Thursday, 5 April 2018

We’re heading into a four-day weekend for Easter and Sham El Neseem


What We’re Tracking Today

It’s a quiet news morning heading into what we hope will be a wonderful four-day holiday weekend for all those of you reading us from Egypt this morning. Banks and the stock exchange will be closed Sunday and Monday in observance of Easter and Sham El Neseem. We’ll be back on Tuesday at our usual time.

Before we get underway this morning, we’re pleased to report that we’re all going to be able to watch Egypt at the World Cup for free: The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) has reportedly reached an agreement with FIFA to obtain the broadcast rights for Egypt’s matches at the World Cup, Al Ahram reports. The matches will most likely be aired on state television, which is accessible to the largest portion of Egyptians, according to EFA Executive Director Tharwat Sweilam. The agreement does not cover the rest of the Russia 2018 matches. Qatar’s beIN Sports has already locked down exclusive rights to air the games in the region.

In global business news of note this morning: China has fired back against The Donald’s escalation of a brewing trade war by threatening to slap a 25% tariff on USD 50 bn-worth of imports from the US, Bloomberg reports. These include imports of soybeans, automobiles, chemicals and aircraft. The Trump administration said on Tuesday it will impose 25% tariffs on some 1,300 industrial technology, transport and medical products from China.

In this high stakes game of chicken, the US appears to be blinking first. Following the announcement of the Chinese tariffs, the Trump administration has been downplaying the conflict and has even hinted that it is willing to sit down for talks to de-escalate this problem of its own making. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said his country isn’t entering “World War III” and left the door open for a negotiated solution. Trump’s chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, tried to downplay the US threat of a 25% duty, saying, “These are just the first proposals [for tariffs]…I doubt if there’ll be any concrete actions for several months,” according to the Financial Times. (The newspaper has a roundup of analyst reactions here).

Trump himself tweeted: “We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the US.”

Asian stocks were inching their way up from a two-month low this morning as pressure from an anticipated Sino-US trade war eased after the US “expressed willingness to negotiate a resolution to the trade fight,” Reuters reports.

The modest rally in Asia comes after US shares recovered in a wild day of trading that saw the S&P 500 “claw back heavy losses” earlier in the day to close yesterday up 1.16%. The more tech-heavy Nasdaq was up 1.45%. Boeing, the US’ biggest exporter by value, ended the day 1.3% lower, “after falling nearly 6% at one point.” European equities also had a good end to the day, says the FT.

The trade war between Washington and Beijing could drive investors towards EM assets. “Increased tensions may actually benefit emerging-market assets as markets could dial down their optimistic view of global synchronized growth and ultimately global yields will come down. That would add to the return outlook for spread products such as EM,” PineBridge Investment Senior Fund Manager Anders Faergemann tells Bloomberg. Others point out that while a trade war with the US could drive Beijing towards agricultural producers from the developing world, it’s doubtful that that will be enough “to offset the concerns about slowing global growth and protectionism.”

We can’t believe we forgot to announce that Axe is back in season three of Bns, which premiered last week Sunday on Showtime. We’re pleased to note that from the looks of the trailer (watch, runtime: 2:19), the blood feud between hedge fund manager Axelrod and district attorney Chuck Rhoades is still in full swing. If you haven’t heard of the show, which is loosely based on the legal war between crusading former DA Preet Bharara and hedge fund manager Steve Cohen, then please cancel any vacation plans and get both seasons now.

IN MEMORIAM- Today marks the one-year anniversary of the passing of Dr. Mohamed Taymour, founder of Pharos Holding and a pioneer of the Egyptian financial industry whose small financial consulting firm founded in 1984 grew to become EFG Hermes, the region’s premier financial services corporation. We like to think that Dr. Taymour is looking down at how Pharos has grown and innovated in the past 12 months and is very proud indeed. We are honored to count Pharos, along with CIB and SODIC, as the anchor sponsors whose generosity and ongoing support allow us to produce Enterprise for you without charge each weekday morning.

On The Horizon

Flights between Egypt and Russia are due back in the air on 12 April. EgyptAir is offering up to 25% discounts on economy and business class tickets for its three weekly flights to Moscow, Al Shorouk reports. The offer, which expires 30 April, covers flights from 14 April until the end of May. EgyptAir will also schedule additional flights to Russia in June to accommodate football fans heading to the World Cup. The long-awaited move has been almost three years in the making.

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

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.

French President Emmanuel Macron will reportedly visit Egypt in early May for talks with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi on bilateral relations and regional issues, according to Foreign Ministry sources.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Local Development Minister Abu Bakr El Gendy patching things up with Parliament was the talk of the town on what was a very bland night on the airwaves.

But first, startup SHOPX was named the winner of last night’s edition of the CIB-sponsored Hona Al Shabab contest. SHOPX walked out with EGP 100k in prize funding from CIB after beating out Delivery Zyada and DMC Chargers, which landed in second and third place, respectively (watch, runtime: 2:46).

Egypt’s healthcare expenditures hover at around EGP 145 bn, 62% of which comes out of citizens’ pockets, Vice Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait told Masaa DMC. Maait reviewed the main planks of the Universal Healthcare Act — the government’s 15-year, EGP 600 bn healthcare coverage plan — and noted that the insurance scheme’s budget is kept separate from the general state budget to ensure it has enough room to breathe in terms of funding (watch, runtime: 13:27).

Now on to the Gendy Drama: Prime Minister Sherif Ismail all but held El Gendy’s hand as he apologized to House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal for telling MPs that “he throws their requests in the trash,” according to Al Hayah Al Youm’s Tamer Amin, who praised Ismail for his mediation skills. Amin also wagged his finger at El Gendy for his “inappropriate” statement before engaging in an act of mental acrobatics that saw him brush it off as a “slip of the tongue” (watch, runtime: 6:34).

The issue took all of 20 minutes to resolve, which had Kol Youm’s Amr Adib wondering what the point of all the drama was. Adib urged MPs to keep their cool in the future and not make mountains out of molehills (watch, runtime: 2:55). In an attempt to further understand the non-issue, Masaa DMC’s Osama Kamal wondered aloud if El Gendy discards these requests because they are illegal or otherwise worthless (watch, runtime: 6:12).

Resolving the Gendy “crisis” seems to have prompted the House to backtrack on the urgency of a cabinet shuffle. While the performance of four or five ministries is “not as fast-paced” as they should be, Parliament does not have any major objections to the current government, spokesman Salah Hasaballah said. The Support Egypt Coalition could be tapped to form a more capable government, but the topic has not been broached, according to Hasaballah (watch, runtime: 9:17).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

IPO WATCH- CI Capital has priced its initial public offering on the Egyptian Exchange at EGP 7.29-8.26 per share, according to a statement released yesterday (pdf). The transaction will see about 41.5% of the company (or 225,637,282 ordinary shares) offered for sale, with the shares split between institutional investors (90% of the offering) and retail investors (10% of the offering). The price range would give the firm a pre-offering valuation range of EGP 3-3.4 bn. Look for some of the proceeds from the transaction to be re-injected into the company as selling shareholders subscribe to a follow-on capital increase, according to the statement. “The breadth and depth of our diversified suite of financial solutions, our significant scale and market leading positions and our solid financial performance allow us to be optimistic and ambitious about our future,” CI Capital Co-CEO Hazem Badran said. The transaction is still pending regulatory approval from the Financial Regulatory Authority.

CI Capital reported net profits of EGP 251 mn in FY2017 on revenues of EGP 1.85 bn.

Transaction timeline: The announcement of the final price will take place following the book building process on 19 April, while the retail offering will run from 17-24 April. Trading in CI Capital’s shares on the EGX is expected to “begin on or around 30 April.

Advisors: Jefferies International Limited and CI Capital Investment Banking are acting as joint global coordinators and bookrunners on the IPO. Norton Rose Fulbright was tapped as international counsel to the issuer, while White & Case is the underwriters’ counsel. Matouk Bassiouny will serve as local counsel; Pharos Securities Brokerage and HC Brokerage are acting as placements agents.

IPO WATCH- Enppi, the state-owned EPC contractor serving the oil and gas industry, saw revenues grow 72% y-o-y in FY2017 to EGP 8.6 bn, the Oil Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. The announcement comes as the company is likely to be among the first two companies to list this year as part of the state IPO program.

The roadshow for Egypt’s upcoming eurobond issuance continues today with meetings in Frankfurt, Munich, and Milan, according to an emailed statement. Meetings for the debt sale kicked-off yesterday in London and will wrap-up on Friday in Paris. The government has hired BNP Paribas, Banca IMI, Deutsche Bank and Standard Chartered Bank to act as joint bookrunners for the EUR 1-1.5 bn issuance that is reportedly set to take place in three-weeks’ time on the Luxembourg stock exchange, and should offer maturities of eight and/or 12 years. Sources had said last week that officials would make a final decision on whether to take the offering north of EUR 2 bn based on feedback from investor meetings. Zaki Hashem & Partners and Linklater are legal advisors to the investment banks, while Al Tamimi & Co. and Dechert were chosen as legal advisors to the government for the transaction, which will be Egypt’s first-ever EUR-denominated bond sale. The government concluded a USD 4 bn eurobond sale in February.

LEGISLATION WATCH- The executive regulations of the Universal Healthcare Act will make clear how private-sector insurance players will fit into the new healthcare system, including prices and coverage rates, Vice Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait said, according to Al Mal. Under the law, private-sector insurers will be able to provide coverage through the new healthcare system and share those costs with the government at rates and prices set by the Social Healthcare Insurance Authority — one of the three regulators mandated by the law. Maait said the prices will be close to the average prices in the market. His statement came during meetings held this week with private insurers to discuss their role in the new system. Some, including Egypt Life Takaful Company (GIG) and Libano Suisse, have complained that it wasn’t clear how the private sector fit into the new system.

The executive regulations will be ready in two months, Maait revealed, according to the newspaper. Last we heard, the regs had been drafted and are with the Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) for review.

LEGISLATION WATCH- The State Council (Maglis El Dawla) has completed its review of proposed amendments to the Customs Act and shipped it back to the Ismail Cabinet on Monday, according to judiciary sources. The draft law, which had received the Ismail Cabinet’s sign off in February, is expected to slash custom duties on capital goods to 2% from a current 5% and expand temporary exemptions for production inputs and packaging equipment. The law also includes provisions that aim to curb illegal trade activities and evasions of custom tariffs. The law is one of several which the Council had reviewed. Cabinet will now have to review the bill and pass it on to the House of Representatives for committee-level debate.

Egypt will hold its first local and municipal elections in 10 years in 1H2019, House of Representatives spokesperson Salah Hassaballah told reporters on Wednesday, according to Reuters. The polls will be held “after the local administrative draft law is passed by parliament” during the current legislative period, he added. Municipal elections were last held in 2008. Government-appointed officials have been running local affairs since a court dissolved municipal councils in 2011. The House of Representatives will vote on the Local Administration Act, which establishes elected local councils, before the summer recess, House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal said in January.

Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia kick off GERD talks in Khartoum: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty, and General Intelligence chief Abbas Kamel arrived in Khartoum yesterday to begin tripartite talks with Sudan and Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to the Foreign Ministry. Negotiations on the dam had reached a gridlock last year, but the three countries agreed in January to continue looking for a solution.

There are mixed expectations on how the talks will play out. Diplomatic sources speaking to Al Shorouk believe the negotiations will ultimately go in Egypt’s favor, as the three countries will focus on coming to an agreement over the results of the environmental impact studies — which concluded the dam would negatively impact Egypt’s Nile water supply. According to the Declaration of Principles signed in 2015, the three countries must reach consensus over the studies before Ethiopia can fill up the dam’s reservoirs.

Nonetheless, Egypt will likely be forced to make compromises in the negotiations, according to the Harvard Political Review. “Egypt should fund the construction of transmission lines, while Ethiopia reduces the rate at which the dam fills.” The report suggests that this would go a long way to resolving one of the pressing issues with the construction of the dam, that is synchronizing the operation of Aswan High Dam with that of GERD so as to not cause as much harm to Egypt. The report does not see a conflict between the countries as likely.

Saudi Arabia has decided to lift a blanket ban on imports of Egyptian peppers and strawberries, the kingdom’s Environment, Water, and Agriculture Ministry announced yesterday, the Saudi Press Agency reports. The ban was put into effect nine months ago, after Saudi authority said shipments of both products contained unsafe levels of residual pesticides. “The lifting of the ban came after the ministry has been reassured of the commitment of Egyptian agricultural exporters to import regulations and restrictions imposed in the Kingdom on the said fruits and vegetables,” the ministry said. The move to end the ban — which comes one day after the Saudi Food and Drug Authority lifted a separate ban on Egyptian guava imports — follows “a number of meetings and negotiations held between an Egyptian delegation and the Saudi health officials,” Egypt’s Agriculture Ministry said in a statement carried by Reuters. Egypt has been working to impose tighter regulations and quality control measures on its exports, particularly those to the GCC.

Kuwait just made remittances more expensive: The Kuwaiti parliament’s financial and economic affairs committee has approved a bill imposing fees on expats’ outgoing remittances,MP Salah Korshed said in a statement carried by the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA). Two-thirds of MPs voted in favor of the bill. Expats will be taxed 1% for salaries of USD 300, 2% for USD 333-666, 3% for USD 1,000-1,663, and 5% for USD 1,667-5,548, once the bill comes into effect, according to KUNA. Remittances, the second major contributor to Egypt’s narrowing account deficit, rose to USD 13.1 bn in 1H2017-18.

CORRECTION- We had picked up a story from Al Shorouk on Monday, naming CIB as part of a banking consortium providing a EGP 1.5 bn syndicated loan. We have been since informed that CIB is not involved in the transaction. The story has been corrected on our website.

** SMART PEOPLE WANTED. We’re hiring at both Enterprise and at our parent company, Inktank. We’re looking for critical thinkers who have outstanding English-language writing skills. Don’t apply if you are not (at an absolute minimum) unafraid of numbers. Among the many posts we have open right now:

Senior investor relations advisors at Inktank, who will advise and personally create products for public and pre-IPO companies in Egypt and the GCC, ranging from board reports to earnings releases, strategy documents and disclosure programs. Background in investment banking, journalism or a law a significant plus, as is the ability to read (but not necessarily write) Arabic.

We’re also in the market for IR analysts and associates, senior developers, and art directors.

Enterprise is looking for editors to help launch new products. You have at least five years of experience in journalism and a minimum of two of those should have been spent in an editor’s slot. Strong knowledge of Egypt and / or the GCC, a demonstrated interest in business / finance and a desire to both lead a team and personally create product are musts. Video, audio or investigative journalism experience big pluses.

Enterprise is also looking for a seasoned reporter to join our team and lead the creation of unique editorial work of interest to our readers. You’re motivated, have a demonstrated interest in business and finance, a way with people and outstanding editorial judgment. You’ll be expected to pitch stories and take assignments, develop leads into full-blown stories, and should be fluently bilingual. Audio and video skills are a plus.

What’s Inktank? We are the leading investor relations and financial communications firm in Africa and the Middle East. Our 30-plus person team of former investment bankers, commercial bankers, journalists, lawyers, developers and designers serve publicly traded and pre-IPO clients on the Egyptian Exchange and the London Stock Exchange, among other markets. We provide strategic counsel on investor and communications strategies to CEOs and c-suite officers, help CIOs and investor relations professionals make their business cases, ensure management gets its message across to both boards of directors and shareholders, and raise both corporate and executive visibility in local and global markets.

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The Macro Picture

Middle Eastern and African markets are expected to see an increased pace of transactions as we wade deeper into 2018 and after a strong first quarter that saw a higher volume of mergers, initial public offerings, and bond sales, than 1Q2017. “Globally, economic growth and relatively cheap funding have encouraged firms to buy rivals. In the Middle East, lower oil prices are prompting governments to seek external funding from bond and asset sales,” according to Bloomberg.

“Asset sales from Saudi power plants and football clubs to African energy firms are set to help deliver a bumper year for [transactions] in the region,” Bloomberg writes, saying that “mergers and initial public offerings in the first three months of 2018 were higher in value than in the same period last year, while bond sales were the second-highest on record. … IPOs raised USD 3.2 bn in the first quarter, making it the most active start to a year since 2015, the data show. Completed mergers worth USD 4.2 bn exceeded the USD 3.6 bn a year earlier.” Saudi and the UAE are the heroes of the story, with Egypt getting no mention.

Investment banks are expecting this momentum to pick up, with more sovereign debt issuances on the horizon, as well as IPOs and M&As in the pipeline, including a highly-anticipated sale of stake in Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco. “‘The primary driver is investor demand. We continue to see high levels of flows into global emerging market funds, with investors drawn to the strong growth prospects for the region,’” says HSBC Holdings’ Matthew Wallace.

Image of the Day

An exhibition by artist Mustafa Rahma at Picasso Art Gallery in Zamalek is paying tribute to legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum. Rahma’s stunning works in "Gomhour El Set" art show lament “a period that will never come back again,” expressing nostalgia for “the period when you could rarely find women wearing the hijab or niqab, or men sporting beards,” Rahma tells Al Monitor. The exhibition is open until 16 April, every day from 10:30 am until 9:00 pm, except on Sundays.

Egypt in the News

Press freedom is still dominating headlines on Egypt in the international media after the editor of the Ikhwan-friendly website Masr Al Arabia was arrested late on Tuesday for allegedly operating the site without a permit, according an Interior Ministry statement. The Supreme Media Council had fined the website EGP 50,000 for publishing a translation of a New York Times article on the state’s handling of the presidential election. The New York Times is says it stands by the accuracy of its reporting and the  Associated Press writes that the arrest of the Masr Al Arabia editor is “the latest episode in a widening crackdown on independent media.” The Committee for the Protection of Journalists issued a scathing statement on the flap.

Elsewhere this morning: Saudi Arabia is funneling investments into Egypt’s sports industry as part of a soft diplomacy campaign, says Al Monitor’s Amr Eltohamy. In addition to pumping mns into a number of sports projects in Egypt, Saudi has offered Egyptian athletes large sums to join Saudi teams, organized sports championships for young Egyptians, and is even working on assisting Egypt to be able to host the World Cup in the future.

Other headlines worth noting in brief include:

  • Prosecutors have charged 72 archaeologists and security officials with stealing antiquities and trying to turn a historical site into a parking lot, Al Arabiya reports.
  • Egyptian women in tech are trying to break through cultural barriers to gain a foothold, Fatma Lotfy writes for Al Monitor.
  • Acting spy’s chief Abbas Kamel reportedly met with the head of Israeli security agency Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, in Tel Aviv yesterday, Anadolu Agency reports, citing Israeli radio.
  • Foreign obsession with events of 2011 continues: The 25 January uprising is proof that youth-led protests can be “powerful catalysts for change” but can crumble without adequate organization, Maria J. Stephan and Tabatha P. Thompson write for the Washington Post.

On Deadline

Tripartite talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will likely yield a positive outcome, particularly since Egypt’s diplomatic efforts over the last few months have helped to ease tensions over the dam, Al Ahram’s editorial board says. The board is optimistic that newly sworn-in Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali will see eye-to-eye with Egypt on the issue.

Worth Watching

Mexico City may be the inspiration Egypt needs to de-pollute its environment: A citizen-led initiative in Mexico City — widely considered to be the world’s most polluted city — has been working to transform columns supporting bridges and flyovers into vertical gardens. The plants are irrigated through rainwater collected by the columns and through treated greywater. The project is both aesthetically pleasing and effective: Via Verde (Spanish for ‘green way’) is expected to produced enough oxygen for 25,000 people per year, suck up 27,000 tonnes of harmful gases, and capture 1,000 pounds of dust. Considering the vast number of concrete pillars in Egypt, implementing a similar project here could go great lengths in improving our air quality (watch, runtime 2:11).

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Egypt asks US to be exempted from steel tariffs: The Trade and Industry Ministry has requested that the US exempt its imports of Egyptian steel from tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump last month, the head of the ministry’s external trade department Saeed Abdallah tells Al Masry Al Youm. The ministry expects to begin negotiations with the US Department of Commerce next week. Abdallah also said that the ministry is looking at measures it can take to prevent other countries affected by the US’ steel tariffs — including China, Turkey, and EU countries — from dumping their products in Egypt.

Separately, the ministry’s Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) will recommend anti-dumping duties of 15-20% on sheet metal imports, sources close to the investigation tell Al Mal. TRA (formerly the Anti-Dumping Authority) has been investigating reports of dumping practices with sheet metal imports from China, Russia, and Belgium. Its final report is expected out any time from today until 9 April.

The European Commission has cleared the Egyptian Ferrous Alloys Company of accusations it is dumping ferro-silicon products in the EU, Ahram Gate reports. The commission had launched an investigation (pdf) last August into claims that Egypt and Ukraine were guilty of dumping practices. The investigation, however, is still ongoing. It’s unclear whether any other Egyptian companies are being looked into.

Attijariwafa Bank and the Egyptian Exporters Association (Expolink) signed yesterday a MoU to promote Egyptian exports to Africa, according to an emailed statement (pdf). Under the agreement, the bank will provide Expolink-affiliated investors with special banking services and products to encourage their export activities.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and President Abdel Fattah El Sisi agreed yesterday to work on strengthening ties between Egypt and the UK during a phone call, according to an Ittihadiya statement.


Italy’s Edison plans to sell off its oil and gas unit

Italian energy company Edison is planning to sell off its oil and gas unit in favor of focusing on its retail business, Reuters reports. Edison’s assets in Egypt — including the Abu Qir concession — are among the “most attractive parts” of the company’s oil and gas portfolio, sources tell the newswire. “The company has been looking to increase the size of its domestic electricity and gas retail business, betting on the market opening up to more competition, with retail energy customers increasingly able to [choose] their supplier.”

ASORC signs NBE-brokered USD 100 mn loan from China Development Bank

The Assiut Oil Refining Company (ASORC) signed a USD 100 mn loan agreement with the China Development Bank (CBD) on Wednesday to help fund upgrades to its refinery, according to an Oil Ministry statement. The loan — arranged by the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) — will contribute to building a CCR reforming unit for the production of high-grade octane as part of a wider national strategy to upgrade refineries nationwide to improve the quality of locally produced fuel. Enppi has been tapped as the project’s general contractor.

EforA Energy’s pilot well Lagia 14 successfully comes on stream

South African firm EforA Energy (formerly SacOil) has successfully brought its Lagia 14 well in Egypt on stream, with the well’s production peaking at 75 bbl/d. Production has stabilized at around 40 bbl/d, the company said in a statement.

Egypt inaugurates Middle East’s first high-voltage transformers factory

Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker and Suez Governor Ahmed Hamed inaugurated yesterday the Middle East’s first 500/220/66 kV transformers factory in Ain Sokhna, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The factory is part of a drive to locally manufacture equipment for power stations in order to reduce costs and increase efficiency, according to Shaker.


Housing Ministry to bring six desalination plants into service by year’s end

The Housing Ministry is expecting to bring six out of 19 desalination plants it is constructing into service by the end of the year, Minister Mostafa Madbouly said yesterday, Egypt Independent reports. The six plants are expected to produce 1.6 mn cubic meters of desalinated water per day. The government is looking to establish several desalination plants to produce 2.6 mn cubic meters of water daily by 2037 and is planning to incentivize private sector participation in their construction.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Gov’t to import 180-200k tonnes of wheat this month, local wheat price to be announced today

The Supply Ministry plans to import 180-200k tonnes of wheat this month, Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy tells Al Mal, adding that Egypt’s wheat reserves will last until mid-July. El Moselhy said that the ministry would announce the price of buying local wheat from farmers during the upcoming harvest season today. Farmers are pushing to set the price at EGP 700 per ardib, up from EGP 555 last year, Farmers Union head El Nouby Abul Loz told El Moselhy during a meeting earlier this week.

Univert’s majority shareholder seeks FRA approval to purchase remaining stake

Univert Food Industries’ majority shareholder Mohammed Ahmad Basamh is seeking approval from the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) to make a mandatory offer to purchase 100% of the company, according to a company release (pdf). Basamh, who owns 60.1% of the company, is looking to purchase the remaining 39.9% at EGP 1.00 per share.

Automotive + Transportation

Transport Holding Company reaches agreement with China’s Yutong to provide 900 buses

The Holding Company for Maritime & Land Transport has reached an agreement with Chinese bus manufacturer Yutong to provide 900 buses for the East Delta, West and Middle Delta, and Upper Egypt Transport and Tourism companies, Youm7 reports. Under the agreement, the Engineering Automotive Manufacturing Company will assemble the buses in Egypt and provide after-sales services. The value of the agreement was not disclosed.

Banking + Finance

Prime Holding planning acquisitions of food and education companies

Prime Holding is planning to acquire majority stakes in a food industries company and an education firm, according to statements attributed to CEO Mohamed Maher. The company is reportedly also considering getting into financial leasing as part of plans to diversify its activities.

El Sisi meets with Visa CEO

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met with Visa CEO Alfred Kelly and other company officials yesterday to discuss cooperation on upgrading financial services and increase investments in Egypt, according to an Ittihadiya statement. The meeting also saw discussion on developing ICT infrastructure.

Other Business News of Note

Eastern Company’s board approves capital increase through bonus share issuance

Eastern Company’s board of directors has approved a decision to increase the company’s paid-in and issued capital by EGP 750 mn to EGP 2.25 bn, and EGP 1.5 bn to EGP 4.5 bn, respectively. The board agreed to raise capital through a bonus share issuance that will be funded through company reserves, the company announced yesterday. The decision will still be put to an EGM vote.

On Your Way Out

Beyonce’s latest spring collection featuring ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti has upset many Egyptians, who have called out for cultural appropriation, according to Metro. Apparently, the collection is an example of how Egypt’s culture has been “brutally commoditized and commercialized,” according to one angry Egyptian. “I’m not spending a dime on her,” she says.

Google will offer pro-bono training to 4,000 journalists in the Middle East through its recently-launched Google News Initiative, Gulf News reports. The initiative, which aims to “help journalists advance their editorial, research, writing, fact-checking and editing skills,” will begin with media professionals in Dubai before expanding to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Jordan.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.6172 | Sell 17.7169
Buy 17.62 | Sell 17.72
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.55 | Sell 17.65

EGX30 (Wednesday): 17.510 (+0.1%)
Turnover: EGP 2.6 bn (124% ABOVE the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +16.6%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 ended Wednesday’s session up 0.1%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended down 0.1%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were TMG Holding up 8.9%, GB Auto up 5.5%, and Amer Group up 2.5%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Egyptian Resorts down 5.6%, Orascom Telecom Media & Technology down 4.7%, and ACC down 4.4%. The market turnover was EGP 2.6 bn, and local investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +59.1 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +127.0 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -186.1 mn

Retail: 61.5% of total trades | 59.6% of buyers | 63.4% of sellers
Institutions: 38.5% of total trades | 40.4% of buyers | 36.6% of sellers

Foreign: 17.6% of total | 18.7% of buyers | 16.4% of sellers
Regional: 16.1% of total | 18.6% of buyers | 13.7% of sellers
Domestic: 66.3% of total | 62.7% of buyers | 69.9% of sellers

WTI: USD 63.58 (+0.33%)
Brent: USD 68.25 (+0.34%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.71 MMBtu, (-0.40%, May 2018 contract)
Gold: USD 1,335.10 / troy ounce (-0.38%)

TASI: 7,871.67 (+0.92%) (YTD: +8.93%)
ADX: 4,608.97 (+0.52%) (YTD: +4.79%)
DFM: 3,091.15 (-0.30%) (YTD: -8.28%)
KSE Weighted Index: 415.78 (+1.52%) (YTD: +3.58%)
QE: 8,707.67 (-0.16%) (YTD: +2.16%)
MSM: 4,794.61 (+0.41%) (YTD: -5.97%)
BB: 1,282.68 (-0.61%) (YTD: -3.68%)

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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.

03 May (Thursday): Egypt’s Emirates NBD PMI reading for April released.

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).

17 May (Thursday): CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

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

28 June (Thursday): CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

16 August (Thursday): CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

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.

27 September (Thursday): CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

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

15 November (Thursday): CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

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

22 November (Thursday): US Thanksgiving.

25 December (Tuesday): Western Christmas.

27 December (Thursday): CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

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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