Sunday, 13 May 2018

S&P finally raises Egypt’s sovereign credit rating

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

‘Tis the last Sunday before Ramadan, ladies and gentlemen. The holy month begins Wednesday or Thursday (most likely the latter, according to the National Authority for Astronomy). So, when can we eat? Maghrib is at 6:42pm CLT on Thursday. You’ll have until 3:20 am on Friday to finish your sohour. Looking for ideas on food, exercise and what to watch during Ramadan? Check out our special edition of Your Wealth, presented in association with our friends at CIB.

It’s also interest rate week, ladies and gentlemen. And in advance of that: Headline inflation drops, core inflation up fractionally in April. Annual headline inflation rates dropped to 13.1% in April from 13.3% the month before, the central bank announced yesterday. Core inflation for the month inchedwas up fractionally at 11.62% from 11.59% in March. Analysts expect the rate to climb further as the government moves to slash fuel and energy subsidies with the start of the new fiscal year in July.

Detailed inflation figures will be released on Tuesday, 15 May, the CBE said.

Will the central bank cut interest rates again this coming Thursday? Don’t bank on it, says Naeem’s Allen Sandeep. The MPC had slashed interest rates by 100 bps each time at its last two meetings, as inflation levels began to cool, dropping to their lowest levels yet in March. “The latest data on inflation should make the case harder for the central bank to implement another interest rate cut in the upcoming [meeting],” he tells Reuters. On the other side: Beltone said in a research note that it expects kThursday’s MPC meeting to see a 100 bps rate cut based on the government’s ability to contain inflationary pressures. The firm also expects another rate cut before the end of the current fiscal year.

The Financial Regulatory Authority has handed down last week new regulations on the licensing of non-bank financial institutions. We’re still digesting the next, but the regulations outline requirements for market studies; rules on ownership structure of new entrants to the field; require regulatory approvals for stake sales; and force minority shareholders holding stakes of up to 5% to declare their status to FRA within two weeks of completing an acquisition.

Guilty until proven innocent? Also on Wednesday, the FRA announced that investors suspected of foul play in trades on the EGX Bourse will be suspended from any trading for the entire time they are under investigation, Al Shorouk reports, citing an official statement. The investigation period is capped at three months, the newspaper adds.

The House of Representatives begin debate of the Cyber Crimes Act in a plenay session today, Ahram Gate reports. The bill would grant the state the right to block websites and impose prison sentences of up to two years and fines of EGP 100k-300k on anyone who creates, manages or uses a website or an online account aiming to commit or facilitate a crime. The bill was introduced to the House in February, expanding the definition of online crime to include “spreading false news about Egypt.” News organizations are particularly concerned about the proposed law.

Arqaam Capital says it is heavily overweight on Egypt as earnings season comes to a close. Arqaam Capital’s weight on Egypt is 20%, higher than the benchmark relative strength index of 4%, Arqaam managing director and head of research Jaap Meijer tells Bloomberg TV. Arqaam is bullish on consumer and industrial companies, he added.

BoA thinks oil prices could hit USD 100 next year: Oil prices could go as high as USD 100 per bbl in 2019, Bank of America said Thursday, becoming the first major Wall Street bank to call oil at that price, according to Bloomberg. BoA thinks Brent crude, which was trading at USD 77/bbl on Thursday, will reach USD 90 by 2Q2019. “Looking into the next 18 months, we expect global oil supply and demand balances to tighten,” Francisco Blanch, head of commodities research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York, said in a report. The report sees US sanctions on Iran as being a main contributor to the spike, while also noting supply issues with Venezuela.

That could be challenging for Egypt’s fiscal reform drive as the FY2018-19 budget assumes oil prices will average USD 67.20 per bbl. The Finance Ministry’s report on the budget names high oil prices as the biggest risk impacting next year’s targets.

The selloff of emerging markets assets is nothing more than a “storm in a teacup,” asset manager Pictet said in a note carried by the FT. “We expect that at some point this sell-off will offer compelling opportunities for investors who have the patience to ride out the storm,” they add.

JPMorgan picked up a similar tune, arguing in a separate note that “EM fundamentals, improved valuations following the market weakness, and expectations of a developed market growth rebound in the second quarter keep us hopeful that the sharp EM correction seen in the past month will prove to be an opportunity to add rather than the beginning of a protracted unwind.”

FOR THE RECORD- A clarification is in order on coverage suggesting that Naguib Sawiris has invested half of his net worth in gold. Sawiris has invested 50% of his net worth in shares of gold mining companies, but not in the commodity itself, as has clarified in a tweet. H/t RK

What We’re Tracking This Week

Our friends at Flat6Labs are holding their Cairo Spring demo day tomorrow. “The cycle brings a promising lineup of startups that work within software products in education, fintech, health & safety, consumer e-commerce, design, and media,” the invite says. The event kicks off at 6:30pm CLT at the Semiramis InterContinental in downtown Cairo.

House to discuss Public Procurement Act this week: The House of Representatives’ general assembly will discuss amendments to the Public Procurement Act sometime this week, Youm7 reports. The law would grant Egyptian products preferential treatment in government contracts and promote local industry.

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,” sources had said.

On The Horizon

The IMF should issue its progress report on Egypt’s economic reform program in two weeks’ time, Deputy Chief of Media Relations Alistair Thomson tells Al Masry Al Youm. A delegation from the fund is currently in town until 17 May, conducting a review of the reform agenda that is set to unlock a USD 2 bn tranche of the USD 12 bn IMF Extended Fund Facility. Egypt is expecting the IMF to disburse the funds in June or July.

Contracts to connect our electric grid to Saudi Arabia’s could be signed by the end of June, sources say.

Uber / Careem appeal postponed to next Saturday: The Supreme Administrative Court postponed yesterday its hearing of an appeal by Uber and Careem against a lower court decision ordering the suspension of the companies’ operations, Al Mal reports. The hearing is now scheduled to take place on Saturday, 19 May. The two companies are currently operating under a Court of Urgent Matters ruling that stayed the initial suspension. The House of Representatives had also passed last week the Ride-Hailing Apps Act, which governs the two companies’ operations, and grants them six months to comply with the legislation and legalize their status.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

The threefold increase in metro ticket prices over the weekend blanketed the airwaves as Transport Ministry officials made the rounds of last night’s talk shows to justify the move. We have the full story in Speed Round, below.

Transportation Minister Hisham Arafat declared that there is no going back on the price increases (watch, runtime 7:07) and noted that the lack of funding has prevented the ministry from carrying out maintenance works on the metro’s main line, which threatens daily operations (watch, runtime: 5:44).

The government is still subsidizing Metro tickets, Arafat stressed. The state pays a EGP 0.60 subsidy on every EGP 3 ticket, while the EGP 5 ticket is subsidized to the tune of EGP 2 and the EGP 7 ticket should cost EGP 16 (watch, runtime: 2:47).

The tier-based system was implemented with an eye towards improving social equality, since it is unfair to charge commuters the same fare regardless of the distance they travel, Arafat told Lamees. He also defended the system by pointing out that it is widely used in other countries (watch, runtime: 6:06). Even with the nearly threefold increase in prices, the metro remains the cheapest mode of transportation Egypt has to offer, he said (watch, runtime: 3:34).

The state is working to improve metro infrastructure and services, the minister said, rushing to give Lamees a rundown of the planned investments in developing metro lines. The Japanese International Cooperation Agency is expected to sign on to develop Cairo Metro Line 4 in 2H2018. The metro network will cover 85 km by year’s end, up from 77 km currently. Arafat also reminded viewers that the private sector is now allowed to partake in the management of new metro lines, which is expected to help bring service standards up to par (watch, runtime: 2:10). The ministry is also looking at international companies to develop metro cars currently in use, many of which have not been maintained for over three decades (watch, runtime: 9:57).

The price hikes were originally scheduled to take place in February, but the ministry decided to push them to the end of the academic year, Assistant Transport Minister Amr Shaat told Kol Youm’s Amr Adib. He vehemently denied that the move came as a surprise to commuters, pointing out that the ministry had publicly announced its plans earlier on. Shaat brushed off reports of protests breaking out at the Helwan metro station, saying that they were contained and that the three metro lines have been operating as usual (watch the full interview, runtime: 48: 24).

House leaders threw their weight behind the move: House Transport Committee member Mohamed Zein Eldin defended the price hikes as a necessity for the metro’s maintenance, and reassured viewers that the Transport Ministry did not need parliamentary sign-off before implementing the new pricing system (watch, runtime: 3:56). MP Amin Masoud phoned into Hona Al Asema to urge commuters to buy a membership card, which would significantly reduce their expenditures (watch, runtime: 4:21). Lamees Al Hadidi reiterated Masoud’s calls and noted that students and disabled citizens are exempted from the increases (watch, runtime: 9:34).

Egyptian student Mariam Mostafa’s body has been laid to rest in Egypt, lawyer Emad Abu Hussein said. Mostafa was beaten to death in London earlier this year (watch, runtime: 3:00). Masaa DMC’s Eman Al Hossary also sat down with Mostafa’s family to talk about developments in the investigation into the incident (watch, runtime: 4:49).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

The S&P has finally come around and raised Egypt’s sovereign credit rating to ‘B’ from ‘B-’: S&P Global Ratings raised its long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings on Egypt to ‘B’ from ‘B-’, with a stable outlook. “The stable outlook balances Egypt’s falling current account deficit, decreasing inflation levels, and stronger growth prospects against risks from still-high fiscal deficits and a high stock of relatively short-dated government debt issued at high interest rates,” the ratings agency said in a statement (paywall). S&P forecasts GDP growth will reach 5.2% in FY2017-18 and is upping its expectation for growth over the next four years to 5.4% from 4.4%.

Rating hike underpinned by economic reforms: S&P sees that economic and fiscal reforms will underpin rising business confidence and sustain capital inflows. One of its key assumptions is that these inflows will lead to an increase in FX reserves, even as a large portion of the fiscal deficit will be financed through external borrowing. “In net terms, we project the key source of financing for the current account deficit will be net foreign direct investment averaging close to 3% of GDP per year over our outlook horizon.” The outfit sees Egypt experiencing a more broad-based recovery and a slight move away from a consumption-driven economy toward an increasing contribution from investment and net exports.

Upside risk: “We could consider a positive rating action if Egypt’s growth significantly outperforms our forecasts, if larger-than-anticipated improvements in the current account position sharply reduce Egypt’s external financing requirements and external debt levels, and if Egypt’s reform program successfully lowers government debt.”

Downside risk: higher borrowing costs and insecurity: “Negative pressure on the rating could arise if Egypt’s plan to gradually reduce government debt to GDP is derailed by fiscal slippages, higher borrowing costs, or more pronounced currency depreciation than expected, or if foreign exchange reserve levels were to fall significantly. We could also see negative pressure on the rating if the security environment worsens, hindering the recovery in investment and tourism.”

The ratings boost is a testament to the success of the economic reform measures and in the confidence investors have shown towards the Egyptian economy, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy said in a statement on Friday.

Metro ticket prices more than triple over the weekend, to follow distance-based tier system: The Transport Ministry announced on Thursday a new tariff scheme for the Cairo Metro that saw ticket prices more than triple in some instances and changed the pricing scheme to a tier system based on distance traveled, according to a statement carried by Al Mal. The new tariff structure went into effect on Friday. “Commuters will be charged a base fare of EGP 3 (USD 0.17) for the first nine stops, EGP 5 for up to 16 stops, and a maximum of EGP 7 for anything more than 16,” Reuters says. The old system saw a standard EGP 2 ticket good for an unlimited number of stops. To mitigate the impact of the hike on metro regulars, “discounted rates will be maintained under the new system for students, the elderly, and those with special needs,” the newswire notes.

Background: Chatter about the new system had been in the works for the last several months. Transport Minister Hisham Arafat had given conflicting signals on when the hike would take place, at various times pointing to 4Q2018 and 2020. Ticket prices doubled under similar circumstances in March last year.

The hike is meant to make the Cairo Metro system sustainable, Assistant Transport Minister Amr Shaat tells Al Mal, explaining that ticket prices are still subsidized: The real price per ride, he said, is something near EGP 16.50. The company makes around EGP 1.2 bn a year and spends an average EGP 5.6 bn, according to Managing Director Khaled Sabra. Cairo Metro chief Ali Fadaly nodded along in agreement, telling the state news agency that the move — which Transport Minister Hisham Arafat said was “long overdue” — is necessary to help the company cope with its rising operational costs and continue working on upgrading and expanding the lines and network at the same time.

This comes as the Planning Ministry says that as much as EGP 6 bn will be invested in metro upgrades this year, including work on Lines 3 and 4.

MPs perform for the cameras: Angry MPs submitted urgent notes to House of Representatives speaker Ali Abdel Aal, asking him to summon Arafat to discuss the fare hike, which they said was too steep, according to Al Mal. Lawyers have also filed lawsuits to reverse the decision, according to Al Mal. One lawyer claimed in a complaint to the Egyptian Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) that the price hike is unconstitutional and that the Cairo Metro is not incurring losses, making the move unnecessary. A separate group of lawyers also filed a case with the Administrative Court.

Some 21 people were arrested yesterday as commuters protested at Metro stations, according to the Associated Press. Videos circulating on social media showed commuters chanting slogans demanding that the government rescind the price hikes, Al Arabiya reports. Some went as far as jumping over the ticket turnstiles to avoid paying for tickets at the new prices, according to Reuters. The outcry is a “rare display of public discontent as the government tightens spending and pushes austerity measures,” the newswire says.

EXCLUSIVE- We had the chance to briefly speak last week with International Finance Corporation (IFC) Vice President for Middle East and Africa Sergio Pimenta, who gave us his thoughts on the Ismail government’s reform agenda, what the IFC likes about Egypt, and what more we can do to improve the investment climate. He statements to us come as the IFC officially announced last week that it and it partners will be investing USD 1.5 bn in Egypt in the 2018. In his own words:

We’re bullish on Egypt as reforms take hold: Egypt has been going through positive and interesting changes with its adoption of the economic reform program and we believe it is heading in the right direction. This is particularly true when it comes to monetary policy, which has helped bring stability to the country. Furthermore, we’re seeing the country begin to open up to the private sector. We like what’s already being done and what’s more important, we are starting to see results.

More reform, more private-sector involvement: On a macro level, we would like to see the government move deeper on structural reforms going forward. We would also like to see the private sector taking on a larger role, which the government can help bring about through simplifying administrative processes and improving governance regulations and bringing them to international best practices. Two things we can see helping bolster foreign direct investment if improved were issues surrounding cross-border trade and land ownership, especially concerning agricultural land.

What sectors does the IFC find attractive? Last fiscal year, we were very active on energy and particularly solar energy. We hope to replicate our approach last year to the energy sector in other sectors. The IFC is bullish on industries which it feels will have the biggest impact on job creation. This year, we have been very keen to invest across the entire agriculture value chain, including production and processing. We have also been focussing on supporting the financial sector, with particular attention paid to reaching out to SMEs and especially SMEs run by women. We’re also currently looking into infrastructure, water, and transportation, and hope to do more with them.

Speaking of the Benban solar park, we’re very happy with the progress of the project. The entire complex is very impressive in terms of size, scope and impact. The project had brought together all these investors on a giant undertaking in a very underdeveloped part of the country on a very short deadline. But more importantly is the opportunity such a project is creating among the local population. (we had noted recently that the IFC was in town to inspect progress on the Benban park.)

EBRD to start accelerator program with Flat6Labs: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will be starting an accelerator program in Egypt in collaboration with our friends at Flat6Labs. The program will be similar to another that the EBRD is launching in Jordan with seed investment firm Oasis500. The programs will see EBRD extend support “through accelerating the development of their pipeline and start-up companies with a mix of practical workshops, connections to expert consultants and various business planning activities over a period of four years,” according to EBRD press release. Both programs will be funded through a EUR 2 mn package provided under a wider EBRD-EU initiative, “which includes a dedicated venture capital instrument to support trade and competitiveness in Egypt and Jordan.” The programs will focus on businesses in the ICT sector and target specific groups such as refugees, women, and youth.

INVESTMENT WATCH- China’s Angel Yeast is planning to invest USD 55 mn in a new food additives plant in Beni Suef, according to a statement by the General Authority for Freezones and Investors (GAFI). The company aims to increase its production of dry yeast to 35,000 tonnes from the current 23,000 tonnes. In related news, the Egyptian Businessmen Association (EBA) is hosting 13 Chinese companies this week to discuss investments in the food and agriculture industries, CEO Mohamed Youssef tells Al Mal.

M&A WATCH- TE to acquire OTMT’s MENA Cables in USD 90 mn transaction, obtain long-term USD credit facilities: Telecom Egypt (TE) announced on Thursday that its board of directors has signed off on the decision to acquire Orascom Telecom and Media Technology’s (OTMT) MENA Submarine Cables Systems in a USD 90 mn transaction. The acquisition, which had been kept under a semi-tight lid till now, will be financed through a shareholder loan from TE to its subsidiary cable business. TE had reportedly been close to tapping EFG Hermes to advise on the acquisition, sources had said last month, around the same time that businessman Naguib Sawiris announced in a conference that he was looking to pull himself out of the telecom industry.

TE’s board also approved a decision to obtain long-term USD credit facilities, including a USD 500 mn five-year syndicated loan, which will be arranged by Mashreq and First Abu Dhabi Bank. The company will also sign a one-year credit facility agreement with a maximum ceiling of USD 200 mn with the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank and African Bank for Import and Export, as well as a four-year, USD 200 mn vendor finance agreement with Huawei. The amounts will be used to finance capex operations and make liquidity available for investments in 4G infrastructure. Reuters also has the story.

This came as TE reported a 48% y-o-y drop in net profit after tax in 1Q2018 to EGP 688 mn, according to the company’s earnings release (pdf). Consolidated revenues recorded EGP 4.8 bn, marking a 15.4% y-o-y increase.

El Nasr Housing accepts Emaar’s EGP 100 mn settlement offer for Uptown Cairo dispute: State-owned El Nasr Housing and Reconstruction’s general assembly voted to accept Emaar’s EGP 100 mn settlement offer for their dispute over the Uptown Cairo project, El Nasr board member Ezzat Ibrahim tells Al Masry Al Youm. The company referred the case to the Public Enterprises Ministry to sign off on its approval of the offer, according to Ibrahim. El Nasr, which filed for arbitration in Cairo last July, had demanded Emaar pay EGP 1 bn and return 3 mn sqm of land in Mokattam it says Emaar has failed to develop since they acquired it in a 2005 agreement. El Nasr is also looking to retrieve 215k sqm it says are technically outside Uptown Cairo’s borders. Sources told us last month that Emaar had presented its settlement offer despite the ministry acknowledging that the company was not at fault for delays in moving ahead with the project.

EARNINGS WATCH- Leading Automotive player GB Auto has returned to profitability, reporting a net profit after tax of EGP 33.5 mn in 1Q2018 compared to a net loss of EGP 154.5 mn in the same period last year, according to the company’s earnings newsletter (pdf). “We are now more than ever confident that customers have absorbed price increases as we see unit sales making a strong comeback in almost every automotive line of business,” our friend GB Auto CEO Raouf Ghabbour noted. “This quarter we have returned the Auto & Auto Related business to meaningful operating profitability. We’re no longer talking about keeping the business above water, but about how much we can continue to grow going forward as a transformed operation with two distinct business lines.” Citing improving appetite across the company’s product portfolio, Ghabbour said, “we believe our strategy is set to catapult us back to our historical levels of profitability.”

IPO WATCH- Sky Light for Touristic Development is meeting with EGX’s listing committee today to discuss IPO requirements, says Adel Murad, IR Director at El Wadi Co. for Touristic Investment (ELWA), which owns 45% of Sky Light. This follows the end of a dispute between Sky Light and the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA), which has finally accepted Sky Light’s appeal to resume its IPO process, according to a statement (pdf). FRA had suspended the company’s IPO process in October over legal issues involving its CEO, according to Murad.

BUDGET WATCH- The Ismail Cabinet agreed to allocate an additional EGP 2.6 bn to the Health Ministry’s investment budget for FY2018-19, Health Minister Ahmed Rady reportedly said on Thursday, Al Mal reports. The amount will be provided through existing surplus at other ministries, according to Rady, who did not provide additional details. House representatives had last week made repeated calls asking the government to increase spending on healthcare and  education.

In other news on the budget, the House Economics Committee concluded its review of the FY2018-19 budget for the agencies affiliated with the Trade and Industry Ministry and has concerns that the EGP 4 bn earmarked for export subsidies is insufficient, the newspaper also says. MP Mohamed Badrawy said that the government owes exporters at least EGP 7 bn in overdue subsidies. Meanwhile, the ICT Committee appears to have signed off on the ICT Ministry’s budget, while the House’s Budgeting Committee gave the Planning Ministry one week to revise some unspecified economic performance forecasts.

Expect ties with Russia to get a major shot in the arm this week: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi are heading to Moscow tomorrow for talks with their Russian counterparts. Security issues, including terrorism and the conflicts in Syria and Libya, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

Security meetings will precede the the Egyptian-Russian Economic Committee summit, where there’s a strong chance we’ll see headway on the Russian Industrial Zone (RIZ). Russia’s Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Georgy Kalamanov had said last month that he hopes the meeting will see the signing of the contracts for the RIZ, while Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil had said the zone would top the agenda for meetings.

Trade between Cairo and Moscow could reach USD 10 bn this year, up from USD 6 bn last year, Russia-Egyptian Business Council Chairman Mikhail Orlov said, according to TASS. Bilateral trade has the potential to reach USD 25 bn if the two countries simplify financing procedures, reach consensus on quality standards for agricultural products, and “remove administrative barriers in the pharmaceuticals sector,” according to Orlov. Egypt had imported around USD 1.73 bn worth of food products from Russia last year, outpacing China as the world’s largest importer of Russian food.

Meanwhile, Russia Today catches flak over Halayeb poll: Russia Today’s Arabic website published on Friday a public opinion poll asking readers whether they believe the Halayeb Triangle is Egyptian or Sudanese territory. The State Information Service (pdf) and Foreign Ministry each issued a statement lambasting the website for the “insulting” poll, and summoned RT’s correspondents in Egypt to school them on the harm the poll inflicted on Egypt-Russia relations, SIS head Diaa Rashwan told Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 6:14). The Foreign Ministry also relayed its dismay to the Russian authorities, spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said (watch, runtime: 3:52).

The UAE’s Dana Gas appears to have reached a settlement agreement with holders of its USD 700 mn sukuk. “A committee representing sukuk holders, which include BlackRock Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., agreed to accept an immediate cash payout of USD 0.20 to the USD and to roll the rest into a three-year security,” sources with knowledge of the matter tell Bloomberg. The agreement would bring the Sharjah-based producer’s court case with its Islamic bond holders to an end.

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Image of the Day

The Antiquities Ministry is planning to restore the Hosh al-Basha courtyard at El Imam El Shafei mosque in old Cairo, Youm7 reports. The royal graveyard, which is practically inaccessible as is, will be renovated and fitted with new electrical and lighting systems.

Egypt in the News

Topping coverage in the foreign press this morning were protests of the Cairo Metro ticket price hikes. It was otherwise a mixed bag of nuts from the international media over the weekend, a period in which Egypt was ranked 161 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders 2018 Press Freedom Index.

Forbes magazine has named President Abdel Fattah El Sisi as one of the world’s 75 most powerful figures of 2018. El Sisi came in 45th on the list. Meanwhile, VOA News looks at the challenges El Sisi will faces in his second term in office.

A statement from Amnesty International statement calling for the immediate release of Egyptian activist Amal Fathy received widespread coverage in the foreign press over the weekend. Fathy was arrested on Friday after posting a Facebook video about her personal experience with [redacted] harassment.

Other headlines worth noting in brief include:

  • Some Wilayat Sinai militants received weapons and explosives training in Syria before coming to Egypt, Asharq Al Awsat reports.
  • A four-year-old boy was referred to trial after kissing his female classmate at school, Al Arabiya reports. The court will issue its final ruling in the case on 30 May.

On Deadline

The nation’s columnists came out strongly against the Transport Ministry’s decision to raise metro ticket prices. Although the ministry has repeatedly announced that these price hikes were in the offing, and had previously announced the planned pricing scheme based on distance traveled, Ahram Gate’s Ahmed El Berry says that commuters were not given a proper chance to brace themselves for the “surprise” move. Al Shorouk’s Emad El Din Hussein also points to flawed communication from the ministry, particularly when it comes to explaining the metro’s financial situation and proving to the populace that it is not in the red due to poor management. Meanwhile, Mahmoud Khalil is fretting that this incident will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, writing in El Watan that the government’s pace at implementing reforms is too fast for citizens to keep up.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Ethiopia complains that Egypt is being a Debbie Downer on GERD: Egypt has been “consistently giving unconstructive comments” on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Meles Alam told reporters on Thursday, Africa News reports. Alam is referencing comments made by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry that appeared to blame Ethiopia and Sudan for recently failed meetings. A meeting between Shoukry and his Sudanese and Ethiopian counterparts scheduled for today has reportedly been cancelled, Anadolu reports.

USAID is contributing USD 19 mn to support Egypt’s family planning efforts through a five-year program it will launch with the Health Ministry, according to a US embassy statement picked up by Ahram Online. The program will hone in on Upper Egypt governorates but will also cover parts of Cairo and Alexandria.

Energy

Eni launches third production unit at Egypt’s Zohr gas field

Italy’s Eni announced on Thursday (pdf) that it has production at the Zohr gas field’s third unit (T-2). The latest ramp-up increases Zohr’s functional capacity to 1.2 bcf/d, up from the current 1.1 bcf/d. “The third unit, following just one week after the second unit’s successful power-up, sets the project pursued by Eni, its co-venturers and EGAS on track to reach a production level of two bcfd by the of end 2018," the company added.

Basic Materials + Commodities

EPPO clears Egyptian citrus after inspection

Inspectors from the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization have cleared Egypt’s citrus products for export after they found no evidence of bruising, which they said makes produce more susceptible to infection, the Agriculture Ministry announced in a statement carried by Al Mal.. Egypt has been growing it citrus exports of late, particularly to the EU.

Tourism

Remains of Roman-era temple found in Siwa

The remains of a second century Roman-era temple were unearthed near the Siwa Oasis, the Antiquities Ministry said in a statement. The temple, which dates back to the reign of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, includes a 5m-long limestone painting bearing Greek inscriptions, which will undergo restoration.

Automotive + Transportation

Toyota Egypt targets sales increase of 18.7% this year

Toyota Egypt is targeting an 18.7% increase in car sales this year, CEO Ahmed Monsef tells Reuters’ Arabic service. The company aims to sell 12,500 cars before the end of 2018, up from 10,526 last year. Toyota Egypt is also launching two models of luxury brand Lexus on Thursday, with other models to follow later.

Banking + Finance

CBE to launch initiative for idle factories within a week

The Central Bank of Egypt will launch an initiative within the week to help idle factories restructure their debts and restart stalled operations, Governor Tarek Amer said without elaborating, according to Al Mal.

Other Business News of Note

Monginis to invest EGP 30 mn in 30 new stores this year

Indian bakery and pastry chain Monginis is planning to invest EGP 30 mn this year to open 30 new stores across the country, Director Adnan Khorakiwala tells Al Mal. The company is also opening 10 new booths in Cairo metro stations within 10 days, with plans for further expansion with new metro stations. Mongini’s new factory in Sadat City is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2019, says Khorakiwala.

Sports

Mo Salah named Liverpool’s player of the year

Mohamed Salah was named Liverpool’s player of the year this weekend, which earned him a round of applause from the local and foreign press alike. The WSJ described him as  “the most regal Egyptian since Ramses II.”Meanwhile, ex-coach Hany Ramzy has advised the Liverpool star to leave the club and sign for Real Madrid, according to Sports Mole.

On Your Way Out

Rady Gamal, the star of Egyptian independent film Yomeddine, emerged as one of the breakout stars of the Cannes Film Festival, Jake Koyle writes for the AP. Gamal, who suffered from leprosy as a child, is not a professional actor but “offers an authentic portrait of social outcasts seldom seen in cinema,” Koyle says. Yomeddine is competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or award at the festival.

The Egyptian embassy in London hosted the “Made in Egypt” gala last Tuesday, where a number of Egypt’s best designers got to meet and share their work with London high society. The event was sponsored by Mr & Mrs Samih Sawiris, CIB, Edita, EgyptAir, Palm Hills, Ramsco and SODIC.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.7314 | Sell 17.8295
EGP / USD at CIB:
Buy 17.71 | Sell 17.81
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.67 | Sell 17.77

EGX30 (Thursday): 17,155 (-1.8%)
Turnover: EGP 1.4 bn (21% ABOVE the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +14.25%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday session down 1.8%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended down 2.8%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Qalaa Holdings up 3.3%, Orascom Telecom Media and Technology up 2.5%, and GB Auto up 2.3%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were Eastern Co down 4.3%, Kima down 3.3%, and Telecom Egypt down 3.2%. The market turnover was EGP 1.4 bn, and regional investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +20.3 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -13.1 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -7.2 mn

Retail: 59.5% of total trades | 59.4% of buyers | 59.7% of sellers
Institutions: 40.5% of total trades | 40.6% of buyers | 40.3% of sellers

Foreign: 13.2% of total | 13.8% of buyers | 12.5% of sellers
Regional: 11.9% of total | 11.5% of buyers | 12.4% of sellers
Domestic: 74.9% of total | 74.7% of buyers | 75.1% of sellers

WTI: USD 70.70 (-0.92%)
Brent: USD 77.12 (-0.45%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.1 MMBtu, (-0.28%, June 2018 contract)
Gold: USD 1,320.70 / troy ounce (-0.12%)

TASI: 7,914.27 (+0.46%) (YTD: +9.52%)
ADX: 4,437.83 (-1.09%) (YTD: +0.90%)
DFM: 2,881.80 (-0.27%) (YTD: -14.49%)
KSE Premier Market: 4,797.28 (+0.16%)
QE: 8,749.65 (-0.85%) (YTD: +2.65%)
MSM: 4,681.51 (+0.11%) (YTD: -8.19%)
BB: 1,270.73 (-0.03%) (YTD: -4.58%)

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Calendar

14 May (Monday): Flat6Labs’ Cairo Spring Demo Day, InterContinental Semiramis, 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. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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