Thursday, 1 November 2018

Egypt among most-improved on World Bank’s Doing Business report

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

We’re closing the week with more good news as Egypt ranked among the most-improved countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report. It’s the third reminder this week that smart government policy can make a difference, following news of the massive environmental benefits of the white taxi program and the near-elimination this fall of the annual “black cloud” over Cairo — both thanks to good policymaking. We have more in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Two highlights outside the news well this morning: We have an exclusive opinion column from top execs and directors at three of the nation’s top mineral resources companies. And we’re very pleased to launch our new My Morning Routine column, which will run on Thursdays in place of On Your Way Out.

The first annual Middle East Conference on Business Angel Investmenttakes place today in El Gouna. The conference will bring together angel investors, venture capitalists and others to discuss the latest trends in fintech, clean tech, health technology and transportation technology. More here.

Egypt’s World Youth Forum 2018 will kick-off in Sharm El Sheikh this Saturday and run until Tuesday, 6 November.

Consumer protection watchdog enforces return policy on Sharm shops ahead forum: The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) announced yesterday that it has enforced a return and replacement policy on all shops in Sharm El Sheikh before visitors start landing in the city for the forum, Al Shorouk reports. The agency also launched a campaign to “educate” tourists about their rights as consumers. The campaign sees flyers being distributed in airports, shops, hotels, and other public venues, as well as text messages, according to CPA boss Reda Abdel Moaty.

Markets closed October on a good note: “Global stocks ended a grim October on a brighter note, as corporate earnings on both sides of the Atlantic tempted investors back into a market beset by worries over rising interest rates, trade tensions and a slowing global economy,” the Financial Times writes. The WSJ zeroes in on US market performance. The EGX30 closed up 0.73% yesterday.

Credit Suisse’s Ahmed Badr snagged two bankers from BofA to help lead the Swiss lender’s new drive for market share in the Middle East, Bloomberg reports. “The Zurich-based bank appointed [Bank of America’s] Hamdy Hamoudi to lead equity sales in the region and Imran Dadabhoy to manage sales trading…[Credit Suisse] sales trader Karim Osman will relocate to Riyadh from London to manage equity sales trading.” Credit Suisse lured Badr back from Renaissance Capital last month to serve as managing director and head of equities for MENA as the bank looks to “rebuild its equity operations in Dubai after scaling back a few years ago amid a slowdown in trading.”

Reuters has an amazing series out on climate change headlined “Ocean Shock” that looks at the “climate crisis beneath the waves. Driven by warming waters, marine life is on the move — and life on land is forever changed.” The beautiful landing page for the 10-article series is here. Among the highlights of the package, which brings stories to life with stunning photography, video and data alike:

Egyptian journalist Hamdi Qandil passed away last night at the age of 82 after many years of battling disease, Ahram Gate reports.

In miscellany this morning:

US voters go the polls in midterm elections next week. We’re following the latest through the New York Times and Axios.

Inflation is now a thing in the United States. Not Egypt-in-2016/17-style inflation, but enough that the WSJ is declaring That Big Mac and Coke now comes with a side order of inflation.

Folding smartphones are coming. We’re gadget geeks. We’re also fairly sure we’ll be sitting out the first wave. (WSJ)

When your worlds collide: A 40-year-old guy in a small Norwegian town has become an internet and iTunes sensation re-recording pop songs as metal tracks. He somehow made the Wall Street Journal.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

** #5 An interview with IMF Egypt Mission Chief Subir Lall was the highlight of the night on the airwaves.

Egypt’s debt levels will remain safe as long as it holds the line on economic reform by remaining focused on phasing out subsidies and achieving a budget surplus, Lall told Yahdoth fi Masr’s Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 1:12). Lall praised ongoing economic reform efforts during a discussion of Egypt’s latest staff-level agreement with the IMF for the fifth tranche of its USD 12 bn loan, on which we have chapter and verse on in this morning’s Speed Round, below (watch here, runtime: 3:06 and here, runtime: 2:16 ). He told Amer that reducing sovereign debt to 93% of GDP in FY2017-18 from 103% the year before was a “huge achievement” (watch, runtime: 1:36).

Job creation is Egypt’s current challenge and the private sector has a role to play here, Lall noted (watch, runtime: 1:59).

Lall was briefly dragged into potato-gate as Amer joined his peers in a modest freakout over the price of spuds. Lall suggested the spike in potato prices is not a sign the economic sky is falling, is likely temporary and added that the IMF has been in touch with the Agriculture Ministry to learn more about the issue (watch, runtime: 1:31).

Environmental issues were the order of the day on Masaa DMC, with Environment Minister Yasmin Fouad making an appearance on the show last night to discuss issues such as the pollution caused by burning rice straw (a widespread phenomenon across rural Egypt). Foad said that there have been fewer incidents of rice straw burning recently since the ministry began to take action (watch, runtime: 5:17). Sharqiya governor Mamdouh Ghorab also phoned into the show to talk about a thick cloud of black smoke that has formed over a village in Kafr El Sheikh from burning trash (watch, runtime: 10:21).

Guest column

Top miners say forthcoming changes to mineral resources act are “extremely encouraging,” could unlock tidal wave of investment

** #2 GUEST COLUMN: Upcoming amendments to Mineral Resources Act are “extremely encouraging,” could unlock tidal wave of investment, say top mining companies in Egypt: Changes to the Mineral Resources Act now in the legislative pipeline to the will bring “immense benefits” to the mining industry, say senior execs and directors at three top players in Egypt’s burgeoning natural resources industry in an opinion column written exclusively for Enterprise. The signatories: Aton Resources President and CEO Mark Campbell, Thani Stratex Resources CEO David J. Hall and Resolute Egypt Director Ossama El Maghraby. The column:

The remarks about mining policy reform made last week by Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Wealth Tarek El Molla at an event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce, were extremely encouraging to us in the industry.

The minister was very candid in stating that for too long, the fiscal terms used to commercially regulate mineral exploration and mining have been wrong, but that the government is going to fix this. He said they were going to create an investment-friendly environment to attract much needed capital into Egypt’s nascent mining sector so as to develop Egypt’s potentially vast mineral wealth in precious and base metals.

We in the mining sector were also extremely encouraged by the minister’s public recognition that oil & gas and mining have fundamentally different business models, and that their economics do not correlate in any way. The only relationship to be found between the two sectors is that they are extractive industries. To compare the two industries would be like comparing an airline to Uber just because they both get you from point A to point B.

The global mineral exploration and mining industry has its own set of industry standards and norms, and as such, mining companies go to countries where they are welcome. These are countries with well-developed terms and conditions designed to attract international capital. Investors make very high-risk and long-term investments and are inevitably drawn to countries whose governments firmly understand the sector and its needs, and that seek to engage into meaningful and long-term partnerships. These are businesses and though the geology may be great in country, if companies can’t ultimately bring a return to their stakeholders, they won’t come.

Egypt has taken some bold first steps to make investing in the sector more attractive. The government hired a globally recognized, resource consulting firm at the beginning of the year to identify the problems with its mining terms and conditions and to critically answer the questions: Why has only one new gold mine been developed in the last 90 years? Why are there only three international exploration and mining companies working here (despite having held multiple bid rounds)? As we understand it, the last time this consulting firm assisted a government (Ecuador) in unlocking its mineral wealth potential, which like Egypt had an oil and gas focused framework, it almost immediately attracted 400 companies to invest. This too could be Egypt.

Tap or click here to read the rest of the piece.

Do you have an idea for a Guest Column? Email patrick@enterprise.press.

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

** #1 More good news: Egypt is among the most-improved countries in the World Bank’s latest Ease of Doing Business report: Egypt jumped eight spots to rank 120th out of 190 countries in the World Bank Group’s 2019 Ease of Doing Business report (pdf). The country made it to the report’s list of top performers in 2017-18 thanks to the implementation of regulatory reforms that facilitated doing business in three or more of the 10 topics included in the report compared to last year. Here’s where we did well:

Starting a business: The process of starting a new business became easier over the past year with the introduction ofa “one-stop shop” for investors that doesn’t require a bank certificate, which helped reduce “regulatory complexity” in 2017-18. According to the report, it now takes an average of 11 days and 6.5 steps to start a business.

Making it easier to access credit: Egypt also worked on strengthening the legal rights of borrowers and lenders “by introducing the possibility of granting a non-possessory security right in a single category of movable assets without requiring a specific description of the collateral. Secured creditors are now given absolute priority over other claims, such as labor and tax, both outside and within bankruptcy proceedings,” the report said.

Egypt also stepped up protections for minority investors by expanding shareholders’ role in company management and “increasing corporate transparency.”

We can actually restructure with bankruptcy protection rather than go to jail: Under the subhed “resolving bankruptcy,” the World Bank notes that Egypt “introduced a new restructuring procedure, which included training programs on solvency law and allowed debtors to initiate the reorganization procedure and granted creditors greater participation in the proceedings.”

Paying taxes has also been made easier by improving the VAT refund process, extending it to refunds to manufacturers in case of a capital investment.

How did we fare in comparison to others? New Zealand remains at the top of the global ranking, followed by Singapore and Denmark. Somalia also retained its spot at the bottom of the chart, despite its score improving slightly y-o-y. The UAE was the highest ranked MENA country, climbing to the 11th spot from 21 last year. Morocco ranked 60 and Saudi Arabia ranked 92.

Other recent good news: Smart government policy helped virtually eliminate the “black cloud” that previously plagued the nation’s capital every fall and a World Bank report found the white cab taxi replacement program slashed Egypt’s carbon dioxide emissions by 310k tonnes in 2013-2017.

** #3 M&A WATCH- Sawiris’ Orascom Investment wants at least 25% of Sarwa Capital: Orascom Investment Holding (OIH)is looking to acquire a non-controlling stake of c. 216 mn shares in consumer and structured finance player Sarwa Capital at EGP 7.36 a share, the company said in a bourse statement (pdf). The company has filed for regulatory approval on the voluntary offer and has also expressed willingness to buy a smaller stake of 144-216 mn shares, but only at EGP 6.62 per share — a 10% discount to its price at the opening bell in its EGX debut last month, according to a statement from the FRA (pdf), which is studying OIH’s bid. OIH CEO Tamer El Mahdi told Bloomberg that “we’re looking to have something more than 25%,” adding that “we believe the price which is currently in the market is very attractive for OIH.”

The move is in line with OIH’s strategy to expand in the retail finance sector, which the firm sees growing as the economy continues to improve, El Mahdi also said. “The company fundamentals are very strong, and we have no concerns in terms of the stock’s performance since the IPO.”

The market reacts: Sarwa Capital’s shares jumped 10% after OIH’s announcement, closing at EGP 6.17 on Wednesday. The company’s shares had closed down more than 11% in their EGX debut amid the same Emerging Markets Zombie Apocalypse that shortly after prompted the government to delay its own share-sale plans. The EGX decided yesterday to raise the price limit on Sarwa’s shares to EGP 7.36 / share for a five-day window starting today. Reuters also has the story.

M&A WATCH- Banque Misr has sold its 2% stake in Saudi Arabia’s Samba Financial Group for USD 370 mn, Vice Chairman Akef El Maghraby told Reuters, without naming the buyer. El Maghraby told Sky News that the divestment came amid plans to sell stakes in entities in which the bank does not participate in management or in the decision-making process (watch, runtime 01:15). El Maghraby also said Banque Misr would not be selling its stake in Cairo-Amman Bank.

** #4 Egypt reaches staff-level agreement with IMF on fifth loan tranche: Egypt reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF yesterday on the fifth USD 2 bn tranche of its USD 12 bn extended fund facility after a delegation led by Egypt Mission Chief Subir Lall completed its fourth review of the government’s economic reform program. The delegation found that “the Egyptian economy continued to perform well, despite less favorable global conditions, supported by the authorities’ strong implementation of the reform program,” Lall said in a statement issued yesterday. The amount, which brings total payments under the program to USD 10 bn, will be disbursed after the IMF’s executive board signs off on the agreement. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait had previously said to expect that to happen in early 2019.

What’s going right: Driving the delegation’s decision are strong indicators of a promising outlook, including:

  • improvements in GDP growth levels;
  • a narrower current account deficit;
  • lower unemployment rates;
  • lower government debt levels relative to GDP.

The central bank’s tight monetary policy and flexible exchange rate regime are also expected to help “cushion [Egypt] against external shocks,” while the government’s fiscal policy is seen “keeping general government debt on a clearly declining path” to achieve a primary surplus for the first time in years. The delegation also took note of authorities’ commitment to energy subsidy reform and expanding social welfare coverage, as well as efforts to combat corruption and boost transparency.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Landmark Sabbour, Libya’s Lakeside to invest EGP 10 bn in New Cairo complex: Real estate developer Landmark Sabbour and Libyan Foreign Investment Company subsidiary Lakeside for Real Estate and Touristic Investments will invest EGP 10 bn in a mixed-use project in New Cairo, Chairman Ahmed Sabbour said yesterday. The project will include hotels, serviced residences, and a number of commercial zones. There was no mention of the project timeline or exact location.

** #6 INVESTMENT WATCH- Egypt Kuwait Holding (EKH) will invest EGP 3 bn in a new wood processing facility in Minya, Chairman Moataz El Alfy said at a presser yesterday, according to Al Shorouk. EKH is expecting to break ground on the project in March and inaugurate the facility in 1H2020. Production is set to reach USD 50 mn-worth of finished products during the first year. The company is currently in talks with unnamed banks for a EGP 1 bn loan to cover part of the investment cost, according to Alfy. EKH had also broken ground earlier this year on a EGP 2.1 bn fiberboard factory in Beni Suef.

** #7 MENA IPO activity rose 21.1% y-o-y in terms of value in 3Q2018, with four IPOs raising USD 349.9 mn during the quarter, according to EY’s Q3 2018 MENA IPO Eye report. IPO activity, however, declined 33.3% y-o-y, EY said press release. “In light of fluctuating oil prices and headwinds in the economy, IPO activity in the MENA region has been slow from Q1 to Q3 2018,” said EY’s MENA transactions leader, Phil Gandier. “However it is positive to see that IPO value increased year-on-year in Q3, especially when we’ve seen several entities across MENA delaying their plans for IPOs in 2018 due to various factors including (but not limited to) regulatory and global trade concerns and uncertain market conditions in a rising interest rate environment.”

Egypt’s sole IPO in 3Q18 was CIRA’s EGP 1.244 bn listing in October. Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and Oman also had a single IPO listing each. “Saudi Arabia led the MENA IPO activity in Q3 with the IPO of Leejam Sports Company on the Saudi Stock Exchange, which raised USD 220.6 mn, making it the biggest IPO in the third quarter.”

The region’s IPO pipeline looks like it will pick up steam again over the next few years, EY says, particularly in Oman, where the next three years will see up to six power generation and water desalination companies going to market. Egypt’s state privatization program, which has “strengthened the prospects of future IPOs in the country that would promote local and foreign capital inflows,” is also reason for optimism. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi’s stock exchange is “connecting with seven companies that have IPOs on their agenda.”

Egypt’s M2 Money Supply grew 16.3% y-o-y in September to EGP 3.55 tn, according to central bank data cited by Reuters. The pace is slower than August, when broad money supply grew by 17.02%.

LEGISLATION WATCH- Careem submits proposals for Ride-hailing Apps Act executive regs: Ride-hailing cab company Careem Egypt has submitted proposals and suggestions to the government committee tasked with drafting the executive regulations to the Ride-hailing Apps Act, GM Wael Abou El Ela said yesterday, Al Mal reports. The proposal includes provisions to ensure inclusion and encourage more drivers — regardless of the type of vehicle they drive (code for “white cabs”?) — to join ride-hailing apps, according to Abou El Ela. Careem has also suggested that the regs leave room for flexible working hours and schedules to accommodate drivers who work on an irregular or seasonal basis. The company has also asked the committee to identify a single authority to handle the affairs of ride-hailing apps and implement a single-window policy for all their related matters, Abou El Ela added.

Background: We had heard that drivers at companies Uber and Careem called on social media for a strike earlier this month to protest the delay in issuing the regulations for the Ride-hailing Apps Act, which were due out in September. The regs to the act, which was signed into law in June, are meant to outline licensing requirements and fees for ride-hailing companies. House reps. had said not to expect the regs to be issued before January 2019, blaming the delay on the number of parties involved in the drafting process, which include representatives from various ministries and agencies, as well as executives from Uber and Careem.

MOVES- World Bank Group’s Senior Vice President for the 2030 Development Agenda, United Nations Relations, and Partnerships Mahmoud Mohieldin (official bio) will reportedly remain in his post until October 2022, sources close to the matter said, according to Al Masry Al Youm. Mohieldin has been with the bank since 2010.

MOVES- Hilton appointed Amir Lababedi (LinkedIn) as its new managing director of development for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), according to a company press release (pdf). Lababedi was most recently the vice president of development at Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts and led its expansion strategy in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

CORRECTION- Mustafa Mousa has been made a partner at Bahaa-Eldin Law Office in cooperation with BonelliErede, and not at Ziad Bahaa Eldin’s Thebes Consultancy as we reported yesterday. We apologize for the error. The story has since been corrected on our website.

Up Next

Keep an eye out for:

  • A draft of the SME act should be made public next week. The bill sets out incentives — mainly in the form of services and access to subsidized finance — for owners of small businesses to go legit and pay taxes.
  • The government will announce by mid-November the date of its first auction of ‘unused’ state land, Public Enterprise Minister Hisham Tawfik has said. As many as 10 mn sqm of state-owned land in 10 governorates will be up for sale to developers.

The Macro Picture

** #8 HSBC is expecting to double its commercial banking profit in the MENA region by 2023 thanks to China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Gulf’s plans to diversify its sources of income, Tom Arnold writes for Reuters. “You have probably two of the biggest infrastructure programs ever undertaken: The Middle East transformation programs and the Belt and Road Initiative. We are in many of the countries where this is being undertaken, so we are at the heart of it,” said Daniel Howlett, HSBC MENA head of commercial banking.

Egypt — alongside the UAE and Kuwait — is one of the “stand out markets for growth” in the region when it comes to new business in education, professional services, infrastructure, and healthcare, among others, Howlett said.

Is Saudi part of this positive outlook, too? Yes. Howlett said the Khashoggi murder has not affected the commercial bank’s plans for doing business with the kingdom. “We have a long-term, strategic commitment to the region. Saudi Arabia is a G20 member and an important part of that and we have a duty to serve our clients wherever they may operate,” Reuters quoted Howlett as saying.

Egypt in the News

It is another slow day for Omm El Donia in the international press.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Germany and Egypt are planning to step up military and security cooperation, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said, according to Asharq Al Awsat. El Sisi’s made his remarks at a press conference after his bilateral discussions with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, on his third day of a four-day visit.

Did the president mean security cooperation or curbing illegal migration? During his talks with Merkel, El Sisi stressed Egypt’s success in banning vessels laden with undocumented migrants making their way to Europe and in opening up the country to more refugees. While little details are known about the outcome of their discussions, the visit appears to have paved the way for Egypt to take on a more active role in Europe’s efforts to stem the flow of illegal migrants to its lands — a move the EU has recently been pushing for. Formal talks towards an official pact that would see our navy patrol the Mediterranean have recently started, with the EU promising grants, a flow of investments, and other financial incentives in exchange.

Immigration also came up during the president’s bilateral talks with top German officials, including Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. El Sisi also discussed cooperation on transport and railway projects with German Transport and Digital Infrastructure Minister Andreas Scheuer.

The visit was still of interest o the talking heads last night, with Khaled Abu Bakr recounting El Sisi’s various diplomatic trips over the last four years (watch here, runtime: 5:30 and here, runtime: 00:48)

Madbouly holds talks with Salva Kiir during peace agreement ceremony: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly held bilateral talks yesterday with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir during a ceremony celebrating the signing of the South Sudan peace agreement, according to a cabinet statement. The peace agreement, signed on 12 September between Kiir and his country’s rebel forces has put an end to a five-year civil war.

Energy

EETC signs two agreements with private power cable suppliers

The Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) signed purchase and installation contracts with two private suppliers for EGP 390 mn-worth of industrial power cables, EETC Chairman Gamal Abdel Raheem said. The first agreement was signed with Energya Power and Telecom Solutions and Energya Cables-Elsewedy, and the second separately with the latter company. The agreements will see the companies supply EETC with high voltage power cables and link up power transmission stations in Cairo.

Infrastructure

Holding Co for Maritime, DP World sign shareholders structure agreement in 6 October dry port JV

The Holding Company for Maritime and Land Transport and UAE-based port operator DP World signed an MoU outlining the shareholder structure for the JV under which they will bid on the USD 100 mn 6 October dry port, according to Al Mal. Under the MoU, DP World will own 80.1% of the company, and the Holding Co will hold a 19.9% stake. The companies signed an agreement with the Suez Canal Authority back in May to form a consortium to compete in the tender for the project, which is expected to launch in 4Q2018, with the winners set to be announced before the end of the year. The port will take two years to complete.

Health + Education

University of Liverpool decides against Egypt campus

The University of Liverpool has reportedly reversed plans to open a campus in Egypt after the announcement was met with opposition from students and academics, who accused the university of “turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in Egypt,” according to the Guardian. More than 200 academics had signed a letter to the Guardian in August condemning the move. Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar had signed an MoU with the university in July.

Real Estate + Housing

Misr Italia looks to develop two hotels at Mousa Coast

Misr Italia for Real Estate Investment is planning to develop two hotels in Ras Sudr’s Mousa Coast in the upcoming period, Chairman Hanny El Assal said. The project — which will be developed over three phases — is expected to add 1,000 hotel rooms to the area. The first phase is expected to cost around EUR 30 mn, according to El Assal, part of which will be financed through bank loans. Misr Italia is looking to establish a medical tourism resort in the area. No further details on either project were provided.

Tourism

Taba receives first flight from Poland since 2015 Metrojet crash

Taba International Airport received yesterday its first flight from Poland after a near four-year hiatus that followed the 2015 Metrojet crash, Civil Aviation Ministry sources said, according to Al Shorouk. We had noted in September that Orascom Development Holding’s (ODH) Taba Heights signed an agreement with Polish tour operator Itaka that will see them operate two weekly flights to Taba from Poland and Lithuania starting this month.

Automotive + Transportation

Car sales jump 52% y-o-y in September as turnaround trends continue

Passenger car sales rose for the eighth consecutive month in September, jumping 52% y-o-y to 14,608 vehicles, according to figures from the Automotive Information Council (AMIC). Car sales registered a 35.9% increase in 9M2018, reaching 130.8k units compared to 96.2k in the same period last year, Al Mal said, citing the AMIC report. GB Auto’s total car sales increased 37% y-o-y to 4,926 units in September while Hyundai sales volumes increased 73% y-o-y to 3,890 units. The automotive industry has been rebounding since January 2018 following a slump that was exacerbated by the EGP devaluation in 2016.

Other Business News of Note

Egypt, five Arab states to kick off joint Arab Shield 1 military drills

Egypt and five other Arab states are set to begin on Saturday the first “Arab Shield” joint military drills, according to an Armed Forces Statement. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain will take part in the drills, which are scheduled through to 16 November.

My morning routine

Sam Werberg, press attaché, US embassy in Egypt

** #9 My Morning Routine is a new section we’re going to run once a week, most likely on Thursdays here in place of On Your Way Out. The idea was born when we received a note from our friend Sam Werberg, press attaché at the US embassy in Egypt. Sam was one of the hundreds and hundreds of you who checked out our link to the New York Times’ I’ve Interviewed 300 High Achievers About Their Morning Routines. Here’s What I’ve Learned. Herewith, a quick talk with Sam:

Who are you?

I’m Sam Werberg, press attaché and spokesperson at the Embassy of the United States of America here in Cairo. I’ve been in Egypt for a little over two years, and I’ve been with the U.S. Department of State for over 14 years. I was a librarian prior to becoming a diplomat, so how we organize things, including our own daily routines, is something I’ve given a lot of thought to and tried to work on. Prior to serving here in Cairo, I worked in Washington, Morocco, Baghdad, Thailand and Kuwait. My family is here with me in Cairo, so my morning routine has to take into account trying to help as much as I can in getting the kids out the door to school in the morning.

You said earlier you were going to read the NYT piece and see if you were “doing it right.” Are you?

I think so. I’m a guy of routine. Pretty much the same routine every day, even the same breakfast every day. That’s why I have a love / hate relationship with vacations and travel — it’s too easy to get out of the routine when you travel.

So, Sam Werberg, what’s your morning routine?

I wake at 5am. About 45 minutes of yoga, stretching and light exercises. Usually listening to a BBC Arabic or Radio Sawa podcast to keep my Arabic up. Then breakfast. I eat 2-3 boiled eggs and a grapefruit. One double espresso. We’ve got an Apple HomePod, which I love, and so while eating breakfast, I’ll usually ask Siri to play me English language news podcasts from the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNBC, NPR, CNN, and Fox. And while all this is happening of course, I’m helping the kids get their breakfast going and making sure they’re set for school, though I give all the credit to my wife to make sure the kids are not running around feral every day. Then I catch a ride to work, where on the way I read Enterprise and my other morning news products that have come in overnight. As the press guy at the Embassy, I want to make sure that I’m not missing anything, so I really try to cram in all the reading of local news by the time I get to the office. That usually also includes a quick skim of Twitter, using a list I made for following news from and about Egypt. If I stick to that routine, it’s a good day. I also try not to deviate too much from that routine on weekends, though I’m definitely sleeping a little later.

Is that morning espresso the only caffeine you consume throughout the day?

I wish. I’ve had a lifetime relationship with coffee, and while I could maybe drink less, I’m pretty comfortable with my current consumption, which is probably around 3-4 espressos a day. I made a change a few years ago from drinking two big strong mugs of drip coffee first thing in the morning to drinking two large glasses of water first thing in the morning and then having that first espresso a little later. That one change has made a world of difference in my morning energy levels.

Anything new on the horizon in terms of U.S-Egypt investment or trade news?

We just had a great US business mission come to Egypt. I had the pleasure of sitting in on a number of sessions, and I could see that the over 100 representatives of U.S. companies who participated in this event had many great opportunities to hear directly from Egyptian officials and others about the trade and investment opportunities here. So we’re certainly hoping to see some tangible results from those discussions in the months ahead. We’re also looking forward to the participation of U.S. companies in the upcoming Egypt Defense Expo in early December. And of course, our press office at the embassy is always working on getting the good news out about what we see as strong and growing cooperation in the trade, commercial, energy, financial, agricultural and technology fields, at the government level and in the private sector

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.86 | Sell 17.95
EGP / USD at CIB:
Buy 17.86 | Sell 17.96

EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.78 | Sell 17.88

EGX30 (Wednesday): 13,250 (+0.7%)
Turnover: EGP 1.3 bn (84% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -11.8%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 index ended Wednesday’s session up 0.7%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended up 1.4%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Qalaa Holding up 4.8%, and El-Sewedy Electric up 3.8%, and Egyptian Resorts up 2.6%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Ezz steel down 2.5%, Telecom Egypt down 2.2% and Heliopolis Housing down 2.0%. The market turnover was EGP1.3 bn, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +42.8 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -38.7 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -4.1 mn

Retail: 50.7% of total trades | 51.3% of buyers | 50.1% of sellers
Institutions: 49.3% of total trades | 48.7% of buyers | 49.9% of sellers

Foreign: 32.5% of total | 34.2% of buyers | 30.8% of sellers
Regional: 10.8% of total | 9.2% of buyers | 12.3% of sellers
Domestic: 56.7% of total | 56.6% of buyers | 56.9% of sellers

WTI: USD 64.99 (-0.49%)
Brent: USD 75.47 (-0.58%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.28 MMBtu, (+0.58%, December 2018 contract)
Gold: USD 1,216.90/ troy ounce (+0.16%)

TASI: 7,907.01 (+0.95%) (YTD: +9.42%)
ADX: 4,901.87 (+0.95%) (YTD: +11.45%)
DFM: 2,784.60 (+1.50%) (YTD: -17.37%)
KSE Premier Market: 5,234.18 (+0.18%)
QE: 10,300.92 (+1.35%) (YTD: +20.85%)
MSM: 4,422.91(+0.05%) (YTD: -13.26%)
BB: 1,314.73 (+0.14%) (YTD: -1.28%)

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November: A delegation of French pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies is set to visit Egypt sometime in November to explore potential investments, according to a Trade Ministry statement.

01-02 November (Thursday-Friday): Annual Middle East Conference on Business Angel Investment, El Gouna, Egypt.

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.15 November (Thursday) The T20 Invest in Healthcare Conference 2018, Nile Ritz Carlton Hotel, Cairo, Egypt.

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.

End of November: A delegation from the Egypt-Greece Business Council will visit Athens at the end of November to promote investment, the council’s chairman, Hani Berzi, said.

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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