Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Abraaj to IPO healthcare assets on LSE or NYSE, House gives Bankruptcy Act an early thumbs-up

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

The bull run continues: The EGX30 closed at an all-time high yesterday of 15,159 on decent volume of EGP 1.3 bn, or about 19% above the trailing 90-day average. Foreign institutions drove the run toward the record level.

The central bank issued another warning (pdf) on Tuesday against trading or transacting in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The CBE said cryptocurrencies were unstable as they were not backed by a government entity — and pointed to waves of speculation that late last year drove the value of a single Bitcoin to over USD 15,000. The value currently trades at USD 14,096 to the BTC 1. The CBE’s move came as China moved to “eradicate the country’s bitcoin mining industry over concerns about excessive electricity consumption and financial risk,” the Financial Times reports, and as shares of one-time photography giant Eastman Kodak doubled after it said it would launch a cryptocurrency called “KODAKCoin” for photographers.

Speaking of the central bank: Bloomberg is out with a nice piece that it’s headlining A Guide to MENA Central Banks. Onur Ant and Cairo-based Ahmed Feteha note that, “After a year of rising U.S. interest rates and political volatility that drove up borrowing costs in much of the Middle East and North Africa, the region’s central banks have more divergent goals in 2018.” They go on to outline expectations ranging from easing of interest rates in Egypt as early as Q1 to political pressure in Turkey and a potential float in Morocco.

The Federation of Egyptian Industries and the House Industrial Committee will discuss proposed amendments to the Public Procurement Law today. The law promotes local industry by granting Egyptian products preferential treatment in government contracts. The FEI is hoping to bring down the minimum quota for Egyptian products used in national projects, saying local producers just can’t meet demand, members say.

Our national attitude toward the Giza Pyramids gets nicely roasted by The Onion: “‘Recently unearthed papyrus rolls dating from 2400 B.C. confirm that most Egyptians of the time went to the pyramids of Giza once as a kid and thought they were pretty cool, but seldom returned to the majestic tombs unless they had a buddy visiting who had never been there before,’ said archaeology professor Sidney Colliver, adding that the lack of other fun things to do in Giza and the nuisance of traversing the Sahara Desert meant that most people who lived in the area only made it out to the pyramids once every four or five years, tops,” a satirical piece in The Onion, hitting so close to home, says.

And today in miscellany:

The World Bank’s 2018 global growth forecast is making headlines in the business press around the world, and what you take away from it depends largely on what you’re looking for. The Financial Times notes that the bank believes “global growth appears to have peaked, with demographics, a lack of investment, a slowing in productivity gains and tightening monetary policy placing limits on economic expansion.” Meanwhile, the Guardian zeroes in on the idea that “financial markets are complacent about the risks of sharply higher interest rates that could be triggered by better than expected growth in the global economy this year,” while the AFP highlights the idea that while growth this year will be strong, that just makes it all the more urgent for countries to prepare for the next major economic crisis.

What the World Bank is forecasting, by the numbers:

  • 3.1% global growth in 2018
  • Emerging markets to grow 4.5% as a whole
  • Advanced economies set to post gains of 2.2%
  • MENA growing at a 3% clip (against 1.8% in 2017)
  • Egypt to grow at 4.5% in 2018 from 4.2% last year.

The rehabilitation of hedge funds continues as the global industry produced its best returns last year since 2013, and this makes us oddly happy. Reports the Financial Times: “Figures tallied by HFR, the research group, this week show that hedge funds across all strategies produced returns of 8.5 per cent in 2017, better than the 5.4 per cent recorded in 2016. Equities hedge funds — which include long-short funds, growth and value funds and sector-specific strategies — were up 13.2 per cent, their best showing in four years.”

(We promise you our happiness at hedgie performance is entirely unrelated to our love of Bn’s, the Showtime TV series pitting Damian Lewis as the hedge fund boss going head-to-head with district attorney Paul Giamatti. Season three will begin on 25 March in the US — catch the trailer here.)

Expect this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos to get interesting — and awkward: The Donald plans to attend, according to the FT. “The president welcomes opportunities to advance his ‘America First’ agenda with world leaders,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “At this year’s World Economic Forum, the president looks forward to promoting his policies to strengthen American businesses, American industries, and American workers.” The story is also front page news across the pond in the Wall Street Journal. While Trump did not attend last year’s forum, his election — and his brand of populism and anti-globalist message — cast a long shadow and saw Chinese Premier Xi Jinping emerge as a champion of global trade. The theme of this year’s gathering, which will be held on 23-26 January, is “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.”

And speaking of The Donald: One-time Trump partisan Steve Bannon (who has an odd connection to Egypt via his erstwhile Egyptian landlord in D.C.) stepped down yesterday as executive chairman of Breitbart News after slagging off Trump & Co. in Michael Wolff’s new book, the New York Times reports.

On The Horizon

The 2018 calendar of investor conferences gets underway next week. First up, our friends at EFG Hermes will host their annual Egypt Day next Monday at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza. This year’s event will begin with the firm’s annual CEO dinner.

Arqaam Capital will then hold its Egypt Investors Conference 2018 on 22 January. The conference will host senior C-Suite executives from some 20 listed Egyptian companies for one-on-one meetings at the Vineyard Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa.

CI Capital is also holding its MENA Investor Conference on 30 January.

US Vice President Mike Pence will kick off his twice-delayed tour of the Middle East in Egypt on 20 January, where he will meet with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. Counterterrorism talks will top the agenda, but the issue of Jerusalem is also expected to play in the talks.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

The airwaves were saturated last night with discussion of the upcoming presidential election after the National Elections Committee (NEC) officially opened the door for citizens to fill out endorsement ballots for potential candidates.

Activist Khalid Ali will make a final decision on his candidacy within two days, the head of his presidential campaign Hala Fouad told Kol Youm’s Amr Adib. According to Fouad, Ali and his campaign managers have discussed the matter extensively since the election timeline was announced on Monday. Ali’s campaign has repeatedly requested that the state of emergency and bans on news websites be lifted to allow for truly free and fair elections, but these requests have gone unheeded, Fouad said (watch, runtime: 10:10). Fouad had suggested that the Ali might withdraw and boycott the election in earlier statements to the press (more in Speed Round).

Hona Al Assema’s Lamees Al Hadidi spoke to NEC deputy head Mahmoud Helmy El Sherif on the nuances of the conditions to enter the race, including on endorsement requirements. Endorsement ballots can be filled out electronically at one of nearly 400 real estate registration offices around the country, El Sherif said (watch, runtime: 20:04).

El Sherif also phoned in to Masaa DMC, where he told host Osama Kamal that judges will be dispatched to monitor each ballot box to ensure maximum transparency throughout the elections, which are being held over the course of three days to help improve the monitoring efforts (watch, runtime: 13:38).

Drafting El Sisi: Mohamed Elsewedy, head of the pro-government Support Egypt coalition — parliament’s largest bloc — boasted that 497 MPs out of a total of 596 have signed forms endorsing President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s bid for a second term. Elsewedy told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Tamer Amin that the show of support from the House, which Elsewedy noted was not just from his coalition, shows that there is “consensus” in backing El Sisi (watch, runtime: 7:05).

Parliament gets a spokesperson who we hope can translate from Cro-Magnon: Amin also spoke to parliament’s newly-appointed spokesperson Salah Hasaballah, who said his new role was created to address “false news” (God help us all) about the government and its legislative bodies, including parliament. Hasaballah said he will maintain a constant line of communication with journalists and media personalities to present them with accurate information about what happens inside the House. Seems to us it would just be easier to resume broadcasting House sessions and let some daylight shine in (watch, runtime: 25:02).

Back on Kol Youm, Adib also sat down with head of Armed Forces-affiliated Wataneya Company for Roads, Magdy Anwar, for a chat about the various roads and bridges the company has developed, including the regional Ring Road and the Galala-Ain Sokhna road. According to Anwar, the development projects have helped to halve road accidents (watch, runtime: 4:31).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

LEGISLATION WATCH- House gives preliminary nod to Bankruptcy Act: The House of Representatives gave a preliminary nod to the Bankruptcy Act during a session of the general assembly yesterday that saw Investment Minister Sahar Nasr in attendance, Al Mal reports. The bill, a key element of the Sisi administration’s economic reform program, would effectively decriminalize bankruptcy and allow companies more time and options for restructuring by introducing mechanisms to help settle commercial disputes outside the courtroom and expedite and simplify bankruptcy proceedings, sources tell the newspaper. The long-awaited act is expected to improve Egypt’s reputation as a place in which to do business, according to Nasr.

Members of the House’s Economics Committee said they were surprised to see the bill on yesterday’s agenda, claiming that they were not given a chance to review or approve it themselves before it came to the floor for a vote.

Also yesterday, MPs gave preliminary approval to amendments to the law regulating the Industrial Development Authority (IDA). The proposed changes would grant the agency independence from the Trade and Industry Ministry, according to Al Masry Al Youm. Representatives also voted in amendments to the Penal Code yesterday that set harsher prison sentences of 7-20 years for kidnapping, as well as amendments to the law regulating prison administration, which guarantee rights for release on good behavior.

State of emergency extended: The House also signed off on a presidential decree extending the state of emergency for another three months starting 13 January.

Still on the agenda is the Tenders and Auctions Act, which the House’s Budget Committee is currently discussing. Members are considering introducing clauses allowing state-owned land and Endowment Ministry assets to be auctioned off if the need arises.
The House also received proposed amendments to the real estate tax from the Planning Ministry, which Speaker Ali Abdel Aal has referred to committee for review. Abdel Aal also sent proposed legislation on street vendors to the economics and legislative committees to revise.

IPO WATCH- Is emerging markets private equity giant Abraaj looking to list its Middle East healthcare subsidiaries in London or New York? The Abraaj Group is reportedly mulling the London Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange as venues on which to list its Middle East healthcare investments, according to Al Borsa in a transaction that could take place as early as 2Q2018. EFG Hermes has reportedly been tapped to manage to the transaction, the newspaper says. The firm’s North African healthcare investments include Egypt’s Cleopatra Hospitals Group as well as players in Morocco and Tunisia. This wouldn’t be the first time Abraaj has looked abroad to list a regional healthcare group: It listed Integrated Diagnostics Holdings in London in 2015 after first creating the group through the merger of two high-profile Egyptian labs and the bolt-on of assets in Sudan and Jordan. You can review Abraaj’s healthcare portfolio companies here and learn more about its views on the sector here.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Consortium including Arafa, Dice bids for USD 324 mn Minya textile city project: A consortium that includes Arafa Group, Dice Sports and Casual Wear, Giza Spinning and Weaving, Nile Co., and the Tahya Misr Fund have submitted a request to the General Authority for Freezones and Investment (GAFI) to construct the Minya textile city project for an estimated investment cost of USD 324 mn. The group is hoping to turn the 306-feddan project into an export-oriented freezone, sources close to the matter tell Al Mal. The consortium is in ongoing talks with Chinese partners, with whom they plan to establish a joint venture with equal ownership stakes to run the 306-feddan project.

M&A WATCH- Zahran Group begins restructuring ahead of merger with Groupe SEB in 2Q2018: Zahran Group has spun-off its real estate holdings into a separate entity ahead of merging its electrical appliances unit with that of Groupe SEB Egypt’s operations. Zahran and Groupe SEB had announced on Monday that they would be merging their appliances units into Groupe SEB Egypt Zahran, in which the French conglomerate will hold a 55% stake. Beltone Financial, which is advising on the transaction, said that it expects the transaction to be completed in 2Q2018, according to Al Mal.

Car dealers and distributors expect auto prices to decrease only slightly — if at all — in 2018, a number of them tell Ahram Gate. Car prices are influenced by a number of factors, such as regular inflation in their countries of origin and the EGP-USD exchange rate, which means that prices will not drop by more than 1%, in the unlikely event of them decreasing at all, says Omar Balbaa, the head of the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ auto division, stressing the importance of developing the local auto industry and moving up the value chain towards manufacturing. Others are expecting car prices to climb this year, prodded by increases in custom tariffs and other duties, such as the value-added tax. Despite that, FEI auto division member Abdallah Tork sees sales rebounding slightly during the year. Auto sales slumped c. 40% in 2017 as prices skyrocketed after the EGP float in late 2016. Some car dealers had said in October that they expect car prices to drop 10-20% by the start of 2018 to reflect improvements in the USD exchange rate and the impact of various freetrade agreements coming into effect.

Linklater LLP and Zaki Hashem & Partners have been chosen as legal advisors to the banking consortium that will manage Egypt’s planned USD 4 bn bond issuance, according to an emailed statement. HSBC, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley, and National Bank of Abu Dhabi will be managing the issuance, as announced at the end of last year. Al Tamimi & Co. and Dechert LLP were chosen as legal advisors to the government.

Egypt paid back USD 700 mn in debts it owed to the Paris Club this week, the central bank announced yesterday in a statement carried by Ahram Online. The government had announced earlier this month that it was planning to pay off more than USD 12 bn in debts to international creditors in 2018. The central bank had repaid over USD 2 bn in debts to Afreximbank and other international creditors at the close of 2017. Egypt’s foreign debt stood at USD 79 bn at the end of FY2016-17.

The Tourism Ministry is expecting 2 mn Russian tourists to visit the country this year, an source in the ministry told Reuters on Tuesday. He added that expectations are for more than 150k Russians to visit in the first quarter of the year before the resumption of flights to coastal cities in April. To that end, the Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) is looking into launching a tourism promotion tour in Russia sometime within the next three months, TPA head Hisham El Demery said, Al Shorouk reports. The campaign could include inviting Russian celebrities to visit Egypt and pushing positive content about Egypt onto social media platforms.

A step toward fixing our broken wheat policy? The Agriculture Ministry has formed a committee to amend agriculture quarantine regulations, Central Administration of the Agricultural Quarantine Authority sources tell Al Borsa. Members of the committee include the head of the authority, officials from the ministry, and representatives from various other relevant bodies. The committee is mandated to come up with a single playbook for agricultural imports and exports. While the move is being touted as a response to several countries imposing bans on Egyptian produce — the most recent being Saudi Arabia banning Egyptian guava imports — the move could open the door to reforming wheat policy. The Agriculture Quarantine Authority had been the problem child behind the confusion over the zero-tolerance rule on ergot. Inspectors from the authority are also said by commodities trader to have been over the flap last year about poppy seeds in wheat.

Wheat market still skittish on Egypt: The General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) purchased yesterday 115k tonnes of Russian wheat, to be delivered between 11 and 20 February, Reuters’ Arabic service reports. GASC, the world’s largest wheat buyer, had received seven offers in the tender after suppliers initially refused to bid, according to the newswire. “Traders had said earlier that they were hesitant to present offers amid disagreements about demurrage payments, which are fees charged to suppliers for vessels sitting at ports past the contracted period.” According to suppliers, Egypt’s “lengthy and erratic inspection procedures” have driven up demurrage fees over the past few months as several cargo ships were held at Egypt’s ports. GASC officials sat down with traders to discuss ways to resolve these issues, after which the traders presented their offers. Yesterday’s purchase makes Egypt’s strategic wheat reserves sufficient to last until May, the Supply Ministry announced, according to Reuters.

Khaled Ali’s campaign hints at a possible boycott of elections due to “stringent conditions”: Hala Fouda, manager of top human rights lawyer Khaled Ali’s 2018 presidential campaign, suggested that the campaign is considering boycotting the elections due to what she says is the short deadline for applying and meeting the conditions to run set out by the National Elections Committee (NEC). Under these terms, potential candidates must gather a petition of support with some 25,000 signatures and endorsements from 20 members of parliament to be eligible to run, Fouda tells Al Shorouk. She also notes that the NEC did not take into account Ali’s demands that the body ensure the press be allowed to freely cover the election, that it allow any citizen to run, and that it amend the National Elections Act. An Ali campaign would be untenable without those reforms, she said.

What to watch for: Ali, who hasn’t officially declared his candidacy under the regulations set out by the NEC announced on Monday, will announce his next move at a press conference on Monday. The activist is waiting on an appeal in March of his conviction of a “lewd hand gesture in public” which may see him declared ineligible to run.

Houthis threaten to block Red Sea shipping lane: Houthi rebels in Yemen have warned that they will block the critical Red Sea shipping routes leading to the Suez Canal if the Saudi-led coalition fighting them keeps pushing towards the port of Hodeidah it controls, Reuters reports, citing the Houthi-run SABA news agency. While SABA gave no details on how Houthis would make good on the threat, the narrowness of the straits of Bab Al Mandab (only 20 km wide), where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea, makes hundreds of ships potentially an easy target.

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) raised around USD 260 mn through three sharia-compliant facilities to support SMEs, Reuters reports. Afreximbank will use the funds to support SMEs across its member countries using sharia-compliant financing. USD 100 mn of the funding came from the Islamic Corp for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD). The International Islamic Trade Finance Corp (ITFC) provided two facilities worth USD 100 mn and EUR 50 mn to help finance exports among African countries. ICD and ITFC are part of the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank group of companies, Reuters notes.

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Image of the Day

A team of archaeologists are uncovering the remains of an Ancient Egyptian city — in the sands of a California beach that was built as part of the set for the movie “The Ten Commandments,”according to the Express. The set from the 1923 film was built by 1,600 craftsmen and includes 21 Sphinxes, four Ramses II statues and huge city gates. The film’s director, Cecile Demille, left the set when filming was over and even joked about people finding it later saying, “If one thousand years from now archaeologists happen to dig beneath the sands of Guadalupe, I hope they will not rush into print with the amazing news that Egyptian civilization extended all the way to the Pacific coast of North America." The dig is delicate since the set was made from more fragile plaster and wood; work has been ongoing since 2012.

Egypt in the News

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s meeting yesterday with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki is topping coverage of Egypt in the international press this morning. Afwerki’s visit comes against the backdrop of Egypt’s rising tensions with Sudan and Ethiopia over territorial disputes and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the Associated Press notes.

De-escalation in the “Cold War on the Nile”: Among the interesting pieces we’ve read on the issue is one by Giorgio Cafiero for Al-Monitor where he says that the future of relations between Egypt and Sudan will depend largely on water issues, among the other lingering issues between the two countries. “Failure to mend fences will ultimately make it increasingly difficult for the two to address major regional challenges facing both of them, such as extremism, fast population growth, climate change and transformation of industries. Yet if Cairo and Khartoum can pursue a diplomatic course of action, such cooperation could exemplify the ability of governments worldwide to overcome political tensions in pursuit of peace and good neighborly ties,” Cafiero writes.

Also worth a quick skim this morning:

  • Egypt is constructing its largest water purification plant to better face future threats of shortages, The Associated Press reports.
  • Classism, bigotry: Facebook groups connecting Egyptian housewives with foreign domestic workers highlight classism and bigotry in Egypt, Miranda Hall writes for OpenDemocracy.
  • Former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik abandoned his bid following threats of a smear campaign against him and his family, sources alleged to the Middle East Eye.
  • The Ikhwan are trying to “make their own imaginary religious country on the Egyptian blood,” Jesuit Father William Sidhom tells Crux. “They want to make things bad between Egyptian Muslims and Christians to create a distortion, because this is the only way to break Egypt,” he says.
  • Sophie Lam asks when the UK will resume flights to Sharm El Sheikh, in a piece for iNews.

On Deadline

When it comes to protecting Egypt’s water resources, cutting back on excessive consumption is key, the nation’s columnists remind us. Al Masry Al Youm’s Abbas El Tarabily lauds the government’s plan to invest heavily in water treatment plants to secure the supply-side in light of external issues (a certain upstream dam). He notes, however, that domestic consumption is the second half of the country’s water challenge, and says that citizens must be held accountable for their water consumption through increased taxes or other painful measures. Similarly, Youm7’s Youssef Ayoub says that, while Egypt’s negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are important, any success on that front will continue to be undermined if Egyptians do not cut back significantly on water consumption.

Worth Watching

Egyptian Blue, a pigment used by the Ancient Egyptians to decorate tombs, is finding modern day use as a tool against forgery and, potentially, medicine, according to SciShow. The artificial pigment, believed to be the world’s first, was widely used in Ancient Egyptian decorative art but fell out of fashion in the ancient world somewhere around the fourth century. It was rediscovered in the 1800s during an excavation in Pompeii and its use in Ancient Egyptian sites has since been well documented, with our ancestors having consistently got the mix right over a span of 3,000 years. The exact mix of elements used by the Ancient Egyptians isn’t known, but there are clues left by a Roman writer named Vitruvius. Egyptian Blue molecules emit infrared radiation which opens the door for potential uses in anti-forgery and fingerprint dusting as well as incorporating the pigment into a dye for medical scanning techniques (watch, runtime 3:46)

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Senior Egyptian and Tanzanian officials began a two-day meeting yesterday to discuss ways to expand economic cooperation between their two countries, AllAfrica reports. Both nations are gearing up to sign a number of social and economic MoUs at an upcoming joint permanent commission meeting.

Defense Minister Sedky Sobhi met with US Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert Karem in Cairo on Tuesday as part of an Egyptian-American Military Coordination Committee meeting discussing security cooperation, according to a statement by the Armed Forces.

Energy

Oil and gas services subject to the VAT

The Finance Ministry will be applying the value-added tax on 20 petroleum services that had been subject to a sales tax, according to Al Mal. While E&P operations are still exempt from the VAT, ancillary goods and services provided to operations at rigs are not. The list sent to the Oil Ministry last week includes medical and social services, supplying sites with passenger cars and spare parts, prepaid mobile phone cards, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, sportswear and gear, accounting services, as well as tour organization and operation, among others.

Shaker, UK’s Atkins discuss potential cooperation on renewable energy projects

Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker met with high-level executives from the UK’s Atkins to discuss potential cooperation on renewable energy projects in Egypt. Atkins is particularly interested in wind, but also in waste and nuclear energy projects, according to Al Mal. This comes one day after news reports claimed that the electricity and environment ministries had agreed to set the feed-in tariff for waste-to-energy projects at EGP 1.30 per kWh produced from agricultural waste and EGP 1.60 per kWh produced from solid waste.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt more than doubled its tea imports from India

Egypt bought 8.54 mn kg of tea from India in the first 11 months of 2017, India’s state-run Tea Board said, according to Reuters. Egypt’s purchases of Indian tea are up from the 3.4 mn kg bought in the first 11 months of 2016. “India, the world’s second-biggest tea producer, exports CTC (crush-tear-curl) grade mainly to Egypt, Pakistan and the UK, and the orthodox variety to Iraq, Iran and Russia,” Reuters reports.

Cotton production to increase to 2 mn qintars this year

The Agriculture Ministry is aiming to increase cotton production this year to 2 mn qintars (100k tonnes) up from 1.4 mn (70k tonnes) last year, according to Al Mal. The current season is off to a strong start with exports up 126% y-o-y on the back of cultivation area increasing to 220k feddans.

Manufacturing

Jushi begins work on fourth phase of Sokhna fiberglass factory

China’s Jushi has begun work on the fourth phase of its fiberglass factory in Ain Sokhna, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil announced yesterday, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The USD 60 mn expansion should be complete and online within the next few months, adding raw material processing and packaging to the USD 520 mn plant’s production capabilities. Jushi’s plant produces 200k tonnes of fiberglass per annum and exports 99% of output, said Kabil, explaining that it helped Egypt become the world’s third largest producer of fiberglass last year. Jushi is also expecting to sign a contract with the National Research Institute at the end of the month, under which it would establish a joint research facility dedicated the development of the fibreglass industry.

Telecoms + ICT

NTRA banning sales of mobile phone lines through distributors starting in March?

The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) will ban sales of new mobile phone lines through distributors as of March and has informed the nation’s mobile network operators, Al Borsa reports. From March onwards, all MNOs will be selling new phone lines through their own branches and retail sales stores. The NTRA had limited sales of phone lines to 50 licensed distributors per MNO in January and February. The decision has spurned talks and plans between MNOs and the largest distributors to set up franchises and other licensing agreements, sources tell the newspaper. A proposed framework would see each distributors operate around 10-12 franchise stores, they added.

Orange to buy back its shares if its capital increase does not meet EGX requirements

Orange Egypt will buy up its own shares at fair value if its capital increase does not meet EGX requirements and the bourse forces it to delist, the company said in a statement to the bourse. The company is still studying its planned additional share issuance to ensure its compliance with EGX requirements, according to the statement. Orange had announced its planned capital increased to EGP 16.4 bn from EGP 1 bn in November, and received approval from the Financial Regulatory Authority last month.

Automotive + Transportation

Transport Ministry in talks for USD 220-230 mn loan to finance railway upgrades

The Transport Ministry is in talks with international funding institutions to secure a USD 220-230 mn loan needed to complete railway track upgrades USD 40 mn of that amount will be used to purchase new equipment needed for the project, sources tell Al Mal. The ministry has already completed work on 200 km of a total 1,200 km of rail being upgraded under an expansive development program for the sector that’s expected to take 3-5 years and cost around EGP 44.6 bn to complete. The ministry is also in talks with 10 global consultancy firms who are expected to participate in the bid for the new railway project connecting Ain Sokhna, with the new administrative capital, 6 October City, and Alamein, as well as the 35 km 6 October-Giza monorail. The Transport Ministry had decided this week to hike railway tickets by 20-25% to help boost sector revenues.

Banking + Finance

Naeem shareholders approve DFM listing

Shareholder of Naeem Holding approved the dual listing of shares on the company on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM), according to a bourse disclosure. The shareholders authorised the company to list up to a third of its capital on the DFM.

Moneyfellows raises USD 600k

Fintech startup Moneyfellows raised USD 600k from Dubai-based Angel Investors and 500 Startups, according to Forbes Middle East. Moneyfellows, who we reported on last summer, makes its money by charging a small fee upon withdrawal and currently has 2,600 users in roughly 240 “money circles.” This latest round of funding brings Moneyfellows total amount raised to USD 800k.

Legislation + Policy

House approves amendments to Civil Service Act that make registration for social welfare services mandatory

The House of Representatives voted in amendments to the Civil Service Act yesterday that make it mandatory for citizens to register their updated information at government offices that provide them with various social welfare services and benefits, Ahram Gate reports. Citizens will have one year to from when the law is published in the Official Gazette to comply with new regulations or they risk seeing services — such as bread and commodity subsidies, for example — suspended, in addition to facing an EGP 1,000-5,000 fine.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Prosecutor to investigate New York Times report

Egypt’s Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek has ordered a formal investigation into allegations made in The New York Times accusing Egyptian authorities of trying to sway public opinion to accept US President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Ahram Online reports. The Egyptian government denied the Times’ claims that it obtained copies of recorded phone calls between an Egyptian intelligence officer and different talk show hosts who were being instructed on how to present the issue of Jerusalem to their audiences. The State Security prosecutor is leading the investigation, according to Al Mal. The story is still making foreign headlines, with fresh coverage and analysis from Asharq Al-Awsat, Middle East Monitor, and The Media Line.

On Your Way Out

Google’s Doodle yesterday celebrated poet Farouk Shousha’s 82nd birthday and his radio show “Lughatuna Al-Jamila.” Shousha credited his classical style of schooling for his “strong foundation in Arabic, which in turn inspired his lifelong passion for safekeeping the quality and purity of the language. On his show, Our Beautiful Language, he would recite and dissect Arabic poetry, popularizing it among the masses.” The Doodle celebrating his birthday “depicts him as he might have looked on set: distinguished with salt and pepper hair, joyously opening up a world of poetry and culture to listeners tuning in from Egypt and beyond.”

First donkey’s get to emigrate, now they’re getting decent healthcare? Egypt Equine Aid is an organization that offers free veterinary care and education on the treatment of horses and donkeys in Cairo, according to One Green Planet. Founded by Aussies Jill and Warren Barton, the organization takes in malnourished and lame animals and gives them the proper care and treatment as well as offering free veterinary services to equine owners that can’t afford it. The organization also works with the community to teach people about compassion toward animals; sadly a concept that is often missing in our culture. Unfortunately, sometimes their work can only be carried out in the humane euthanization of the animals. We’re all for the decent treatment of animals, but the fuzziness we get from the story is drowned by the fact that plenty of people could be a better use of the time, efforts and funding for some of these NGOs.

The fifth iteration of the Egypt-based startup accelerator program ‘Startup Reactor’ is accepting applications, according to CNBC Africa. The program selects 40 startups and provides them with mentoring and facilities before narrowing down the selection to 15. The top three, who will be chosen over the coming six months, will be provided with opportunities to present to international investors and receive funding of up to EGP 300k. The program also offers specialty tracks in digital media, design and computing. Applications for the program right here. Deadline for submissions ends on 20 January.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.6383 | Sell 17.7383
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 17.63 | Sell 17.73
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.65 | Sell 17.75

EGX30 (Tuesday): 15,159 (+1.4%)
Turnover: EGP 1.3 bn (19% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +0.9%

THE MARKET ON TUESDAY: The EGX30 ended Tuesday’s session up 1.4%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent closed up 3.0%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Egyptian Resorts up 4.6%; Egyptian Iron & Steel up 4.0%; and Emaar Misr up 3.6%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were TMG Holding down 1.9%; Ezz Steel down 0.7%; and Madinet Nasr Housing down 0.7%. The market turnover was EGP 1.3 bn, and local investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +125.4 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +18.2 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -143.6 mn

Retail: 57.4% of total trades | 53.6% of buyers | 61.1% of sellers
Institutions: 42.6% of total trades | 46.4% of buyers | 38.9% of sellers

Foreign: 22.3% of total | 27.1% of buyers | 17.5% of sellers
Regional: 9.0% of total | 9.7% of buyers | 8.3% of sellers
Domestic: 68.7% of total | 63.2% of buyers | 74.2% of sellers

WTI: USD 62.87 (+1.85%)
Brent: USD 68.71 (+1.37%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.95 MMBtu, (+3.95%, February 2018 contract)
Gold: USD 1,314.27 / troy ounce (-0.47%)

TASI: 7,290.96 (-0.26%) (YTD: +0.89%)
ADX: 4,593.11 (+0.17%) (YTD: +4.43%)
DFM: 3,503.44 (+0.38%) (YTD: +3.96%)
KSE Weighted Index: 412.32 (+0.61%) (YTD: +2.72%)
QE: 9,002.46 (+0.3%) (YTD: +5.62%)
MSM: 5,106.28 (-0.03%) (YTD: +0.14%)
BB: 1,315.17 (-0.4%) (YTD: -1.24%)

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Calendar

15-17 January (Monday – Wednesday): EFG Hermes Annual Egypt Day Conference, Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Cairo

15 January (Monday): EFG Hermes Annual Egypt CEOs Dinner, Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Cairo

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.

05 February (Monday): Egypt’s Emirates NBI PMI reading for January announced.

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.

24-25 April (Tuesday-Wednesday): Renaissance Capital’s 3rd Annual Egypt Investor Conference, Cape Town, South Africa.

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

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

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

15 May (Tuesday): Expected date for the start of Ramadan begins (TBC).

15-17 June (Friday-Sunday): Eid Al Fitr (TBC), national holiday. (Look for possible Monday off given the first day falls on a Friday.)

21-25 August (Tuesday-Saturday): Eid Al Adha (TBC), national holiday

11 September (Tuesday): Islamic New Year (TBC), national holiday.

06 October (Saturday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

20 November (Tuesday): Prophet’s Birthday (TBC), national holiday.

22 November (Thursday): US Thanksgiving.

25 December (Tuesday): Western Christmas.

01 January 2019 (Tuesday): New Year’s Day, national holiday.

07 January 2019 (Monday): Coptic Christmas

25 January 2019 (Friday): Police Day, national holiday.

25 April 2019 (Thursday): Sinai Liberation day, national holiday.

29 April 2019 (Monday): Easter Monday, national holiday.

01 May 2019 (Wednesday): Labor Day, national holiday.

06 May 2019 (Monday): First day of Ramadan (TBC)

05-06 June 2019 (Wednesday-Thursday): Eid El Fitr (TBC)

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of HSBC Egypt (tax ID: 204-901-715), the leading corporate and retail lender in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Mashreq (tax ID: 204-898-862), the MENA region’s leading homegrown personal and digital bank; Etisalat Misr (tax ID: 235-071-579), the leading telecoms provider in Egypt; and Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt.