Thursday, 13 December 2018

Egypt wants World Bank, IMF to include parallel economy in GDP calculation


What We’re Tracking Today

It’s a pleasantly quiet morning to end a very hectic week. We hope all of you are looking forward to the weekend as much as we are.

The highlight of the day is likely to be Tourism Minister Rania Al Mashat’s unveiling of her turnaround plan for the industry. Tourism numbers have roared back over the past 12 months, but the sector suffers from chronic underinvestment in infrastructure, people and marketing since the bottom fell out of the market in 2011. Mashat, who previously told Bloomberg TV that the government could establish a private equity fund to invest in the nation’s hotels and resorts, is expected to unveil her strategy at an event hosted by our friends at AmCham today headlined “Egypt’s Tourism Reform Program (E-TRP) Revealed.” We’ll have full coverage on Sunday.

FEEL-GOOD STORY OF THE MORNING: 22-year-old Rahma Khaled has become the nation’s first TV presenter with Down syndrome. She will anchor a segment of DMC’s morning show every Tuesday. You can watch her first appearance here, and we have more in our roundup of talk shows, below. We’re still kinda misty-eyed as we slide into dispatch time.

The EFG Hermes Egypt Day Summit will wrap up today. The event brought together 27 investors from 22 firms and institutions with aggregate assets under management of USD 5.5 tn to meet face-to-face with senior government officials and C-suite execs from top publicly traded companies. Investors met yesterday with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, according to a readout from Ittihadiya (pdf). Also attending were Investment Minister Sahar Nasr, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait, Central Bank Government Tarek Amer and EGX Chairman Mohamed Farid.

The Administrative Court is to rule this Saturday on Beltone’s appeal of a six-month suspension handed to its investment banking division over alleged irregularities in its management of the IPO of structured- and consumer-finance player Sarwa Capital. The Financial Regulatory Authority, meanwhile is set to hear a separate appeal by Beltone on Monday.

The news comes as Beltone parent company Orascom Investment Holding has five days to close its acquisition of a 30% stake in Sarwa. We have more on the OIH transaction in this morning’s Speed Round.

Saudi shoring up Red Sea alliance against Iran, Turkey and Qatar: “Saudi Arabia is seeking an alliance with six countries bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, a strategic area vital to global shipping and increasingly an arena of contention with regional rivals,” Reuters says in a report on a meeting yesterday in Riyadh between KSA officials and representatives of Egypt, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Jordan. Follow-up talks are expected in Cairo “soon,” the newswire adds. The talks come as the FT argues that advisors closest to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could be at risk as King Salman “reasserts himself in a bid to contain the crisis triggered by the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.” (FT)

Three stories worth looking at as you mull what the macro and global backdrops could look like in 2019. (Because you already read that the IMF and its outgoing chief economist are concerned about what’s coming down the pike for next year, right?)

FIRST: Expect a year of turbulence in the GCC, Bloomberg argues in a piece that tackles the oil rout, Saudi geopolitics, Turkish policy, the prospect of leadership change, political instability and the ongoing embargo on Qatar.

SECOND: The yield curve in the US will invert in 2019 — and recession will follow, a Reuters poll of economists found. The inversion could come within six months and a recession “could follow as soon as a year after that,” the newswire argues. The catch: As we’ve previously noted, inversion has a near-perfect track record in predicting a recession will happen, but says nothing about when it will take place. This is economists reading their version of the sheep’s entrails so beloved of technical analysts.

THIRD: US value stocks could stage a comeback after “radically” underperforming growth stocks since the global financial crisis. “Value investing consists of picking unloved stocks that are trading below their theoretical value in the hopes of significant profit when the firm falls into favour,” the Financial Times explains as it picks up on a Morgan Stanley research note that has caught the imagination of market watchers abroad.

The latest critique of capitalism in the business press is from none other than Martin Wolf, who bluntly declares in the salmon-colored paper that “we must rethink the purpose of the corporation.” We’re not 100% down with his conclusion on competition, but the piece is worth a read — if only for its review of recent literature and for this paragraph: “Given the mantra of shareholder value maximisation and the inability of shareholders to monitor management, rewards have increasingly been linked not to the performance of the business in delivering on its purposes, but to accounting profits and the share price. Yet both are subject to manipulation. Some would argue that the result has been excessive remuneration … and chronic under-investment, too.”

International news worth knowing this morning:

Theresa May is still prime minister after 200 Tory MPs backed her in a vote of confidence last night. May will travel to Brussels today to “try to save her Brexit [agreement] with her authority shaken and her party bitterly divided.” The secret ballot came after backbenchers rebelled over May abandoning a planned House of Commons vote on Brexit.

The latest in the US-China-Canada flap: Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou has posted bail of CAD 10 mn in Vancouver as she fights extradition to the US, where she faces charges of sanctions busting, according to Reuters. Amid a messy bid to cool off his trade war with China, The Donald has said he could intervene in the case if it is in the US’ national interest (triggering a rebuke from Ottawa). Meanwhile, China has arrested a well-connected former Canadian diplomat and Ottawa is openly asking what happened to a second citizen who has been unreachable since he said he was being questioned by Chinese authorities.

The Donald’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday “after denouncing Mr. Trump and explaining that ‘I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds,’” the New York Times reports.

In miscellany this morning:

  • Go under the knife for prostate cancer? “A three-decade study found that prostate-removal surgery added an average of nearly three years to lives of men with prostate cancer, compared with those who didn’t get surgery and were monitored.” (WSJ)
  • Down with homework, say US schools: “School districts across the country are banning homework, forbidding it on certain days or just not grading it, in response to parents who complain of overload and some experts who say too much can be detrimental.” (WSJ)

PSA- Expect a nightmarish commute this afternoon and heavy traffic on select arteries around the capital city this weekend thanks to a partial closure of the 6 October Bridge for repair work. The closure starts by midday today until 5am on Sunday, Youm7 reports.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Egypt’s first presenter with Down syndrome is front and center on TV screens around the country: 22-year-old Rahma Khaled made her TV debut (watch, runtime 3:41) on Tuesday, becoming the nation’s first TV presenter with Down syndrome, according to Ahram Online. Khaled, who is also a professional athlete, will be co-hosting DMC’s 8:00am morning show each Tuesday. “This can open the door to people with special abilities, to prove we can work,” Khaled told the newspaper. In Egypt, there are an estimated 100,000 people with Down syndrome.

Khaled is not the first presenter with a disability to hit the smalls screen: visually impaired Radwa Hassan also made her first appearance on DMC’s El-Safira Aziza earlier this year (watch, runtime: 3:21).

Also in the spotlight last night: The contract Arab Contractors and Elsewedy Electric signed yesterday to build a 2.1 GW dam in Tanzania. We have the full story in Speed Round, below.

The JV was awarded the contract despite other countries putting Tanzania under political pressure to reject the Egyptian offer, Elsewedy Electric CEO Ahmed El Sewedy told Masaa DMC’s Osama Kamal. Other companies in the running hailed from Turkey and India, Arab Contractors CEO Mohsen Salah said (watch, runtime: 11:19). Al Hayah Al Youm linked the project with Egypt’s increased investments in Africa through a chat with journalist Kamal Rayan (watch, runtime: 04:02).

Egypt is again considering hosting the 2019 African Cup of Nations after Morocco announced it would not bid to host the championship, Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhy told Yahduth fi Masr’s Sherif Amer. Egyptian Football Association Magdy Abdel Ghany, however, said it’s a bit late in the game for Egypt to throw its hat in the ring, since the hosting gig would need more preparation than we have time for (watch, runtime: 05:07).

The lack of sanitation systems in Fayoum should be resolved within 4-6 years at a cost of EGP 35 mn, Fayoum Governor Essam Saad told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Khaled Abu Bakr (watch, runtime: 02:28).

Meanwhile, on Planet Parliament: Rep. Khaled Hanafy wants to make smoking shisha an actual punishable offense by introducing legislation that subjects shisha smokers to a fine that increases with every offense, according to Al Shorouk. We’re not even going to get into a rant about prioritizing legislation about other, more pressing, social issues…

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

M&A WATCH- OIH set to acquire 30% of Sarwa: Naguib Sawiris’ Orascom Investment Holding (OIH) is set to acquire 30% of Sarwa Capital in a EGP 1.59 bn transaction that values the structured- and consumer-finance player at EGP 7.36 per share, according to reports in Al Mal and Al Borsa. (While each of these outlets cite an EGX statement, we haven’t been able to find a copy of said statement ourselves on the EGX website or through its mailing list.) Sarwa shares closed at EGP 7.24 yesterday. OIH attracted sell offers for as much as 36.5% of Sarwa (or about 98% of all floating shares) after a 10-day voluntary tender offer. Execution of the transaction will leave Sarwa with a freefloat of 7%; OIH has five business days in which to close the acquisition.

Background: OIH launched the tender on 27 November after winning approval from the Financial Regulatory Authority to seek a non-controlling stake in Sarwa. The conglomerate said it could either acquire 30% (c. 216 mn shares), at a price of EGP 7.36 per share or between 20-30% (144-216 mn shares), at a lower price of EGP 6.62 a share. OIH CEO Tamer El Mahdi said at the time he was looking for at least 25%.

A complicated nexus: One day after OIH requested the FRA’s approval to pursue the stake, the authority ordered a six-month suspension of the investment banking arm of Beltone Financial, which is owned by OIH and which was the sole global coordinator and bookrunner on Sarwa’s IPO.

Egypt wants World Bank and IMF to include the parallel economy in GDP: Egypt’s central bank wants the World Bank and IMF to include the informal economy in the calculation of the country’s GDP and other economic indicators, Reuters reports. “We are seeking support to quantify the informal sector and recognize it in the overall size of our GDP,” Central Bank Deputy Governor Gamal Negm said during a fintech conference in Abu Dhabi. The informal sector makes up 40-50% of the country’s GDP, Negm said.

EXCLUSIVE- Tax officials spreading oil on troubled waters after flap over tax treatment of bank holdings of gov’t debt: Tax officials are actively working to smooth feathers ruffled by a proposed change to how bank income from investments in government debt is taxed. Multiple sources in the tax apparatus, including Abdel Azim Hussein (who spoke with us this week in his capacity as head of the Tax Authority’s stamp tax arm, but who is now the incoming head of the authority as a whole), told us that officials are looking at ways to ease the implementation of the new treatment as well as ways to expedite resolution of tax disputes. The Finance Ministry has also been holding meetings with banks to resolve as many as 1,400 tax disputes, other sources told Enterprise. This comes as banks have been disclosing the impact of the new tax treatment on their financial results.

Where do we stand currently with the new tax treatment legislation? The proposed text of the amendment has made its way to the central bank for review. After the CBE signs off, it will head to the House of Representatives for debate, a ministry source told us.

Background: The Madbouly Cabinet approved last month amendments to the Income Tax Act which will require banks to split their books, separately accounting for income earned from holdings of government debt. Analysts initially said that the new accounting mechanism will result in a c. 37% effective tax rate for a model bank, compared to a current 24%. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait had said the move brings the sector’s tax treatment in line with international standards and “ensures tax equality with regards to financial institutions investment in government securities.” The system will take effect after the amendments pass the House, but will only apply to income from investments in gov’t paper from that day forward.

In related news, taxes on holdings of treasury bills and bonds rose to EGP 11.9 bn in the first quarter of FY2018-2019 (July to September) from EGP 9.2 bn in the same quarter last year, a 29% rise, according to a Finance Ministry report (pdf).

MOVES- Finance Minister Mohamed Maait tapped Abdel Azim Hussein as the new Tax Authority head, succeeding Emad Samy, Al Masry Al Youm reports. Samy’s one-year term leading the authority came to an end earlier this week and he will reach retirement age in February. Abdel Azim’s primary focus during his tenure will be to digitize all tax payments and the authority’s services. He told us yesterday that he aims to make it easier for taxpayers to file while simultaneously increasing the state’s tax revenues.

Elsewedy, Arab Contractors ink USD 2.9 bn dam construction agreement with Tanzania: A joint venture between Elsewedy Electric and Arab Contractors has signed a USD 2.9 bn agreement to build a 2.1 GW dam and a hydropower plant over Tanzania’s Rufiji River, Elsewedy said in a statement (pdf). The final contracts, signed with Tanzania’s government, will see the JV take charge of the entire design, procurement and construction process. The project is financed by the host government and slated for completion sometime around June 2021, with power generation beginning in April 2022. “[The JV is] supporting Tanzania’s economic development by exploiting the country water resources to build an affordable, reliable and sustainable energy mix for Tanzania’s future,” CEO Ahmed Elsewedy said. Elsewedy will hold a 45% stake in the project while Arab Contractors 55%.

The project had previously prompted concerns from conservation groups, according to Reuters, which noted that the dam could potentially endanger the proximate Selous Game Reserve. The massive nature reserve — home to elephants, black rhinos and giraffes — is one of the largest in Africa and a UNESCO world heritage site.

Egypt, Tanzania seek other cooperation avenues: The agreement was inked during a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who also discussed how to expand bilateral ties.

Hassan Allam, Arab Contractors to undertake Maspero development project: Hassan Allam, Arab Contractors and an unnamed company are among the six companies selected to re-develop the Maspero Triangle, Housing Ministry sources said yesterday. The New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) has also started building residential blocks for the 950 families who chose to stay after the project is complete and will pay EGP 2 bn in compensation for the owners of the land it had reclaimed. The government had approved the EGP 4 bn project to clear the informal settlements and develop the area back in 2017 before reaching an agreement with the affected residents a while later.

** If you’re reading this and a friend or colleague isn’t, tell them to head to to catch this morning’s edition. They should also check the folder to which bad email is directed and (on Gmail) the non-inbox tabs to which unsolicited email goes. We’re working to resolve some deliverability issues we’ve had in the past two weeks and are trying a new dispatch system. Bear with us while we get up to speed.

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INVESTMENT WATCH- UAE’s Al Ghurair and Murban sign shareholder agreement with Al Ahly Capital for USD 1 bn Minya sugar factory: UAE’s Al Ghurair and Murban have signed a shareholder agreement with Al Ahly Capital Holding for the USD 1 bn Al Canal sugar beet processing factory in Minya, according to a statement (pdf). Under the agreement, Al Ahly Capital will hold a 30% stake in the project, while Al Ghurair and Murban will hold the remaining 70%. The statement does not break down the individual Emirati companies’ stakes. The project will see the company develop 181k feddans of reclaimed desert land west of Minya to grow 1 mn tonnes of beets per year, as well as develop a USD 400 mn sugar production facility. The project will be complete in 2020. Al Ahly Capital, which is also acting as the financial advisor for the project, is arranging a USD 700 mn loan from international lenders.

Zaki Hashem & Partners acted as legal advisor to Al Canal Sugar and its shareholders on the transaction.

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Up Next

The Autotech auto exhibition starts this Friday, 14 December, at the Cairo International Exhibition and Convention Center.

The Planning Ministry will present its 2017-2018 end-of-year report (pdf) next Tuesday, 18 December, at the Sonesta Cairo Hotel.

The Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce is scheduled to meet with its Saudi counterpart in Aswan next Tuesday and Wednesday, 18-19 December to launch a joint project to support SME development in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Head Ahmed El Wakeel said.

Egypt in the News

The nation’s human rights record is again leading the conversation on Egypt in the international press. Activist and blogger Wael Abbas was released from prison on Tuesday following his detention last May, the Associated Press reported. Abbas was charged with spreading false news and being connected to an illegal group. The AP story is getting wide pickup (cf: Washington Post and ABC News).

Still making the rounds in the foreign press is the Egyptian lawyer who wore a yellow vest in protest, with both Haaretz and Reuters covering the story. An Alexandrian Court, has ordered the activist be detained for 15 days after a picture circulated of him wearing the yellow vest in imitation French protests. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch demanded the United Nations respond to reports that officials attacked individuals who had spoken to a UN special rapporteur on adequate housing during her visit back in September. The call follows a joint statement earlier this month on the state of housing in Egypt issued by activist groups.

Other headlines worth noting this morning:

On The Front Pages

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s reaffirmation of his commitment to reforms and “building the state” is topping headlines this morning in Al Ahram, Al Akhbar, and Al Gomhuria. Al Ahram also continues to shine a bright light on Egypt’s diplomacy with Africa, featuring El Sisi’s sit-down yesterday with Côte d’Ivoire’s Vice President, Daniel Kablan Duncan, and the signing of Elsewedy Electric and Arab Contractors’ agreement to construct a dam in Tanzania.

Worth Watching

Ever wonder what would go down if 800 of the world’s top footballers and their managers had their own reality show on E? According to “The Champions” — a hilarious animated parody of the Keeping up with the Kardashians, Real Housewives and the Real World, by Bleacher report — “players stop being polite and start getting Re-al.” The drama on the show includes the flamboyant Cristiano Ronaldo coming off as a timid footballer looking to fit into the over-the-top Italian Serie A style, while tension between Lionel Messi and Neymar reach a fever pitch (no pun intended). Mo Salah’s defiant opening credits intro: “They said I couldn’t carry Egypt in the World Cup … They were right.” If you are like some of us here who are football fans but have been plagued by significant others with an obsession for reality TV (and vice versa), these shorts offer plenty of hilarity for both parties and a middle ground (pun partially intended). You can watch the first episode here (watch, runtime 3:53).

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and CBE Governor Tarek Amer met with representatives of international and regional investment funds to discuss economic developments and potential investments, according to an Ittihadiya statement. Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr and Finance Minister Mohamed Maait also sat in on the meetings. The statement did not name the funds.

Major Chinese companies meet with ministers over potential investments: CIT Minister Amr Talaat discussed yesterday potential cooperation projects with China’s ZTE, at a meeting with the company’s MENA CEO Darine Choo, according to a ministry statement. The two discussed infrastructure development in cooperation with Telecom Egypt. Meanwhile, Transportation Minister Hisham Arafat met with representatives from China’s CCECC to discuss possible cooperation avenues in the railway sector, according to a ministry statement.


EBRD looking into financing electric vehicle charging stations in Egypt

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is in talks with the Electricity Ministry over potentially financing electric vehicle charging stations in Egypt, Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Janet Heckman said. The EBRD had issued in September a tender for consultants to advise on Egypt’s electric vehicle strategy, and is planning to invest some EUR 1.2 bn in Egypt next year, Heckman had told us last week.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt buys 130k tonnes of rice in largest import to date

Egypt will receive a shipment of 130,000 tonnes of rice in January 2019 — the largest rice import to date, Federation of Egyptian Industries’ Rice Division Head Ragab Shehata tells Al Shorouk. Egypt will source 50,000 tonnes from a Chinese supplier and the remaining from other countries, according to Shehata, who predicted a drop in rice prices next year as a result. Last month, in Egypt’s first international rice tender, the lowest offers came from Chinese suppliers.

Egypt’s GASC purchases 180k tonnes after receiving wheat offers

State grain buyer GASC purchased yesterday 180,000 tonnes of wheat in an international tender on Wednesday for delivery between 1 and 10 February, according to AMAY. GASC purchased 60,000 tonnes of Romanian wheat and 120,000 tonnes of Russian wheat, with the lowest price offered by ADM for USD 241.26 per tonne of Romanian wheat, according to Reuters.

Real Estate + Housing

ODE inks final agreement with NUCA to co-develop 4.2 mn sqm in Six October City, expected to generate EGP 77 bn

Orascom Development (ODE) has signed a contract with the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) to co-develop a 4.2 mn sqm project in 6 October City, ODE said in a press release (pdf). The project is based on a revenue sharing model, through which NUCA is to retain 26% of the total residential sales during the first eight years. The initial plan was to build a Gouna-style town in 6 October City, as we had reported back in June.

Automotive + Transportation

Egypt to resumes cargo carrying commercial flights to US starting January 2019

It would appear that EgyptAir will begin shipping cargo on its commercial flights to the US, after a suspension dating back to 2015, according to a report by MENA news agency. The move follows a meeting between US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Civil Aviation Minister Younes Al Masry, where Nielsen declared that Egypt’s airports are now safe to ship cargo to the US. EgyptAir, KLM, and Air France had banned the transport of goods on their airlines heading to London and the US in November 2015, following the downing of the Metrojet flight in Sharm El Sheikh one month earlier. Canada lifted the ban on EgyptAir direct cargo flights back in April.

Egypt Politics + Economics

EU court rejects Mubarak appeal to lift sanctions on Europe assets

The European Court of Justice rejected yesterday an appeal by former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to lift a freeze on his assets in Europe, Al Mal reports. The EU court renewed in 2017 and 2018 sanctions that were imposed on Mubarak and his family for alleged embezzlement of state funds following the 2011 uprising.

National Security

Egypt says 27 terrorists killed in Sinai, border with Libya

Security forces killed at least 27 suspected terrorists in the northern Sinai Peninsula and along Egypt’s border with Libya, according to an Armed Forces statement.


Amro Tarek transfers to New York Red Bulls

To all our MLS fans, Egyptian defender Amro Tarek has just been bought by the New York Red Bulls from Orlando City, the Red Bulls announced yesterday.

My Morning Routine

My Morning Routine looks each week at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions because we simply can’t help ourselves. This week’s interview is with Marc Lambert, managing director of Yellow Media (formerly Egypt Yellow Pages).

He is also the author of Marc’s Rules, which are something of a legend around these parts. Our parent company compiled the rules based on an email exchange he had with one of us years ago and made it mandatory reading for staff. You can read the one-pager here (pdf). A graphic version appears at the end of this piece.

Edited excerpts from our conversation:

Who are you? Marc Lambert, born and raised in Montreal, Canada. I came to Egypt 20 years ago on a two-year contract, loved the country, the people, and the culture and decided to make Egypt my home. My wife Gielan is Egyptian and we have two lovely daughters, Leena and Lara, aged 15 and 11, respectively.

What do you do? Yellow Pages of Canada offered me a two-year post in Egypt in 1998 to join Egypt Yellow Pages Ltd (which became Yellow Media in 2010). I joined the team in sales management, was promoted to managing director in 2001 under new private ownership, and I’ve been running the company ever since. My work routine at a macro level revolves around looking for new partnerships while nurturing established ones and — at a more routine level — I oversee the primary functions of our organization: Sales and sales support; finance; internet and development teams; and our call center.

What’s your morning routine? I’m up at 4:45am daily. I live on the west side of town and am at the gym in Maadi by 5:30am for strength training. Then I’m off to Greco for coffee, at my desk by 7:00am to clean up loose ends from the day before, followed by a top to bottom read of Enterprise, and ready for meetings by 8:00am. On weekends, I get up just as early and join friends to ride our off-road motorcycles in the desert for 3 to 4 hours. This routine is now over 15 years old.

What’s the best thing you’ve watched or read lately? I’m now on Yuval Noah Harari’s audiobook 21 Lessons for the 21st Century which is similar in content to his earlier books Sapiens and Homo Deus which were among my favorite book purchases of 2018. Also my wife and I are movie buffs, but there are too many great Netflix productions to mention.

What’s the origin story of Yellow Pages? The name “Yellow Pages” came about in 1883, when a printer in the United States working on a regular telephone directory ran out of white paper and used yellow paper instead. What was then a nickname is to this day its official brand name.

What are your revenue streams? We have three: Advertising, digital presence creation for SMEs, and data-leasing agreements. Under advertising, we do display and keyword ad sales on our platforms including YP.EG and its apps (60% of our revenue base), and we also sell advertising on Google, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram (20% of our revenue base). Then, we help SMEs get online cost-effectively with services including website design, video and display ad creation and media-kit building (10% of our revenue base). Our bilingual business listings database of over 450,000 companies across Egypt doesn’t just serve our YP.EG user base — our partners at Google pay for the use of our data, as do Orange’s 8000 service, Vodafone 2121 and other big players (10% of our revenue base).

What do people not understand about your business? Some still think that we are a print-only product, even though our print Yellow Pages represents less than 5% of our annual revenues.

How is your industry changing? We’re being squeezed by Google and Facebook, who have the deepest pockets and strong stakes in local and hyperlocal search and content (our core business) — they are to digital advertising businesses what Amazon is to brick and mortar retail sales. What keeps us going is our approach: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. We have a deep partnership with Google, for example, that saw us become the company’s first official GMB partner (Google My Business + Google Maps), which we’re rolling out to ensure better advertiser retention.

What do you do in your time off? My family and I travel every chance we get, always aiming for something we have not experienced yet. The four of us also enjoy skiing together. I spend weekend mornings with my friends in the desert on our off-road motorcycles — it’s a culturally diverse group of adrenaline junkies. And I look for new things to eat / cook to support my plant-based and no-flesh nutrition (I don’t use the word vegan because I occasionally cheat when I travel).

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given and by whom? The first thing that comes to mind: “Always live below your means and you’ll never have a financial worry.” It was life advice then, but applies to business as well — I spent my summers on my maternal grandmother’s farm. Being hardworking and financially savvy she repeated this advice to me many times. The advice didn’t mean much to me as a teenager, but it stayed with me. In almost 20 years, Egypt Yellow Pages, which is independently owned, has never borrowed a penny, does not use overdraft protection or credit and has never been recapitalized since it was purchased from Canada Yellow Pages in 2001. This is not to say that financing to generate growth is bad, of course, but there is something to be said about cash being king, particularly following events such as a revolution, FX scarcity and a massive currency devaluation.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.86 | Sell 17.95
Buy 17.86 | Sell 17.96
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.78 | Sell 17.88

EGX30 (Wednesday): 12,857 (+1.5%)
Turnover: EGP 1.1 bn (37% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -14.4%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 ended Wednesday’s session up 1.5%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended up 2.3%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Global Telecom up 6.9%, and Elsewedy Electric up 6.5%, and EFG Hermes up 4.1%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Eastern Co down 4.9%, Abu Qir Fertilizers down 0.9% and Ezz Steel down 0.4%. The market turnover was EGP 1.1 bn, and local investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +96.0 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +2.6 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -98.6 mn

Retail: 56.4% of total trades | 54.0% of buyers | 58.8% of sellers
Institutions: 43.6% of total trades | 46.0% of buyers | 41.2% of sellers

WTI: USD 51.36 (+0.41%)
Brent: USD 60.15 (-0.08%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 4.11 MMBtu, (-0.63%, January 2019 contract)
Gold: USD 1,251.20 / troy ounce (+0.10%)

TASI: 7,890.09 (+0.65%) (YTD: +9.19%)
ADX: 4,837.57 (+0.45%) (YTD: +9.98%)
DFM: 2,573.45 (+1.50%) (YTD: -23.64%)
KSE Premier Market: 5,388.07 (-0.35%)
QE: 10,443.56 (-0.46%) (YTD: +22.41%)
MSM: 4,482.46 (-0.34%) (YTD: -12.10%)
BB: 1,320.22 (+0.18%) (YTD: -0.86%)

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December: The government will announce the second phase of its privatization program before year-end, Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik said. The committee overseeing the state privatization program is also scheduled to hold a meeting next month to look into how market conditions developed since the privatization program was put on ice

13 December (Thursday): Egyptian space scientist Farouk El Baz will give a lecture in the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies (ECES) on Egypt’s future in investment and expansion into the desert, according to Youm7.

11-13 December (Tuesday-Thursday): The EFG Hermes Egypt Day Summit. Four Seasons Hotel, Cairo.

11-17 December (Tuesday-Monday): Egypt-Russia business forum.

13 December (Thursday): Minister of Tourism Rania Al Mashat speaking on “Egypt’s Tourism Reform Program (E-TRP) Revealed,” AmCham, Cairo.

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

13-15 December (Thursday-Saturday): Vodafone Developers 010 Innovation Hackathon, Smart Village.

14-16 December (Friday-Sunday): AutoTech 2018, Cairo International Exhibition and Convention Centre, Nasr City, Cairo.

14-16 December (Friday-Sunday): NEXUS Arab Future Summit 2018, The Nile Ritz Carlton, Cairo.

15 December (Saturday) The Administrative Court is expected to issue a ruling on an appeal by Beltone Financial against the six-month suspension of its investment banking arm.

17 December (Monday): The Financial Regulatory Authority will hear a grievance appeal by Beltone against a six-month suspension handed to its investment banking arm over “irregularities” the authority says it found in Sarwa’s IPO, according to Al Mal.

18 December: The Planning Ministry will be hosting an event at the Sonesta Cairo Hotel.

18-19 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce leaders are scheduled to meet with their Saudi counterparts in Aswan to launch a collaboration project to support SME development in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, head Ahmed El Wakeel said.

19 December (Wednesday): Cairo Economic Court to rule into an appeal by pharma companies

Mid-late December: The bylaws and articles governing Egypt’s upcoming, EGP 200 bn sovereign wealth fund will be completed, Planning Minister Hala El Said said. Cabinet is currently conducting its final review.

Mid-late December: The Electricity Ministry is set to sign an MoU with Cypriot officials to begin constructing the USD 1.5 bn subsea power cable to link Egypt’s electricity grid with Cyprus’, minister Mohamed Shaker said, according to Al Mal.

25 December (Tuesday): Western Christmas.

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

January 2019: Flat6Labs will launch their 12th startup accelerator cycle.

Early January 2010: Government to release details about its international bond issuance.

01 January 2019 (Tuesday): New Year’s Day, national holiday.

01 January 2019 (Tuesday): Custom duties on EU-made car imports will fall to 0%, and we still have no automotive directive or any policy incentivizing local car manufacturing.

07 January 2019 (Monday): Coptic Christmas.

10-13 January 2019 (Thursday): International Property Show (IPS), Egypt International Exhibition Center

19 January 2019 (Saturday) Cairo Criminal Court scheduled hearing of Gamal and Alaa Mubarak’s stock market manipulation case

21-22 January 2019 (Monday-Tuesday): EPEA and IFC’s SME Governance Workshop at the Fairmont Nile City Hotel.

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.

26 January 2019 (Saturday): Supreme Administration Court’s Uber / Careem appeal date, Egypt.

28-29 January 2019 (Wednesday-Thursday): Banking Technology North Africa, Nile Ritz Carlton Hotel, Cairo, Egypt.

7 February 2019 (Thursday): Egypt Building Materials Summit, Venue TBD, Cairo, Egypt

11-13 February 2019 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egyptian International Exhibition Center, Cairo.

19-20 February 2019 (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Solar Show MENA 2019, Nile Ritz Carlton Hotel, Cairo, Egypt.

26-28 February 2019 (Tuesday-Thursday): 22nd International Conference on Petroleum Mineral Resources and Development, Egyptian Petroleum Research Institute, Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt.

27-30 March 2019 (Wednesday-Saturday): Cityscape Egypt 2019, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City Cairo.

April 2019: The African Tripartite Trade Area (TFTA) agreement is set to take effect in April after a majority from the participating governments ratified it, COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe according to Al Shorouk.

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).

June 2019: International Forum for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

05-06 June 2019 (Wednesday-Thursday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

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

December 2019: Egypt will host for the first time the Pack Process trade expo for the Middle East and African region

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