Tuesday, 2 October 2018

The House is back in session today. This is everything you need to know.


What We’re Tracking Today

They’re baaaack… The House of Representatives is back in session today at 10am CLT after summer recess, and MPs are facing a packed legislative agenda. Here’s everything you need to know, in one easy-to-read email.


Wait, this isn’t my normal Enterprise? Not quite.

What are you reading? This is a taste of what’s to come with Enterprise One: Actionable, professional-grade business intelligence on frontier and emerging markets that you can use today to shape your business and investment decisions. Specifically, this is the prototype for Enterprise One: Legislation Watch, wherein the hive mind of Enterprise tracks key pieces of business-relevant regulation and legislation as they wend their way through the system (or become mired in it).

We’ve also included a short Speed Round and talkshow wrap up this morning. Yesterday was dead, news-wise, in Egypt. But there were a few stories worth noting.

You may have questions. We have an old-school FAQ:

What’s Enterprise One? Enterprise One is a paid service coming soon. Imagine what you could do if you had access to all the information we do — if you were a partner on the inside. Enterprise One offers exclusive, professional-grade insights, data and analysis to help you make decisions today, whether you’re advising clients, running money, coming up with trade ideas, building a business, wondering what’s next in marketing, or leading a team of professionals.

We’re inviting only 100 beta partners to join Enterprise One at this time.Our well-over 60k readers are powerful, plugged-in people. We’re looking for super-users (at home and abroad) who will be open with their feedback on what’s working (and what’s not) as well as ideas and story tips while we build out the service.

I want to become a partner — how do I pull the trigger? Email patrick@enterprisemea.com if you’d like to become one of our 100 early beta partners. We’re serious about that 100 figure — we are inviting only actively engaged people with whom we can have direct conversations over time about the product, about the economy and about doing business in Egypt. We will be offering wider online sign-up for individuals and block purchases for corporations closer to launch.

What does being an Enterprise One partner get me? We’re building out a series of scoops, explainers, investigations and high-value interviews you won’t find anywhere else. We’ll also be providing Enterprise One partners with early (and often exclusive) access to upcoming Enterprise products including our multiple data trackers, industry news feeds, an expanded calendar (with plenty of new functionality) and lots more. Enterprise One partners will have exclusive access to a family of digital and in-person products that we’ll be rolling out as the service grows.

What’s it gonna cost me? We’re still pricing, but we figure Enterprise One should be worth north of the price of one (very good) cup of coffee every business day.

Wait, you want me to pay? For Enterprise One, yes. But don’t worry — your current morning read (packed with coverage of business, finance and the economy) will remain available without charge (for now).

Including the talk shows? Yep. No charge for the talk shows, either. (Again: For now.)

Is Enterprise One going to be available in both languages, ya khawaga? Enterprise One is an English-language only product at the moment. We’ll roll-out Arabic-language editions / companion products as demand from our readers dictates.

Why are you doing this? Because there are stories every day that we’d love to tell — but can’t, because we’re constrained by time and resources. Because we have a mn ideas a day for product extensions. Because doing data-based work (our future, as we see it) demands more resources. And because we’re a business: The generosity of our advertisers (thank you, Pharos, CIB and SODIC) has allowed us for four years now to bring you Enterprise without charge. Enterprise One is the next step in building a profitable, sustainable business.

Speaking of that: Can I sponsor an industry vertical? Yes. Sponsored industry verticals will be made available to our more than 60k readers without charge. Email patrick@enterprisemea.com if you want to discuss sponsoring an industry vertical, which will include weekly (possibly more frequent) and monthly content.

I heard you’re hiring? Yes. As part of the build-out of Enterprise One, we’re hiring talented reporters, editors and analysts (of economies and of equities). Email patrick@enterprisemea.com if you’re interested, enclosing a really great cover letter.

I have opinions — who do I yell at? That would be the selfsame patrick@enterprisemea.com.

Okay, enough with all of this blather. Gimme the news. Haader.


Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

The House of Representatives convening for its fourth annual legislative session since it was constituted was the highlight of an otherwise very unexciting evening.

A number of MPs took to the airwaves to discuss their busy fall legislative agenda, which entails amendments to laws including the Criminal Procedures Act, Local Administration Act, and Personal Status Act (we’ve got you covered on all that and more in our Enterprise One: Legislation Watch, below) (watch, runtime: 24:18).

The Mostakbal Watan Party is planning on introducing draft legislation for the regulation e-commerce, Rep. Atef Nasser told Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary (watch, runtime: 1:50). While the Free Egyptians Party intends to propose bills tackling population growth and illiteracy, Rep. Ayman Aboul Ela also said (watch, runtime: 3:07). Rep. Hala Aboul Said of El Mohfzeen party said hopes that the House’s sessions will be televised this term (watch, runtime: 3:20). (Don’t hold your breath on that last bit.)

Online tax return filing was the topic du jour on Hona Al Asema, where the head of the Tax Authority’s research department, Ragah Mahrous, explained that the decision is mandatory for all legal entities and others required to pay the value-added tax. Other citizens will have the option to file tax paperwork until 2020, when everything goes digital (watch, runtime: 6:26).

Masaa DMC then interviewed engineers working at the Zohr natural gas field (watch, runtime: 45:29). The talking heads also all covered the inauguration of first Arab forum for special needs schools, which President Abdel Fattah El Sisi attended yesterday (watch here, runtime: 14:16, here, runtime: 2:09, and here, runtime: 4:34).

A public beating goes viral: Meanwhile, a photo of a 14 year-old girl tied to the back of a rickshaw after an alleged altercation with a stranger went viral on social media yesterday and was picked up by both Hona Al Asema (watch, runtime: 11: 15) and Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 2:40). The girl’s lawyer, Ahmed Abdel Salam, phoned in to tell the hosts about the incident, explaining that the man insisted on “punishing” the girl after she “almost” hit him with a glass bottle she’d been playing with in the street. Abdel Salam that both parties agreed to reconcile before the case was officially referred to prosecution. Rights activist Azza Kamel called on civil society organizations to take action against the abuse to which the girl was subject (watch, runtime: 5:14).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

Fund managers “have turned negative” on Egyptian equities amid the Emerging Markets Zombie Apocalypse, a monthly poll of leading fund managers shows, according to Reuters. Of the 13 managers polled, 15% said they expect to curb their exposure to Mideast equities within the next three months, while around 8% said they plan on raising them.

One-third of managers see themselves cutting allocations to Egypt: Egypt “is not protected by a currency peg, with 31 percent expecting to cut allocations to Egypt and 8 percent to raise them — the most negative balance since February 2017.” Egypt will likely see capital outflows as investors’ demand for EGP-denominated bonds is waning, says Global Investment House’s head of regional asset management Bader Ghanim al-Ghanim. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE are somewhat spared from the negative sentiment thanks to their currency pegs to Saudi and Kuwait’s anticipated inclusion in global equity indexes, and to the UAE’s comparative affordability.

The upside for Egypt: We’re “probably still the best place in the Middle East and North Africa to find bottom-up stories that can deliver 20 to 25 percent earnings growth for a sustainable period,” Al Mal Capital’s Vrajesh Bhandari says. Investors’ bearish sentiment on Egypt’s equities is driven more by the “macro clouds” than by domestic or corporate fundamentals, he suggests.

IPO WATCH- CIRA shares pop nearly 18% in EGX debut: Leading private-sector education provider Cairo Investment and Real Estate Development (CIRA) saw its share price rise 17.6% on it first day of trading yesterday, reaching closing north of EGP 7 per share by the end of trading, according to EGX data. The IPO of the company, which now trades under the ticker “CIRA,” raised EGP 1.244 bn, according to a statement (pdf) from EFG Hermes, which took the education provider public. CIRA’s market cap at the start of trading yesterday was EGP 3.287 bn, according to the statement. The institutional component of the IPO was 10.36x oversubscribed amid high international demand, while the retail tranche closed 18.9x oversubscribed.

The proceeds from the IPO will be used to fuel growth plans, including establishing a 110-feddan medical complex in Badr City, CEO Mohamed El Kalla said yesterday, according to Youm7. CIRA owns a 25% stake in the planned complex, the first phase of which will be inaugurated within two years, El Kalla said, without providing further details on the investment value. CIRA outlined in its intention to float a range of growth plans including expansion of its Badr University brand to Upper Egypt and the opening of new faculties at its primary campus in Cairo, among other activities. You can read the ITF here (pdf).

Advisers: Al Tamimi & Co. was the issuer’s local counsel, while Zulficar & Partners was domestic counsel to the underwriter. White & Case was international counsel to the issuer, and Gide Loyrette Nouel was doing duty for the global coordinator and bookrunner. Inktank Communications serves as investor relations adviser to CIRA.

EXCLUSIVE- Eastern Tobacco stake sale set for second half of October: The sale of 4.5% of Eastern Company is definitely on track for October, a senior government source told Enterprise yesterday. While the source declined to reveal the exact date, they noted that it will take place sometime in the second half of the month. The source also denied that the privatization program was being delayed following the emerging markets selloff, saying that the program had garnered interest from foreign investors and that the appetite was strong.

Advisers: EFG Hermes will manage the share sale. The winner of a tender to serve as legal counsel had not been officially revealed, but a source in government with direct knowledge of the process had told us that NI Capital had settled on Matouk Bassiouny.

Much ado about nothing: Ibnsina Pharma co-CEO Omar Abdel Gawad is at his desk today. That’s the take-home message from the EGX-listed pharma distributor after news reports yesterday reporting that a senior manager of Ibnsina Pharma had been detained in connection with an ongoing antitrust case before the Cairo Economic Court, the verdict of which the company is appealing. The media report prompted the EGX to suspend trading of Ibnsina shares for a time yesterday.

We spoke with Omar last night as he was driving back to his office after a (very) long day. He told us what the company told the EGX in a disclosure (pdf): That he had been required to appear briefly before the administrative authorities responsible for implementing the verdict as part of a routine administrative procedure related to the company’s appeal. Some 13 executives from Ibnsina and competitors including United Co. for Pharmacists, Ramco Pharm, and Multipharma were hit with fines totaling EGP 5.6 bn back in March. All are accused of colluding to cut credit periods and slash discounts to small and medium sized pharmacies. The next hearing of Ibnsina’s appeal will take place on 19 November.

Egypt sells north of EGP 900 mn in T-bonds after four canceled auctions: Egypt sold three- and seven-year treasury bonds worth EGP 903.8 mn yesterday after canceling four auctions in September due to high yields, according to CBE data. Yields on the three-year T-bonds were at 18.432%, while seven-year bonds carried yields of 18.431%. “The bank sold EGP 750 mn of three-year bonds, the same amount it was seeking. It sold EGP 153 mn of seven-year bonds, well under the EGP 500 mn worth it had sought,” Reuters notes. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait had previously said that Egypt would not accept yields beyond “logical limits” and noted last week that bond sales would continue to be called off if yields remained high.

Eurobond issuance in turbulent conditions indicates “urgent” financing needs: Declining appetite for EGP-denominated debt is pushing Egypt to look at the foreign debt market, but the timing of the Finance Ministry’s planned USD 5 bn eurobond issuance in “unfavourable conditions” could spell trouble for Egypt’s “deficit-cutting ambitions,” writes our friend Patrick Werr for Reuters. Resorting to an issuance in these conditions indicates that Egypt’s funding needs are “urgent,” a Cairo-based banker tells the newswire. A senior government source had told Enterprise last week that the issuance could go to market in the coming months, with a roadshow in Asian markets and Europe slated to kick off next week.

Egypt’s current account deficit narrowed by 58.6% y-o-y to USD 6 bn in FY2017-18, down from USD 14.4 bn the previous year, according to a CBE report (pdf). “The improvement reflects the continuous positive impact of the currency liberalization decision,” the CBE said. The balance of payments recorded a surplus of USD 12.8 bn, down from USD 13.7 bn the previous fiscal year, while the trade deficit reached USD 37.3 bn.

The big three: Remittances rose 20.6% to USD 26.3 bn from USD 21.8 bn, pushing net unrequited current transfers up 21.2% to USD 26.5 bn. Tourism receipts recorded a surplus of USD 7.4 bn, up from USD 1.6 bn the previous year; while Suez Canal revenues also grew 15.4% to USD 5.7 bn, compared to USD 4.9 bn in FY2016-17.

Merchandise exports grew 18.9% to USD 25.8 bn, thanks to a 33.1% rise in oil exports to USD 8.8 bn, bolstered by greater volumes and higher global crude prices. Non-oil exports rose 12.7% to USD 17.1 bn, largely thanks to increased exports of electrical appliances, fertilizers, and ethylene and propylene polymers. Meanwhile, imports climbed 6.9% to USD 63.1 bn.

FDI and portfolio investment both retreated: Net FDI inflows dipped to USD 7.7 bn, down from USD 7.9 bn the previous year. New oil sector investments accounted for USD 4.5 bn of total FDI. Portfolio investment generated net inflows of USD 12.1 bn, declining from USD 16 bn, which the CBE “largely ascribed to the decrease in foreigners’ investment in Egyptian TBs.”

The CBE repaid USD 3.9 bn in loans in 2017-18, but received some USD 7.9 bn in disbursements.

Should the FinMin reconsider its stance on fuel hedging? Oil soared yesterday to its highest level since 2014, with crude futures rising 2.8% to USD 84.98/bbl as a slowdown in US drilling added to already mounting concerns about an output shortage, according to Bloomberg. Traders see oil could hit the USD 100/bbl mark, especially with the US re-imposing sanctions on Iran, as well as civil unrest in Venezuela, Libya, and Nigeria disrupting supplies. The US continues to push OPEC to ramp up production, but analysts see that marginal increases in output are unlikely to make up for the project supply gap.

A hike is bad news for Egypt, where people are already grappling with high inflation brought on by policy reforms — and where the government is working to narrow its budget deficit and control spending. The Finance Ministry had decided last week to shelve plans to hedge against rallying oil prices, arguing that prices were “manageable.” This came after we heard that the government had reportedly signed fuel hedging contracts with two international banks, widely believed to be JP Morgan and Citibank.

Subsidy cuts to continue: This came as Oil Minister Tarek El Molla confirmed that Egypt was on track to continue eliminating energy subsidies as reform efforts press on, Reuters reports. Speaking at an Arab energy conference in Marrakech, El Molla said oil subsidies had cost Egypt around USD 30 bn over the past five years, adding as well that the availability of subsidized fuel in the past had fostered the creation of a thriving black market. The government raised fuel prices by c.50% at the start of the new fiscal year in July, the third hike since Egypt signed a USD 12 bn extended fund facility agreement with the IMF in 2016. Officials said the cuts allow them to allocate additional resources to social welfare spending. The cuts have helped drive inflation especially as the cost of electricity, water, and transportation were also increased this summer. Annual headline inflation climbed to 14.2% in August, up from 13.5% in July, while monthly inflation eased to 1.8% from 2.4%.

EXCLUSIVE- FRA looking to establish EGP 10 bn reinsurance company that targeting national and African markets: The Financial Regulatory Authority is in talks with a number of government entities about setting up an EGP 10 bn reinsurance company, sources at the FRA told Enterprise yesterday. A number of government funds are expected to become shareholders in the firm, which will target both the local market and other African countries. A number of regional and global reinsurance firms, including players from Kenya and Morocco, have already expressed interest in the Egyptian market, the sources also said, adding that the new Insurance Act — which the FRA is expected to present to the Madbouly Cabinet in December — will outline the regulations that global players working here will have to abide. The FRA had announced earlier this year that it was drafting a new Insurance Act that would make it the primary regulator for the sector, governing everything from the establishment and licensing of insurance companies, to setting best practices and industry standards, and regulating transactions, contracts, and policies. The new act will also make insurance compulsory for SMEs.

EFG Hermes topped the EGX’s brokerage league table for September with a market share of 23.4%, up from 14% in August, according to figures released by the EGX (pdf). CI Capital, which shared first place last month, came in second this month, with a 7.8% market share, followed by Beltone (6.4%). Pharos and Arab African International Securities were tied at 6.2% each.

REGULATION WATCH- You no longer have to get FRA or EGX approval on stock splits: The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) will reportedly scrap a rule that requires listed companies to seek approval from the FRA and the EGX for stock splits, AMAY reports. Boards much presently seek regulatory approval, including filing notice of the decision and explanations for why the split is necessary. Companies will still have to file notice to the regulator and the exchange when the measure is enacted.

SODIC and CIB are Egypt winners at Mideast IR awards: We’re super-pleased to report that our friends Heba Maklouf (SODIC) and Yasmine Hemeida (CIB) took home gongs from the Middle East Investor Relations Association’s annual fall awards in the UAE. Yasmine won for “best investor relations professional in Egypt,” while Heba accepted the award for “best corporate for investor relations in Egypt” on behalf of SODIC. Both CIB and SODIC are back-to-back winners: Yasmine and Heba each took home the same awards last year. Check out the full list of winners (pdf).

US and Canada strike new trade pact: The US and Canada made their Sunday night deadline, reaching a breakthrough in negotiations over a new trade agreement to replace the 1994 North American Freetrade Agreement (NAFTA). Mexico and the US had agreed in August to renegotiate the terms of the NAFTA, but Canada remained on the fence for weeks. The new agreement, which will be known as United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA), will take effect gradually, with most of its key clauses set to start still by 2020

So what’s in the new agreement? Apart from the new name, “the goal of the new [agreement] is to have more cars and truck parts made in North America.” As of 2020, only vehicles with at least 75% of their components manufactured in one of the three countries will be privy to zero tariffs. Restrictions have also been placed on the wages that workers manufacturing these cars earn. The agreement will also see Canada open up its dairy market to farmers in the US and keeps at bay a steep 25% tariff on steel imports which President Donald Trump had imposed. The Washington Post has the full rundown.

The agreement was met with “relief rather than enthusiasm,” both the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal are saying, noting that the move provides a respite to investors and businesses, who are already grappling with the uncertainty from the US’ stance on China. The New York Times, CNN, and Canada’s Globe and Mail also have coverage.

IMF sounding downbeat as it prepares to release global economic forecasts next week: The IMF is becoming less optimistic about global economic growth prospects “as factors identified as merely risks earlier in the year have begun to materialize,” fund boss Christine Lagarde said at a news conference yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reports. Turmoil in emerging markets threatens to spread beyond the edges of the developing world and into more mature markets and new trade restrictions might be put into place, which “is hurting not only trade itself, but also investment and manufacturing as uncertainty continues to rise,” she said. Debt levels in some countries is also rising to alarming levels, which typically indicates that a slowdown is imminent. The IMF’s newest projections will be out next week.

MOVES- IMF joins World Bank and OECD in having women as chief economists: Speaking of the IMF: The fund has tapped Harvard Professor Gita Gopinath to become its next chief economist, the first woman to hold the role. “The move [could] challenge the fund to reshape its thinking around exchange rates,” given she is (slightly) more skeptical than the IMF on the orthodoxy of floating exchange rates, according to the Financial Times. Gopinath, who co-edited the American Economic Review, replaces Maurice Obstfeld, who will be retiring.


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.

Enterprise One: Legislation Watch

The Fourth Legislative Session of the House of Representatives

Welcome to Enterprise One: Legislation Watch, which calls on a tracker we maintain behind the scenes to keep tabs on dozens of pieces of regulation and legislation, from bills on the drawing board to long-awaited executive regulations. The goal: To give you a seven-minute overview of what you can expect out of the House this fall. Our tracker also follows pending regulatory changes and a bunch of other issues, all of which will be available only to our partners who join the Enterprise One program.

This is the House of Reps’ so-called “fourth session” — with the 2018-19 legislative calendar marking the fourth time the House has convened since its election.


Shoring-up the revenue base: The Finance Ministry has moved aggressively since the Madbouly Cabinet was formed to amend a number key laws that impact the tax code, real estate tax, customs and SMEs — key drivers of revenue for the treasury both current (the first three) and future (small businesses). Plenty of this is still in the drafting stage, suggesting we’re looking at a busy year ahead for legislators. Other pieces, including the Banking Act and the Trade Ministry’s automotive directive appear stalled (to outsiders), but could roar back to life at any moment.

The easy stuff is done. Floating the EGP, passing an overhauled investment act, the new bankruptcy act — we’re getting down to brass tacks this session as the government looks to build out a supporting framework for what the Sisi administration calls “the reform agenda.”

Among the highlights:

** Changes to the tax code: Amendments to the tax code will focus on procedures and the slashing of red tape — Finance Minister Mohamed Maait has given no sign that he is backing away the policy of tax-rate stability put in place by Amr El Garhy, the well-regarded finance minister under whom Maait served in the Ismail cabinet. The amendments aim to restructure the Tax Authority and make it fundamentally more customer-centric, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait had said. He had also said that the new policies means to curb tax evasion and corruption through improved transparency and accountability. It will also regulate electronic tax payments, which went into effect this week for companies and which become the law for individuals in 2020.

Taxing e-commerce: The ministry has also developed a tax framework for e-commerce, which it plans to introduce as part of the Income Tax Act, Assistant to the Finance Minister Mohamed Abdel Sattar confirmed in conversation with us earlier this week.

Status: Changes to the tax code are on the fast-track for debate in the House in this legislative cycle. The bill was sent to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi earlier this month for his signoff.

** Real Estate Tax Act: The Madbouly Cabinet is looking to overhaul the tax code’s provisions on the real estate tax by devising new formulas that were initially meant to impact businesses and private properties. The ministries of oil and tourism recently signed agreements with the Finance Ministry on the calculation of real estate taxes for their respective sectors as part of a broader overhaul of the real estate tax formula, which met with backlash — prompting President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to step in and order that no changes be made to the tax treatment of land on which factories and hotels currently stand. The Finance Ministry is, in parallel, stepping-up enforcement as it looks to collect real estate taxes owed by owners of properties used for billboards and mobile-phone towers.

Competing legislation from the House: Unhappy with the proposed changes, some MPs have drafted rival legislation under a new name: The Returns Act. The legislation would impose taxes on real estate based on size and location and would apply to commercial and residential properties alike. The annual tax would be added to electricity bills once a year; its backers estimate it would reel in around EGP 17 bn per annum

Status: The amendments, which became publicly unpopular over the past couple of months, appear to still be in the drafting phase as the ministry looks to see how much it can push. We anticipate much jockeying between MPs and cabinet as they look to reconcile dueling bills. The one thing on which there appears (for now) to be consensus: Nobody is (yet) talking about taxing occupied, primary family dwellings.

** Customs Act: The Finance Ministry is planning to introduce a new and more comprehensive Customs Act during the current legislative session. Sources had told us previously that the new legislation includes a host of measures that would facilitate the flow of goods through Egypt’s ports, including establishing a “white list” of importers who will benefit from expedited clearance of goods.

Status: The law appears to be in its “national dialogue” phase (Egyptian press-speak for “public consultations”) with the House of Representatives having recently received input from business associations, including the Egyptian Businessmen’s Association (EBA) and the Federation of Egyptian Industries.

** The SMEs Act: As the keystone legislation in the state’s drive to bring the informal economy into the fold, the SMEs Act sets out incentives for owners of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises to go legit— effectively services and (subsidized) access to finance in return for paying taxes. Assistant to the Finance Minister Mohamed Abdel Sattar told us yesterday that the law would impose a 1% flat income tax on all SMEs (with the ministry using the CBE’s definition). There was even talk of granting them VAT exemptions. The ministry is also hoping to block SMEs that do not register from receiving basic government services unless they register.

Status: Last we heard, the ministry was conducting a final review of the SMEs Act before sending it to the Madbouly Cabinet for review. The ministry hopes to introduce the act before the end of the year.

** Insurance Act: The law would make the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) the primary regulator for the sector, governing everything from the licensing of insurance companies, to setting best practices and industry standards, and regulating transactions, contracts, and policies. Compulsory insurance for SMEs is expected to be a key component of the new act, which is also expected to regulate insurance for freelance and seasonal jobs. It is also expected to make insurance cover mandatory for public gatherings and venues (such as malls and concerts).

Status: The board of the FRA is supposed to be currently reviewing the final draft of the act, which will then be put up for “national dialogue” in October and amended to reflect the views of various industry stakeholders. A final draft will then be presented to the Madbouly Cabinet in December.

ALSO IN THE PIPELINE and expected to be introduced in the House this session:

  • E-payments Act: The CBE-quarterbacked bill is a pre-requisite for enacting the finance ministry’s nationwide billing and payments systems.
  • A resurrected wealth tax? Prior to the summer recess, a number of House MPs said they would push an amendment to the tax code that would create a wealth tax. Others have argued in favor not of a classical wealth tax, but of bumping up the maximum tax rate for the top income earners. Expect a tussle with the government, which has said it does not plan to change tax rates this year.
  • Public Enterprises Act: The Public Enterprises Ministry has finished drafting amendments to the Public Enterprises Act that would allow private-sector companies to own stakes of just under 50% in the ministry’s holding companies. The draft amendments have been sent to the Madbouly Cabinet.
  • Unified Tourism Act: A new comprehensive law that would govern the tourism sector, which will include regulations on licensing, oversight, and quality control. The law is expected to be introduced this legislative session.
  • Unified Building Codes: The law, which is currently before by the House Housing Committee, focuses on facilitating the process of issuing building permits by cutting down the time for obtaining a license to 30 days and allowing some engineering consultancy offices to issue them. It also tightens safety codes.
  • Public Finances Act: The law would impact how the budget is drafted. That is all we know of the law, except that the Finance Ministry plans to introduce it in the current legislative session.

In limbo: There are a number of laws out there currently languishing in legislative limbo, and we have no clue whether these important laws will see the light of day this legislative cycle:

Banking Act: The law, which grants the CBE greater oversight of the banking sector and strengthens corporate governance regulations, will reportedly only make its way to the Madbouly Cabinet for review some time in 4Q2018. A leaked draft of the bill was very controversial within the banking community, proposing as it did both (a) a tithe on bank profits for a government-run industry development fund and (b) term limits for bank managing directors. The central bank has since walked back the notion of a tithe on profits.

Automotive directive: Car assemblers hoped that this law, which initially was supposed to grant incentives to assemblers to move up the value chain to manufacturing, would be ready before customs on imported EU-vehicles fell to zero on 1 January 2019. With the review of the act — which drastically changes the incentives structure — it still unclear when this will be ready. Minister Amr Nassar promised that the law would be ready for the House in October.

Antitrust act: The Egyptian Competition Authority is looking to expand its powers under amendments to this act, which will include oversight and approval on mergers and acquisitions worth more than EGP 100 mn. It is still unknown where the law stands.

Labor Act: This law had been one of the most difficult to get passed, and had been moldering with the House of Representatives since last year. The law, which establish specialized courts to deal with labor-related cases, is currently being reviewed by the House Labor Committee with an eye to introducing amendments which would impact maternity leave and working hours for women.

Water Act: The law would regulate how water is distributed and who has the right to use it, as well as set new penalties for wasting it and new regulations for Egypt’s sewage systems.


** Local Administration Act: The long-awaited law would set the stage for local council and municipal elections in Egypt. The law also stipulates that governors and their deputies resign from their posts at the beginning of a new presidential term. The law, which in theory aims to devolve power to local governments and organize district elections, has faced delays at nearly every step of the way. Government-appointed officials have been running local affairs since a court dissolved municipal councils in 2011. Municipal elections were last held in 2008. Former House majority leader Mohamed Elsewedy had previously said the act would take 3-5 years to implement once passed, while Parliamentary spokesperson Salah Hassaballah had said that the elections would likely be held in 1H2019.

Status: The Local Administration Act will be a top priority for the House of Representatives during its fourth legislative session, Hassaballah said in August. The legislation is pending national dialogue before being put to a vote in parliament, he added.

** Social Welfare Act: The Finance Ministry has communicated very little to the public about this bill except to say that it will be introduced in the current legislative cycle. We had also heard that the law will amend the social welfare and pensions systems, guarantee the right to unemployment benefits, and establish a new pension fund.

Status: The law was with the ministry for review as of last June.

** Criminal Procedures Act: The law would introduce new avenues of mediation outside the court system, including for murder cases; enforce new regulations for pretrial detention; regulate no-fly and airport arrival watch lists; and address witness protection, among other issues.

Status: The law is among the House’s top priorities in the fourth legislative session, according to the House spokesperson. It had been introduced to the House General Assembly prior to the summer recess, but a vote was not taken place.

** Family Planning Act: The House Health Committee-drafted law would set incentives for those willing to cap their reproduction at two children. The law would not work in the vein of China’s two-child policy, as it would not punish families with more than two children. The law already has support from some 60 House representatives, Committee Chair Mohamed El Emary had said in August.

Status: El Emary said the law would be voted on this session, with parliamentary hearings and a national dialogue coming prior to the vote.

** Data Protection Act: Under the 51-article bill, only companies with permits to share user data will be allowed to do so, with the condition being that they obtain users’ prior approval. The law will also allow users the right to take legal action against data breaches and misuse of private information. It will also set fines of up to EGP 5 mn for violations as well as prison sentences of up to three months, based on the severity of the crime. The Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) will be the sole authority responsible for implementing the new law.

Status: The bill is expected to be introduced in the opening months of the legislative session, according to Mohamed Hegazy, the head of the ICT Ministry’s legislative committee.

** Personal status act: The government introduced amendments to the law during the third legislative cycle that cover matters of marriage, death, inheritance, and child custody.

Status: The legislative committee at the House had approved the government’s amendments, and it is expected to be deliberated in the general assembly this month.

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): 14,447 (-1.2%)
Turnover: EGP 946 mn (26% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -3.8%

THE MARKET ON MONDAY: The EGX30 index ended Monday’s session down 1.2%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended up 0.1%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Abu Qir Fertilizers up 0.4%, Telecom Egypt up 0.3%, and QNB Al Ahli up 0.2%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were AMOC down 6.5%, Juhayna down 3.8%, and Emaar Misr down 3.7%. The market turnover was EGP946 mn, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +90.8 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -71.6 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -19.2 mn

Retail: 42.3% of total trades | 38.3% of buyers | 46.2% of sellers
Institutions: 57.7% of total trades | 61.7% of buyers | 53.8% of sellers

Foreign: 34.9% of total | 39.7% of buyers | 30.1% of sellers
Regional: 14.7% of total | 11.0% of buyers | 18.5% of sellers
Domestic: 50.4% of total | 49.3% of buyers | 51.4% of sellers

WTI: USD 75.54 (+3.13%)
Brent: USD 85.17 (+2.95%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.10 MMBtu, (+3.19%, Nov 2018)
Gold: USD 1,193.40 / troy ounce (-0.23%)

TASI: 8,038.07 (+0.48%) (YTD: +11.23%)
ADX: 4,979.58 (+0.90%) (YTD: +13.21%)
DFM: 2,849.56 (+0.52%) (YTD: -15.45%)
KSE Premier Market: 5,329.48 (-0.27%)
QE: 9,790.20 (-0.24%) (YTD: +14.86%)
MSM: 4,538.08 (-0.12%) (YTD: -11.01%)
BB: 1,335.06 (-0.26%) (YTD: +0.25%)

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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.

01 October (Monday): First day of trading on shares in CIRA’s IPO.

02 October (Tuesday): House of Representatives due back in session for its fourth term.

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

03-10 October (Wednesday-Wednesday): Subscription period for Sarwa Capital’s IPO.

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

09 October (Tuesday): Monetizing Innovation: How to build a smart fintech business model, The GREEK CAMPUS, Room 109, Cairo.

Second week of October: NI Capital expected to select winning bid in its tender for the management of Alexandria Containers & Cargo Handling’s stake sale.

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.

03-06 November (Saturday-Tuesday): World Youth Forum 2018, Maritim Jolie Ville Golf Course, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

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

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

06-07 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): 2018 IIF MENA Financial Summit, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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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