Monday, 25 June 2018

The taxman cometh


What We’re Tracking Today

We have another Accidental Legislation Issue this morning as the House of Representatives kicks into overdrive before it winds down for summer recess. Look for more of the same today after the general assembly passed a number of laws and funding agreements yesterday. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi also signed into a law a number of key business-related laws, including the Ride-Hailing Apps Act and amendments to the Industrial Development Authority Act.

One of the chief trends we’re seeing: The taxman wants you to pay your share. The imposition of the VAT on a wide range of online and offline activities is one of the trends we’re seeing in the recently-passed bills. We have more on yesterday’s legislative news Speed Round, below.

But no, the government isn’t going to tax your iPhone: Finance Minister Mohamed Maait brushed off as “rumor” reports on social media claiming that the government will be imposing additional taxes on iPhone users (watch; runtime: 0:54). He also dismissed entirely reports suggesting that the government has plans to impose new income taxes.

Expect the spate of legislative news to wind down this week: MPs will be off for the coming few days, returning after the start of the new state fiscal year on 1 July, according to Al Mal, which cites a report by the state news agency.

The Madbouly Cabinet should unveil its policy and legislative agenda when the House reconvenes next week. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly told the press yesterday that this should happen before 4 July, but the date hasn’t yet been set. Madbouly was expected to present his plan last Saturday, but decided to give his newly-sworn in ministers more time to prepare.

Economists see interest rates to be left on hold: Economists polled by the local press widely see interest rates being left on hold when the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee meets on Thursday, largely on the back of the recent subsidy cuts, OPEC’s recent view on ramping up production, and the US Federal Reserve raising interest rates. For the most part, they don’t see inflation rising in the next few months to over 4%. Economist Reham El Desouky sees the annual inflation growth to be limited to an average 2-3% over the coming two months. She said she won’t be surprised if the CBE actually raises rates, but any hike wouldn’t exceed 100 bps, she said. Beltone Financial lead economist Alia Mamdouh sees inflation at 3-4% in the next three months, while Pharos Holding head of research Radwa El Swaify sees it at 1-3.5%. She expects the CBE to leave interest rates on hold until October.

Erdogan has declared victory in Turkey in an election that will also give him new powers as Ankara becomes home to a presidential system, scrapping the office of the prime minister under controversial constitutional changes passed last year. Naturally, the Muslim Brotherhood is rejoicing. Reuters and the Financial Times have more.

In miscellany this morning:

  • Mifid II has led to an exodus of sellside analysts, and the result is that the “quality of research is getting thinner and thinner.” Analysts are leaving as research comes under pressure after Mifid II required banks to unbundle the cost of research and trading services they offer investors. (FT)
  • The largest US banks have passed the first round of their annual stress tests; the second round takes place this coming Thursday. (WSJ)
  • Another volley in US-China trade war coming? The Donald, already embroiled in a trade war with China, plans “new curbs on Chinese investment” and technology exports to Beijing. (WSJ)
  • Cheating on school exams: It’s not just Shou Ming. Algeria tried to turn off the internet last week for an hour a day as students sat for end-of-year examinations.

Stink watch: If you, like us, are trying to get back into a workout routine post-Ramadan, you’ll want to go back a month or so to the New York Times’ Smarter Living column and reread How to clean your gross workout gear.

The World Cup match most of us don’t want to watch, but will, is today at 4:00pm CLT. Egypt will go head-to-head with Saudi Arabia today to see who won’t be dead last in Group A.

National team coach Hector Cuper says he’s determined to “bow out of the World Cup in style,” according to the National. Past performance not withstanding and with Salah looking like he’s in better shape, we are certainly expecting (but definitely praying) we won’t be humiliated. The Saudis say their three-pronged game plan involves “containing” Salah.

Expect heavy traffic in the hour before the match — plenty of companies are letting staff go at 3pm to give them sufficient time to park themselves in front of a screen before the kickoff. Don’t worry: You’re not alone in bemoaning this: Trading (and, we suspect, all non-restaurant business activity) plunges during games. “An analysis of trading data from 15 global stock exchanges carried out during the 2010 World Cup—which was held in South Africa—found that trading volume dropped by roughly 33% from normal levels during games,” the Wall Street Journal noted a while back.

What We’re Tracking This Week

A shuffle of governors could be announced by the end of this week, Al Shorouk reports, adding that Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly has given a preliminary outline of the shuffle to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Local Development Minister Mahmoud Shaarawy. The shuffle could include as many as 15 of 27 governors, including Cairo, Aswan, Gharbia, Assiut, Qalyubia, Sohag, Menoufia, Beheira, Dakahlia, Qena and North Sinai.

Next tranche of IMF loan in July? The IMF’s executive board will meet on 29 June to decide on the fourth USD 2 bn tranche of Egypt’s USD 12 bn extended fund facility. The disbursement, which is expected to arrive in July, would bring the total amount Egypt has received under the facility to USD 8 bn.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

We have some airwaves-related gossip for you this morning: Sherif Amer could be leaving MBC now that Amr Adib has come into the fold. Sources tell Al Dostor that Amer has been frustrated since news of Adib coming over made it to the public sphere, adding that there is a an inclination within the network’s management team to either drop Amer’s contract once it expires or move him to a different channel, giving Adib the main talk show slot.

Meanwhile, the talking heads had a busy night, chewing over a rumor of Mo Salah retiring from international football (not club competition), recently-enacted income tax amendments, and a new wind farm.

Mo Salah is not quitting the national team or retiring from international football, as the latest swirl of rumors suggested, hinting that the star striker was in hot water for being fawned over by Chechnya’s President Ramzan Kadyrov. Salah trained with the rest of the team yesterday ahead of their game against Saudi today, football federation member Ahmed Megahed told Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary(watch, runtime: 12:22). Sports critic Ihab al-Khatib said the rumors are meant to strain Salah before the match and expects the footballer to face more headwinds as he grows (watch here, runtime: 7:36 and here, runtime: 3:59)

Amendments to the tax code were the order of the day on Hona Al Asema, where Riham Ibrahim is filling in for Lamees Al Hadidi, who’s on vacation until September. Former deputy finance minister Amr El Monayer explained that the amendments, which President Abdel Fattah El Sisi signed off on this past Saturday, are part of a social protection package meant to help mitigate inflationary pressure by giving a bit of tax relief to low income earners (watch, runtime: 9:23).

The Electricity Ministry plans to inaugurate an EGP 12 bn, 580 MW wind farm on 30 June, according to Al Hayah fi Misr’s Kamel Madi, who chatted with ministry spokesperson Ayman Hamza to discuss the transition to renewable energy sources and the surplus power currently being produced as more energy projects come online (watch, runtime: 8:31).

Consumer Protection Authority boss Rady Abdel Moty explained how citizens can report violations on Al Hayah fi Masr and seemed particularly keen on bringing an end to minimum charges for seating in restaurants (watch full interview, runtime: 26:38).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

LEGISLATION WATCH- House is shopping around legislation to tax social media ads: A draft law to tax Egyptian advertisers for their social media spends apparently exists and is already floating around in the House of Representatives, MPs tell Egypt Independent. The proposal would tax both paid and unpaid ads (how that last bit would work is beyond us) on social outlets including Facebook and Google, House ICT Committee deputy chair John Talaat said. “The draft law is still under discussion and people are still working out the methodology of its application and implementation,” he said. Talaat claims the bill has wide support in the House.

Gov’t and House are on the same page on this: Government sources had told us earlier this month that the Tax Authority is looking at imposing VAT on online ad buys and e-commerce transactions. In parallel, it is looking at ways of charging VAT on online ad sales by both domestic players and global giants such as Google and Facebook. “Facebook and social media websites don’t have platforms in Egypt, so the government has found it necessary to impose their control and collect taxes from Egyptian companies which choose to advertise on those websites,” says Talaat.

Yeah, paying taxes is not fun. But as longtime readers know, the only thing that bothers us more than shelling out are the cheats who don’t pay their share. The online set is grumbling about the Madbouly government aiming to collect VAT on online purchases. We don’t understand why the special snowflakes who hawk their wares online should be VAT exempt in the first place, and neither does the US Supreme Court. The top court in the United States ruled last week that “internet retailers can be required to collect sales taxes even in states where they have no physical presence.” The same logic, we think, should also see multinationals such as Google and Facebook charging VAT on taxable services in Egypt.

This isn’t the first time the House has maneuvered to get hands on social media activity: Earlier this month, our representatives passed the second part of the Press and Media Act, which subjects social media accounts with more than 5k followers to new regulation.

Meanwhile, the new Leasing and Factoring Act imposes VAT on lease contracts: The Leasing and Factoring Act, which the House of Representatives approved on Saturday, revokes VAT-exempt status previously granted to lease contracts, according to Al Mal. Several leasing companies have come out strongly against the imposition of the tax, CorpLease General Counsel Salah Youssef tells the newspaper. Tax exemptions were one of the primary perks of using leasing as a non-banking financing tool, and imposing taxes on these contracts will likely slow industry growth, Youssef added.

EXCLUSIVE- This comes as the taxman looks to collect as much as EGP 6 bn from Uber and Careem in retroactive VAT payments for the last two years. Government sources tell us that tax officials should have a final figure within two weeks once they’re done reviewing paperwork filed by each company in the two years since the VAT came into effect. The Tax Authority had issued a directive last week that requires ride-hailing apps to begin charging VAT on the portion of revenue they take from each ride. While it left the tax treatment on the drivers’ share of the profit unchanged, the directive mandates ridesharing companies to pay a retroactive VAT of 13% on their own share of revenues from September 2016-June 2017 and 14% VAT on everything from July 2017 onwards.

Uber may be subject to different tax treatment, the sources said, explaining that unlike Careem, which is licensed as an Egyptian company, Uber operates in Egypt as a foreign entity subject to another country’s tax regime. Uber officials reportedly promised to deliver the documents once they coordinate with their parent company, while Careem officials should sit down with tax officials this week to hand over the paperwork, we’re told.

In other industry news: Car service companies are reportedly suing Uber for allegedly cutting their drivers. A number of car service companies are said to have filed lawsuits demanding financial compensation from the ride-hailing company after it terminated agreements that had incorporated their drivers in its fleet. Nabil Abdel Nour, the owner of Fourat and Nile Company for Limousine Services and Grand Limousine, alleges Uber let go of around 4,000 of his drivers. He claims that his work for Uber over the past 18 months was worth EGP 18 mn. 1st Car is also suing Uber for letting go of around 700 drivers. Uber, which had contracted car service companies when it launched in Egypt, appears to be shedding them as its fleet grows. The move comes as a provision of the recently passed Ride-hailing Apps Act forces the two to find a way to incorporate white cabs into their fleets.

White cab owners, meanwhile, plan to launch by early August a rival ride-hailing app dubbed Professional Taxi, White Taxi Association Head Mamdouh Abdel Hamid tells Al Mal. The would-be competitor’s strategy appears to be undercutting Uber and Careem by taking a commission on fares that would be as little as a fifth of what Uber takes today.

LEGISLATION WATCH- And speaking of the Ride-Hailing Act: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has signed it into law, Youm7 reports. The law, passed by the House of Representatives last month, had initially stirred up controversy over government access to private user data. The bill was then toned down to allow access to the authorities on a case by case basis as opposed to granting them access to real-time user data. The final text of the law was published on the Official Gazette on Sunday.

El Sisi also signed into law amendments to the Industrial Development Authority Act granting the IDA financial and administrative independence from the Trade and Industry Ministry. The changes also make it responsible for allocating land, permits and licenses to industrial ventures. The law was also published in the Official Gazette yesterday, according to Youm7.

El Sisi also signed off on the Social Housing and Mortgage Finance Support Act. Under the new law, the Social Housing Fund and the Mortgage Finance Fund will be merged into a single entity to streamline mortgage financing procedures. The law also sets a framework for the pricing of land and state-subsidized housing, as well as the services that residents in those projects have access to.

The President also ratified the Food Cart Act, which governs permits, equipment, location, and food safety standards. It also subjects cart owners to an annual licensing fee.

FinMin committee to begin reviewing fuel hedging offers in July: A Finance Ministry committee tasked with studying offers for mechanisms of hedging against fuel price hikes will reportedly convene for the first time in early July to begin its review, a government source tells Al Shorouk. We reported earlier this month that the ministry received offers from seven international banks and institutions looking to provide Egypt with fuel hedging solutions amid upward pressure on oil prices. Sources had told us that the committee could take up to two months to complete its work and may select more than one provider based on the best average cut-off price and repayment terms offered. The Oil Ministry is currently conducting a thorough study to determine the market’s average fuel needs over the coming year, which should help the committee with its decision. The contracts are likely to span 2-3 years, according to the source, who adds that the Madbouly Cabinet is also considering hedging against wheat price fluctuations.

Background: The finance and oil ministries were given the green light to begin talks on hedging contracts with international banks amid rising global oil prices. Next year’s state budget assumes an average price of USD 67/bbl, but Brent crude had broken the USD 80/bbl last month before falling back to a USD 75/bbl average. OPEC and non-OPEC member states agreed over the weekend to increase oil output as of July by 1 mn bpd, a move widely expected to ease upward pressure on prices.

The Madbouly government is working to insulate beneficiaries of its subsidy programs from rising food prices in the wake of last week’s fuel subsidy cuts. The government will pay 15% more for transport providers who haul the food and petroleum products it buys under the subsidy program after recent fuel price hikes, Social Solidarity Minister Ali El Moselhy said, according to Al Ahram. El Moselhy said the government will effectively absorb the new cost to transport companies to maintain prices of subsidized goods. The ministry will also be covering the difference in the cost of subsidized bread, which sources previously said would cost state coffers and additional EGP 5 bn, as well as the transport of wheat.

Food prices in the private sector could rise 3-7% over the coming months on the back of higher fuel costs, the government has previously said. Other goods and services such as construction and building materials, cars, and electronic appliances have also risen in price. Public transport services including buses, white cabs and Ubers have also seen prices increases over the past week in response to the government’s decision to raise fuel prices by c. 50%. The hike is the third since the government signed a USD 12 bn Extended Fund Facility agreement with the IMF in 2016.

BUDGET WATCH- Parliament signed off yesterday on a EGP 70.3 bn overdraft for the FY2017-18 state budget, Ahram Gate reports. The overdraft was in large part necessary to cover higher debt service rates, which alone account for EGP 57 bn. Other expenditures included EGP 2.3 bn in compensations to North Sinai residents as a result of the insurgency in the area. Parliament’s report on the overdraft makes no mention of higher fuel prices, which Finance Minister Mohamed Maait had previously told Enterprise were a reason the government had requested the overdraft.

Parliament also approved extending the state of emergency for an additional three months, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The state of emergency has been renewed every three months since April 2017.

MPs also approved several loan and grant agreements over the weekend, the Investment and International Cooperation Ministry said (pdf), including:

  • A USD 3 bn agreement with the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation to finance the purchase of basic goods and commodities, which Investment Minister Sahar Nasr signed in January;
  • A third USD 500 mn tranche of the USD 1.5 bn loan the African Development Bank is disbursing as part of its economic governance and energy support program to Egypt;
  • A USD 200 mn loan the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is extending to EGAS to improve natural gas infrastructure;
  • A USD 150 mn loan with the African Development Bank to develop a sustainable development project for Abu Rawash sewage treatment plant;
  • A USD 50 mn grant from the United States to support integrated water solutions.
  • Three agreements with the US worth a combined USD 44 mn for education development;
  • A JPY 993 mn (USD 8.8 mn) grant agreement from Japan for the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology;
  • A USD 6 mn grant from the Korea International Cooperation Agency to fund an Egyptian-Korean university in Beni Suef;
  • A EUR 500k technical grant for transport development from the French Development Agency.

Hassan Allam consortium wins contract for USD 4.4 bn Hamrawein ‘clean coal’ power plant on the Red Sea: A Chinese consortium of Hassan Allam Construction, China’s Shanghai Electric and Dong Fang has won a USD 4.4 bn contract from the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) to build a 6 GW clean coal power plant on the Red Sea. The facility will be the largest coal-fired plant in the Middle East and Africa when it comes online six years from the start of construction, we’re told. Egypt’s first coal power plant will include six generation units of 1,000 MW each. Hassan Allam Holding subsidiary PGESCO will be carrying out a large portion of the engineering work on the project, sources close to the winning bid tell us. The consortium edged out rival bids from General Electric and a Mitsubishi-Hitachi-Orascom-Sewedy consortium for the contract. The Hamrawein plant will be built on an engineering, procurement, construction plus finance (EPC+F) basis, MEED reports.

Parent company is planning IPO: Hassan Allam Construction is a division of Hassan Allam Holding, which we reported in May has plans for an initial public offering this fall. EFG Hermes and Renaissance Capital are said to be leading the IPO as joint global coordinators, while Arqaam Capital has been tapped as bookrunner.

M&A WATCH- Pharos was sell-side adviser on the sale of NPP to Mondi: Our friends at Pharos Holding were sell-side advisors on the sale of 100% of National Company for Paper Products (NPP) to Mondi Group for USD 29 mn (EGP 510 mn), the firm said in a statement on Sunday (pdf). The sale of the provider of the Kraft paper bag packaging to London- and Johannesburg-listed Mondi highlights the appeal of Egyptian industry to foreign investors, the firm said. “Investor sentiment towards Egypt is turning positive and continues to improve as Egypt reaps the benefits of its economic reforms,” said Pharos Managing Director and Co-CEO Aladdin El-Afifi. Al Tamimi and Co. were the legal advisors on the transaction.

The CBE is in talks with Afreximbank for a USD 500 mn loan that will be geared toward funding trade and imports as well as SME financing, an unnamed source from Afreximbank tells Al Shorouk. If it comes through, the facility would be yet another sign that the international finance institutions are willing to lend substantial sums to the country. The Egyptian Electricity Holding Company recently borrowed USD 900 mn in a syndicated loan. Other recent loans of a considerable size include USD 600 mn to the National Bank of Egypt and an upcoming USD 500 mn loan to Banque Misr. The CBE had made the final payment on its total USD 3.7 bn debt to Afreximbank earlier this month.

MOVES- Hanafi El Gebaly has been named the next chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, the nation’s highest court, Al Masry Al Youm reports. El Gebaly, currently the court’s first deputy chief justice, replaces chief justice Abdel Wahab Abdel Razek Hassan.

CORRECTION- No, Eni is not allocating 70% of its global investment to Egypt: Widely circulated news in the domestic press last week claiming Eni will earmark 70% of its global investment to Egypt is not true, sources from the company told us yesterday. The story was corrected on our website.

CLARIFICATION- We over-reached with our assertion yesterday that Abraaj has sold key funds to Tom Barrack’s Colony Capital. We should have written that “Abraaj has agreed to sell” the funds. The transaction is still subject to certain conditions precedent and to limited partner approvals, a friend at Abraaj tells us.


Enterprise is available without charge — just visit our English or Arabic subscription page, depending on which edition you would like to receive. We give you just about everything you need to know about Egypt, in your inbox Sunday through Thursday before 7am CLT (8am for Arabic), and all we ask for is your name, email address and where you hang your hat during business hours.

The Macro Picture

More trouble in the offing for EMs? Emerging market currencies are nearing their “all-time low,” which suggests that these economies are in for more turbulence as rising US interest rates and trade tensions with China continue to add strain to the global economy, according to the FT. Pressured by a strong USD, liquidity shortages, and large current account deficits, “emerging currencies in the benchmark JPMorgan index have fallen almost 10% this year from their January peak, and would need to fall only another 2.5% to match their all-time low during the China growth scare of January 2016.” Even Asian EMs, which are typically considered safer than their African or South American counterparts, are facing increasing risk, as “repeated rounds of US tariffs will not only damage growth in China but also affect the rest of Asia through the integration of global value chains,” Principal Global Investors’ Seema Shah says. Last week, investors pulled a record of USD 6 bn out of emerging market equity funds after the US and China threatened to slap the other with additional import tariffs.

Just a hiccup along the way? Trade tensions will have to cool in order for “EM to return to stability,” but investors should not be in a rush to exit, according to Oppenheimer’s Hemant Baijal. Others also seem convinced that the sell-off is a temporary correction amid a stronger USD, which will run its course before “the smart money…[starts] nibbling in the emerging world.”

Image of the Day

A portrait of Egyptian footballer Mohamed Salah by Italian artist Fabrizio Birimbelli is on display at the at the Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, according to Egypt Independent. The ‘Like the Gods’ exhibition features paints portraits of footballing legends, both past and contemporary, including Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba — but donning historical Victorian-era military and royal uniforms. The exhibition opened 20 June and will run for the remainder of the World Cup.

Egypt in the News

It’s a slow news day for Egypt in the international press, with news dominated by talk of our imminent exit from the 2018 World Cup (even Mona Eltahawy is getting in on the act in the New York Review of Books). Also getting a bit of attention: Wire service reports on the latest three-month extension of the state of emergency and the president signing off on the ride-hailing apps act.

Otherwise, it’s a mixed bag of nuts this morning:

  • Political correctness is not something we do well, particularly when it comes to race: Social media backlash against Ramadan comedies featuring actors in blackface as poor, lazy characters (see photo, above) is the subject of a piece from the Associated Press.
  • Egypt is increasingly becoming vital to Russia, where President Vladimir Putin aims to supplant US influence in the Middle East and raise Russia’s great power status, Anna Borshchevskaya writes to the National Interest.

Worth Watching

Construction — one of the world’s largest and most polluting industries — is due for another disruption, and Canadian startup CarbonCure says it holds the key. The company claims to have devised a way to make concrete using less cement while also trapping harmful CO2 emissions. The process of making concrete usually requires superheating calcium carbonate, which releases tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide into the environment — making construction one of the top three producers of CO2 emissions globally. The new CarbonCure system, which makes concrete stronger than other traditional methods, takes captured CO2, injects it into concrete as its being mixed, and then once it hardens, the carbon is sequestered forever. “Because the CO2 actually helps to make the concrete stronger, concrete producers can still make concrete as strong as they need to but use less cement in the process,” Christie Gamble, director of sustainability at CarbonCure, told CNNMoney (watch, runtime: 6:08).

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

A tripartite scientific committee began meetings on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Saturday in Khartoum, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The meeting will address observations of Egypt and Sudan on a proposal submitted by Ethiopia on filling the dam’s reservoir, the newspaper says. The committee came about following the breakthrough in talks between the three countries last month.

The Arab Union of Arbitration for Investment and Economic Disputes held its opening session in Cairo yesterday, according to Al Masry Al Youm. The union, which currently includes 14 Arab countries, will oversee the establishment of an Arab arbitration court to help mediate disputes between businessmen and other foreign investors and entities.

Egypt has “welcomed” Portugal’s offer to resettle 400 refugees currently living in Egypt until the end of 2019, according to a Foreign Ministry statement. The move comes as part of the EU’s cooperation framework with Egypt on the issue of refugees and migration, which has seen the UK, Sweden, Germany, and Netherlands resettle “hundreds” of refugees, according to the ministry. The EU had allocated EUR 500 mn last year to help resettle refugees from North African countries.

The US is gearing up to announce the details of its Middle East peace plan soon, and will “press on with or without Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas,” White House adviser Jared Kushner said during a tour of the Middle East that included a sit down with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi yesterday, Reuters reports.


SDX Energy highlights progress on three successful wells

SDX Energy gave a progress report on it operations in Egypt and Morocco, with the firm being particularly pleased with the progress on three of its four Egypt wells. “We are looking forward to first gas in South Disouq expected at the end of the year and are excited by the new Kafr El Sheik prospectivity that we have identified in the concession,” Paul Welch said in a company statement. All in all, the company expects production at the concession to reach 55-60 mcf/d of natural gas, and 500-600 bbl/d of crude. SDX Energy had announced last week making a new gas discovery on Saturday (pdf) at the SD-4X well at its South Disouq concession, expecting to begin production in 4Q2018.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt to begin exporting citrus, grapes to Uruguay

Egypt will begin exporting citrus and grapes to Uruguay during the upcoming harvest season, Agriculture Minister Ezzedin Abou Setit said on Thursday, according to the State Information Service. Egyptian and Uruguayan officials had recently held talks on maintaining quality standards in Egypt’s agricultural exports, according to the minister.

Health + Education

11 UK universities in Egypt this week to explore opening branches opportunities

Representatives from 11 UK universities are in Egypt this week to discuss with counterparts and officials the potential for setting up local branches, UK Ambassador to Egypt John Casson said in a tweet on Sunday. Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar signed an MoU earlier this year with the UK Universities Minister Sam Gyimah that means to make it easy for British universities to establish campuses in Egypt.

Telecoms + ICT

SICO plans to release “first Egyptian-made tablet PC” on Wednesday

Egyptian electronics manufacturer SICO plans to release what company CEO Mohamed Salem described to Youm7 as “the first Egyptian-made tablet PC” on Wednesday. The SICO Express 3 (we wonder what happened to models 1 and 2), which was manufactured in the Assiut industrial zone, will source 45% of its components in Egypt, he claims. We would certainly like to ask him exactly which components of a PC can be sourced here.

Infinix in talks with government to set up local smartphone plant

Chinese smartphone maker Infinix is currently in talks with the government to set up a local phone factory as part of the company’s overseas expansion plans, MD Benjamin Jiang tells Al Shorouk. Infinix and Meizu have been considering setting up local manufacturing lines since last year and had conducted feasibility studies.

Automotive + Transportation

Bombardier completes feasibility studies for Cairo Metro Line 6

Canada’s Bombardier has completed and presented the results of the feasibility studies for the development of Cairo Metro Line 6, Assistant Transport Minister Amr Shaat said, Al Mal reports. The National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) had signed an MoU with the Canadian company last July to conduct the feasibility studies. The 30 km line will have 24 stops and should be operational by 2022.

Banking + Finance

Vitas Group to extend EGP 200 mn in SME loans by 2020

Vitas Misr for Microfinance, a subsidiary of B Investments’ Ebtikar, is planning to extend as much as EGP 200 mn in loans by 2020 to more than 10,000 SME clients, CEO Hossam Heiba tells Al Mal. The company is expecting to obtain its final permit within two weeks. We earlier noted that B Investments plans to use some of the EGP 150 mn it will invest in SME finance subsidiary Ebtikar towards raising capital for regional microfinance firm Vitas Group.

NBE, Banque Misr, BdC to provide Ezz Steel Rolling Mills with EGP 3.4 bn syndicated loan

The National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, and Banque du Caire are reportedly providing Ezz Steel Rolling Mills with a EGP 3.4 bn syndicated loan to finance the working capital of the company’s Ain Sokhna facility, unnamed banking sources tell Al Shorouk. No further details were announced.

On Your Way Out

Globally prominent Egyptian physician who developed life-saving vaccines passes away, is mourned by Bill Gates: Egyptian doctor Adel Mahmoud, who developed and / or championed several life-saving vaccines, passed away earlier this month in New York at age 76. “The world lost one of the greatest vaccine creators of our time,” Bill Gates said in a tweet on Thursday, mourning Mahmoud’s passing. Mahmoud has been credited with developing or playing key roles in the commercialization of vaccines that protect against rotavirus, shingles, HPV and a combination vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox. The New York Times has a great obit, as does the Wall Street Journal.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.82 | Sell 17.92
Buy 17.82 | Sell 17.92
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.78 | Sell 17.88

EGX30 (Sunday): 16,395 (+0.3%)
Turnover: EGP 789 mn (25% BELOW the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +9.2%

THE MARKET ON Sunday: The EGX30 ended Sunday’s session up 0.3%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended up 0.3%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were SODIC up 3.6%, Egyptian Iron & Steel up 3.3% and Amer Group up 3.2%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank down 1.7%, GB Auto down 1.6%, and AMOC down 1.2%. The market turnover was EGP 789 mn, and regional investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP -23.0 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +31.2 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -8.2 mn

Retail: 77.2% of total trades | 75.0% of buyers | 79.5% of sellers
Institutions: 22.8% of total trades | 25.0% of buyers | 20.5% of sellers

Foreign: 12.0% of total | 10.5% of buyers | 13.4% of sellers
Regional: 6.2% of total | 8.2% of buyers | 4.2% of sellers
Domestic: 81.8% of total | 81.3% of buyers | 82.3% of sellers

WTI: USD 68.19 (-0.57%)
Brent: USD 73.85 (-2.25%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.93 MMBtu, (-0.68%, July 2018 contract)
Gold: USD 1,273.90 / troy ounce (+0.25%)

TASI: 8,350.96 (+1.76%) (YTD: +15.56%)
ADX: 4,550.51 (+0.34%) (YTD: +3.46%)
DFM: 2,929.06 (+0.03%) (YTD: -13.09%)
KSE Premier Market: 4,812.63 (+0.19%)
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25 June (Monday): Egypt plays against Saudi Arabia at 2018 World Cup, Volgograd, Russia.

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

29 June (Friday): IMF’s executive board meeting to review progress on Egypt’s reform program.

1 July (Sunday): Application deadline for the DigitalAG4Egypt Challenge.

16 July (Monday): Cairo Court of Appeals to issue ruling on EGP 5.6 bn antitrust case against pharma companies.

23 July (Monday): Revolution Day, national holiday.

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.

10-13 September (Monday-Thursday): EFG Hermes’ 8th Annual London Conference, Emirates Arsenal Stadium, London.

11 September (Tuesday): Islamic New Year (TBC), national holiday.

22 September (Saturday): New academic year begins for public schools, universities.

24-25 September (Monday-Tuesday): Arqaam Capital MENA Investors Conference 2018, Four Seasons Resorts, Dubai.

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.

03-05 December (Monday-Wednesday): First Egypt Defense Expo, Egyptian International Exhibition Center, 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).

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