Monday, 2 April 2018

Busy day for House as it debates ride-sharing act, gets budget


What We’re Tracking Today

Could the Ride-Hailing Apps Act pass the House today? The House of Representatives is expected to discuss the Ride-Hailing Apps Act today in its first plenary session after a 25-day recess, according to Youm7. It remains unclear whether the discussion will culminate in a vote on the legislation, which has been fast-tracked through Cabinet and House committees after the Administrative Court ordered last month that Uber and Careem be shut down. The law has rubbed most stakeholders the wrong way, and the Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) is also now calling the legislation’s constitutionality into question. We have the full story in Speed Round, below.

Parliament could receive the FY2018-19 state budget today, with House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal expected to refer it to the House Planning and Budgeting Committee during today’s session, Youm7 reports. Discussions on the budget will only officially begin following Finance Minister Amr El Garhy address to the assembly, the date for which has yet to be set. Last we heard, Cabinet was awaiting sign-off from President Abdel Fattah El Sisi before shipping the budget to the House of Representatives.

The House general assembly will also discuss today a draft law establishing the Supreme Anti-Terrorism and Anti-Extremism Committee, which Cabinet approved in January, as well as reports from various House committees on the Consumer Protection Act and a draft law that would regulate food trucks and carts.

Also on the docket for today: Holding final plenary session votes on legislation regulating the National Women’s Council, a bill that would give incentives for innovation and scientific research, and amendments to the law on reclaiming state-owned land.

After today’s flurry of votes, the House will then go back into recess for the remainder of the week in observance of Easter.

The results of the presidential elections are due to be announced today at 3:00 pm. Preliminary results showed President Abdel Fattah El Sisi won 92% of the vote with a turnout just north of 40%.

Pharos Holdings will be holding a two-day investor conference headlined ‘In Search of Egypt Alpha’ today and tomorrow. The event, set to see a number of senior government officials in attendance, is expected to host around 40 companies from a range of industries, Chairman and CEO Elwy Taymour said in a statement (pdf). The opening day will see panel discussions on the energy and petrochemicals, while the second day will see meetings between fund managers and company reps.

And the yields keep tumbling down: Average yields on Egypt’s three- and nine-month treasury bills fell at an auction on Sunday, CBE data showed. Yields on three-month bills fell to 17.63% from 17.99% at the last similar sale a week earlier, while yields on nine-month bills decreased to 16.88% from 17.33%. Dropping yields have raised concerns that Egyptian treasuries will be less attractive to portfolio investors and carry traders, especially after the central bank cut interest rates on Thursday by 100 bps. But as we noted yesterday, few analysts see the carry trade losing momentum any time soon, with Egypt still looking like the hot EM trade.

Falling yields come amid concerns that interest in emerging market debt is tapering off. “Emerging market funds are not seeing the inflows that they saw last year, investors are becoming more selective and issuers are making concessions on pricing,” executive director of fixed income syndicate at JPMorgan Nick Darrant tells the Financial Times. Inflows into EM debt funds are slowing, while higher bond yields have driven returns for the sector into negative territory. The JPMorgan global EM bond index has fallen 2.3% so far in 2018 after a 9.1% total return gain for 2017. Last month, we noted that EM debt has been underperforming compared to EM equities.

If history is a gauge, Saudi may not want to loudly celebrate its recent FTSE upgrade to EM status. “Qatar and the UAE, saw stock rallies fade after MSCI upgrades in May 2014, suggesting that Saudi Arabia could also see a slowdown of the flows,” writes Filipe Pacheco for Bloomberg. Pakistan’s main index lost 15% last year, even after MSCI gave it an EM upgrade last June. MSCI will make a decision on classifying Saudi Arabia in June.

Other headlines of note this morning:

MUST READ for fintech types: Investment in fintech for capital markets fell by more than half in 2017 compared to each of the previous two years, according to Boston Consulting Group, which says that USD 570 mn was invested in capital markets fintech companies last year against nearly USD 1.2 bn in each of 2015 and 2016. Companies focused on pre-trade activities won 39% of total investment in capital markets fintech companies, while those concussed on execution landed 35%. Just 4% went into the “‘primary’ area of issuing stocks and bonds, where bankers say technology has had almost no impact on their working practices in the past decade.” (Financial Times)

An idea for the EGX to consider? Kuwait’s stock exchange has launched a “premier market” segment that groups together 16 of the nation’s largest and most liquid companies. Premier segment members include NBK, Zain and Agility. Its “main market,” comprising smaller and less-liquid companies, will have 148 members, while a third layer of illiquid names will be classified as the “auction market.” (Bloomberg)

Bahrain’s biggest oil find since 1932 dwarfs its present-day reserves, the nation’s state-owned news service said, without giving figures. (Bloomberg)

Have you shopped at Saks or Lord & Taylor in Canada or the United States? You’ll want to keep an eye on your credit card statement. Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay, which owns the two iconic brands, said yesterday that “mns” of credit cards may have been stolen, making it one of the largest breaches involving payment cards in the past year. (Reuters)

Continent of snitches: It looks like our fake-news snitch hotline inspired the European Commission, which is gearing up to crack down on social media platforms that play a role in online “disinformation,” the Financial Times reports. The move comes ahead of elections to the European Parliament, which the commission is concerned could see repeated patterns of social media algorithms driving content that would have an impact on voter opinion.

PSA- The Easter and Sham El Nessim long weekend is coming up: The two holidays fall on 8 and 9 April, respectively. We hope you’re looking forward to a four-day weekend as much as we are. Enterprise will be off next Sunday and Monday in observance of the holidays.

What We’re Tracking This Week

GERD talks kicking off again this week: The ministers of foreign affairs and irrigation, as well intelligence chiefs from Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, are scheduled to meet on Wednesday and Thursday to resume talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). This comes as Ethiopia is set to swear in Abiy Ahmed as its new prime minister today, after Hailemariam Desalegn’s sudden resignation in February postponed dam negotiations. The three countries had reached a gridlock on the dam last year, but agreed in January to continue looking for a solution.

The Game Sports Industry Conference — Egypt’s first-ever platform dedicated to the sports industry — kicks off in Cairo on Wednesday 11 April.

On The Horizon

An Egyptian-Portuguese Business Forum is set to take place in the first half of this month, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil announced, following up on a round of talks held this past October.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

The unfolding drama between Al Masry Al Youm and the Supreme Media Council was the highlight of an evening nearly devoid of economy and business stories.

The flap, which is dominating headlines on Egypt at home and abroad, kicked off after our friends at the daily newspaper Al Masry Al Youm were slapped with a EGP 150,000 fine by the Supreme Media Council on Sunday. The newspaper had gotten into hot water for publishing a story on the front page of its Thursday print edition alleging coercion by government officials to bolster turnout during the presidential elections. The newspaper had retracted the story, but not before the National Elections Authority (NEA) filed a complaint with the Supreme Media Council. The Council also ordered an investigation by the Press Syndicate of the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, according to a copy of the order published by Ahram Gate.

The NEA had also filed a complaint against the New York Times, according to the State Information Service (SIS). The NYT had published an article last week alleging that the government had engaged in vote buying. The Supreme Media Council then fined news website Masr Al Arabia EGP 50,000 for running a story on the NYT article, Al Shorouk reports. Reuters had retracted a similar story over the weekend after the SIS raised objections with the news agency. SIS then suggested it would “summon” foreign journalists over their coverage of the presidential elections, Peter Stubley writes for The Independent. “Any foreign article written in a non-professional manner regarding the presidential election will receive a direct and clear response," said SIS head of operations Mohammed Imam. The story is getting significant traction with the foreign press, including from the AP.

On the airwaves last night, Supreme Media Council head Makram Mohamed Ahmed slammed Al Masry Al Youm for insinuating that the state was buying votes and said that the newspaper’s “unprofessional” coverage comes at a “sensitive time” for Egypt. Ahmed claimed that a representative from the newspaper acknowledged that the article in question lacked professionalism and offered an apology. He also defended Beheira’s governor’s promise to provide services such as new sewage systems to incentivize voters, saying that this was not a bribe and is a completely orthodox rallying technique used all around the world (watch, runtime: 7:24).

Plot twist: AMAY’s Editor-in-Chief Mohamed El Sayed Saleh said that, as far as he is concerned, the council did not meet with anybody who can speak on the newspaper’s behalf. Saleh continued to defend his publication and said that it had pointed to the government’s “positive efforts” to rally voters (watch, runtime: 6:32).

Journalists’ Syndicate head Abdel Mohsen Salama was far less impassioned in his defense of the newspaper, telling Hona Al Asema’s Lamees Al Hadidi that the whole issue is due to a difference in interpretation and that all sides are working to resolve the misunderstanding (watch, runtime: 6:55).

The flap over press freedom comes as Arab League election observers praised the presidential election and gave it a clean bill of health, according to SIS. It noted insignificant “irregularities” such as banners remaining up during the campaign quiet period and a lack of privacy at the ballot box, mission head Haifa Abu Ghazala told reporters yesterday, according to Al Shorouk.

Unable to stay away from elections coverage for one evening, Lamees took the time to hail the estimated voter turnout rate of 41.3% as “historic” and “unexpected” (watch, runtime: 7:16). However, she noted that the number of invalid votes is the highest ever in any Egyptian election and should not be ignored, and that the government should listen to opposition voices (watch, runtime: 2:28).

Al Wafd Party is looking to avoid the same mistake as this year and plans to announce a candidate for the 2022 presidential elections by 2021, party member Tarek Tohamy said (watch, runtime: 6:00).

Now that the presidential poll is out of the way, what about municipal elections? Kol Youm’s Amr Adib spent a chunk of his evening fretting about the delay in holding municipal elections — which he sees as the solution for issues like garbage collection —and begged Parliament to pass the Local Administration Act as soon as possible (watch, runtime: 7:12). The law was finalized last year but is pending final sign-off, MP Ahmed Al Segini told Adib (watch, runtime: 7:12).

The Administrative Court’s ruling against ride-hailing apps Uber and Careem has already resulted in a downturn in business, Careem Egypt CEO Rami Kato told Yahduth fi Masr’s Sherif Amer. He noted that the company had been in talks with the government for over a year to legalize its operations. House Transport Committee secretary-general Mohamed Zeineldin continued to defend the Ride-Hailing Apps Act as an attempt to legalize the apps’ operations while protecting white taxi drivers’ jobs (watch, runtime: 2:34).

Meanwhile, the market appears to be having mixed feelings about the government’s decision to allow imports of used electric cars. The Federation of Egyptian Industries’ Hamdy Abdel Aziz believes the move is a step in the right direction, telling Al Masry Al Youm that in addition to the environmental benefits, it will also create a market for electric cars in Egypt, which could make open up new avenues for investment and trade in the auto industry. He also said it would help the government in its goals to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and eventually bring its energy bill down. The Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce said the decision was too hasty and did not consider the market’s readiness to accommodate electric cars, which are generally steeper in price than fuel-operated autos. General Motors’ Shady El Safty also believes the country’s infrastructure is not ready to accommodate the move, and called on Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil to postpone electric car imports until the market is brought up to speed (watch, runtime: 6:02).

Consumer Protection Agency head Atef Yacoub is still on his tirade against cement and steel manufacturers, saying that recent price hikes on the commodities are “unjustified” particularly in light of reduced production. The Association of Citizens Against High Prices is throwing its weight behind Yacoub and has filed a separate complaint on the issue with the Egyptian Competition Authority, association head Mahmoud El Askalany told Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary. Meanwhile, MP Mohamed Badrawy said that the spike in cement prices is likely due to two cement factories in North Sinai halting operations, claiming that the problem is being resolved and prices are edging back down (watch, runtime: 13:32).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

M&A WATCH- Ezdehar’s Egypt Mid-Cap fund is planning to acquire a 22.5% stake in digital marketing and IT solutions firm Dsquares in a transaction estimated to be worth EGP 100 mn, sources close to the transaction said. Details on the transaction are scarce, but sources said that Al Tamimi Law Firm has been tapped as Ezdehar’s legal adviser on the transaction, while TMS Law Firm is the sell-side counsel. Ezdehar Managing Partner Emad Barsoum had said that the firm was planning to invest USD 80 mn in export oriented businesses this year, including in outsourcing.

Elsewedy / Marubeni / Masdar consortium seeks funding for USD 900 mn wind projects as gov’t drags feet on regulatory approvals: A consortium made up of Elsewedy Electric, Marubeni, and UAE’s Masdar has reportedly begun seeking funding from banks for the USD 900 mn development of two wind farms, sources said. The companies have already reached a preliminary agreement with Japanese financiers to fund a part of the project and are due to begin negotiations with other lenders once they receive final sign-off from the government, which appears to be dragging its feet on handing out the approval and assigning land to the project. The government, which signed an MoU with the consortium for the project back in January, was reportedly supposed to have signed off on it in February. Talks had been dragging on over the price tag and feed-in-tariff rate of the project, in addition to the location. The government is expected to settle on the tariff rate next month, the sources added.

Nasr, Omran strategy to drive growth of non-bank financial sector, focus seems to be on futures exchange and easing red tape: Investment Minister Sahar and Financial Regulatory (FRA) boss Mohamed Omran announced yesterday they were launching a four-year strategy aimed at developing Egypt’s non-banking financial services sector. The plan, they say, will involve both structural and legislative reforms to boost the industry and improve its contribution to economic growth, will pave the way for the introduction of new financial instruments, Omran told the press yesterday. This includes the framework for the establishment of futures exchanges — which became possible under newly-issued amendments to the Capital Markets Act — as well as the FRA working to simplify bourse listing rules and procedures and reducing the time it takes to approve licenses and stock issuance requests, he said.

The FRA also intends to take an active role in growing the volume of Egypt’s mortgage financing market to EGP 20 bn by 2022, up from EGP 8 bn currently, Omran added, explaining that the FRA will slash much of the red tape associated with property registration, as well as introduce rules to regulate the termination of mortgage contracts and guarantee the rights of all parties involved.

Break out your decoder rings: The strategy will also see amendments to the regulations governing investment funds that would ensure they have diverse portfolios and are yielding the best values and returns for their shareholders, the FRA boss said, without elaborating.

Omran said that a committee would be established to oversee the implementation of the strategy and ensure it hits targets that include:

  • Increasing capital market contribution to GDP to 50% by 2022, up from 25%;
  • Raising the size of the capital market to EGP 3 tn from a current EGP 1 tn;
  • Growing the number of listed companies to 400 from a current 275;
  • Increasing issuances to EGP 250 bn from EGP 150 bn.

The strategy is set to be presented to the House of Representatives’ economic committees and the nation’s Supreme Investment Council, according to Nasr.

Government could announce new social protection measures in Ramadan: The Ismail Cabinet will reportedly announce a new batch of social safety measures in the second half of May or first half of June, an unnamed government official tells Al Shorouk. The new measures — which Prime Minister Sherif Ismail earlier confirmed were in the making — will raise the monthly allowance ration card holders use to purchase subsidized commodities and also give public sector employees across the board an “exceptional” wage increase, according to the official. Ismail had also announced that plans were underway to expand the Takaful and Karama programs to include more citizens and said that the government was planning to increase spending on commodity subsidies in FY2018-19. The Cabinet said last week it was earmarking EGP 322 bn in the next fiscal year for social welfare and protection programs.

The Ismail Cabinet is reportedly studying the possibility of a hike in fuel prices before the year is up, the official added. The government had previously denied it was planning to slash subsidies on petroleum products this year, especially with electricity bills set to rise by as much as 40% as of July. We’re expecting to hear more about social protection measures once the House of Representatives begins its review of the FY2018-19 budget.

The Transport Ministry is planning to launch tenders for the development of four Nile ports once legislation regulating river traffic and commercial transport is issued, Minister Hisham Arafat said yesterday, Al Mal reports. The bill, which the Ismail Cabinet signed off on in August last year, is currently with the House of Representatives.

Arafat also said he would hold a press conference tomorrow to announce more details on the plan to develop Egypt’s railway network, which is expected to see railway ticket prices rise at the start of the new fiscal year in July. The House of Representatives had approved earlier this month legislation that would allow the private sector to participate in the development, management, and operation of railway projects, which is expected to help the Transport Ministry with its plans to overhaul the sector. This comes as we hear that some train services have been halted while maintenance work ensues.

LEGISLATION WATCH- Why does the Council of State have reservations about the Ride-Hailing Apps Act? As we noted yesterday, the Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) had raised a number of objections to the Ride-Hailing Apps Act, which received preliminary approval from four parliamentary committees over the weekend. The objections, which were cited by Uber in its arguments against the law, had not been incorporated by the Ismail cabinet into the draft bill before sending them to parliament, as is typical. Instead the government submitted counterpoints to these objections.

The most glaring area of concern are provisions that would force companies to share user data with the government. The Council’s legislative committee argued that these articles violate user privacy and are unconstitutional since they do not lay out any extenuating circumstances which require the government to obtain user data. Under the bill, the government would not require a court order to have access to the data, nor does it set a duration for that access, which the Maglis argues is also unconstitutional. The government responded by stating that the articles would be part of the terms and conditions users sign off on before joining the service, thus relinquishing that right, according to Al Mal.

The Council had also raised objections to requiring companies to incorporate taxi drivers into their fleets, saying that this was a burden on the companies and they should not be compelled to organize a parallel ride-hailing sector. The cabinet argued that it gave the companies the freedom to choose how to best incorporate taxis into their fleets.

The Council actually gets the concept of the sharing economy: Some of the Maglis’ objections appear to uphold core tenets of the sharing economy, with one going so far as to say that the law lacks a clear vision for organizing the ride-hailing space. One of them argues that obliging ride-hailing companies to pay social insurance on drivers goes against the nature of the sharing economy, which does not see drivers as employees. The Social Solidarity Ministry responded by stating it will allow drivers who own their own cars to obtain social insurance through the National Social Insurance Agency.

Private sector could play a greater role in low-income housing development in NUCA’s largest land offering: The Housing Ministry plans to announce this week the details of a series of tenders for urban development projects in FY2018-19, in what Housing Minister Moustafa Madbouly called the largest land offering to developers, according to AMAY. The New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) will tender the development 76,211 plots of land and 100,000 new homes in newly developed cities across the nation. These projects would be both residential and commercial, and will include low-income housing, Madbouly hinted. The policy would probably go far to help the Housing Ministry secure a USD 500 mn loan from the World Bank. As we noted yesterday, the bank had wanted to see the private sector take on a larger role in low-income housing development before signing off on the loan.

In other NUCA news, the authority appears to have reached a settlement with Orascom Housing Communities (OHC) over the disputed development of 1,380 feddans in the Haram City affordable housing project. Under the settlement, NUCA will exclusively develop 380 feddans, while OHC and the authority will partner to develop 1,000 feddans. OHC will also buy out its US partners, who have filed an international arbitration case against the government, according to Al Shorouk. The settlement will be brought up before a government investor disputes committee his week, where details will be ironed out. The dispute arose when NUCA provided only 620 feddans from an originally contracted 2,000 feddans.

MOVES- Delta Sugar has appointed Ahmed Abul Yazeed as its new Chairman, according to a bourse filing on Saturday (pdf). Abul Yazeed succeeds Abdel Hamid Salama, who resigned from his position. He had joined the company from Ain Shams University, where he headed its Agricultural Research and Consultation Center.

CORRECTION- We made a couple of errors on our report on Egypt’s trade deficit figures for 1H2017-18: Merchandise exports increased to EGP 12.1 bn in 1H2017-18 and not EGP 12.9 bn; and net foreign holdings in Egypt’s T-bills grew to USD 8.1 bn from USD 686.7 mn not bn. The story has been corrected in our web edition. We regret the errors.


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Egypt in the News

As we noted above, press and political freedom continued to dominate headlines on Egypt internationally. Beyond coverage of Al Masry Al Youm’s fine, there’s a wave of stories critical of the state of political freedom in Egypt. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board writes that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi winning the election by c. 92% of the vote “says all you need to know about the contest. Yet Mr. Sisi … should use his second term to allow more moderate voices to emerge as a channel for political dissent even as he stresses economic growth and crushing an Islamist insurgency in the Sinai.”

Activists tell The Telegraph’s Raf Sanchez the election saw Sisi consolidate his power. They see “little chance of another mass show of people power like in Tahrir Square anytime soon.” One college professor suggested that political space will open up again once Egypt’s security situation is stable. HA Hellyer almost repeats the same point in his piece for the Atlantic. Egypt desks at foreign papers must be paid by the word.

On Deadline

The punditocracy has been in overdrive in past few days over turnout rates and the number of spoiled ballots in the presidential elections. Al Shorouk’s Emad El Din Hussein says that while overall turnout was quite impressive considering the lack of competition, it’s not hard to see why it would be disappointing for the government given its rallying efforts. Abbas El Tarabily and Amr Hashim Rabie both took to the pages of Al Masry Al Youm to hypothesize that it was exactly these rallying efforts (particularly the threat of a EGP 500 fine for no-shows) that helped turnout rates. They point out that the government should nonetheless take heed of the high number of invalidated ballots as an indicator of voter dissatisfaction. Hamdy Rizk, however, sees the spoiled ballots as a sign that calls to boycott were ineffective. In any case, El Watan’s Amina Khairy says that political parties should begin working from now to prepare candidates for the 2022 elections to avoid a repetition of this year’s lack of competition.

Meanwhile, Abdel Nasser Salama took aim at the state’s handling of the elections’ media coverage, specifically the Supreme Media Council’s decision to penalize Al Masry Al Youm for a controversial headline. Salama slams the move as the culmination of the council’s outdated policy of trying to control the press and force private outlets to mimic state-owned newspapers, saying that AMAY should not be punished for telling the truth rather than twisting the facts to paint a prettier picture.

Worth Watching

Many of the tech devices we know today appeared first in works of science fiction decades ago, according to the Economist. For that mobile phone in your hand, you can thank Captain Kirk and Star Trek. And of course, all this talk of flying taxi drones must have been ripped off from Blade Runner. “Sci-Fi inspires real-world technology. It also provides a way to explore the moral dilemmas that advanced technologies could pose,” the report says. Paul McAuley says Sci-Fi is about our fears of where technology is going to go. This might explain why most Sci-Fi works depict a dystopian future with man vs. machine scenarios. Yet in these moments of fear about the present, there is inspiration for genius to come (watch, runtime: 06:00).

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Egypt, Sudan agree to set up Halfa-Aswan cruise line: The Egyptian-Sudanese Nile River Valley Transport Corporation signed yesterday an agreement with France’s Voyage Sur Le Nil to operate a cruise line between Halfa and Aswan, Al Shorouk reports. Relations between Cairo and Khartoum have continued to improve over the past several weeks following flaring tensions over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and disputes over border territories.


JICA and NREA sign USD 106 mn loan for 20 MW Hurghada solar power plant

The New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have signed a USD 106 mn loan agreement to fund a 20 MW solar power plant in Hurghada, Al Masry Al Youm reports. JICA appears to have upped the loan from an initial USD 60 mn approved in October. The project, which had been in limbo for over two years, will be put up for an international tender by September this year, says NREA chief Mohamed El Khayat. The power plant is set to begin production by mid-2019.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Supply minister, prime minister to discuss local wheat prices for upcoming harvest season next week

Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy is expected to meet next week with Prime Minister Sherif Ismail next week to discuss the price of buying local wheat for the upcoming harvest season, Farmers Union head El Nouby Abul Loz tells Al Mal. Farmers are pushing to set the price at EGP 700 per ardib, up from EGP 555 last year, Abul Loz told El Moselhy during a meeting yesterday. Abul Loz had previously said that he expects the government to raise wheat prices by EGP 100 to EGP 655 per ardib, despite government sources saying last month that the buying price would likely be based on average local and global prices, which would increase it by EGP 15-20 per ardib. The harvest season runs from mid-April until July and the government is expecting to purchase over 4 mn tonnes of local wheat this year.

Real Estate + Housing

Emaar appears to have hit a snag in talks to buy 1,500 feddans in the new capital

Emaar Misr appears to have hit an impasse in talks to buy 1,500 feddans in the new capital with the New Administrative Capital Company for Urban Development, according to Al Shorouk. The state-owned company is not budging on selling the land to Emaar Misr for less than EGP 4,000 per sqm. Emaar Misr has offered EGP 3,500 per sqm.


Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada ranked as world’s top inexpensive luxury holiday destinations

Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada have topped the list of 100 cities for inexpensive five-star hotel breaks, according to a report by Skyscanner. The two Red Sea resort towns cost an average of USD 106 and USD 122 per night at five-star hotels, respectively. Cairo came in 40th, costing USD 254 per night at a luxury hotel. Other Arab cities on the list included a surprising number of UAE and GCC cities. Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Marrakech, and Mecca are all on the list.

Tour operators target Iraqi tourists as EgyptAir set to resume Erbil flights on 13 April

Egypt’s tour operators are looking to attract as many as 500k Iraqi tourists this year as EgyptAir prepares to resume flights to and from Erbil as of 13 April, Al Shorouk reports. The national carrier is set to operate three weekly flights, with talks underway for a fourth expected to begin on 16 September. This prompted tour operators to begin participating in tourism fairs in Iraq and offer new tailored packages to revive the once-high rate of Iraqi tourist arrivals in Egypt. EgyptAir and other airlines suspended Erbil flights in September of last year following an independence referendum held by Kurdistan Regional Government.

Automotive + Transportation

SEMAF eyes part of 64 metro trains won by Alstom and Rotem

The Arab Organization for Industrialization’s SEMAF factory is in talks with France’s Alstom and Hyundai Rotem to manufacture some of 64 new metro trains for the third and fourth phases of the Cairo Metro Line 3, Al Shorouk reports. Hyundai Rotem had signed a EUR 350 mn contract for 32 air-conditioned metro cars back in July.

Banking + Finance

B Investments to pump additional investments this year to microfinance subsidiary Vitas

B Investments plans to use some of the EGP 150 mn it will invest in SME finance subsidiary Ibtikar towards raising the capital of regional microfinance firm Vitas Group — itself a subsidiary of Ibtikar, founding partner Aladdin Saba reportedly said on Sunday. B Investments wants Vitas’ capital to increase to EGP 80 mn from a current EGP 30 mn. Vitas only has a temporary license from the Financial Regulatory Authority to operate in Egypt, but is expected to receive a full permit soon, Saba said. The investment is part of EGP 600 mn B Investments has allocated this year towards growing its subsidiaries. The vast majority of those funds were proceeds from its IPO last week.

Oilex to borrow EGP 1.5 bn from banks consortium including CIB and NBE

Oil extraction company Oilex has reached an agreement which would see it borrow EGP 1.5 bn from a banking consortium that includes CIB, NBE, and Banque Misr, Al Shorouk reports. The company will use the loan to establish an EGP 2 bn industrial complex in Sadat City, which will include a cooking oils factory, and oils refinery, and a storage unit for seeds used to extract oil. Oilex has already signed contracts with international companies to build the complex, according to Chairman Sherif Ziyada.

Other Business News of Note

Gov’t establishes specialized investment zone in Damietta

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail issued a decision yesterday establishing a specialized investment zone in Damietta for furniture manufacturing and related industries, Al Mal reports. The Damietta Furniture City Company will develop and manage the 331-feddan zone, which will also include hotels, shopping malls, hospitals, and other services. Separately, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil announced that the first phase of Damietta Furniture City will be completed in May this year, according to Al Masry Al Youm. The furniture manufacturing complex will be host to some 1,400 workshops. Work began on the project last year.

Egypt Politics + Economics

House majority bloc says post-election cabinet shuffle is likely

Parliament’s majority bloc, the Support Egypt Coalition, sees that a change in some cabinet positions is likely to take place after the results of the presidential elections are announced, coalition secretary-general Magdy Morshed tells Al Shorouk. Morshed says that an entirely new government should be formed at the beginning of a new presidential term, but that the elected president can choose to keep the prime minister in place if he so wishes. MP Mostafa Bakry tells the newspaper, however, that there is not constitutional requirement for a cabinet change. Bakry had previously said it is “almost certain” that the Ismail Cabinet would submit its resignation following the elections.


National Media Authority is still in talks with FIFA over World Cup broadcasting rights

The National Media Authority is still in talks with FIFA over broadcasting rights for Egypt’s matches at the World Cup, which kicks off in Russia this June, Ahram Online reports. Qatar’s beIN Sports has already locked down exclusive rights to air the games in the region, but Egypt can still win the rights to broadcast the national team’s matches. “The rights currently under negotiation include the opening, semi-final and final games plus the matches of fellow Arab teams.”

On Your Way Out

The Youth and Sports Ministry has unveiled the Farida Osman Swimming Complex in honor of the African record holder and two-time Olympian, according to Osman’s Instagram. Osman, who was named Best African Female Athlete in Prague last year, was the first Egyptian to ever win a medal at the World Aquatics Championships back in July.

The Market Yesterday

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Turnover: EGP 1.7 bn (48% ABOVE the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +12.7%

THE MARKET ON SUNDAY: The EGX30 ended Sunday’s session up 0.8%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended down 0.7%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Amer Group up 8.3%, ACC up 6.5%, and Pioneers Holding up 5.8%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Arab Cotton Ginning down 1.5%, Egyptian Resorts down 1.2%, and Egyptian Aluminum down 1.0%. The market turnover was EGP 1.7 bn, and local investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP -14.7 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -24.8 mn
Domestic: Net Long | EGP +39.5 mn

Retail: 74.6% of total trades | 74.2% of buyers | 75.1% of sellers
Institutions: 25.4% of total trades | 25.8% of buyers | 24.9% of sellers

Foreign: 7.9% of total | 7.5% of buyers | 8.3% of sellers
Regional: 10.7% of total | 10.0% of buyers | 11.4% of sellers
Domestic: 8.41% of total | 82.5% of buyers | 80.3% of sellers

WTI: USD 65.20 (+0.40%)
Brent: USD 69.72 (+0.55%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.74 MMBtu, (+0.15%, May 2018 contract)
Gold: USD 1,333.30 / troy ounce (+0.45%)

TASI: 7,800.88 (-0.89%) (YTD: +7.95%)
ADX: 4,583.53 (-0.04%) (YTD: +4.21%)
DFM: 3,136.36 (+0.90%) (YTD: -6.93%)
KSE Weighted Index: 415.78 (+1.52%) (YTD: +3.58%)
QE: 8,669.04 (+1.11%) (YTD: +1.71%)
MSM: 4,737.17 (-0.76%) (YTD: -7.10%)
BB: 1,303.14 (-1.16%) (YTD: -2.15%)

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02-03 April (Monday-Tuesday): Pharos Holding’s investor conference: In Search for Egypt Alpha, Cairo.

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

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

11 April (Wednesday): The Game Sports Industry Conference, Nile Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Cairo.

17-18 April (Tuesday-Wednesday): Creative Industry Summit, Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel, Cairo.

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.

07 May (Monday): International Data Corporation’s CIO Summit, The Nile Ritz-Carlton Hotel, 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.

04-05 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): Euromoney Egypt Conference 2018, Cairo.

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).

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