Wednesday, 10 October 2018

With USD 20 bn in FCY-denominated bonds planned through 2022, gov’t seems to be betting on FX stability

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

The EGX30 was basically flat yesterday, closing down 0.1% after closing on Monday at as 12-month low under pressure from the emerging markets turbulence and margin calls for local investors. Global Telecom fell 4.7% and Edita 7.1% yesterday, according to Reuters. EFG Hermes, meanwhile, rose 1.7% after a senior company exec said it was closing in on the acquisition of Nigeria’s brokerage Primera Africa (we have more on that in the Speed Round, below).

** #3 SIGN OF THE TIMES- Retail component of Sarwa’s IPO 2.7x oversubscribed so far: The domestic press suggested earlier this week that Sarwa Capital had run into low retail appetite for the domestic tranche of its offering, leading us to warn you to take those reports with a cup or two of salt. Where the original report said Sarwa was less than 50% covered, “sources at the EGX” now say the offering was 2.7x oversubscribed heading into this morning. Today is the last day of the retail subscription period. The consumer and structured finance company had previously announced that its institutional offering was 10.38x oversubscribed, with shares priced at EGP 7.36 apiece. Trading is expected to begin on 15 October.

The central bank is expected to announce September inflation figures today. Annual headline inflation rose to 14.2% in August, from 13.5% in July, while core inflation inched up to 8.8% against 8.5% the month before

Egypt, Greece, Cyprus’ heads of states will meet in Crete today for a tripartite summit that will cover East Med gas, security cooperation, and migration, among other issues.

Egypt will reportedly select a manager for its new sovereign wealth fund “within days,” Planning Ministry sources tell Youm7. Some 160 of a total 220 applicants have been disqualified from the running due to incomplete data. Some 400 individuals had applied for the manager’s position and other posts at the SWF. A parallel drive to find temporary office space for the fund is ongoing, according to cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad. The executive regulations for the law governing the SWF should be with Cabinet for review by mid-October, our sources had told us.

Egypt-born Dina Powell could be The Donald’s next UN ambassador after the resignation yesterday of Nikki Haley, who some analysts are now eulogizing as having been among the last “voices of moderation” in the Trump administration. Politico says Powell, a senior Goldman Sachs exec and former White House official, “is said to be strongly considering the job but also weighing family concerns.” Conservatives are, naturally enough, concerned Powell is too “globalist” for the job.

“Private business built modern China. Now the government is pushing back,” the New York Times writes. “China may be stepping back from the free-market, pro-business policies that transformed it into the world’s No. 2 economy…State-controlled companies increasingly account for growth in industrial production and profits, areas where private businesses once led. China has stepped up regulation of online commerce, real estate and video games. Companies could face higher taxes and employee benefit costs. Some intellectuals are calling for private enterprises to be abolished entirely.” (Read)

The line between legal and business advice is blurring ever faster, say senior lawyers, writes the Financial Times as part of a package of stories on law in Europe. Just as consulting outfits born of what were once audit firms now want to be your comms agency, now lawyers are expanding their traditional remits by offering business advice. Read Law firms confront a question of identity.

Saudi Arabia is taking it on the chin over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, with the consensus in the international community and in media circles being that he was killed, dismembered and his body spirited out of KSA’s consulate in Istanbul in a Mercedes van. Turkish security sources allege that the hit was ordered at the highest level in Saudi and that a 15-person kill squad flew in to Turkey to do the deed. The New York Times has the best rundown, Britain’s foreign secretary has tweeted a warning to the kingdom (have him ask the Canadians how well that works), and even the Financial Times is demanding answers in an editorial.

In miscellany today:

  • You wanna be an investment banker? First, learn how to code. “JPMorgan Chase is putting hundreds of new investment bankers and asset managers through mandatory coding lessons, in a sign of Wall Street’s heightened need for technology skills.” (Financial Times)
  • Activist investor Bill Ackman has taken a stake in Starbucks. God help the world’s purveyor of just-acceptable coffee. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Everybody wants to be something when they grow up: Qatar has set aside USD 2 bn to try to rival Dubai financial hub DIFC. (Bloomberg)

PSA- Your Lifetime Health Checkup Roadmap from the New York Times is our recommended read for the morning. It is not complete, but it’s a great starting point for those of us who live in a land in which a “general practitioner” or “family physician” is as rare as a leprechaun riding a unicorn.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

The airwaves offered up a mixed bag of nuts last night, with topics ranging from a rejected proposal for a shorter work week for state employees, a law regulating the poultry industry, and the arrest of an Egyptian militant in Libya.

The Madbouly Cabinet has officially nixed a proposal to shorten state bureaucrats’ work week to four days. Most government ministries and agencies were against the proposal, which would have been difficult to implement, cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad told Hona Al Asema (watch, runtime: 8:36). The committee that had been studying the measure is still considering other options for streamlining public work, none of which will be considered until ministries begin moving to the new capital next year, Saad told Yahduth fi Masr, providing no further details or a timeline for the move (watch, runtime: 7:53). Meanwhile, House rep, Abdel Fattah Mohamed told Masaa DMC some administrative offices need to increase their working hours rather than cut them (watch, runtime: 4:43).

The Agriculture Ministry will begin enforcing a law regulating the poultry trade, Deputy Agriculture Minister Mona Mehrez told Hona Al Asema. The law, which has been around for some nine years now, addresses everything to do with the trade, including the associated environmental and health concerns (watch, runtime: 7:48). The head of the Cairo Chamber of Commerce’s poultry division, Abdel Aziz El Sayed, showed strong support for the legislation, noting that Egypt is among the few countries in the world that still allow trading in live poultry and still report cases of bird flu (watch, runtime: 6:30).

The arrest of special forces officer-turned-terrorist Hisham El Ashmawy still had the talking heads buzzing yesterday. Ashmawy, who was captured in Derna, is currently being held by Libyan authorities and will be questioned before he is extradited to Egypt, according to Masaa DMC’s Osama Kamal, who said that the ex-army officer is responsible for the deaths of 135 members of Egyptian security forces (watch, runtime: 5:57). Hona Al Asema also had the story (watch, runtime: 1:53).

Saudi journalist Gamal Khashoggi’s disappearance also got some air time last night, with Masaa DMC’s Osama Kamal likening the case to that of Italian grad student Giulio Regeni, whose murder in Cairo was blamed on Egyptian security forces (watch, runtime: 5:21). Kamal also had a conversation with House rep. Amr Sedky about developments to tourism infrastructure (watch, runtime: 8:45).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

** #1 EXCLUSIVE- Egypt could issue up to USD 20 bn in FCY-denominated bonds over the next four years: The government is working on a plan to issue as much as USD 20 bn in foreign-currency denominated bonds between now and 2022, a senior government official told Enterprise on Tuesday. The source declined to go into details of the plan or to explain the administration’s current thinking on what is the longest timeline we’ve heard for FCY-denominated offerings. We do know the government is considering “Samurai” and “Panda” bonds sometime in the coming 12 months and is now on a nondeal roadshow ahead of a planned USD 5 bn eurobond offering.

Gov’t betting on (relative) FX stability? That level of borrowing isn’t out of step with recent practice, and it signals that the Madbouly cabinet, which is trying to rein in the public debt, has faith that the exchange rate isn’t going south on us as far out as four years from now. The move comes as the Madbouly Cabinet works on a strategy to rein in the public debt, striking a balance between expensive local-currency borrowing (with no FX risk) and less expensive foreign-currency borrowing (with plenty of FX risk) at the same time as the Emerging Markets Zombie Apocalypse has some investors pulling out of the market.

FinMin to select investment bank for USD 5 bn eurobond issuance next month: The Finance Ministry is planning to hold at the end of the month a tender to select the investment bank that will manage the sale of USD 5 bn worth of eurobonds it plans to issue early next year. The winning bid will be announced in November. The source noted that the timing of the issuance will be set once the advisors are on board. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait has previously said the issuance would take place sometime in 1Q2019.

** #2 LEGISLATION WATCH- FinMin releases final draft of the Customs Act: The Finance Ministry has released the final draft of the amended Customs Act on Tuesday after consultations with business groups and global financial institutions, according to a ministry statement. The ministry plans to introduce the act to the House of Representatives during the current legislative cycle, but the statement did not note when. The ministry says the bill would bring customs legislation in line with international agreements and raise Egypt’s ranking in a number of global indices, including the World Bank’s Doing Business report. You can read the latest draft of the bill here (pdf) on the Finance Ministry website.

Expedited clearance and facilitating payments: Among the most significant measures are those designed to speed goods through Egypt’s ports, include setting up an expedited track for the clearance of goods, the statement says, without delving into the mechanics of the new system. Government sources had told us back in May that the law would set up “a white list” of importers. Companies on the list will be able to clear their goods without initially undergoing full procedures. An inspection of their warehouses and their documentation would be conducted later. The proposed bill would also, for the first time, allow importers to pay duties in installments, the statement said.

Law expands Customs Authority’s powers: One of the key aims of the law is to increase the supervisory and enforcement powers of the Customs Authority, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said. The bill would grant the authority expanded powers to seize the goods of suspected customs evaders and the right to track goods and shipping containers from ports of origin. The law will also grant the authority powers the sole power to sign off on temporary customs exemptions, which were expanded earlier this year to include production inputs, said Maait.

Customs Authority approval for econ zone licenses: Licensing for a project in a special economic zone or a freezone will require signoff from the Customs Authority and the General Authority for Freezones and Investments must seek its approval before issuing a license, according to our preliminary reading of the law.

Background: Other changes we’ve been told to look for include a new tariff structure for vehicles imported by tour operators, hotels and resorts and the toughening of penalties for customs dodgers.

Tax Authority to sign agreements soon with ministries of transport, civil aviation on real estate tax calculation: The Tax Authority is close to finalizing agreements with the ministries of transport and civil aviation on the tax treatment of real estate in their respective industries, Real Estate Tax Authority head Samia Hussein told the press yesterday, Al Mal reports. Hussein said the agreements would be signed soon, but did not give a specific date or provide additional details. The Finance Ministry had signed protocols with the ministries of oil and tourism last month that set guidelines for the calculation of real estate taxes for properties in oil, gas, and mining, as well as hotels. Speaking of which, Hussein said that the tax formula for hotels — which under new guidelines will be based on their nominal investment value and star rating — maybe reconsidered and potentially reduced for hotels with low occupancy rates.

Background: Changes to the tax treatment of properties in a variety of industries comes as part of the broader overhaul of the Real Estate Tax Act. The Madbouly government wants to change everything from how rental values are calculated for tax purposes, how property values are appraised, penalties for evasion, and avenues for appeals. We’re also expecting comprehensive changes to the country’s tax code to be presented to the House of Representatives during the current legislative term, which are expected to restructure the Tax Authority, include new policies to curb tax evasion, introduce a framework for electronic payments, and include provisions that will impact sales and real estate taxes. Changes to taxation laws mean to boost tax receipts, which the government has angled as a key part of its plan to ease pressure on the budget.

Expect changes to tax rates on real estate, but not to the income tax or value-added tax rates. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait has not signaled he plans to depart from his predecessor’s clear policy on tax rate stability in those two portfolios.

On a related note, sources claim to Al Mal that the government has no plans to raise taxes on entertainment venues. The claim came after we reported on Monday that Finance Ministry officials have met with members of the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ (FEI) Cinema Industry Chamber to discuss potential tax hikes on entry fees for cinemas, theaters, nightclubs, and other entertainment venues, as well as set a EGP 20 minimum entry fee. As we noted in our initial report: “This proposal has been circulating since 2016 and has been kicked down the road multiple times. That having been said, the treasury has made it clear that boosting tax receipts will be a key component of its drive to ease pressure on the budget as fuel prices see higher outlays for the subsidy program.”

** #4 IPO WATCH- Enppi IPO to include GDR program: The IPO of state-owned energy contractor Enppi is expected to include global depository receipts (GDRs) on the London Stock Exchange alongside a sale of shares on the EGX, government sources said yesterday. The Oil Ministry confirmed over the weekend that Enppi, the first company of the state privatization program to list, is expected to sell 24% of its shares. The ministry did not confirm the timing. CI Capital, Jefferies International Limited, and Emirates NBD are managing the IPO.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Saudi’s Fas Energy looking to invest USD 420 mn in Egypt projects: Fas Energy, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s Al Hokair Group, is looking to invest up to USD 420 mn in solar energy and waste recycling projects in Egypt, company general manager Sabri Asfour is quoted by the domestic press as having said. The Saudi company is looking to build a USD 95 mn solar generation station and a waste recycling project with an investment cost of as much as USD 325 mn, Asfour said.

The company has already invested some USD 100 mn in the Benban solar park where it built a 50 MW solar power plant under phase one of the feed-in tariff program, through which it will sell electricity to Egypt at USD 0.14 per kWh for 25 years.

** #5 INVESTMENT WATCH- India’s LuLu Hypermarket is planning to invest USD 500 mn in Egypt over the next two years to expand its local operations, according to a cabinet statement picked up by Al Masry Al Youm. The company intends to build four new retail outlets in 6 October City, New Cairo, and Obour, Group Chairman and Managing Director Yusuff Ali told Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly during a meeting in Cairo yesterday. The company will also build two logistics centers from which it will be targeting exports, particularly frozen fish, to markets in the GCC and Europe. Executives from LuLu will visit potential locations for the depots in Alexandria, Sohag, East Port Said, and Ain Sokhna. Work on the new facilities is expected to start in less than a year from now.

** #6 EFG Hermes closing in on Nigeria acquisition: Our friends at EFG Hermes are looking to lock down IPO mandates in Saudi Arabia and close their acquisition of Nigerian brokerage Primera Africa as the firm works to break into more regional markets, co-head of investment banking Mohamed Fahmi tells Reuters. EFG had announced in July signing a sale and purchase agreement for the Lagos-based brokerage and research firm, which will eventually rebadge under the EFG Hermes brand. The transaction is expected to be complete in November, according to an EFG spokesperson.

As for Saudi, EFG is already hiring talent as it looks to win IPO mandates in the kingdom, a market Fahmi expects will “pick up” by the end of 2018. According to Fahmi, many of the potential IPOs in the Saudi market are eyeing dual listings and GDR programs. “Saudi Arabia could be a major growth market for EFG Hermes, which is the biggest investment bank in the Middle East but derives much of its business there from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates,” the newswire notes.

** #7 ECA issues sharp warning against anti-competitive practices in pharma: The Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) issued a not-so-veiled warning to pharma companies that forthcoming amendments to the Antitrust Act would “allow it to protect small- and medium- pharmacies from predatory collusion by larger players,” ECA head Amir Nabil (LinkedIn) said at a workshop on the law. He referenced the EGP 5.6 bn fine imposed by the Economic Court back in March on 13 executives from Ibnsina Pharma, United Co. for Pharmacists, Ramco Pharm, and Multipharma. 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. The ECA statement (pdf) issued following the workshop gave no detail on the actual law itself.

Background: The ECA has been looking for some time to expand its powers through amendments to the Antitrust Act. The authority is seeking the right to sign-off on mergers worth more than EGP 100 mn. Nabil had said that the ECA was resurrecting plans to pass the amendments following reports that Uber and its regional rival Careem were engaged in merger talks.

** #8 REGULATION WATCH- FRA lays claim to PE industry: The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) has released licensing guidelines for private equity firms and funds, Youm7 reports. Conditions for a license to run a private equity firm or fund include minimum capital of EGP 10 mn and a firm’s general partner holding a minimum stake of 0.5% of the value of any fund it raises. The GP must also have 3-5 years of experience working in the financial sector, depending on the level of academic training, can never have previously filed for bankruptcy, and must have a clean criminal record. If our reading of Youm7 is correct, the guidelines bar the managers of PE firms from making personal gains from a fund’s investments, suggesting PE professionals may not be allowed to personally invest in their own transactions. Let us know if we’re off here and you have the inside scoop?

Background: The Investment Ministry had issued in June a directive making the FRA the primary regulator for the private equity industry.

** #9 EXCLUSIVE- All listed companies will have to kick in to fund investor protection fund: Legislation now on the drawing board would make it mandatory for all listed companies to pay annually into the Egyptian Investor Protection Fund (EIPF), Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) deputy head Khaled El Nashar told Enterprise. We had reported yesterday that the FRA has completed amendments to the law governing the EIPF and sent them over to the Madbouly Cabinet for review. The amendments are expected to expand the scope of the EIPF’s coverage to cover stock market losses resulting from fraud.

In other legislative news, a law to govern franchising is said to be in the works and could be presented to the House of Representatives soon, AmCham and Egyptian Franchise Development Association (EFDA) President Tarek Tawfik tells Amwal Al Ghad. The law, which was drafted by the Trade and Industry Ministry with input from the EFDA, is expected to regulate the relationship between franchisors and brands, facilitate registration procedures, and include provisions to ensure transparency. No further details were provided.

GE Power wins contract for four nuclear turbines: GE Power won a contract to deliver four nuclear turbine islands to the 4.8 GW Dabaa nuclear power plant, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. The units — made up of four nuclear turbine generator sets, including the Arabelle half-speed steam turbines — will be installed and delivered through AAEM, GE’s joint venture with Russia’s Atomenergomash. While the company statement did not note the value of the contract, Bloomberg pegs it at USD 700 mn. The turbine contract is GE’s largest in the Middle East and North Africa and Turkey so far this year, GE North East Africa CEO Ahmed Ramadan told the business information service.

** #10 Egypt needs to increase its investment in clean energy by nearly threefold to meet its energy targets of producing half of the country’s electricity needs from renewables by 2030, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says in a report (pdf) on Egypt’s renewable energy outlook. The existing policies have investment in renewables set at USD 2.5 bn per annum, but IRENA says this figure would need to be raised to USD 6.5 bn per year until 2030 in order to meet our targets. According to the agency, sticking to the current pace of investments would enable Egypt to cover around 25% — rather than the targeted 50% — of its energy needs from renewables.

Our potential is there, but the strategy needs to be tweaked: Egypt has “ample potential” to meet its ambitious energy targets, the report says, but doing so would require a significant revision of its strategy. Among the top priorities for the government to realize its renewables target is cutting off energy subsidies altogether, streamlining administrative procedures for investors, and conducting feasibility studies on the potential exploitation of biomass. Local manufacturing should also factor into the strategy, IRENA says, by encouraging the development of the domestic production of renewable energy equipment.

The cost-saving benefits speak for themselves: Increasing our reliance on renewable energy sources would cut down energy costs by USD 900 mn and would have an indirect effect on bringing down other costs, such as medical care to treat pollution-related ailments. “By adopting the right policies now, Egypt could realistically draw 53% of its electricity from renewables by 2030. This higher uptake of renewable power, when combined with renewables used for heat and transport, would end up reducing total costs, including energy, environmental and health-related costs by USD 9 bn per year on average compared to current energy plans.”

In related news: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met yesterday with IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin, who was in town while his organization presented its report at the Egypt Renewable Energy Conference, which is currently underway in Cairo. El Sisi told Amin that the government targets 20% renewables in Egypt’s 2023 energy mix and 42% by 2035.

Gov’t unveils new incentives for renewable power industry: The report from IRENA came just one day after the Egyptian Electricity Utility and Consumer Protection Agency (Egyptera) unveiled new incentives for the renewable energy industry, Al Mal reports. In addition to being given priority in connecting to the national grid, renewable energy companies will also be offered land for their projects under usufruct contracts with the same tenor as their power purchase agreements with the government. Under the new guidelines, the state will also be issuing letters of guarantee for any venture that will produce more than 500 KW of electricity.

The Finance Ministry is also pledging to facilitate low-interest household financing for renewable energy installations. The program would offer a 4% interest rate for household projects that produce up to 200 KW of power and an 8% interest rate for those that produce between 200-500 KW. The treasury will mobilize in parallel some EGP 2 bn in initial financing for the development of the nation’s power distribution grid.

MOVES- Sony Mobile appointed in March Sherif Salem (LinkedIn) as its country head for Egypt, reports Al Mal. The former head of regional sales for the Lenovo-owned Motorola Mobility has over 16 years of sales and marketing experience.

** WE’RE HIRING: We’re looking for smart, talented, and seasoned journalists and editors to join our team at Enterprise, which produces the newsletter you’re reading right now. We’re looking for people who can work on this product and help us launch exciting new stuff. Applicants should have serious English-language writing chops, a strong interest — and preferably some professional experience — in business journalism, and solid analytical skills. The ideal candidate for us is a native-level-writer of English with the ability to read and understand Arabic. Audio and video storytelling skills are a plus. We offer the chance to work in a unique and casual work environment that promises to be intellectually challenging and rewarding. If you’re interested, please submit your CV along with 2-3 writing samples and a solid cover letter telling us a bit about who you are and why you’re a good fit for our team. Please direct your applications to jobs@enterprisemea.com.

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Up Next

Sphinx International Airport in Giza is slated for inauguration “in the coming weeks,” according to Youm7. Flights had initially been expected to begin landing at the new airport by the summer of 2018.

An IMF delegation is due in town mid-October for a review of Egypt’s progress on its reform program ahead of the disbursal of the fifth USD 2 bn tranche of the country’s extended fund facility.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is in Moscow next Wednesday, 17 October. Military cooperation is high on the agenda, Russia’s deputy foreign minister told TASS on Friday.

The House will convene for its first general assembly of the new session on 21 October.

The 2018 Narrative PR Summit will take place at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza on Sunday, 28 October.

Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria will hold a meeting in Cairo later this month to discuss efforts to end the civil war in Libya, Xinhua reports. The meeting is part of “periodic consultations” to support Libya, with the last held in Algeria in May.

An Egyptian-Sudanese presidential summit is set to take place in Khartoum. The gathering has yet to be officially confirmed.

Egypt in the News

How slow a news day is it? Bad enough that we’re reduced to picking up a piece that states the obvious to anyone who has read Enterprise over the past four years: Egypt is diversifying its sources of military hardware to include Russia and France and ensure it is not overly dependent on the US, its traditional supplier, according to Stratfor Worldview. The US’ decision to cut military aid to Egypt drove home the point that Egypt must source its arms from several countries to avoid “the prospect of becoming hostage to US demands.”

Other headlines worth noting in brief:

  • The 4000-year old tomb of Ancient Egyptian priest Kaires, was found in the Abusir necropolis, says Fox News.
  • Egypt is looking at a bright future thanks to a handful of promising projects across various sectors, a bullish economic reform program and newly discovered natural gas fields, Linda S. Heard writes for Gulf News.
  • US presidents visited Egypt a total of 16 times, making Omm El Donia the African country most frequently visited by US presidents, according to Quartz Africa.
  • Egyptian security forces killed 10 militants in a shootout at a deserted farm in Arish, according to the Associated Press.
  • Egyptian investigators headed to Libya on Monday to gather intel on captured militant Hisham El Ashmawy, who is being interrogated by Libyan forces, the Associated Press reports.
  • A South Korean snorkeler was found dead off the coast of Dahab, Yonhap News Agency reports.
  • The family of jailed UK tourist Laura Plummer is petitioning for her release after serving one third of her three-year prison sentence, according to The Sun. A court had rejected her appeal last month.

Worth Watching

World’s first Angus calf genetically engineered to withstand high temperatures: Minnesota-based biotech company Recombinetics genetically engineered an Angus cow in Brazil to allow it to withstand the country’s high summer temperatures. In the South American country, where demand for US-produced Angus beef is high, meat quality is affected during warmer weather, when the thick-skinned cows refuse food, Recombinetics Chief Science Officer Tad Sonstegard tells Wall Street Journal. Thanks to Recombinetics’ technology, “gene-edited beef could be coming to dinner plates around the globe” (watch, runtime: 9:17).

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Nasr looks to lock in USD 1.5 bn World Bank loan for Sinai, social housing by year’s end: Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr will meet with World Bank officials on the sidelines of the IMF and WB fall meetings this week to finalize agreements that will see the bank provide loans worth a combined USD 1.5 bn, a ministry source tells Al Shorouk. USD 1 bn will be allocated to support Sinai development efforts and a separate USD 500 mn package will be used for the second phase of the government’s social housing projects, before the year is out. Talks over the Sinai development package have been ongoing since April, while Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly had put in a request for the social housing funding in July.

Infrastructure

SCA rejects Qingdao Port offer to build container terminal in Sokhna

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has officially rejected an offer from China’s Qingdao Port to build a new container terminal at Ain Sokhna Port due to ongoing expansion plans being carried out by the UAE’s DP World at the same port, Al Mal reported. The SCA turned down the offer after more than two years of negotiations ended. China had hoped to use the terminal to enter African markets as part of its One Belt, One Road initiative.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt added to UK fruit grower WB Chambers’ list of source markets for berries and stone fruits

UK-based fruit grower WB Chambers started this year buying berries grown in Egypt for distribution in UK markets, Managing Director Tim Chambers said, according to Horticulture Week.

Manufacturing

Government could do away with license auctions for cement and steel manufacturing

The Trade and Industry Ministry is reportedly considering amendments to the rules that govern the issuing of manufacturing licenses for heavy duty industries such as cement and steel, government sources said yesterday. The proposed changes — which have been submitted to the Madbouly Cabinet for review — would base the fees for manufacturing licenses on a project’s investment cost, doing away with the current system that awards licenses to the highest bidder at auctions, which the government now sees as off-putting for investors. No further details were provided. The Industrial Development Authority had previously said it would issue licenses only to manufacturers that can go up the value chain.

Health + Education

Madbouly issues decree forming new healthcare system regulator’s BoD

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly has formed the board of directors of the new healthcare regulator responsible for enforcing quality control at hospitals under the new universal healthcare system, according to a copy of the decree picked up by the local press. The board, whose term will last four years, will be headed by Ashraf Mohamed Anwar. Members include doctors in various specialties, experts on medical services, and a judge from the Council of State (Maglis El Dawla). Services under the new health insurance scheme are expected to begin rolling out next May, Health Minister Hala Zayed had said previously.

Tourism

Helnan Hotels to build branch in new capital, plans to add 4 to Egypt portfolio

Helnan International Hotels is planning to build a hotel at the new administrative capital in the upcoming period, Chairman Enan Galaly said, without providing additional details. Construction of the new hotel will be financed through loans from unnamed banks. The hotel group also plans to begin managing four additional hotels in Egypt during the coming year, according to Galaly.

Telecoms + ICT

SICO targets smartphone sales to seven African countries by year-end or early 2019

Egyptian smartphone maker SICO is planning to break into seven new African markets by the end of this year or early 2019, Sales Director Mahmoud Ali tells Reuters. The company is hoping to retail its products in “Kenya, Morocco, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria, Mozambique, and Ghana,” at around USD 50-60 a piece. Ali said he expects SICO’s products to perform better in Africa than in the Gulf, where competition is a lot fiercer. The company had begun exporting its smartphones and tablets to Kuwait and the UAE earlier this year, and had then said it intends to enter Saudi Arabia and Oman over the following months.

Legislation + Policy

El Sisi ratifies Public Procurement Act

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has signed into law the Public Procurement Act, the final version of which was published in the Official Gazette last Wednesday (pdf). The law grants preferential treatment in government tenders to products with at least 40% domestic content over competing products with less domestic input. The act is meant to support the growth and development of domestic industry.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Egypt launches grievance committee for investors

Investment Minister Sahar Nasr has ordered the launch of a grievance committee to receive complaints related to ministry decisions, according to a ministry statement. The move is aimed to clear obstacles facing investors.

On Your Way Out

The internet had a field day over the outfit Melania Trump wore during her Egypt visit, with some likening it to Michael Jackson’s iconic suit from his ‘Smooth Criminal’ music video, Inside Edition noted. Egypt was the last stop in a tour by the US First Lady that included visits to Ghana, Malawi, and Kenya, which earned her more criticism for wearing a pith helmet that was popular during the times of colonial rule in Africa.

Horus maintains verity of bizarre Drew Barrymore the interview: Al Ahram advertising agency issued a statement yesterday (pdf) maintaining that a Drew Barrymore interview published in EgyptAir’s in-flight magazine was not fabricated. The questionable interview in Horus magazine had raised eyebrows last week when it went viral on social media, especially after Barrymore’s publicist called it out as false, denying the actress ever spoke to a Horus reporter. The magazine, however, said the interview was conducted by their Hollywood correspondent Aida Tekla in her capacity as a member of Hollywood Foreign Press Association and not an EgyptAir reporter. The agency also defended the (rather offensive) introductory paragraph of the profile as “editorial creativity.” The AP and Reuters picked up the story.

The Market Yesterday

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

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Turnover: EGP 649 mn (11% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -9.5%

THE MARKET ON TUESDAY: The EGX30 index ended Tuesday’s session down 0.1%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended up 0.2%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Heliopolis Housing up 2.8%, Telecom Egypt up 2.0%, and TMG Holding up 2.0%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Edita down 6.3%, Global Telecom down 3.4%, and Pioneers Holding down 2.2%. The market turnover was EGP 649 mn, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +41.6 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -24.2 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -17.5 mn

Retail: 50.0% of total trades | 47.2% of buyers | 52.8% of sellers
Institutions: 50.0% of total trades | 52.8% of buyers | 47.2% of sellers

Foreign: 30.3% of total | 33.5% of buyers | 27.1% of sellers
Regional: 7.9% of total | 6.0% of buyers | 9.7% of sellers
Domestic: 61.8% of total | 60.5% of buyers | 63.2% of sellers

WTI: USD 74.95 (+0.89%)
Brent: USD 84.86 (+1.13%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.28 MMBtu, (+0.52%, Nov 2018)
Gold: USD 1,191.10/ troy ounce (+0.21%)

TASI: 7,904.74 (-0.43%) (YTD: +9.39%)
ADX: 5,020.52 (+0.34%) (YTD: +14.14%)
DFM: 2,777.82 (+0.12%) (YTD: -17.57%)
KSE Premier Market: 5,304.46 (-0.09%)
QE: 9,840.18 (+0.21%) (YTD: +15.45%)
MSM: 4,517.38 (+0.27%) (YTD: -11.41%)
BB: 1,324.26 (-0.08%) (YTD: -0.56%)

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Calendar

07-11 October (Sunday-Thursday): Egypt-Romania Business Council to meet in Bucharest.

08-14 October (Monday-Sunday): The IMF and World Bank annual meetings in Bali, Indonesia.

09 October (Tuesday): IMF to release World Economic Outlook report.

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

09-11 October (Tuesday-Thursday) Egypt Renewable Energy Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

10 October (Wednesday): Foreign ministers of Egypt, Cyprus, Greece to meet in Crete.

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 October (Friday) Egypt plays its third 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Swaziland

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

Mid-October: IMF delegation due in town for its fourth review of Egypt’s economic reform program.

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.

28 October (Sunday): 2018 Narrative PR Summit, 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.

17-19 November (Saturday-Monday) ElectricX-Energizing the Industry, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt

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.

13-15 December (Thursday-Saturday): Forum on “The Role of Digital Financial Communication and Solutions in Enhancing Financial Inclusion,” Sharm El Sheik, 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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