Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Egypt emerges as regional energy hub with USD 15 bn Israeli gas import pact

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

Egypt’s ambition to become the premier regional energy export hub got a shot in the arm yesterday with news that the Alaa Arafa-led Dolphinus Partners has entered into a USD 15 bn gas import agreement with Israel. That little matter of outstanding arbitral awards stands in the way, as we discuss in today’s Speed Round, but this is unequivocally good news.

It’s now time to get ambitious and ask ourselves — business leaders and policy makers alike — why aren’t we consistently making the case to our peers, our friends, and our competitors that Egypt should be the low-cost, high-talent hub for everything from financial services to exports? Why are professional services outfits, investment bankers, lawyers, multinationals and the like basing their regional hubs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi? We love ‘em both, but whether you look at the cost of rent or talent, time to market or a dozen other factors, Egypt is ridiculously more (cost-)competitive.

From banking to tech, media to manufacturing, Egypt is the natural hub for the Middle East, North and East Africa. It’s an argument that accrues to our collective benefit in the business community — and one that is too important for us to wait for government to make on our behalf. We must lead by example. </end sermon>

Meanwhile: The third annual Capital Markets Summit gets underway today. Look for current and former government officials to take the stage to discuss “the role of reforms in restoring growth and the vision of the capital market 2030.”

The T-20 is holding a fireside chat on blockchain tonight at 7:30pm. The event is open to T20 members and select invitees from the larger business community. Enterprise readers may register here to request an invite.

Exchange-traded funds are “in danger of devouring capitalism” as they re-shape the finance industry, the Financial Times argues in its introduction to a package on the ETF industry. Read the story in question here (by Robin Wigglesworth, the FT’s former Middle East hand) or check out the full menu of stories in the ETF package here. Then go read about how BlackRock is bulking up its research into artificial intelligence.

Almost two-thirds of KFC’s 900 branches across the UK remained closed yesterday due to a shortage of chicken after “incomplete or delayed” deliveries by DHL, the Financial Times reports. The “operational issues” came less than a week after KFC replaced delivery company Bidvest with a three-way partnership with logistics provider DHL and previous partner Quick Service Logistics. CNBC also has the story.

Should banks use their CSR programs to set social policy for a whole country? That’s what Andrew Ross Sorkin, the busiest man in financial journalism, argues in his DealBook column for the New York Times, laying out a case for how the US’s “financial gains hold more sway over the gun industry than any politician. If banks and credit card companies were to stop doing business with gun shops that sell assault weapons, the supply of such firearms would be greatly reduced.”

In miscellany this morning:

  • We’re not in a global bear market, but more corrections are in the cards as “synchronized tapering of global central bank stimulus programs could prompt more volatility in equity and corporate and sovereign bonds, Citi global macro strategists said in a research note Monday.” (CNBC)
  • Boom turns to bust for millennials: GenX-ers born between 1966 and 1980 were earning 4% more at the same age than millennials are earning today, at least in developed nations. (Bloomberg)
  • Your kids aren’t’ addicted to cellphones—they’re afraid of missing out when they’re not online. And guess what? You’re no different, new research by Common Sense Media finds. This comes as “many parents” in Silicon Valley are still restricting or outright banning screen time for their kids.

Do you want to keep off that weight you’ve lost? Go lift weights. That’s our takeaway from a PNAS paper that popped up on our Twitter feed, which suggests that the bones in the lower half of your body could act as “body scales” that trigger biological changes that keep body weight and body fat mass constant. The lesson: Lifting heavy things doesn’t just make you look better and add health-protective muscle mass as you age, it may be among the keys to keeping weight off for the long term if you’ve recently lost a few kgs. Read Body weight homeostat that regulates fat mass independently of leptin in rats and mice and the accompanying letter.

On The Horizon

Azerbaijani Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev is expected to arrive in Egypt tomorrow for talks on economic, technical, and scientific cooperation between the two countries, according to AzerNews.

Our friends at EFG Hermes are hosting their 14th annual One on One Conference in Dubai on Monday, 5 March. The three-day event is the largest investor conference globally focused on frontier and emerging markets and will bring together some 175 companies for discussions on what a year of shifting benchmarks — including oil production cuts and the prospect of US interest rate hikes — mean for emerging frontier markets.

Egypt’s Emirates NBI PMI reading for February will be announced on Monday, 5 March.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Business ruled the airwaves last night. Dolphinus Holdings’ USD 15 bn natural gas import agreement with Israel’s Delek Drilling and Noble Energy dominated the debate, causing a stir that had Oil Minister Tarek El Molla calling up the nation’s talking heads all night to explain how the deregulation of the natural gas industry will work.

Talking point number one: A pending arbitration award against Egypt in favor of Israel will be resolved before any natural gas is actually imported, especially since the agreement is still pending regulatory approval, El Molla told Lamees Al Hadidi on Hona Al Asema. He said that while the Oil Ministry does not have full details on the agreement, there’s no in-principle objection. The transaction will help Egypt become a regional energy hub, the minister noted, adding that achieving self-sufficiency on natural gas does not mean the end of imports.

Talking point number two: The agreement will benefit the Egyptian economy, El Molla said. He explained that not only will natural gas importers pay the state to use its infrastructure for transport and distribution, but that imports will bring idle liquefaction plants back into service. The Israeli gas could serve both domestic demand and exports, he noted. (watch, runtime: 56:16).

Talking point number three: The Natural Gas Act has opened the market up to the private sector, El Molla told Amr Adib on Kol Youm. The government has blessed the agreement but is not party to it, El Molla told a perturbed Adib, who was made anxious by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he said implied in his speech yesterday that the agreement was struck between the governments of Israel and Egypt (watch, runtime: 25:22).

El Molla also spoke to Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary (watch, runtime: 9:02).

The business community welcomed the agreement. The head of the Union of Egyptian Gas Investors, Mohamed Saad El Din, told Adib that importing gas from Israel will help turn Egypt into a hub for processing and liquefaction (watch, runtime: 3:27).

The agreement is expected to come into effect in 10-12 months’ time, unnamed sources told Yahduth fi Masr’s Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 10:00).

Back on Hona Al Asema, Lamees spoke to former oil minister Osama Kamal, who had to downplay the notion that the import agreement is a back door to “normalization with Israel.” Politics play no part in an agreement that is fundamentally good for the economy, Kamal added (watch, runtime: 4:36).

You’re better and smarter than that, Lamees: Hadidi wondered whether Egyptians would be okay with using Israeli natural gas.

From the tinfoil hat, anti- “normalization” camp, we have Rep. Mohamed Badrawy, who thinks not. An angry Badrawy said a pact of this size should not have been made with Israel, adding that it was unnecessary since Egypt is moving towards self-sufficiency. He said the House representatives are planning to submit an official inquiry to the government (watch, runtime: 5:40).

Meanwhile on Masaa DMC, El Hosary interviewed EGX deputy head Mohsen Adel (watch, runtime: 3:42) and phoned Finance Minister Amr El Garhy to discuss IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde’s most recent props for Egypt’s progress on economic reform (watch, runtime: 5:09)

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

Egypt just became the region’s premier energy hub. Delek Drilling and Noble Energy announced signing two binding agreements to export gas from Israel to Egypt via Dolphinus Holdings, according to Globes. “Egypt is becoming a real gas hub … This [agreement] is the first [transaction] of potentially more to come,” Delek Drilling CEO Yossi Abu told Reuters. Delek and Noble will supply 64 bcm of natural gas from the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields over 10 years under a contract estimated to be worth USD 15 bn.

The agreement still needs regulatory and government approvals in Israel and Egypt. “The supply of the natural gas will begin when the required infrastructure is in place to convey the gas to Egypt and will continue until either 64 bcm is supplied or 2030, whichever is sooner,” Globes notes. The parties are examining the possibility of transporting the gas using the existing EMG pipeline, which previously transported gas in the opposite direction from Egypt to Israel, or to transfer via Jordan. Dolphinus, which is owned in part by industrialist Alaa Arafa, first made news about importing gas from Israel in early 2015 and, rumor has it, had been one of five companies to apply for a gas import permit after the Natural Gas Act was passed last year, effectively deregulating the market and opening it up to private sector players.

In a tweet on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “I welcome the historic agreement that was announced on the export of Israeli gas to Egypt. This will put bns into the state treasury to benefit the education, health and social welfare of Israel’s citizens.” Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz chimed in by saying that “This is the first time since the signing of peace treaties in the Middle East that such significant [agreements] between the countries have been signed,” according to Reuters. “The agreement will strengthen relations between Israel and its neighbors and increase the economic cooperation between them,” Delek’s controlling shareholder Yitzhak Tshuva said.

But what about that USD 1.76 bn arbitration award that PM Sherif Ismail said is blocking imports from Israel? While the Oil Ministry said it had no comment on the agreement, Minister Tarek El Molla phoned-in to several of last night’s talk shows to clarify that imports will not start until the case with Israel is resolved. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail had made it a policy point not to allow imports of gas from Israel until it dropped the USD 1.76 bn international arbitration award in favor of Israeli Electric against EGAS, EGPC and EMG. El Molla said the agreement may even help end the dispute with Israel, describing it is a step forward in the way of Egypt becoming a regional energy hub. (We have more in Last Night’s Talk Shows, above.)

The story has captured the imagination of the international business press and has been picked up by the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg, the Associated Press and RT among others.

Worth reading for context: Reuters’ take in late December on how Egypt was emerging as the clear leader in the race to become a regional energy hub.

RELATED: Did EMG get the largest arbitration award in Cairo arbitration court history? The news of the agreement comes a day after reports of the Cairo Regional Center for International Commercial Arbitration ordering EGAS and EGPC to pay East Mediterranean Gas co-founder Josef Maiman USD 1.03 bn in damages. Our friends at Shahid Law Firm, which represented EMG in the case along with Freshfields, tell us this is the largest award handed down by the arbitrator. Haaretz notes that the decision by the Cairo-based arbitrator came after the UN Commission on International Trade Law ruled that EGAS and EGPC had violated the terms of the Egyptian-Polish trade treaty’s clauses protecting investors. Maiman had filed the case as a Polish citizen.

Speaking of Mediterranean gas, Greek oil and gas producer Energean is planning to list on the London Stock Exchange in March to raise USD 500 mn in capital “as it seeks to tap investor appetite in its gas prospects in the eastern Mediterranean,” which has been growing since Eni discovered the supergiant Zohr gas field in Egypt, the Financial Times reports (paywall). The company plans to spend USD 395 mn developing its Karish and Tanin fields offshore from Israel, while the remaining capital will be used to repay loans and cover fees and expenses. “Energean will also consider a secondary listing in Tel Aviv,” the newspaper notes.

INVESTMENT WATCH- MAF to open 100 new Carrefour stores in Egypt. Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) signed a cooperation protocol with the Investment Ministry and the National Service Projects Organization to open 100 Carrefour stores in industrial zones across Egypt. “This agreement comes in line with Majid Al Futtaim’s commitment towards the socio-economic development of Egypt and subsequently fulfills the Government’s vision,” MAF Egypt Country Head Abdalla El Nokrashy says. MAF currently has 37 Carrefour stores nationwide. Zaki Hashem & Partners is Majid Al Futtaim’s legal advisor on the partnership.

Al Nouran Sugar is expecting to inaugurate the first phase of its new EGP 3.5 bn sugar facility in Sharqia in April, Chairman Ashraf Mahmoud said, according to Al Borsa. Production is set to begin with the sugar beets harvest season, with the first phase of the project expected to have an annual production capacity of 300k tonnes. The facility’s four phases will be complete by 2025, and will have a total production capacity of 1.2 mn tonnes per year. The company also has plans to continue adding new production lines and export its surplus production, Mahmoud said, without providing further details.

Amendments to the Capital Markets Act that pave the way for the launch of new financial products are credit positive for Egyptian banks, according to Moody’s Credit Outlook. The amendments “will deepen the financial markets in Egypt by facilitating sukuk issuance and investors’ ability to hedge, making the country a more appealing investment destination to foreign investors. The amendment is credit positive for banks because the increased capital markets activity will raise banks’ income from their debt capital markets business while also providing funding options.” Moody’s are also of the view that banks will likely lose loan business as the largest corporates will “begin to finance their operations through the yet-to-be-developed debt markets,” but that increased lending to SMEs will support loan growth.

FRA sets new service fees to process paperwork on capital market transactions: Financial Regulatory (FRA) has set new service fees to push paper on capital market transactions including EGX listings, M&A transactions, and ownership transfers, Youm7 reports. For bourse listings, the FRA will take a fee equivalent to 0.002% of the value of the shares being listed. On acquisitions and share ownership transfers (for listed and non-listed companies), businesses and individuals will be charged a fee equivalent to 0.001%, while requests for approval to issue global depository receipts will be charged 0.00025% of the transaction’s value (to a maximum of EGP 100k). Foreign listed companies that are looking for a dual listing on the EGX will also pay the FRA a fee equal to 0.00025% of the value of the shares on offer.

The Ismail cabinet has reportedly approved a three-tier feed-in tariff system for waste-to-energy projects, unnamed Electricity Ministry sources tell Al Mal. The first tier is for fuel derived from burnable agricultural waste such as rice straw, which will have a FiT rate of EGP 1.30 per kWh. The second tier would see power produced from biogas, with a FiT rate of EGP 1.45 per kWh, while the third tier — refuse-derived fuel — would have a FiT rate of EGP 1.60 per kWh. The Electricity Ministry will pay EGP 1.02 per kWh across the three tiers, while the Finance Ministry will pay the remainder. Cabinet has sent the pricing scheme to the House of Representatives (heaven help us), whose approval is expected next month, according to the sources.

Opening South America for Egyptian strawberry and grape exports: The Agricultural Quarantine Authority is in talks with its Brazilian counterpart to pave the way for sales of Egyptian grapes and strawberries the South American market starting next season, sources tell Al Borsa. The authority is currently preparing samples of grapes and strawberries to send to Brazil for inspection. The Agriculture Ministry recently formed a committee to amend agriculture quarantine regulations after several countries imposed bans on Egyptian produce, including strawberries.

In tandem, food manufacturers are pushing exports at the Gulf Food expo: Food producers are jockeying for position in export markets as they look to capitalize on Egypt’s newfound cost competitiveness post the float of the EGP. Among them are instant coffee maker Misr Cafe, which plans to take advantage of the Mercosur freetrade agreement to push up its exports 10%, according to Al Borsa. MRM Group for Agricultural Crops is also looking to increase its exports more than 40% by tapping into new European markets, while Egy Dairy is relying on increasing its presence in Saudi Arabia and Sudan. The Egyptian European Company for Food Products is eyeing expansion in Europe and Africa and also plans to add two new production lines to its 10 Ramadan City factory, the newspaper reports. Federation of Egyptian Industries’ food industries division head Ashraf El Gazayerli had said higher exports would play an important role in allowing the sector to grow 8-10% this year, as we noted yesterday.

NOTED- Top Egyptian arbitration litigators: Chambers Global, one of the world’s leading directories of legal practitioners, has put out its list of top-ranked firms and lawyers. Included in its list of top arbitration litigators were Karim A. Youssef (Youssef & Partners), Mohamed Salah Abdel Wahab (Zulficar & Partners), Ahmed El-Kosheri and Tarek Riad (Kosheri, Rashed & Riad), Girgis Abd El Shahid (Shahid Law Firm), Khaled Shalakany (Shalakany Law Office), and F. John Matouk (Matouk Bassiouny), among others.

It doesn’t look like Russian flights are resuming today: Sources at Cairo International Airport tell Ahram Gate that authorities have not received word from Russia’s Aeroflot with a new date for the resurrection of the Cairo-Moscow air route. Previous statements from both Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Transportation Minister said that flights should resume today, but EgyptAir has moved service to Moscow to its April roster from March until preparations are complete to ensure that there is sufficient demand for the route, Chairman Safwat Musallam tells the newspaper in an interview. Egypt’s flag carrier plans to start off with three weekly flights and has already been given a spot for its office and assigned departure and arrival gates at Moscow’s Medvedev Airport and Cairo International Airport, he adds.

Last we heard, Russian carrier Aeroflot and EgyptAir had yet to complete procedures to begin launching flights. A memo sent to officials from Cairo International Airport had surfaced over the weekend saying that security approvals were yet to be received and that flights were postponed until the end of the month. Flights were originally to have been relaunched in mid-February after a two-year hiatus.

LEGISLATION WATCH- Parliament’s Housing Committee is discussing legislation that would provide a framework for the government to settle building code violations with building owners and developers, Al Masry Al Youm reports. Housing Ministry inspectors are expected to attend today’s hearing on the law, which will have a limited mandate of three months and apply only to buildings that have already been constructed, Housing Minister Mostafa Madbouly told the committee yesterday. The restricted time frame is meant to eliminate a loophole that would allow violations to continue occurring in the future, Madbouly added. Under the law, building owners will be required to submit a settlement request to a specialized committee during the three-month window. Parliament has yet to decide whether the payment will be a lump sum or added to the building’s utility bills. It is not clear what procedures developers have to take for their buildings to comply with regulations. The Unified Building Code is also under discussion at the House.

In other legislative news, the Ismail Cabinet referred yesterday a draft law to set up the Supreme Authority for Upper Egypt Development to the House of Representatives for approval, according to a statement. Cabinet had signed off on the legislation — which would mandate the authority with drafting a holistic strategy for the economic, social, and urban development of regional areas — earlier this month.

Cabinet is also gearing up to send a draft law on solid waste management to the House before the end of the month, an Environment Ministry official tells Youm7. The law — which should be issued in 3-6 months’ time — is expected to create a national authority for sanitation and waste management to help regulate the sector.

…Finally, the executive regulations to the controversial NGOs law issued in 2016 should be out before the end of June, government sources tell Al Borsa.

Saudi Arabia has no interest in an EU-style regional security alliance proposed by Qatar’s Emir on Friday, Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said in Vienna yesterday on the sidelines of a meeting with his Austrian counterpart, according to Reuters.

CORRECTION- We had noted a story yesterday that device-maker SICO, which launched this week its low-cost, assembled-in-Egypt handset, is planning to list on the EGX. We have since been informed that the story, which ran in Al Mal and cites sources from SICO, is incorrect and that SICO has no plans at the moment to IPO.

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Image of the Day

In a once-Russian city, China hosts annual ice festival: Famed for its massive illuminated ice sculptures, the annual Harbin ice festival in northern China is fashioned to make visitors “feel like Alice in a Chinese version of a Wonderland,” Sophy Roberts writes for the Financial Times. Harbin, which was once settled by Russia, attracts 15 mn visitors for the festival that takes months of work to put together. “All through November and December, some 5,000 men cut and carve the frozen blocks into sculptures reminiscent of Florence’s Duomo, Beijing’s Temple of Heaven, and what looks like a giant Thai pagoda.”

Egypt in the News

The conversation on Egypt in the international press this morning is dominated by talk of our emergence as a regional gas hub thanks to a USD 15 bn gas import agreement with Israel. We have chapter and verse in Speed Round and Last Night’s Talk Shows, above.

Women in Egypt are leading a “gender revolution” in finding careers as driving instructors, Youssra El-Sharkawy writes for OZY. “Not all female activists are convinced that gender-segregated driving classes represent emancipation for Egyptian women. But there’s little denying the economic opportunities this boom is creating in an industry that has traditionally shut women out… Critics argue that gender-specific services aren’t good for the empowerment of Egypt’s women. ‘Women-only projects are unhealthy for society and won’t make women feel safer or even end [redacted] harassment,’ says Evon Mossad, activist and member of the National Front for Egyptian Women, a body that fights gender discrimination.”

Also worth a quick skim today:

  • Family of British citizen Adrian King say a hospital in Hurghada switched off his life support machine because his family couldn’t pay the bill after the insurance company refused to pay, Mirror reports. King was in a coma with suspected kidney failure, The Daily Mail says.
  • The National reviews the boutique Hotel Longchamps in Zamalek, which “has positioned itself as indulgence with character.”
  • “With memories of the 1977 bread riots resulting from subsidy cuts, President El Sisi should be credited for taking hard but courageous measures he knew would force Egyptians to tighten their belts,” writes Linda Heard for Gulf News.
  • Philippine police and army troops announced arresting a former Daesh commander in a raid on a Manila apartment, according to The Associated Press. The detained person is reportedly an Egyptian national.
  • Gaza is “the Egyptian militarist regime’s easy prey,” writes student Muhammad Shehada for Haaretz. He says Gaza’s humanitarian crisis is man-made.
  • Egypt will see increases in potential instability and unrest ahead of the upcoming March election, according to Global Risk Insights.

On Deadline

The nation must choose between security, stability, and economic growth on one hand, and democracy and freedoms on the other hand, Ziyad Bahaa El Din writes for Al Shorouk. He argues that voting for President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in the upcoming March election means approving the continuation of the current restrictions on political action and independent media, as this would be the price to pay in exchange for the country’s stability. In the same publication, Talaat Ismail says it is time to prioritize freedom over economic achievements, arguing that there should not be conflict between the two.

Worth Watching

Ben & Jerry’s vs. Häagen-Dazs — the corporate war you probably never heard of: Readers of Enterprise know we are fond of corporate wars, which are every bit as interesting as real ones. We also love ice cream (who doesn’t), a fact that makes this week’s documentary selection all the more interesting.

When it comes to Ben and Jerry’s vs. Häagen-Dazs, we, the consumer, have our favorites and we stick to them. But little is known of the corporate battle that has taken place for the luxury ice-cream market. The Goliath of the story is Häagen-Dazs, which in 1984 (an ominous date) tried to use its weight to bully distributors from taking on Ben & Jerry’s — an upstart ice cream bar founded by its eponymous hippie-nerd founders, who loved food. They fought back, using a mix of clever litigation and a brilliant marketing campaign targeting the Pillsbury Doughboy, the beloved mascot of behemoth food corporation and Häagen-Dazs parent Pillsbury. They’re victory would be a business lesson on how the underdog can take on a giant corporation.

But it doesn’t end there. What happens when that same David becomes the new Goliath? You may be surprised who you wind up rooting for. This half-hour BBC documentary takes you through the ups and downs of the ice cream wars, exploring monopolies, consumer branding, and the power of marketing. A must watch for anyone considering getting into a market dominated by a big player (watch, runtime 36:33).

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing in one direction for one day yesterday to allow Palestinian citizens stranded in Cairo to return to the Gaza Strip, security sources said, Al Shorouk reports. Citizens were not permitted to cross from Gaza to Egypt. This comes amid a flare-up in cross-border violence between Gaza and Israel that has seen the two sides bombing the other’s territory, The New York Times notes.

Shoukry meets with members of the US Foreign Affairs Committee: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed regional security developments with member of a US Congress delegation yesterday, that included House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and MENA Affairs Committee Chairman Paul Cook, according to a ministry statement.

Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil met with Swedish counterpart Ann Linde in Cairo yesterday to discuss bilateral cooperation, according to a ministry statement.

Energy

Government receives 18 offers for 600 MW West Nile solar power station

The government has reportedly received 18 offers for 600 MW-worth of solar power projects it had tendered in the West Nile area last December, Al Borsa reports. The list of suitors includes Toyota Tsusho, Orascom, a Scatec Solar and Azuri Power consortium, as well as GCL New Energy, a Masdar-Genco consortium, NTPC Limited, and EDRA. The winning company establish one 600 MW station, two 300 MW stations, or three 200 MW stations under a BOO framework.

Three renewable energy companies looking to build USD 400 mn-worth of projects under IPP framework

The Electricity Ministry has reportedly received three separate offers from an Egyptian, Chinese, an Emirati company for new renewable energy projects worth a combined USD 400 mn, ministry sources tell Al Borsa. The companies are looking to build wind and solar power plants under an Independent Power Producer (IPP) framework, which allows them to directly sell power to consumers while paying the state a fee to use the national grid for transmission. The sources did not give further detail.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Gov’t to set local wheat buying price in March

The government will set the price of buying local wheat in March, one month ahead of the harvest, the Agriculture Ministry announced, according to Reuters. “The world’s biggest wheat importer did not specify whether it would retain a system where it ties the local buying price to world prices, or return to a system where it subsidizes farmers at a set price above world prices,” Reuters notes.

Health + Education

October Pharma board approves setting up a UAE branch

October Pharma’s board of directors granted preliminary approval yesterday to setting up a branch of the company in the United Arab Emirates, the company announced in a disclosure to the EGX (pdf). The company will study the plan’s financial and legal feasibility before the board takes a final vote, according to the statement.

Tourism

InterContinental request 1,000 rooms in New Alamein

InterContinental Hotels Group has apparently approached the Housing Ministry to land management rights to as many as 1,000 hotel rooms in Egypt at three hotels in New Alamein City, Minister Mostafa Madbouly said yesterday, according to Al Borsa. The properties would be managed under the InterContinental, Holiday Inn, and Staybridge Suites brands. No further details were disclosed.

Tourism companies lobby hard against online booking sites

Tourism companies pushed hard for the government to attempt to regulate pricing on online booking companies, which they say have undercut them significantly, Al Shorouk reports. Companies made those calls at a meeting with Tourism Minister Rania Al Mashat on Sunday. The industry had been up in arms over the past month over what they say is price gouging by foreign tourism operators and online booking sites. Outgoing Egyptian Competition Authority head Mona El Garf had warned of predatory pricing in the sector a few weeks back.

Telecoms + ICT

TE, Orange renew infrastructure agreement for three years

Telecom Egypt and Orange Egypt renewed an agreement yesterday that allows Orange to use TE’s network infrastructure for its mobile services for a three-year term, Al Shorouk reports. TE recently signed a similar agreement with Vodafone Egypt, allowing it to collect at least EGP 2.370 bn from Vodafone and offer new commercial and technical services in exchange.

Automotive + Transportation

Sherif Ismail discusses cooperation opportunities with Siemens’ Kaeser

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail met yesterday with Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser to discuss options for cooperation on railway projects in Egypt, including establishing high-speed trains connecting Cairo to Upper Egypt and the Red Sea, Al Mal reports. Ismail and Kaeser also discussed the possibility of Egypt purchasing new locomotives from Siemens to upgrade the country’s railway network. Separately, Kaeser announced that Siemens will be signing an MoU with Ain Shams, Cairo, and Alexandria universities worth USD 120 mn for the universities to provide online technical courses for their students.

Banking + Finance

Fawry planning to expand to GCC, African markets this year

E-payments platform Fawry is planning to expand its operations to GCC and African countries this year, Co-Founder and Managing Director Mohamed Okasha tells Reuters’ Arabic Service. The company is also eyeing a 50% increase in the sales and transactions it processes this year.

Other Business News of Note

Contract for Magic Land redevelopment to be signed ‘within days’

The contracts for the redevelopment and management of the Magic Land theme park will be signed “within days”, the Chairman of the Egyptian Media Production City Company (EMPC) Osama Heikal tells Ahram Gate. Heikal had said earlier this month that an unnamed Saudi company would redevelop the theme park, after an agreement with a Chinese developer fell through.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Cairo Criminal Court sentences four to death for forming terrorist cell

The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced four defendants to death yesterday for forming a terrorist cell “meant to target public figures, disturb public peace and assault public and private facilities,” Xinhua reports, citing MENA. The court also handed down 25-year and 15-year prison sentences to 12 and 14 members of the cell, respectively.

Bread and Liberty Party says founder Khaled Ali not guilty misconduct

The Bread and Liberty Party has exonerated in its internal investigation party founder and former presidential candidate, Khaled Ali, of [redacted] assault, according to a statement. An Egyptian woman had reportedly accused Ali of harassment in 2015, but a committee formed by the party cleared Ali of the charges. Ali announced his resignation from the party yesterday, Al Masry Al Youm reports.

National Security

Three army personnel killed in Sinai military campaign

One officer and two soldiers were killed in the military’s sweeping anti-terror offensive in North Sinai yesterday, the Armed Forces announced in a statement yesterday. Two other officers and one soldier were injured in the operation. This is the first time the military has reported its own casualties since the campaign started .

Egypt, France launch ‘Cleopatra 2018’ naval exercise in Red Sea

Egypt and France will be conducting the Cleopatra 2018 joint naval exercise from 20-23 February, the Egyptian Armed Forces announced in a statement. The naval drill aims to boost security in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, according to the statement.

On Your Way Out

Prosecutors ordered yesterday the arrest of shock-jock TV presenter Reham Saeed and her producer. The two will be detained for four days while investigators determine the verity of charges against them that they’ve staged a kidnapping, Al Masry Al Youm reports.

Saeed had aired an episode claiming her crew managed to reunite two kidnapped children with their parents, and aid in the arrest of three suspects, one of whom allegedly confessed. You can’t make this stuff up, folks!

Remember paper planes? They’ve now also gone digital. Well, not exactly, but the crowd-funded PowerUp is now accepting pre-orders for their new remote-controlled paper planes, which you can choose to have either fly distance or do acrobatics. The planes are then controlled by a smartphone application. Orders are shipping this month with some models arriving in May (watch, runtime 3:08).

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.64 | Sell 17.74
EGP / USD at CIB:
Buy 17.59 | Sell 17.69
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.60 | Sell 17.70

EGX30 (Monday): 15,158 (+0.8%)
Turnover: EGP 1.3 bn (15% ABOVE the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +0.9%

THE MARKET ON MONDAY: The EGX30 ended Monday’s session up 0.8%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent closed up 1.2%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Abu Qir Fertilizers up 6.8%; Emaar Misr up 2.5%; and Heliopolis Housing up 2.4%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were EFG Hermes down 1.5%; Orascom Construction down 1.2%; and Madinet Nasr Housing down 1.1%. The market turnover was EGP 1.3 bn, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +69.3 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -23.1 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -46.1 mn

Retail: 61.0% of total trades | 60.0% of buyers | 62.0% of sellers
Institutions: 39.0% of total trades | 40.0% of buyers | 38.0% of sellers

Foreign: 19.5% of total | 22.1% of buyers | 17.0% of sellers
Regional: 16.2% of total | 15.3% of buyers | 17.1% of sellers
Domestic: 64.3% of total | 62.5% of buyers | 66.0% of sellers

WTI: USD 62.5 (+1.33%)
Brent: USD 65.62 (+1.2%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.57 MMBtu, (+0.27%, MAR 2018 contract)
Gold: USD 1,348.9 / troy ounce (-0.54%)

TASI: 7,528.24 (+0.26%) (YTD: +4.18%)
ADX: 4,579.48 (-0.07%) (YTD: +4.12%)
DFM: 3,298.07 (+0.18%) (YTD: -2.14%)
KSE Weighted Index: 408.14 (+0.14%) (YTD: +1.67%)
QE: 9,106.77 (+0.3%) (YTD: +6.84%)
MSM: 5,007.52 (-0.14%) (YTD: -1.8%)
BB: 1,332.73 (+0.02%) (YTD: +0.08%)

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Calendar

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.

20 February (Tuesday): The Third Annual Capital Markets Summit, InterContinental Cairo Semiramis, Cairo.

05 March (Monday): Egypt’s PMI reading for February released.

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

07-11 March (Wednesday-Sunday): ITB Berlin Convention, Berlin, Germany.

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): Labor Day, national holiday.

02-03 May (Wednesday-Thursday): Cisco Connect Egypt 2018, Nile Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Cairo.

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 (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.

28 April 2019 (Sunday): Easter Sunday, 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. © 2018 Enterprise Ventures LLC.