Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Ride-Failing Apps Act passes

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is also visiting Cairo today to meet with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa said, according to Ahram Gate. Topping the agenda items include the stalled talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry did not mince words on who he believes is responsible for the deadlock during last week’s negotiations between irrigation ministers. Ethiopia and Sudan continue to have reservations about a technical report on the dam’s environmental and economic impact, Shoukry said in a statement to the press. Shoukry, along with his Ethiopian and Sudanese counterparts and intelligence heads will meet again on 15 May for further talks, he added.

Trade is also on the agenda as the Egyptian-Uganda business council convenes in Cairo today. Shoukry and Kutesa had discussed potential government or private partnerships between the two countries, according to a ministry statement. The pair looked at increasing Egyptian investments in Uganda through water, electricity, and agricultural projects. An unnamed Egyptian company is currently studying several energy projects worth a total of USD 300 mn, the statement read.

Here we go again with the latest “imminent” metro ticket price increase: The Egyptian Company for Metro Management and Operation plans to implement the new tiered pricing system for metro tickets based on distance traveled “within days,” sources tell Al Mal. The company has begun trial operations for the new system, which will set a base rate of EGP 2 for nine stations or fewer, a rate of EGP 3 for 18 stations, and EGP 5 for the full line. We apologize to our readers, but we feel honor bound to note this on the off chance the boy who cried “ticket hike” is right this time. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

The Egyptian embassy in London will be hosting a “Made in Egypt” gala today. The event, which will exhibit the work of leading Egyptian designers, is sponsored by Mr & Mrs Samih Sawiris, CIB, Edita, EgyptAir, Palm Hills, Ramsco and SODIC.

Abraaj is in talks to sell a majority stake in its recently spun off fund management unit to US asset manager Colony NorthStar, sources close to the matter told Bloomberg on Monday. “Discussions between the Dubai-based firm and U.S. asset manager about the newly-separated investment unit are preliminary and may not result in a sale, given the complex structure of the underlying holding company and funds,” said sources. They hinted that other investors may be interested. The move comes as part of the Dubai-based emerging markets PE giant’s strategy to shed assets following allegations of misuse of its USD 1 bn healthcare fund which forced it to restructure. Abraaj recently exited Egyptian education firm CIRA and is reportedly delaying the IPO or sale of its North African hospitals business, which owns a dozen hospitals and clinics in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco worth a collective USD 500 mn.

Keep calm during this emerging markets sell-off: AllianceBernstein and UBS Wealth Management are telling investors to chill out about an emerging markets sell-off, saying that it won’t be as bad as the taper tantrum in May 2013. What do they see that the other harbingers of doom (cough, FT, cough) don’t? The fundamentals of EMs clearly show that they are more resilient. “Generally, emerging markets are much better positioned today to withstand external shocks. We view it as an opportunity to add exposure to countries that are being overly penalized by a movement in the dollar and U.S. rates,” AllianceBernstein money manager Christian Diclementi tells Bloomberg.

Here’s what we should be looking at: Crude oil prices broke the USD 70 mark on Monday for the first time since November 2014, according to Reuters. U.S. crude rose USD 1.01 to settle at USD 70.73 a barrel. While this may be good for Saudi Arabia, it’s not helpful to Egypt. In it’s December 2017 Monetary Policy Report, the central bank cited rising crude prices as the biggest risks to Egypt’s economic recovery. The Finance Ministry had noted similar concerns in its report on the FY2018-19 budget.

What could exacerbate the situation is the Trump Administration’s decision on whether to leave the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, which will be announced today. A resumption of sanctions would threaten Iran’s ability to attract foreign investment, keeping the country’s output flat or lower through 2025, according to a research note published Monday by Barclays that ran on Bloomberg.

Calling all coffee lovers: Food giant Nestlé signed a USD 7.2 bn licensing agreement with Starbucks to sell the chain’s branded coffee and tea, Reuters reports. The agreement, which grants Nestlé exclusive rights to retail Starbucks’ coffee, could bring USD 2 bn to the latter’s topline while helping it focus on its suffering cafe franchise.

Other headlines that caught our eye include:

Egypt-backed Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar launched military operations to retake Derna after his forces clashed with rivals on the outskirts of the eastern city, Reuters reports. “The peace efforts in Derna have reached a dead end,” he said.

Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies have emerged as the most dominant force in Lebanon at the parliamentary polls on Sunday, Bloomberg reports.

What We’re Tracking This Week

Inflation numbers should come out on or about this Thursday, 10 May. This month is all the more significant as the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet on 17 May to set interest rates.

On The Horizon

EETC to issue tender for electricity grid interconnection with Sudan “within days”: The Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) will issue a local and global tender for power lines and transformers for the electricity grid interconnection project with Sudan “within days,” according to sources. Ten companies, including General Electric, Siemens, Schneider Electric, Elsewedy, will be invited to bid for the project, the sources say, adding that talks are underway with regional and international finance institutions to fund the USD 500 mn project.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

The talking heads had plenty to keep them busy last night with parliament signing off on the Ride-Hailing Apps Act, the details of which we cover extensively in the Speed Round below. But the star show of night was Amr Adib’s roundtable with IMF Deputy Managing Director David Lipton, CBE Governor Tarek Amer, and Finance Minister Amr El Garhy. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi had met with Lipton yesterday to discuss progress on the government’s reforms and the steps that lie ahead, according to an Ittihadiya statement.

The central bank retains the ability to intervene in the FX market if it sees rates fluctuating outside “acceptable” ranges, CBE Governor Amer said. The CBE hasn’t made a move on this yet to allow the market to become accustomed to seeing rates oscillating (watch, runtime: 3:20). The governor quelled Adib’s concerns about Egypt’s borrowing, saying that the increase in foreign reserves outweighs the increase in loans the country has taken on, and that we are comfortably able to meet our debt obligations due to the diverse maturities and interest rates of Egypt’s debt instruments (watch, runtime: 3:00).

Amer fiercely defended the decision to float the EGP in 2016, pointing to the various sectors and aspects of citizens’ lives that were harmed by pre-float conditions, including heavy-duty factories whose utilization rates dropped to as low as 10%. Amer also noted that the float was necessary to meet Egypt’s debt obligations and pay arrears to IOCs, without which companies such as Italy’s Eni would not have returned to the country — and Zohr may have remained undiscovered (watch, runtime: 3:47). The international credibility Egypt earned through its reform program also paved the way for the successful eurobond issuances, Amer said (watch, runtime: 4:04).

The IMF’s David Lipton sang the praises of Egypt’s reform program and the strides the economy has taken over the past year and a half, saying that the economy was “very close to the danger zone” in 2016 prior to the implementation of reform (watch, runtime: 1:15). He reiterated his call for the government to double down on creating jobs, removing obstacles for exports and imports, and allowing the private sector to flourish (watch, runtime: 7:00).

While reforms have brought economic hardships, many fail to consider how the economy would be faring had these reforms not been implemented, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy said. He reminded viewers of how Egypt’s trade and budget deficits both skyrocketed over the past few years, and pointed to the significantly reduced current account deficit and improved balance of payments as evidence the reforms are bearing fruit (watch, runtime: 5:25).

Articles 9 and 10 of the Ride-Hailing Apps Act managed to squeeze their way through Parliament’s final vote on the legislation after significant controversy, MP Mohamed Zeineldin told Hona Al Asema’s Lamees Al Hadidi. Despite a previous Council of State ruling saying otherwise, Zeineldin claims the House of Representatives (legal experts that they are) found that the articles are entirely constitutional (watch, runtime: 7:32).

The passing of the legislation will allow small companies to compete in the ride-sharing industry and will help to attract new investments, Investment Ministry senior adviser Shehab Marzban told Lamees (watch, runtime: 8:00).

In other legislative news, the Local Administration Act is a “top priority” for the House of Representatives, which is currently deliberating the law, Local Development Minister Abu Bakr El Gendy told Yahduth fi Masr’s Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 8:00).

Amr Adib seems to be using his last few days on air to beat the drum on the urgency of Egypt’s water situation. He pointed to the status of trilateral talks between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is near completion, saying that Egypt is now in a tight spot. We have updates on the talks in Diplomacy + Foreign Trade, below (watch, runtime: 3:35).

Meanwhile, Consumer Protection Agency head Atef Yacoub lashed out against telecom companies in a phone-in to Al Hayah Al Youm, saying that his agency has received complaints over these companies’ service quality and high prices. If he’s referring to TE Data’s dodgy WiFi connections, we’re with Smileyface on this one.

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

LEGISLATION WATCH- Parliament looks to smother ride-hailing in the baby crib by approving its Ride-Hailing Apps Act: The House of Representatives approved in its plenary session yesterday the Ride-Hailing Apps Act. Parliament not only passed the law without amending its most controversial clauses on user data, but appears to have drafted a worse version of the law. The move comes many MPs heavily criticizing on Sunday articles 9 and 10 of the legislation — which mandate that ride-hailing companies store user data on servers for a period of 180 days and make information accessible to government agencies when requested. The Egyptian Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) had said that these clauses were unconstitutional, and reports suggested that a House subcommittee charged with reviewing the act had agreed to scrap them. The passed version of the act requires the companies to store the user data on their servers abroad for the 180-day period, in contrast to an earlier draft that required data to be stored locally.

The law also retained several other stipulations that had earned the ire of ride-hailing companies Uber and Careem, a copy of the legislation published on Youm7 shows. Drivers operating through the companies must display a “symbol” — the nature of which will be determined by the prime minister at a later time — to indicate their affiliation with the company. Ride-hailing companies will have a three-month window after receiving their operating licenses to prepare a policy strategy to incorporate white taxis in their fleets and train white taxi drivers to meet the companies’ quality standards. A decree from the prime minister will be issued to set these standards. The law also sets a six-month window for companies to comply with all its requirements.

In its final form, the legislation also imposes higher licensing fees than a previous draft had indicated. Companies will be required to pay up to EGP 30 mn (up from the EGP 10 mn cap previously suggested) to receive a five-year operating license. Companies will pay a 25% down payment on these licenses and will pay the remaining fees in instalments over the five-year licensing period. Meanwhile, ride-sharing drivers must pay up to EGP 2,000 (up from EGP 1,000) for an annual license to work through the companies, and will pay taxes 25% higher than those imposed on cab drivers. Companies will also be required to pay a one-off fee to legalize their status. The law stipulates that this fee must be lower than the cost of the operating license.

Companies and drivers will both face fines for violations: Companies that operate without receiving the necessary licenses will face penalties ranging between EGP 200k and 5 mn, while drivers will be fined EGP 5-20k for the same offense. A fine of no less than EGP 500k and no more than EGP 5 mn will be imposed on companies that fail to share their databases as required by the state or incorporate white taxis in their fleets. These violations could also lead to companies’ licenses being revoked.

The law does not apply to tuk-tuks, House Transport Committee undersecretary Ahmed Hussein confirmed yesterday, according to Ahram Gate. Tuk-tuks are regulated through their respective municipalities, Hussein said.

Just in the nick of time: The law’s passing comes just days before the Supreme Administrative Court will hear an appeal by Uber and Careem against a lower court decision that ordered the two companies to suspend operations.

Uber seems to be taking the law in stride: The law is “a major step forward for the ridesharing industry as Egypt becomes one of the first countries in the Middle East to pass progressive regulations,” spokeswoman Shaden Abdellatif said, the Associated Press reports. Careem declined a request to comment. “We will continue working with the prime minister and the cabinet in the coming months as the law is finalised, and look forward to continuing to serve the millions of Egyptian riders and drivers that rely on Uber,” the company said, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr hailed the legislation as “encouraging” for the ride-sharing industry, according to a ministry statement. Nasr also said the law will protect competition in the transport sector while leveling the playing field.

Privacy concerns top coverage of the law in the foreign press: We can naturally expect that the international press is having a field day with the act in its current form. The Wall Street Journal is noting criticisms by Human Rights Watch and other organizations.

Our take — Uber and Careem will be fine. Startups will suffer: It seems from the wording of the law that MPs have only heard of Uber and Careem, two major multinationals in the ride-hailing space that can bear the hefty licensing and penalty costs in the law. What they don’t seem to understand is that local startups, such as Swvl — which set a record for a Series A funding round in Egypt with USD 8 mn last month — will find it harder to comply with the stringent financial demands of the law. The law has the potential to stifle a nascent and exciting new industry. And as for cab drivers, we have as much sympathy for them as the horse and buggy drivers when cars came about.

M&A WATCH- SODIC appoints CI Capital as advisor on potential transaction with MNHD: Our friends at SODIC confirmed yesterday that they have appointed CI Capital as advisor on a transaction that could see SODIC and developer Madinet Nasr Housing and Development (MNHD) combine their businesses. Both SODIC and MNHD expect it could take approximately two months to complete an initial assessment of how the businesses might be combined and what the transaction mechanism could look like. MNHD has tapped EFG Hermes as advisor and Zaki Hashem & Partners as legal counsel. SODIC has yet to appoint counsel. The two companies began talks on a possible combination last month.

IPO WATCH- El Rashidy El Asly revives IPO plans: Confectioner REMD El Rashidy El Asly is planning an IPO of 20% of the company’s shares on the EGX next year, Managing Director Mohamed Kandil said, according to Youm7. The listing will come through a sale by a majority shareholder, who we’re taking to be UK-based frontier markets private equity firm Silk Invest. The listing will be used to fund potential acquisitions, said Kandil, adding that the company is not against a possible merger with a larger food company. The company had announced plans to list back in 2016.

EXCLUSIVE- Gov’t halts settlement talks with Qatari Diar over EGP 16 bn Hurghada project: The government has halted settlement talks with Qatari Diar over the company’s EGP 16 bn Hurghada resort, government sources tell Enterprise. The company has made no attempts to settle the dispute or engage with the government in over year, the sources added. The company continues to not meet its obligations as per the agreement, they allege.

Background: Under an agreement signed with the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) back in 2006, Diar was to establish a company to develop a 29 mn sqm resort in Hurghada with a paid up capital of EGP 1 bn, to which it had only paid up EGP 293 mn as of 2016. Under Egyptian law, the company had five years to meet the paid up capital requirements, the sources said. They added that the company had also only paid USD 49 mn of a USD 62 mn price tag on the land. It’s worth noting that the company’s other projects have also been stalled, including the City Gate project in New Cairo and a 300k sqm resort in Sharm El Sheikh.

Potential arbitration case in the offing? The lack of a settlement could potentially open the door for an arbitration suit by Diar. Rumors back in 2016 had surfaced that the company was indeed considering an arbitration case over the Hurghada project.

…or even a buyout? Also coming from the rumor mill were reports in March that Naguib Sawiris, who himself stated last month that he plans to invest heavily in real estate, made Diar a EGP 35 bn offer to acquire all of its local assets.

Jumia looks to make Egypt its biggest African market through unlicensed vendors: Online shopping platform Jumia is looking to Egypt’s unlicensed vendors to achieve its goal of making Egypt its biggest market in Africa, Tamim Elyan writes for Bloomberg. Jumia is “urging the government to regulate informal retailers by offering them tax incentives and cheap loans that would allow them to market their goods online,” CEO Hesham Safwat tells Elyan. The informal economy accounts for around 37% of Egypt’s GDP, but remains “off-bounds” for Jumia until it is incorporated into the official economy. These small-scale vendors would also stand to benefit significantly from offering their products through Jumia, which would allow them to expand their presence in Egypt without the hassle of logistics, Safwat notes.

Egypt is the second most important country for Blom Bank: Egypt is the second most important country for us, says Saad Azhari, Chairman of Lebanon’s Blom Bank. In an interview with Bloomberg TV that mostly covered Lebanon, Azhari found time to hint at the company’s expansions in Egypt, saying that “Egypt is definitely a priority for us.” The bank is opening new branches and offering more services “at a very fast pace.” He credits improvement in the economic climate to this expansion.

LEGISLATION WATCH- FRA introduces amendments to Insurance Act establishing micro-sized insurance companies: The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) has introduced new amendments to the Insurance Act that would open the door for the establishment of micro-sized insurance companies, FRA deputy head Reda Abdel Moty said, Al Mal reports. The amendments would allow these companies to offer both life and property insurance under one body, rather than having to establish separate entities specialized in each type of insurance, as is the case for larger insurance players. These companies would also have lower minimum capital requirements.

FRA is also looking into other incentives that could be offered under the proposed amendments, including cutting down on regulatory fees and offering tax cuts or exemptions. The Insurance Act, which would give the FRA regulatory control over the sector once it comes into effect, also contains separate provisions that would grant incentives to insurance companies to cover SMEs. According to Abdel Moty, the FRA expects to finalize its review of the bill “within days” ahead of putting it up for national dialogue. The authority’s board should sign off on the bill by month’s end. The Investment Ministry and Ismail Cabinet would then revise the draft law before handing it over to the House of Representatives to be issued sometime in 2H2018, Abdel Moty previously said.

The pipeline connecting Cyprus’ Aphrodite gas field to Egypt’s liquefaction plants is expected to cost between USD 800 mn and USD 1 bn, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said at a joint press conference with Cypriot Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis yesterday, Reuters reports. No announcement was made on how both countries plan to split the cost of the pipeline. Cairo and Nicosia will sign a final contract for the pipeline “as quickly as possible,” Lakkotrypis said, but did not specify a date.

What we don’t use will be exported to Europe: The agreement for the pipeline will see some of the Cypriot gas used for Egypt’s domestic consumption, while the remainder will be exported back to Europe, according to a ministry statement.

Signing the agreement still hinges on Cyprus and Israel to resolve their territorial dispute over the Aphrodite field. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz are flying to Cyprus today to discuss the dispute, whose resolution will unlock “multi-bn USD plans to turn the eastern Mediterranean into a major energy hub,” Reuters reports. Israel’s approval is necessary for Cairo and Nicosia to move ahead with the planned pipeline. Lakkotrypis had said that an expert would be called in to arbitrate if the two sides are unable to reach an agreement, as we noted previously.

Separately, El Molla announced that production from the Zohr gas field has reached 900 mcf/d after the second and third production units were recently launched, a ministry statement reads. Production is also expected to reach 1.2 bcf/d within the next few days as the units’ output is optimized ahead of Ramadan. Another two production units will be brought online by August.

The Ismail Cabinet has reportedly agreed to set a standard waste-to-energy feed-in tariff of EGP 1.40 per kWh, an unidentified source tells Al Mal. The electricity and finance ministries apparently also reached an agreement that will see the former pay EGP 1.03 per kWh and the latter cover the remaining costs. Cabinet will also grant governors the jurisdiction to raise the tariff by as much as 15% to offset transportation costs within the governorate, if need be, the source claims. Previous reports indicated that the electricity and environment ministries had agreed to set the tariff at EGP 1.30 per kWh produced from agricultural waste and EGP 1.60 per kWh produced from solid waste.

LEGISLATION WATCH- Will local elections take place before the year is out? The Local Administration Act will see the light “soon” and municipal elections will be held before the end of the year, House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal said yesterday, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The law, which aims to decentralize local councils and organize district elections, has faced delays at nearly every step of the way. Government-appointed officials have been running local affairs since a court dissolved municipal councils in 2011. Municipal elections were last held in 2008. House majority leader Mohamed Elsewedy had previously said the act would take 3-5 years to implement once passed, while Parliamentary spokesperson Salah Hassaballah had said that the elections would likely be held in 1H2019.

EARNINGS WATCH- Al Tawfeek Leasing (AT Lease) posted a net profit after tax of EGP 16.3 mn in 1Q2018, up from EGP 15.6 mn during the same period last year.

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The Macro Picture

How the AIIB is emerging as a genuine rival to the World Bank: By expanding into Africa and Latin America and away from Asia, the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is emerging as a very real rival to the World Bank, writes James Kynge for the Financial Times. The AIIB signed a memorandum of understanding with the African Development Bank (AfDB) in May to co-finance infrastructure projects in the continent. AIIB is already taking part in projects in Egypt with the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Over on the side of the pond, the bank has an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), Latin America’s multilateral lending organisation. The bank intends to increase the total loans it disburses this year from USD 2.7 bn last year and USD 1.6bn in 2016. A decision has not yet been made but the number is between USD 3 bn and USD 3.5 bn this year, AIIB VP Danny Alexander says in an interview. This expansion in the loan portfolio comes as China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which includes key projects in Egypt, takes off. The bank is an important strategic component of the initiative.

Egypt in the News

When the there’s nothing to say on Egypt, the formula for the foreign press is to fall back on human rights. This includes widespread pickups of Amnesty International allegations on solitary confinement.

On Deadline

South Africa’s “Day Zero” could teach us about water conservation, Ahmed El Berri writes for Ahram Gate. He lists the measures taken in Cape Town to deal with the drought that hit the country’s agricultural production and economic growth two years ago. The lessons we could learn, he says, include innovative irrigation techniques, fixing leakages, criminalizing car washes and water pollution, building dams for water storage. He also cites treating wastewater for agricultural and industrial use, harvesting rainwater and spreading awareness as fundamental strategies to tackle water shortages.

Worth Reading

A series of random events in the early 20th century almost prevented Howard Carter’s famous discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb from happening, according to National Geographic. In 1904, Carter was forced to resign from his top archeology position in Egypt’s Department of Antiquities following a complaint by drunken tourists at Saqqara, and he ended up making a living by painting watercolors for tourists. Carter later resumed his archaeology work after partnering up with Lord Carnarvon in search for the boy king’s tomb, but once again, his search was disrupted, this time by World War I. The search resumed in 1917, but no discoveries were made. In 1922, Lord Carnarvon informed Carter he would stop financing the work out of frustration, only to agree later to fund one last season. “On November 1, 1922, Carter resumed digging in the Valley of the Kings. On November 4, they found the stairway that led to the unopened tomb of Tutankhamun.”

Worth Watching

What would you do if you really needed a bathroom and walked in to find a 70 kg lizard? A question no one but the cast of Jurassic Park would ever like to answer. However, the crew of BBC’s Planet Earth II found out the hard way. Lying on the cool, tiled floor of the bathroom to escape the scorching heat outside was a giant Komodo dragon. "For me to open the bathroom door and see a six-foot dragon? It scared my pants off,” said cameraman Mark MacEwen (who wins understatement of the year). Accompanied by up to six rangers, MacEwen lured the slithering creature out with raw meat. Indonesia’s Komodo island is home to over 4,000 dragons that could be fatal if disturbed. We recommend visiting the island, but we advise you to leave a helicopter on standby (Watch, runtime: 01:31).

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Egypt to disclose CCTV footage of Regeni to visiting Italian prosecutors: Italian prosecutors have agreed to send a team of technical experts led by Deputy Prosecutor Sergio Colaiocco to Cairo to review of CCTV footageretrieved from the metro station where Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni disappeared in January 2016, Al Shorouk reports. The team, which will be accompanied by outside experts as per prior agreement between the two sides, will arrive on 15 May.

Infrastructure

Suez Canal Authority, DP World form consortium to compete for 6 October dry port

The Suez Canal Authority, DP World, and the Holding Company for Maritime and Land Transport signed yesterday an MoU to form a consortium and compete in the tender for the 6 October dry port, according to an SCZone statement. The bidding window for the port had been expected to close on 7 April, after the deadline was pushed by a month in response to several extension requests from parties interested in the project. Transport Minister Hisham Arafat had previously said the project would need an initial investment of USD 100 mn, and would be developed under a PPP framework.

Real Estate + Housing

PHD launches phase one of West Cairo joint project with NUCA

Palm Hills Developments (PHD) launched this week phase one of its 3,000-feddan West Cairo megaproject Badya, set to be established in partnership with the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA), according to CEO Yassin Mansour. The company will break ground on the 6 October City residential project in 1Q2019, with initial development expected to rake in revenues of EGP 3.25 bn. The project is anticipated to see sales reach EGP 470 bn in total over 12 years. PHD also signed an agreement with American tech company IBM to develop Badya as Egypt’s first smart city, says Mansour.

Tourism

El Sisi meets with UNWTO secretary general to talk tourism recovery

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met yesterday with UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili to discuss Egypt’s tourism recovery and ways to improve the sector ahead of a UNWTO conference in Sharm El Sheikh, which gets underway in Sharm El Sheikh today, according to an Ittihadiya statement. El Sisi said that reviving tourism was an essential to combating terrorism.

Telecoms + ICT

MNOs to begin selling phone lines through distributors under new franchise system

Mobile network operators will begin allowing distributors to sell new phone lines under a new franchising system as of next month or by 3Q2018 at the latest, sources said yesterday. The new system will allow each MNO to have between 100 and 200 licensed distributors in its first phase, and will not impose a cap on the number of lines distributors are allowed to sell. Customers will reportedly also be required to scan their fingerprints to purchase a new phone line. MNOs stopped selling new phone lines through distributors and cut them off from SIM cards and ways to wirelessly recharge phone lines at the end of April. The move came in accordance with a National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) decision to limit sales of new phone lines only to official branches of telecom companies starting from 1 March as a means to enforce know-your-customer regulations. There are no confirmations as of yet whether the plan has the blessing of the NTRA.

Banking + Finance

Banque Misr taps international bank to manage USD 500 mn loan

Banque Misr has hired an international bank to manage a USD 500 mn loan it’s looking to secure from international lenders by 3Q2018, Chairman Mohamed El Etreby tells Bloomberg, without disclosing the name of the bank. The loan would be directed towards Banque Misr’s planned expansions, according to El Etreby. The bank had announced its intention to take on a new loan after signing for a USD 500 mn facility from the European Investment Bank (EIB) back in December.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Finance Ministry establishes specialized real estate tax dispute resolution committees

Finance Minister Amr El Garhy issued yesterday a decision establishing six new specialized committees for real estate tax dispute resolution, according to a ministry statement. The decree also establishes new specialized committees to deal with stamp tax disputes.

Sports

Football Association agrees to remove Salah ads after image rights dispute

The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) has finally agreed to remove Mohamed Salah’s unauthorized ad for state-owned mobile network WE, FA President Hany Abu Rida announced, according to Youm7. “Salah’s image will be removed from the national team’s private plane and we will do the same regarding his image in TV ads and street banners. All his pictures will be removed within a week,” he said. The dispute almost cost the Liverpool top-scorer EGP 100 mn in penalties to his sponsor Vodafone, as his image was put next to a different phone sponsor.

On Your Way Out

Expect less colorful language, ads and topics this Ramadan: The Supreme Media Council will impose an EGP 250k fine on any Ramadan TV show that includes “obscene language,” Chairman Makram Mohamed Ahmed announced yesterday, Al Shorouk reports. The fine is part of a new set of regulations imposed by the council in a crackdown on what Ahmed called “eight years of chaos,” including limiting commercial breaks to three per episode and subjecting TV dramas to censorship.

The French government has awarded Egyptian Maestro Hisham Gabr its Order of Arts and Letters, a French knighthood distinction that recognizes significant contributions to the arts or literature, Ahram Gate reports. The composer and conductor, who headed the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Arts Centre until 2017, received the honor yesterday in a ceremony at the French embassy in Cairo.

Emoji like an Egyptian: You may soon be able to use 2,000 new Hieroglyphs to send messages on cell phones, computers, and other digital devices, according to Hyperallergic.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.64 | Sell 17.74
EGP / USD at CIB:
Buy 17.63 | Sell 17.73
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.59 | Sell 17.69

EGX30 (Monday): 17,523 (-0.5%)
Turnover: EGP 927 mn (19% BELOW the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +16.7%

THE MARKET ON MONDAY: The EGX30 ended Monday’s session down 0.5%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent down ended 1.1%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were TMG Holding up 2.2%, Palm Hills up 1.8%, and EFG Hermes up 1.5%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Egyptian Iron & Steel down 4.7%, GB Auto down 2.5%, and Eastern Co down 2.3%. The market turnover was EGP 927 mn, and local investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP -24.0 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -9.7 mn
Domestic: Net Long | EGP +33.7 mn

Retail: 63.8% of total trades | 63.7% of buyers | 63.9% of sellers
Institutions: 36.2% of total trades | 36.3% of buyers | 36.1% of sellers

Foreign: 18.0% of total | 16.7% of buyers | 19.3% of sellers
Regional: 14.4% of total | 13.9% of buyers | 14.9% of sellers
Domestic: 67.6% of total | 69.5% of buyers | 65.8% of sellers

WTI: USD 70.14 (-0.83%)
Brent: USD 76.17 (+1.74%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.74 MMBtu, (-0.15%, June 2018 contract)
Gold: USD 1,315.00 / troy ounce (+0.07%)

TASI: 8,117.42 (+0.04%) (YTD: +12.33%)
ADX: 4,540.09 (-0.44%) (YTD: +3.22%)
DFM: 2,962.84 (-0.32%) (YTD: -12.08%)
KSE Premier Market: 4,795.50 (+0.24%)
QE: 8,983.79 (+0.85%) (YTD: +5.40%)
MSM: 4,711.73 (-0.14%) (YTD: -7.60%)
BB: 1,278.61 (+0.22%) (YTD: -3.99%)

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Calendar

08 May (Tuesday): The Egyptian embassy in London will be hosting a “Made in Egypt” gala exhibit event.

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

07-08 May (Monday-Tuesday): Fourth annual Egypt CSR Forum, InterContinental Semiramis Hotel, Cairo.

17 May (Thursday): Expected date for the start of Ramadan.

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.

24-25 September (Monday-Tuesday): Egypt Water Desalination Forum, venue TBD.

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

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

23-24 October (Tuesday-Wednesday): Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference 2018, Fairmont Towers Heliopolis, Cairo.

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

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

22 November (Thursday): US Thanksgiving.

25-28 November (Sunday-Wednesday): 22nd Cairo ICT, Cairo Convention Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

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).

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. © 2020 Enterprise Ventures LLC.