing machines, according to a bourse disclosure. The agreement involves an USD 3.5 mn investment and entails producing a preliminary 40k washing machines in 2018. Raya says the partnership with Samsung will contribute to expanding its market share.

Bajaj to supply cotton ginning machine to state-owned factory

India’s Bajaj will deliver a cotton ginning machine to the Cotton & Textile Industries Holding Company under a newly-inked USD 2.3 mn contract, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The machine will be delivered and set to be operational before August 2018 as part of the Public Enterprises Ministry’s plan to develop the sector. Minister Ashraf El Sharkawy had announced that Bajaj was awarded a tender for the restructuring of state-owned cotton ginning companies late last year.

Saudi’s Al Rabie to partner with local investors to establish EGP 350 mn oil plant

Saudi food group Al Rabie is in talks with Egyptian partners to establish a new edible oil refinery with initial investments of around EGP 350 mn, Youm7 reports. The plant will extract and refine oil from sunflower, soy, and maize, producing at an annual capacity of 120k tonnes and gradually growing to produce 500k tonnes per year.

Health + Education

US pharma company Nour Heart proposes PPP pharma city

US pharmaceuticals company Nour Heart has presented to the Health Ministry an offer to construct a pharma city under a private-public partnership, Al Borsa reports. Health Minister Ahmed Rady said that his ministry has “welcomed” the proposal, but did not provide any further details on the timeline or expected investment value.

Tourism

Mummy parts to be returned after 90-year absence

The US is set to hand back the remains of an Egyptian mummy and artefacts that has been out of the country for 90 years, according to Newsweek. The artefacts, which are undocumented, are believed to have been stolen from a 1927 dig in Luxor and later sold. The pieces will be delivered to Egyptian authorities on 8 January.

Automotive + Transportation

EgyptAir to sell subsidiaries’ planes to finance agreement with Bombardier

EgyptAir will self finance its agreement to buy 12 CS300 aircraft from Bombardier, sources tell Al Mal. The financing for the USD 1.1 bn transaction will be provided from the proceeds of the sale of EgyptAir’s subsidiaries’ aircraft. Sources said the company already sold five aircraft and is in the process of selling 12 more belonging to domestic carrier Express. The remaining amounts would be raising using bank loans. EgyptAir had converted a letter of intent with Bombardier to a firm agreement to buy the 12 aircraft last week.

Banking + Finance

AT Lease considering adding factoring business

Al Tawfeek Leasing (AT Lease) says it is assessing expanding its operations to include a factoring business, according to a bourse release. The company has denied that it has already taken a decision to introduce the business line. AT Lease also said it has not finalized an EGP 100 mn loan agreement under the central bank’s facilitated financing initiative.

CBE to provide EGP 2 bn assurance for SME financing

The Central Bank of Egypt’s board of directors agreed to provide the Credit Guarantee Company (CGC) with a EGP 2 bn assurance for SME financing, Al Masry Al Youm reports. In exchange, CGC will issue assurances to banks offering funding for SME projects to cover the associated risks. CBE Governor Tarek Amer had announced the CBE’s intention to begin handing out these assurances in December.

Other Business News of Note

GAFI to start negotiations with El Sewedy to develop freezone in 10 Ramadan

The General Authority for Freezones and Investment (GAFI) is set to begin negotiations with El Sewedy Electric to develop a 1,400 feddan freezone in 10 Ramadan City, government sources told Al Borsa. El Sewedy has already inspected the site for the project, which had originally been intended for development at Badr City.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Progressive parties form new political bloc

Progressive parties in Egypt have formed a new movement that aims to create political mobility, contribute to amendments to the protest law, improve access to the government and boost political influence for civil society groups and syndicates, Menna Farouk writes for Al-Monitor. The movement, calling itself the Civil Democratic Movement, is made up of seven liberal parties and about 150 public figures. “Having the upcoming presidential elections around the corner was a very good opportunity for us to launch such a movement,” writer Ammar Ali Hassan, a member of the group, told Farouk.

Decision on Khaled Ali’s appeal delayed until March

A Cairo court yesterday postponed issuing a decision on presidential hopeful Khaled Ali’s appeal until 7 March. The postponement creates “uncertainty over whether [Ali] will be allowed to run in the forthcoming election,” Reuters reports. Ali was convicted of public indecency last fall for making obscene hand gestures outside a courtroom after a ruling overturning the decision to hand sovereignty of the Red Sea islands Tiran and Sanafir over to Saudi Arabia.

National Security

Egyptian police officer reportedly killed in North Sinai roadside blast

A roadside explosion in North Sinai reportedly left one police officer dead yesterday, Anadolu Agency reports, citing security sources. The blast was caused by a bomb planted by an unidentified group or individual. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, the sources add.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.67 | Sell 17.77
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 17.66 | Sell 17.76
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.67 | Sell 17.77

EGX30 (Wednesday): 14,834 (-1.3%)
Turnover: EGP 888 mn
EGX 30 year-to-date: -1.2%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 ended Wednesday’s session down 1.3%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent closed down 2.1%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Pioneers Holding up 3.4%; Qalaa Holdings up 1.6%; and Arab Cotton Ginning up 1.0%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Amer Group down 2.9%; Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals down 2.6%; and Domty down 2.4%. The market turnover was EGP 888 mn, and local investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +39.9 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +15.2 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -55.2 mn

Retail: 65.0% of total trades | 64.6% of buyers | 65.4% of sellers
Institutions: 35.0% of total trades | 35.4% of buyers | 34.6% of sellers

Foreign: 16.6% of total | 18.9% of buyers | 14.4% of sellers
Regional: 11.0% of total | 11.8% of buyers | 10.1% of sellers
Domestic: 72.4% of total | 69.3% of buyers | 75.5% of sellers

WTI: USD 61.72 (+2.24%)
Brent: USD 67.83 (+1.89%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.00 MMBtu, (-1.9%, February 2018 contract)
Gold: USD 1,316.3 / troy ounce (+0.02%)

TASI: 7,224.29 (+0.73%) (YTD: -0.03%)
ADX: 4,481.3 (+0.88%) (YTD: +1.88%)
DFM: 3,458.79 (+1.4%) (YTD: +2.63%)
KSE Weighted Index: 406.97 (+1.63%) (YTD: +1.38%)
QE: 8,608.31 (-0.14%) (YTD: +1.00%)
MSM: 5,088.72 (-0.1%) (YTD: -0.21%)
BB: 1,325.43 (+0.26%) (YTD: -0.47%)

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Calendar

22-23 January (Monday-Tuesday): Arqaam Capital Egypt Investors Conference 2018, The Vineyard Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa.

25 January (Thursday): 25 January revolution / Police Day, national holiday.

29-30 January (Monday-Tuesday): Seamless North Africa, The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo.

30 January-01 February (Tuesday-Thursday): CI Capital’s MENA Investor Conference, Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Cairo.

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

19-20 February 2018 (Monday-Tuesday): The Banking Tech North Africa, The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo

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

05-07 March (Monday-Wednesday): EFG Hermes’ One on One Conference 2018, Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, UAE.

28-31 March 2018 (Thursday-Sunday): Cityscape Egypt, Cairo International Convention Centre, Cairo

08 April (Sunday): Easter Sunday, national holiday.

09 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim, national holiday.

25 April (Wednesday): Sinai Liberation Day, national holiday.

01 May (Tuesday): Labor Day, national holiday.

4-6 May 2018 (Friday-Sunday): International Conference on Network Technology (ICNT 2018), venue TBD, Cairo.

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