Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Vodafone robots eating Egyptian jobs?

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

**#9 Robots are going to eat Egyptian jobs at Vodafone: Vodafone will be laying off around 1,700 employees from “shared service centers” in Egypt, India and Romania this year to replace them with robots, incoming CEO Nick Read said in an interview with the Financial Times. The move is part of the company’s plans to cut as much as EUR 8 bn in costs.

You really, really need to think about what this means to your business: Machines will do half of our labor in less than eight years, a new study by the World Economic Forum warns. “Examining large companies in 20 advanced and developing economies, the report said that by 2022, machines will carry out 42% of the labor — and an accelerated 52% just three years later,” Axios notes.

Spotlight on FDI: With portfolio investment outflows reach a high, the Investment Ministry threw a bash yesterday for local and foreign direct investors at which minister Sahar Nasr lined up 25 foreign companies to emphasize how much they’ve invested so far in the country and what they plan to do next. These companies include Schneider Electric, Cargill, and Unilever, according to a ministry statement. Among the local companies present was Qalaa Holdings, whose founder Ahmed Heikal said would be investing EGP 30-32 bn in a variety of sectors in the coming period, according to Al Mal.

Egypt, Cyprus could sign USD 1 bn gas pipeline agreement this week: Oil Minister Tarek El Molla and Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis are expected to sign as early as this week an agreement establishing the USD 1 bn pipeline connecting the Aphrodite gas field to liquefaction plants in Egypt, reports Cyprus Mail. The signing will reportedly happen in Nicosia. The high-level political agreement would set the regulatory framework and the technical specs for gas exported through the pipeline, energy analyst Charles Ellinas says. It would not cover the price of the gas, a commercial matter that would be set by the operators of Aphrodite and the Egyptian liquefaction plants. The pipeline is a crucial stepping stone towards Egypt’s bid to become the Eastern Med’s premier energy hub as it plans to re-export a portion of the LNG to Europe after satisfying local demand.

Possible hiccups: The operators of Aphrodite — Noble Energy, Delek, and Shell — are embroiled in tough negotiations with the Cypriot government over the production sharing agreement. The government had agreed last month to continue negotiations, though we have not heard word of a breakthrough.

Also complicating matters is a dispute between Cyprus and Israel over the economic exclusion zone under a maritime border delineation agreement. Egypt had gotten is export hub plan underway by signing a USD 15 bn agreement to import gas from Israel’s Leviathan field.

PSA- Maait visit to AmCham postponed to tomorrow. Folks planning on attending today’s appearance by Finance Minister Mohamed Maait at AmCham now have an open slot on their calendars: The minister’s appearance has been moved to tomorrow (Wednesday, 19 September) due to an unforeseen high-level commitment, we’re told. The gathering will take place at the Cairo Marriott Hotel.

Business idea of the morning: The Donald has taken the trade war with China to the next level, slapping a 10% duty on USD 200 bn worth of Chinese goods and threatening to hike the duty to 25% next year if the two sides don’t come to an agreement. (See more in the FT, the WSJ or Reuters, as you prefer.)

And that may be a great opportunity for Egypt to sell more to China, Livia Yap and Dan Murtaugh write for Bloomberg. With high duties now imposed on imports of US fruits, traders — such as the Singapore-based Sunmoon Food Co — have been looking elsewhere to plug the gap in the market, buying “navel oranges from Egypt, kiwis from Italy and apples from Poland.” China imported fruits worth USD 6.2 bn last year alone, 10x more than in 2015, which serves as a good indication that the figure will continue to rise. “Like with any trade war or political upheaval, there will always be certain re-balancing along the markets,” said Sunmoon CEO Gary Loh. “Companies like ours can take advantage of this and introduce new products into new markets.” Egypt became China’s third largest citrus source market in February and has been looking to expand the range of its agricultural exports to the country by adding crops including dates, potatoes, and mangoes to the list of approved products.

Bankers lovin’ some fintech, take note: Everyone in Washington, DC, is stalking today about a Senate hearing next week that will delve into allegations of [redacted] misconduct levied against The Donald’s supreme court nominee. But the one that matters most to those of us toiling at the salt mines here in Egypt? That would be today’s Senate Banking Committee hearing headlined Fintech: Examining Digitization, Data, and Technology, set to kick off at 4pm CLT. The hearing will pit a consumer rights activist against a senior exec from Fidelity, with academics also offering their two cents.

Why should you care? With banks increasingly jumping on the fintech bandwagon, writes the Financial Times’ Rana Foroohar, “Just imagine if your Facebook page had a checking account attached. What could go wrong?” Today’s hearing is following up on a Treasury Department report from this summer that “talks approvingly of data sharing among technology companies and big banks to create efficiency, scale and lower consumer prices. The report puts rather less focus on the systemic risk and predatory pricing that could emerge if the world’s largest technology companies and the biggest banks on Wall Street share consumer data. You can live stream the hearing here or read Faroohar’s column here.

Other headlines worth a moment of your time this morning:

Goldman’s regional boss has new duties. Richard Gnodde, the firm’s Europe, Middle East and Africa boss, is now “responsible for the rest of the firm’s activities outside North America,” the FT reports.

Business books of the year: The short list for the Financial Times / McKinsey Business Book of the Year is out. Former Fed boss Alan Greenspan’s Capitalism in America (“a sweeping history of US economics and business”) and John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood (on fraud and the meltdown of blood testing outfit Theranos) are on the list.

Applications to top-tier American MBA programs declined this year, with Harvard, NYU, Duke and Berkeley all reporting dips. Why? “blame the decline on conditions in the US market, where a combination of fast-rising tuition fees and a lack of employers willing to fund student places.” (Financial Times)

With nothing new under the sun in the Emerging Markets Zombie Apocalypse, the global financial press is now reporting that “a string of key EM crises still looks unlikely” (Financial Times) and that the “rout is now nearing a turning point” (Templeton, cited by Bloomberg).

iOS 12 is available today. It’s reportedly rock-solid (so far) and will revive phones as old as that iPhone 5s you have tucked away in your drawer. Go to Settings > General > Software Update to get it without charge. (Wall Street Journal | The Verge)

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Dominating coverage on the airwaves last night was Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik, who made the rounds on all the major talk shows to discuss the ministry’s plan to stem the flow of red ink into its coffers.

The problem: The state firms under the ministry have racked up EGP 7.5 bn in total losses. 26 out of the ministry’s 48 subsidiaries account for EGP 6.7 bn (or 90%) of the losses incurred by state companies, Tawfik told Al Hayah fi Masr (watch, runtime: 9:08). Furthermore, the sector has debts and unpaid energy bills topping EGP 15 bn, he said on Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 5:51).

The turnaround strategy: First and foremost: feasibility studies on each loss-making company to determine whether it is even worth fixing. Those found incapable of making a turnaround will be shut down (with their workers compensated, of course), he tells El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 4:19). He cited the example of the National Cement Company, which he says will likely be shut down after feasibility studies determined that it was unfixable. Companies which stand a chance will be restructured. The plan is to see them start generating profits in 24-30 months, he said on Al Hayah fi Masr.

Sector-specific plans: The ministry appears to have honed in on the textiles and steel sectors as potentially being salvageable (no pun intended). He phoned in to Hona Al Asema to outline details of the ministry’s plan for the textiles industry (watch, runtime: 7:37). This includes selling some of their assets and focussing on growing short and medium staple cotton. As for the steel industry, Tawfik sees a lot of potential there, considering the state already has some EGP 4-5 bn in scrap metal stocks, he told Al Hayah fi Masr.

Profitable companies could be streamlined into the state privatization program. He noted that these companies are making profits in excess of EGP 15 bn. Tawfik revealed details on the program to the press earlier in the day, the highlights of which we cover in the Speed Round below.

With drop in the EGX continued to receive coverage, with Masaa DMC interviewing former Al Awael boss turned business-news pundit Wael Enaba (watch, runtime: 7:32). The EGX closed down 0.7% yesterday in very light trading.

The Consumer Protection Act being signed into law gave Consumer Protection Authority head Rady “Stickers” Abdel Moaty plenty of reason to gloat on Al Hayah fi Masr. he lauded the law and urged citizens to snitch in droves (watch, runtime: 12:05).

E-payments: The Finance Ministry’s plan to make all transactions with the government electronic was discussed on Hona Al Asema. The show interviewed Assistant Finance Minister Khaled Nassef, who repeated the usual talking points about the benefits of the move (watch, runtime: 17:29).

Defending new tariffs: Finance Ministry Advisor Magdy Abdelaziz defended a the recent imposition of tariffs as “compatible with Egypt’s international agreements” in an appearance on DMC.

The Housing Ministry has begun paying compensation to slum dwellers of the Maspero triangle which is currently being redeveloped, Housing Ministry spokesman Hany Younes told Al Hayah fi Masr. former residents will either receive financial compensation or be given new homes in new housing projects, he said (watch, runtime: 11:56).

Lamees El Hadidy is still MIA / AWOL.

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

**#1 LEGISLATION WATCH- New, comprehensive tax code to come into effect soon? The Finance Ministry has finished drafting a new comprehensive tax code, Minister Mohamed Maait announced in a statement yesterday (pdf), and it looks to be on the fast track to to the House of Representatives. The bill was sent to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi last Thursday and is expected to entail a complete restructuring of the Tax Authority’s inner workings in an effort to streamline tax procedures, according to Maait, who had first told us in July to expect substantial changes to the tax code to be presented to the House of Representatives when it reconvenes next month.

Details still scarce: Apart from the fact that the bill will regulate electronic tax payments, details are still scarce. Maait had previously told Enterprise the law would reduce bureaucratic red tape and include provisions that would impact sales and real estate taxes. He had also said that the new policies means to curb tax evasion and corruption through improved transparency and accountability.

The ministry has also completed a draft bill on taxation of very small enterprises, which aims to further the goals of financial inclusion, Maait said. No further details were provided. Sources told us last week that the ministry was conducting a final review of the SMEs Act, which aims to encourage very small businesses to join the formal economy, was due before the Madbouly Cabinet soon.

These changes are all aimed at widening the government’s tax base and increasing revenues. Tax revenues should rise to 14.6% of GDP in FY2018-19, up from 14% currently, according to the minister, who had previously said that a more streamlined tax system is a way of boosting inflows into state coffers. To that end, efforts are ongoing to overhaul the real estate tax system, which saw agreements signed recently with the ministries of oil and tourism on the calculation of real estate taxes for their respective sectors. Resolving outstanding tax disputes through an incentive-based system also serve that purpose. We had also heard that the ministry was studying how to tax social media advertisements and e-commerce transactions.

This came as a committee from the ministries of investment and finance issued guidelines yesterday meant to simplify the processing of tax registration forms, according to an official statement. Under the new guidelines, investors will receive their tax registration number as soon as they submit their application, which allows them to complete other procedures and paperwork until the final certificate is issued. Registration for the value-added tax will also be expedited in a similar fashion.

**#2 AWB defendants have until 20 October to decide on a settlement? A Cairo Criminal Court has reportedly made an offer that could end a long-running insider trading case dating to 2012 that rattled markets this week after high-profile defendants were unexpectedly remanded to custody.

The offer: The court has given nine defendants until 20 October to decide on a reconciliation offer that appears to involve payment of fines instead of jail time, sources close to the matter said yesterday. The defendants — who include former President Hosni Mubarak’s two sons Gamal and Alaa, as well as former EFG co-CEOs Yasser El Mallawany and Hassan Heikal — were detained on Saturday.

The defendants are divided, according to the sources, who did not specify the value of the proposed settlement other than to suggest it was “sizeable.” Judicial officials will be meeting with each of the accused separately over the coming few days to go over the details of the case and the proposed settlement terms, they added.

Egypt’s stock market suffered its biggest one-day dip in a year and a half on Sunday after news of the arrests, which came despite a recommendation by a court-appointed committee that key charges be dropped. Stocks across the board were down, in sectors including real estate, banking, and consumer goods. The case involves the pre-revolution sale of Al Watany Bank to the National Bank of Kuwait.

The arrest of El Mallawany prompted a spate of disclosures to the EGX yesterday by listed companies on whose boards he serves. All noted that El Mallawany had only served as a non-executive director.

**#3 Egypt cancels third treasury sale this month: Egypt called off its third treasury bond sale this month, canceling an offering yesterday for three- and seven-year bonds worth EGP 3.5 bn, Reuters reports, citing central bank data. There was no official comment on why the auction was cancelled, but two previous sales met the same fate earlier this month after yields soared to highs of 19.64% and 19.31%, amid a wider emerging market sell-off. “The Finance Ministry has been cancelling the bond auctions for the past few weeks due to higher yields than they are willing to accept,” one banker told the newswire.

Softer demand for government treasuries could impact deficit reduction targets: Demand for Egyptian debt softened as the EM crisis deepened, sending up soaring as a result. Further outflows are also a possibility, pointing to even higher yields still, according to Bloomberg. This means that the Egypt needs to find a way to “keep its debt attractive or else it risks seeing its yields rise further, which would make the government’s plans to cut its deficit even more challenging,” says Pharos Holding’s Mahmoud El Masry.

But high yields may be just what the doctor ordered, Renaissance Capital MENA CEO Ahmed Badr told Bloomberg TV last week, noting that higher yields makes Egypt more attractive to investors at a time when EM investors are pulling out of other markets.

Will state-owned companies be exempt from a cap on borrowing? Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Finance Minister Mohamed Maait agreed to amend newly-issued borrowing regulations for state-owned companies, allowing them to receive loans without first seeking Finance Ministry approval, Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik said yesterday, Al Mal reports. Under amended regulations, the Finance Ministry would sign off only on “exceptional” loans, according to Tawfik, who did not elaborate. The central bank had issued directives last week requiring government-owned companies to receive written approval from the ministry before signing on to any loan agreements after the government announced it was taking steps to set borrowing limits.

**#8 Tourism Ministry confirms JWT is out, Synergy-MCN in: The Tourism Ministry confirmed on Monday that it has chosen a consortium made up of Synergy (a subsidiary of Egyptian Media Group) and Middle East Communications Network (MCN) to run Egypt’s tourism promotion campaign abroad. Details of the agreement will be announced early next month, said the statement (pdf). In a separate statement (pdf), the ministry thanked JWT for its service over the past three years. A source had told us earlier in the week that both the ministry and JWT had parted ways.

**#4 M&A WATCH- Potential Uber, Careem merger could be worth USD 2.5 bn: Uber is indeed in talks to acquire its Middle East ride-hailing rival Careem in a transaction expected to be worth as much as USD 2-2.5 bn, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. Negotiations are ongoing and no final decisions have been made, and the companies may decide against the transaction, they said. Neither Uber or Careem have officially confirmed the reports.

Careem’s management is working to convince the firm’s shareholders of the merits of the buyout instead of going through an IPO, the business information service reports. Careem had held talks with investors earlier this year to raise USD 500 mn, potentially valuing the firm at about USD 1.5 bn ahead of a possible listing, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg in May.

Is Egypt about to play to role spoiler? Earlier this month, the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) took the relatively unusual step of publicly warning Uber and Dubai-based Careem against a merger. The ECA has already come to the conclusion that any merger could be anti-competitive and publicly reminded the two companies that any merger or acquisition would accordingly require the agency’s signoff before being executed.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire: Bloomberg broke the merger talks in July, prompting both companies to issue denials. Careem had said at the time that it was close to closing a new funding round meant to “bolster its position as Uber’s largest competitor in a fast-growing market.”

EXCLUSIVE- Mowasalat Misr plans IPO in late 2019 or early 2020: Private transport company Mowasalat Misr plans to list shares in the EGX either in 4Q2019 or early 2020, a company source told Enterprise. Prior to the IPO, the Emirates National Group subsidiary plans to raise EGP 244 mn through a capital increase and an agreement with lenders the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr to capitalize a loan, it seems. The source noted that the capital increase could dilute some of Emirates National Group’s shares. Mowasalat recently pledged to invest EGP 3 bn by 2021.

IPO WATCH- Five state companies to tap capital markets by year’s end, offerings to be priced within 10% of market: The offer price for the five state-owned companies that will sell additional stakes on the EGX over the coming three months will be set within 10% of the trailing market average, Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik said yesterday, Reuters reports. AMOC is expected to pilot the first wave of the privatization program next month, followed by Eastern Company in October, as well as Heliopolis Housing, Abu Qir Fertilizers, and Alexandria Containers & Cargo Handling before the end of the year.

The second phase of the privatization program should run six-nine months, Tawfik added. A number of companies are expected to float shares on the EGX for the first time as of the start of 2019, including energy contractor Enppi. State-controlled electronic payment solutions services provider E-Finance, which is among the 23 companies listed in the state privatization program, is also in line for an initial public offering in late 2019, Chairman and Managing Director Ibrahim Sarhan tells Amwal Al Ghad in an interview. No further details were provided. Tawfik, however, added that the government is also trying to raise EGP 27 bn from the sale of land belonging to 11 cotton gins. He made no mention of the date or timeline for the transaction.

Who’s advising? Expect an official announcement in two-three day’s time with the name of the legal counsel for Eastern Company’s stake sale, a spokesperson for NI Capital told us yesterday, saying that no final decision has yet been made. A senior Finance Ministry official told us earlier this week that law firm Matouk Bassiouny has been tapped for the job.

**#6 REGULATION WATCH- FRA, EGX put in less sensitive circuit breakers, move to shorter cooling-off period: The new rules, agreed to yesterday by the EGX and the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA), according to a statement picked up by El Watan, would also allow all shares to trade up or down 10% within the day’s trading session, rather than the previous 5%, before triggering a temporary 10-minute halt to trading. The cooling-off period was previously 15 minutes. Traders will also be allowed to execute in the same session T+0 and margin transactions on newly-listed securities under new regulations.

More changes on the way: Officials are also still discussing changes to how closing share prices are calculated, with a new methodology possibly coming into effect once regulations now being reviewed by the State Council come into effect.

The EGX and FRA also agreed to come up with new licenses for brokerage firms to serve as market makers, allowing them to both buy and sell securities from their own inventory at prices they have a measure of control over. The tool is one of several financial instruments and trading options that will be made available on the EGX under amendments to the Capital Markets Act that were formalized in May. Others include short-selling, futures and commodities exchanges, as well sukuk and green bonds.

FinMin to issue global tender for new electronic billing system: The Finance Ministry intends to issue a global tender to select a company to implements its new electronic billing system once the House of Representatives signs off on the new E-Payments Act, Minister Mohamed Maait said at a news conference yesterday, Al Mal reports. The CBE-drafted bill, which is expected to be presented to the House when it reconvenes next month, is part of the government’s plan to gradually transition towards a cashless, paperless economy. Ernst & Young is currently working on the details of the tender, Maait said, hinting that we can expect more regulatory and legislative changes to support the transition. Two unnamed companies, one each from China and Japan, were tapped to conduct early tests of the system, Maait added without elaborating.

The central bank plans to issue 20 mn national debit cards between January 2019-December 2021, the central bank’s Sub-Governor for Payment Systems and Business Technology, Ayman Hussein, tells Youm7. We reported yesterday that the Finance Ministry was preparing to roll out a national debit card through state-owned banks as part of its new e-payments system, which will also include ATMs and point-of-sale (PoS) terminals at which people would be able to pay bills and fees for various government services.

E-signature system also in the pipeline: On a related note, state-controlled IT security solutions provider Egypt Trust is spinning up a digital signature system that would allow the online applications for national ID cards and birth certificates. The e-signature, which would use a unique serial number identifier for each user, would cost around EGP 700 to issue, according to Al Mal.

Background: The push for digital transition and financial inclusion policies comes as the government moves to make e-payments mandatory in January 2019 and grant incentives for their use. The House had approved amendments to the Accounting Act that ban the use of paper cheques for transactions above a set threshold and make it mandatory for all government transactions to be electronic.

SODIC announced yesterday that it was awarded am EGP 14.2 bn 500-acre plot in Sheikh Zayed, enough to develop as many as 5k residential units, according to a company statement (pdf). SODIC is paying the New and Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) EGP 2.2k per sqm in installments over 11 years. Some EGP 8.5 bn of the sum is in fixed installments, in addition to 15% of the annual collections. The new plot bring SODIC’s undeveloped land bank to 8 mn sqm, giving the company “a runway of at least 10 years of development,” said our friend SODIC boss Magued Sherif.

**#5 M&A WATCH- A15 completes sale of 76% stake in TPAY to Helios Investment: Tech investment fund A15 announced yesterday it has sold a 76% stake in its UAE-based mobile payment platform TPAY Mobile to private equity firm Helios Investment Partners. The transaction makes A15 the first in the region to achieve full returns on an investment, the company said in a statement yesterday (pdf). “TPAY returned a multiple of the value of the entire A15 Fund to its investors… [which is] very rare in the global tech investment space and a first of its kind in the MENA region.” A15 will retain a 24% stake in TPAY and continue to implement its growth strategy “with guidance from the new owners.” The value of the transaction was not disclosed. A15, domiciled in the Cayman Islands and headed by Fadi Antaki, is a fund of Khaled and Karim Bichara’s Accelero Capital. Helios has a long track record as an exclusively Africa-focused investor.

EARNINGS WATCH- Maridive, the Cairo-headquartered provider of offshore marine and oil support services, released yesterday further details (pdf) of its 1H2018 financial and operational performance, including a 12% y-o-y increase in revenues to USD 113 mn “driven by a recovery in the industry as oil prices start to stabilize at a new norm.” This helped drive 20% expansion in EBITDA and helped net profit rise 55% to USD 17 mn in the first half, the company said, citing “successful implementation of cost cutting measures.” Among the highlights:

  • The group noted having won new contracts in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Egypt and the acquisition of two new vessels that are now contracted to Eni’s Zohr supergiant field.
  • Maridive re-opened rep offices in Tunisia, Nigeria and Venezuela in a bid to grow its book of global business.
  • It has entered the water treatment sector with the award of two contracts for desalination plants as it looks to transform “from a services provider to an EPC player offering turnkey solutions.”

Outlook: Maridive Chairman Tarek Nadim noted that “the industry seems to have bottomed out with only upside expected in the future. The offshore oil and gas industry has been gradually showing signs of improvement, with several of our clients undertaking new concessions and resuming E&P spending.”

Egypt is the second largest recipient of remittances in Africa after Nigeria, having snagged 29% of the total in 2017, according to World Bank data cited by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Most inflows came from the Gulf region. Remittances are a key driver of FX income and “will remain important in the future,” the report says, while also noting that improved economic performance in Egypt was driven by “structural and policy reforms [that] have boosted manufacturing and investment while the tourism sector has continued to recover.” Egypt is expected to sustain the momentum, with a favorable GDP growth outlook for 5.3% this year. Tap or click here for the full report.

MOVES- Reuters announces shuffle of MENA staff: Reuters has named Aidan Lewis as deputy bureau chief for Egypt and Sudan, succeeding John Davidson, who will be leaving to head the bureau in Iraq. Erik Knecht will also be leaving for Qatar after more than three years in Egypt, while Asma Alsharif will move from Cairo to Dubai to serve as Gulf financial correspondent. Nadine Awadalla will replace Knech.

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Up Next

The E-Commerce Summit in Egypt takes place on Wednesday, 26 September.

The Egyptian-Sudanese ministerial committee will meet at the end of this month ahead of a presidential summit set to be held in Khartoum in October.

The Egypt-Romania business council will meet in Bucharest from 7-11 October, according to Al Mal.

Image of the Day

Former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa is featured in British painter Nicola Green’s latest project, which depicts faceless portraits of 50 of the world’s religious leaders that the artist met while traveling, according to Artlyst. The Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby are also featured in the piece, which is on display at the St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in London’s Trafalgar Square and will be touring several venues from December 2018-March 2019.

Egypt in the News

It was a very slow news day for Egypt in the foreign press. Headlines worth noting in brief include:

  • The Japanese governments wants to send troops to join the UN peacekeeping mission in Egypt, the Mainichi reports
  • Fighting “fake news” is becoming a tool used to silence the opposition in Egypt, the AP says.
  • Egypt is the second largest importer of Brazilian apparel and textiles, according to a report by Digital Journal.
  • The renovation of an Armenian memorial park, dating back to 1924, in old Islamic Cairo is scheduled for completion by year’s end, says Reuters.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

The resolution of Italian student Giulio Regeni’s murder case is important for improving Egyptian-Italian relations, Italian Chamber of Deputies President Roberto Fico told President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in a meeting.

El Sisi also discussed regional politics in a phone call with Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, according to an Ittihadiya statement.

A Fatah delegation arrived in Cairo on Monday to resume talks with Egyptian officials about intra-Palestinian reconciliation, Asharq Al-awsat reported.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry praised Ethiopia and Eritrea’s peace agreement signed this this week in Jeddah.

Energy

Gastec, Eni sign agreement to establish first CNG and gasoline fueling station

Gastec and Italy’s Eni signed an agreement yesterday that will see them establish Egypt’s first integrated fueling station, which offers both compressed natural gas and gasoline, according to an Oil Ministry statement picked up by Youm7. Details on the timeline and cost of the project were not disclosed, but Gastec said it has plans to build 50 stations across the country over the next five years for investments of c. USD 600 mn.

Infrastructure

Elsewedy nears agreement to build utility company in Suez Canal Economic Zone

Elsewedy Electric is reviewing the final contracts and agreements on the ownership structure for a new utilities company it intends to launch to service the Suez Canal Economic Zone, sources tell Al Mal. The new company will be a joint venture with the government-owned Main Development Company. No further details were provided.

Health + Education

Pharco to launch company to produce women’s meds, including birth control

Pharco Pharma is launching a new subsidiary company that will specialize in the production of women’s medication, including birth control pills, according to a company press release (pdf). The move aims to support government efforts to curb high levels of population growth.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Abdel Hady El Kassaby heads Support Egypt Coalition

House of Representatives Social Solidarity Committee chair Abdel Hady El Kassaby was named the head of the Support Egypt Coalition yesterday, replacing Mohamed Elsewedy, the former leader of the majority bloc tells Al Mal. Previous reports claimed that Rep. Taher Abu Zeid and Rep. Mohamed Youssef were also vying for the position.

Sports

La Liga launches youth football academy in Egypt

The Spanish football premier league, La Liga, set up a youth academy in Egypt to train and scout Egyptian footballers for Spanish teams, La Liga Middle East and North Africa director Fernando Sanz said, according to Devdiscourse. The academy opened up last week and has already enrolled 75 prospects. It aims to produce a future Salah or two, he says.

On Your Way Out

Naguib Mahfouz’s daughter is looking to publish 18 of his previously unreleased works. Umm Kulthum Mahfouz is currently in the market for a publisher for the short stories, which the Nobel laureate completed some time in the 1990s, according to Ahram Online. The stories were discovered by culture journalist Mohamed Shoair while digging into the author’s past works.

British-Egyptian novelist Omar Hamilton will receive a EUR 10,000 prize for his novel The City Always Wins next month. The Jean-Luc Lagardère Foundation picked up the French translation of Hamilton’s book for its Arabic Literature Award category, according to Egypt Today. The novel centers around the events of January 2011.

National Geographic released a series of 25 captivating photos of Egypt that direct focus away from the crammed capital and to the landscapes of the White Desert and the Red Sea’s coral reefs.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.85 | Sell 17.95

EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 17.86 | Sell 17.96
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.78 | Sell 17.88

EGX30 (Monday): 14651 (-0.7%)
Turnover: EGP 576 mn (27% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -2.5%

THE MARKET ON MONDAY: The EGX 30 index ended Monday’s session down 0.7%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended down 0.6%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Arab Cotton Ginning up 4.2%, EFG Hermes up 3.1%, and Pioneers Holding up 2.6%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Egyptian Iron and Steel down 6.2%, Eastern Co down 4.3%, and Juhayna down 4.1%. The market turnover was EGP 576 mn, and foreign investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP -20.6 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +18.4 mn
Domestic: Net Long | EGP +2.2 mn

Retail: 58.9% of total trades | 55.6% of buyers | 62.3% of sellers
Institutions: 41.1% of total trades | 44.4% of buyers | 37.7% of sellers

Foreign: 24.6% of total | 22.8% of buyers | 26.4% of sellers
Regional: 5.4% of total | 7.0% of buyers | 3.8% of sellers
Domestic: 70.0% of total | 70.2% of buyers | 69.8% of sellers

WTI: USD 68.77 (-0.32%)
Brent: USD 77.97 (-0.32%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.82 MMBtu, (+1.77%, Oct 2018)
Gold: USD 1,206.10/ troy ounce (+0.42%)

TASI: 7,609.65 (+1.87%) (YTD: +5.30%)
ADX: 4,882.85 (-1.67%) (YTD: +11.01%)
DFM: 2,752.13 (-0.79%) (YTD: -18.34%)
KSE Premier Market: 5,345.93 (-0.03%)
QE: 9,832.68 (-1.10%) (YTD: +15.36%)
MSM: 4,515.94 (-1.04%) (YTD: -11.44%)
BB: 1,338.98 (-0.17%) (YTD: -0.55%)

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Calendar

17-19 September (Monday-Wednesday): INTERCEM Cairo to Cape Town cement industry conference, Dusit-Thani LakeView, Cairo.

18-21 September (Tuesday-Friday): The Big 5 Construct Egypt, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

18 September (Tuesday): Cairo Economic Court to issue ruling on EGP 5.6 bn antitrust case against pharma companies including Ibnsina.

20-23 September (Thursday-Sunday): 2018 Automech Formula car expo, Cairo International Convention Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

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

23-24 September (Sunday-Monday): Arab Security Conference on cyber security, Nile-Ritz Carlton, Cairo.

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.

26 September (Wednesday): E-Commerce Summit, Nile-Ritz Carlton, Cairo.

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

October: The Madbouly cabinet has until the end of the month to come up with a plan for “the development and restructuring” of public companies” under a directive from President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

03 October (Wednesday): Egypt’s Emirates NBD PMI for September released.

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

12-14 October (Friday-Sunday): 2018 annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Bali, Indonesia.

23 October (Tuesday): First Conference on Sukuk (Sharia-compliant bonds), Cairo.

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

24-25 October (Wednesday- Thursday) 9th Arab-German Energy Forum, Cairo, Egypt.

25-27 October (Thursday-Saturday): 57th ACI World Congress & 43rd ICA Annual Conference 2018, Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Cairo.

05 November (Monday): Egypt’s Emirates NBD PMI for October released.

05-07 November (Monday- Wednesday) World Travel Market London exhibition, London, England, UK.

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.

04 December (Tuesday): Egypt’s Emirates NBD PMI for November released.

08-09 December (Saturday-Sunday): Business for Africa and the World: The Africa 2018 Forum, Maritim Jolie Ville International Congress Center, Sharm El Sheikh.

12 December (Wednesday): Banking and Finance Congress 2018, Cairo, venue TBD.

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.

22-25 January 2019 (Tuesday-Friday): World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting, Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

23 January 2019 (Wednesday) 50th Cairo International Book Fair.

25 January 2019 (Friday): Police Day, national holiday.

20-22 April 2019 (Friday-Sunday): Spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.

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).

10-13 October 2019 (Tuesday-Sunday) Big Industrial Week Arabia 2019, Egypt International Exhibition Center.

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