Sunday, 23 December 2018

Is the Madbouly government asking for more time on IMF-backed reforms?


What We’re Tracking Today

Good morning, friends, and welcome to interest rate week. Will the Central Bank of Egypt send us into 2019 with a rate cut? Unlikely, we think, but look for verbiage in its statement hinting at when it might begin trimming rates in the new year. High interest rates are delaying investment for many of our readers, our 2018 reader poll found. The central bank’s monetary policy committee meets on Thursday.

Oddly enough, it’s looking to be a bumpy ride on the international front as we wait out the week, because the Santa rally everyone was hoping for just died.

(Soundtrack for the upcoming bit: Don’t Shoot Me Santa, by The Killers.)

US shares had their worst week since the global financial crisis as the NASDAQ moved into bear territory and the Dow Jones recorded its sharpest week of losses since 2008. “The selling had conviction,” CNBC writes in its rundown on the “carnage,” suggesting that 12 bn shares changed hands on US exchanges this past Friday — “the heaviest volume in at least two years.” The rout now threatens the longest-ever bull market, which kicked off in March 2009, the WSJ suggests.

US markets are open tomorrow and closed only for the Christmas holiday on 25 December, suggesting that thin volumes and “lightly populated” trading desks could lead to big price swings, the Journal adds. The mood remains “fragile,” the FT suggests, as traders await clarity on “the US economy and the Fed’s intentions.”

Does it feel just a little as if the world is going to hell in a handbasket? At least in the US of A? Consider:

The Donald wants to fire the Fed chair: US President Donald Trump has apparently mused out loud that he would very much like to fire US Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell. That has prompted the treasury secretary to run damage control (and advisors to tell Trump the ouster could spark a market rout). Bloomberg broke the news, which has since been confirmed by Reuters.

He is pulling US troops out of Syria… The Donald has unilaterally decided to pull American troops out of Syria — earning himself backlash from traditional Republicans and public kudos from Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

…Prompting the resignation of the “last adult” in the room: The well-regarded US Secretary of Defense and The Donald’s envoy on the fight against the Daeshbags have both resigned in protest of the Syria pullout — and allies are freaking out.

The US government is on partial shutdown as Republicans and Democrats feud over funding for a border wall. As in “some civil servants are at home on unpaid leave and others are working without pay” shut down. The WSJ says government is likely to stay closed well into this week — the FT thinks the shutdown will last at least until Thursday.

But you should still be able to renew your passport. Essential State Department services get multi-year funding, and the passport office says it will be open after a planned 24-25 December closure. Vox has a good list of what’s open and closed if you’re headed stateside.

All of the turmoil has some people talking about a recession: “The message people should take home, especially if there’s a government shutdown, is that longer term, the prospects for equities are not good. There are lots of signs now suggesting that we may be looking at a recession,” one analyst told CNBC in remarks that have splashed all over our twitter.

Once again, Mohamed El-Erian is the voice of sanity. He appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box with Andrew Ross Sorkin (the most fortunate guy in financial journalism) & Co to warn we must be careful not to talk ourselves into a recession.

Are robots going to kill us all in 2019? An algorithm-driven fire sale in equities and credit is the biggest risk to global markets in the new year, Deutsche Bank suggests in its ranking of 30 risks to markets in 2019. There are some USD 7.4 tn in stocks that would be “subject to forced selling by passive funds during the next downturn,” we have previously noted JPMorgan as suggesting.

Is the Saudi government pumping up the Tadawul? That it does so is “conventional wisdom” in these parts. The WSJ says it has evidence that Riyadh is “quietly propping up its stock market” to “counter selloffs that have followed repeated political crises in recent months.”

RANDOM OBSERVATION of the morning: Egypt is not included in Apple’s 2018 transparency report, which tabulates government requests for its clients’ data around the world. See for yourself.

RANDOM QUESTION OF THE MORNING: Does anyone out there have a line on where to purchase high-quality mugs on which we can print our humble logo? We’re coming up dry. We’d be grateful to hear from anyone with suggestions on

RECOMMENDATION OF THE MORNING for which we receive no financial compensation- Soul Chips & Dips. We despise beets, yet found ourselves eating handfuls of them in chip form — along with sweet potato, potato, carrot and green apple chips at our Christmas / New Year’s / Farewell Old Office party on Thursday night. We are emphatically not potato chip people (our taste runs to chocolate), but these were simply fantastic. Highly recommended: The green apple with sugar and cinnamon with the salted caramel dip. Soul Chips & Dips is on Instagram here.

** Our annual publication holiday is next week. We’re taking the two days before New Year’s off and will be back in your inboxes on Wednesday, 2 January.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s inauguration of several greenhouse projects yesterday was the talk of the town on the airwaves last night.

The greenhouses are meant to increase Egypt’s agricultural output fourfold while cutting down on water consumption by about 60%, Agriculture Minister Ezzedin Abu Steit told Hona Al Asema. These greenhouses will fill the gap between supply and demand in organic produce (watch, runtime: 06:55). Menoufia University agriculture professor Mohamed Salim also told Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary that organic crops are cheaper to produce, which should make these products to become more widely available (watch, runtime: 07:47). El Hekaya’s Amr Adib, meanwhile, (metaphorically) clapped along and praised El Sisi for bringing the project to life (watch, runtime: 01:55).

House Rep. Fayez Abu Khadra recapped the broad strokes of the Labor Act with Hona Al Asema’s Reham Ibrahim. Abu Khadra noted that the legislation would, among other things, regulate workplace strikes and require workers to notify their employers prior to staging any strikes (watch, runtime: 02:42). The Federation of Egyptian Industries’ Labor Law and Affairs Committee had reportedly presented several comments and concerns on the legislation to the House, but they were not incorporated, committee head Samir Allam said (watch, runtime: 04:59).

Egypt and Pakistan recorded the greatest increase in research output in 2018, according to the journal Nature. The outcome is a result of the Higher Education Ministry’s focus on increasing applied and creative research in Egypt, minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar said on El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 08:33).

Doctors are apparently refusing to work in “remote” areas (read: not Cairo or Alexandria) such as Fayoum, Minya, and Beni Suef, leading the Health Ministry to specifically hire 1k doctors to serve these areas, head of the ministry’s primary care division Soad Abdel Meguid told Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 17:41).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

Is the Madbouly government trying to push the IMF’s timeline for the next round of reforms? The government is reportedly in talks with the IMF to delay unspecified components of its reform agenda, unnamed sources told the domestic press over the weekend. Cabinet is reportedly looking to divorce the disbursal of the next USD 2 bn tranche of the IMF’s extended fund facility from the implementation of some unspecified measures, which in the past have included the phase-out of subsidies and the float of the EGP, among others.

What’s going on? The unnamed sources told the press the government is wary of public discontent over rising prices and could pull back on select reforms including pegging the cost of energy to global prices after completely lifting subsidies in June. The state could get a little bit of breathing room from low oil prices. KSA may be budgeting oil at USD 80 for 2019, but most forecasts we’ve seen suggest something south of USD 70 is more likely.

Did El Sisi discuss all of this with Christine Lagarde? President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and IMF Director Christine Lagarde spoke on the phone on Friday to discuss Egypt’s reform program and ongoing relations with the IMF according to an Ittihadiya statement. The statement is light on detail, but the timing (and rareness) of the conversation could suggest the president is reassuring the international body that while we’re committed to reforms, a measure of “reform fatigue” has set in and warrants a breather.

Background: Egypt had reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF at the end of October on the fifth tranche after a delegation from the fund completed its fourth review of the government’s economic reform program, the “strong implementation” of which the IMF lauded at the time. The IMF’s executive board had been expected to meet this month to sign off on the disbursal of the tranche, but the board appears to have no reviews scheduled until the end of the year.

EXCLUSIVE- West Cairo is getting an Ikea. Fawaz AlHokair Group’s Marakez has inked a long-term lease agreement with Al Futtaim Misr for Retail to open a 20k sqm Ikea store at Mall of Arabia in West Cairo, according to a statement (pdf). The outlet will be the second in Egypt for the Swedish home furnishing brand following its inaugural store in Cairo Festival City. Construction on the facility at Mall of Arabia will begin in January, with the store set to open in 2020 as an anchor of Mall of Arabia’s phase two extension. “The Ikea brand has been incredibly successful since its introduction in Egypt. Bringing Ikea to the Mall of Arabia enriches the retailing experience for all of West Cairo and reinforces the Mall of Arabia’s position as the premier shopping destination,” said our friend Dasha Badrawi, vice-executive chairman of AlHokair Group.

EFG Hermes’ Vortex Energy divests its 49% stake in 998 MW European wind power portfolio: EFG Hermes’ Vortex Energy has sold its 49% stake in a pan-European operational wind power portfolio that includes 56 wind farms with a combined capacity of 998 MW, according to a statement (pdf). Vortex sold its stake to “institutional investors advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management.” The statement did not specify a value for the transaction. The assets included in the sale — which are managed and co-owned by EDP Renewables — are spread across Spain, France, Portugal, and Belgium. “The sale of Vortex Energy’s wind assets demonstrates our ability to acquire, manage and exit renewable energy investments on a global scale … We remain highly committed to the clean energy market and are now embarking on a new chapter in Vortex’s growth story,” said Karim Moussa, head of private equity and asset management at EFG Hermes.

The CBE does not intend to extend its EGP 16.8 bn debt relief program, which is scheduled to expire at the end of the month, three banking sources said, according to Masrawy. The central bank had launched in June the initiative to forgive EGP 16.8 bn-worth of interest payments on non-performing loans held by nine state-owned banks. The program was expected to help around 3,500 businesses with assets less than EGP 10 mn, as well as some 337k individual borrowers, but the banking sources say that the initiative has not proven popular. The Federation of Egyptian Industries had expressed reservations about the relief program.

Remittances from Egyptians living abroad rose 17% in October to USD 2.1 bn from USD 1.8 bn in September 2018, according to a central bank statement (pdf). This puts the remittances for 10M2018 at USD 21.4 bn, up 8% from around USD 19.8 bn in 10M2017.

M&A WATCH- Khalil withdraws appeal, asks FRA for 60-day grace period to submit mandatory offer for Raya: Raya Holding founder Medhat Khalil has withdrawn his appeal against the conditions laid out by the Financial Regulatory Authority, which has ordered Khalil to sell down shares in Raya or make a mandatory tender offer for 100% of the company, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf). Khalil asked the FRA for a 60-day grace period to either submit the MTO or sell down the shares that triggered it in the first place. Khalil had approached at least four financiers since earlier this month to secure EGP 700-800 for the take-private bid.

Background: Khalil had appealed last month the conditions of an FRA-ordered MTO to acquire the full 100% stake in Raya. The authority ordered the MTO after declaring Khalil and immediate family members control more than 33% of the company, which triggered the MTO requirement. Khalil did not object to the MTO itself, but rather asked that an independent financial advisor be appointed to determine a fair share value, and requested a deadline extension to secure required financing.

M&A WATCH- Sarwa shares down 7% in day two after OIH acquisition: Sarwa Capital’s share price fell just over 7% by the closing bell on Thursday, wrapping the day at EGP 5.98 per share from its opening price of EGP 6.52. That brings Sarwa shares down just over 17% in the two trading sessions after Naguib Sawiris’ Orascom Investment Holding (OIH) bought a 30% stake (c. 216 mn shares at EGP 7.36 per share) in the consumer- and structured- finance player last week.

COURT WATCH- Court will hear EUR 150 lawsuit against Peugeot Citroen today: A Cairo court will begin hearing today a lawsuit brought by Arabian Investments, Development and Financial Investment Holding Co. (AIND) subsidiary Cairo for Development and Cars Manufacturing (CDCM) against Peugeot Citroen. CDCM brought the case after the French automaker ended a four-decade-old partnership, giving the local rights to the brands to a venture between Mansour Group and a Dubai-based company named Scope. The court had postponed the scheduled hearing from November. The plaintiffs are seeking EUR 150 mn in damages.

COURT WATCH- The Cairo Economic Court has postponed to 19 February its ruling in an appeal by pharma distributors of an antitrust fine, according to a company disclosure from Ibnsina (pdf). The distribution companies (Ibnsina, Ramco, Multipharma and United Company for Distribution and Trade) are appealing an Egyptian Competition Authority fine of EGP 5.6 bn for having allegedly colluded to cut credit periods and slash discounts to small pharmacies. There has been speculation that an out-of-court settlement was on the table.

Egypt’s talks with China Fortune Land Development (CFLD) to build projects worth some USD 20 bn project in the new administrative capital could be revived, the New Administrative Capital Company’s (NACC) Chairman Ahmed Zaki Abdeen said. NACC is currently in talks with other foreign entities though to develop the new capital’s “business district,” Abdeen said, without naming the companies. Bloomberg had reported that the negotiations fell through due to disagreements over how to split revenues.

Gov’t signs USD 35 mn settlement agreement with IFC for Omar Effendi debt: The Omar Effendi Company signed on Thursday an agreement with the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) to settle the company’s USD 35 mn debt to the corporation, according to a Cabinet statement. The agreement will see the Holding Company for Construction and Development repay the full amount owed to the IFC, with the Finance Ministry acting as guarantor of the settlement. The agreement also stipulates that the IFC will stop all legal proceedings it had brought against the storied (and now ailing) retailer.

Background: The dispute dates back to 2007, when the IFC agreed to provide Omar Effendi with USD 40 mn in financing and purchase a 5% stake in the company, all of which were meant to fund the retailer’s comeback bid. A 2011 ruling by the Administrative Court overturned the share sale, at which point Omar Effendi stopped repaying the loan.

LEGISLATION WATCH- FRA wants business input into its proposed Consumer Credit Act: The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) has opened consultations with the business community over a proposed law to regulate consumer finance providers, unnamed sources told Al Mal. The draft consumer credit bill, which the FRA is set to introduce next year, will regulate how companies sell consumer goods on installments.

Who’s covered by the proposed bill? The parties discussed the need to distinguish between companies that operate as consumer finance providers (such as EFG Hermes’ valU or Sarwa’s Contact Cars) on the one hand and retailers and manufacturers that offer installment plans to as part of their sales strategy (such as home appliances chain B.Tech). All consumer finance players will be subject to the legislation if it passes in its current form, but it proposes to bring in retailers and manufacturers only if more than 25% of their annual sales are made on installment plans. Companies with on-installment sales north of EGP 15-25 bn and those that offer long-term plans of six months or more could also see themselves covered by the bill.

LEGISLATION WATCH- Cabinet to sign off on Customs Act amendments this week? The proposed amendments to the Customs Act are apparently alive and well, and will be approved by the Madbouly Cabinet this Wednesday, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said, according to Amwal Al Ghad. Cabinet had approved “in principle” the amendments earlier this month, but Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce Head Ahmed El Wakeel had said last week that Maait had scrapped the amendments and planned to put the legislation back up for public discussion in 1Q2019. If passed, the proposed amendments would create a fast-track for customs clearance, a “whitelist” of trusted importers, and broaden the Customs Authority’s discretion.

Separately, Maait has set up three committees to address duty payment disputes and concerns, El Wakeel said. The committees, which will be comprised of tax and customs officials, as well as representatives from the federation, will look into income and VAT tax, custom duties, and real estate tax disputes. They will convene every 15 days to discuss resolution proposals.

CABINET WATCH- Cabinet greenlights PPP law amendments: Cabinet approved on Thursday legislative amendments to streamline public-private partnership (PPP) contracts, according to a statement. The proposed amendments, which the Finance Ministry began drafting earlier this month and which now go to the Council of State for review, are designed to make it easier to implement infrastructure, public services and utility projects under the PPP framework, Minister Mohamed Maait said. The bill would speed-up tenders, allow bidders to submit unsolicited proposals and make single-supplier contracts possible. The amendments will also allow the private sector to propose projects and give the government a larger scope for subcontracting.

Also approved at cabinet’s weekly meeting:

  • Allowing, in principle, the Egyptian Kuwait Real Estate Development Company to develop a residential project on land it owns on Suez road;
  • Amending the executive regulations of the Universities Act to add Computer Science and Applied Arts faculties to the Tanta University campus;
  • Issuing tenders under a usufruct agreement to renovate up to 567 youth centers (state-sponsored sporting clubs).

LEGISLATION WATCH- It was a busy weekend at the House of Representatives as MPs:

  • Medical tourism bill: The House Tourism Committee discussed a medical tourism bill yesterday. MPs will meet again today to start working on the bill and a timeline for its introduction to the House as a whole.
  • Cabinet-sponsored bills amending the income tax act are making their way through the Planning and Budgeting Committee Al Shorouk reports.
  • Amendments to the Consumer Protection Act are also making their way through committee and are now with the House’s economic committee and the constitution and legislation committee.
  • Persons with disabilities: Moved forward a bill to establish a National Council for Persons with Disabilities. The bill now moves forward for a final vote, Masrawy reports. The new body replaces the National Council for Disability Affairs.

EARNINGS WATCH- Qalaa Holdings recorded a net profit of EGP 126.4 mn in 3Q2018, up from a net loss of EGP 311.8 mn during the same period last year, according to the company’s earnings release (pdf). Qalaa’s revenues rose 40% y-o-y in 3Q2018 to EGP 3.3 bn “on the back of strong results from its energy subsidiary, TAQA Arabia, and the consolidation of National Printing.” The company’s mining division, as well as its transport and logistics division, also contributed to the quarter’s consolidated revenue growth. The sole outlier was its cement division, which “recorded a 20% y-o-y decline in revenues in 3Q18.” Commenting on the results, Qalaa Holdings Chairman and Founder Ahmed Heikal said, “Qalaa delivered a solid operational performance during the third quarter of 2018, building on the positive growth trajectory since the beginning of the year.”

Looking ahead: “In the upcoming year, the Group will continue to focus on growing its core subsidiaries, while continuing to divest from its non-core businesses and disposing or consolidating Qalaa’s minority investments. Solid growth trajectories across Qalaa’s divisions, multiple operational improvements throughout 2018, the imminent start of production at ERC and completing the clean-up of the Group’s financials leave us confident that the coming quarters will gradually bring Qalaa back to operational profitability and allow us to create new value for our shareholders,” Co-Founder and Managing Director Hisham El Khazindar said.


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Egypt in the News

Driving the conversation this morning: A court acquitted on Thursday 40 NGO workers who were charged with operating without approval in a controversial 2013 case that dealt Egypt’s image abroad a blow and strained relations with the United States, Reuters reported. The workers, including Egyptians, Europeans, Arabs and at least 15 Americans, had been sentenced to varying terms of one to five years in prison. Nancy Okail, executive director of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, was a defendant in the case. She writes for the New York Times that while the verdict is obviously welcome, “there is still plenty to be done” if civil society is to take root, let alone flourish. The story has gotten plenty of coverage globally: BBC, the WSJ, and news24.

On The Front Pages

Egypt’s three main state-owned dailies are all running front-page headlines on the inauguration of a large scale greenhouse project (Al Ahram | Al Akhbar | Al Gomhuria). The project’s inauguration also featured heavily on last night’s talk shows, which we recap in detail above.

Worth Reading

The upside to Egypt’s exposure to investment arbitration and affinity for settlements: The volume of international arbitration cases brought against Egypt and settled out of court following the events of 2011 has earned Egypt a misplaced reputation that the government is on a losing streak, Youssef & Partners Managing Partner Karim Youssef says, according to the Global Arbitration Review (paywall). All countries face investor claims, but these cases are often seen in Egypt as proof of some kind of shortcoming, instead of being viewed as an indicator that the country is hosting significant investments and that it follows the correct legal procedures by relying on bilateral investment treaties, Youssef says. “The real issue is not whether a state is exposed to investment claims. The real issue is how the state reacts and how it manages those claims.” Egypt, Youssef says, has “aced” that test and — as a result — has seen its FDI levels recover to a great extent following the Arab Spring.

Settlements are not always an indicator the state is wrong or in a weak position: “The view that states like Egypt that settle investment disputes or adopt a policy in favour of settlement ‘know they are at fault and that’s why they settle,’ is false and simplistic, Youssef said. In fact, states that consider settlement show ‘a sophisticated … reaction to investor claims.’” This policy, Youssef says, indicates that the government is wary of the importance of earnings and maintaining investor confidence in the country and improving Egypt’s ratings “in terms of political risk and other economic indicators,” all of which are key to driving FDI inflows.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

The 8th Egypt-EU Association Council adopted on Thursday the European Commission's 2018 cooperation package, which was introduced on 29 November 2018, according to a press release (pdf). The cooperation package is expected to provide Egypt with EUR 20 mn for energy and water projects, EUR 12 mn to support increased accessibility to vulnerable areas, and another EUR 24 mn to support capacity development.


Egypt, Chinese company sign MoU to establish energy projects

Military Production Minister Mohamed El Assar signed an MoU with the China Energy Engineering Corporation (CEEC) to build energy and infrastructure projects in Egypt, according to a ministry statement. The agreement stipulates that the National Authority for Military Production will work with the CEEC to identify and secure legislation to establish several energy and infrastructure projects. The CEEC will provide engineering designs, equipment, construction services and technical support.

EGAS to connect 1.5 bcf/d of natural gas to national grid in 2019

EGAS is reportedly expecting to connect 1.5 bcf/d of natural gas to the national grid with the completion of the Zohr, North Alexandria and 9B in Burullus fields in 2019, according to an unnamed company source. EGAS aims to increase Egypt’s total local production to 7 bcf/d by the end of 2019, and work with international companies in the Mediterranean and Nile Delta region to increase local output to 8 bcf/d by 2021.

Egypt signs agreement to build Al Nowais coal-fired power plant in Q12019

The Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) has signed with UAE’s Al Nowais a final agreement to build the USD 4 bn coal-fired power plant in Oyoun Moussa in South Sinai, with construction scheduled to begin in 1Q2019. The project was first announced back in 2015, and experienced several stalls before all negotiations were ironed out. The plant is now expected to be completed by four years’ time.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt buys most expensive wheat in four years, Russia left out

State grain buyer GASC purchased 120,000 tonnes of wheat at the highest prices in four years during an international tender on Thursday for delivery between 11 and 20 February, according to Reuters. This was the first time in six months that Egypt did not purchase Russian wheat, the newswire highlighted, attributing the move to its high price this season. GASC purchased 60,000 tonnes of Ukrainian wheat and 60,000 tonnes of Romanian wheat, with the lowest price offered by Louis Dreyfus at USD 263.70 per tonne of Ukrainian wheat.

Egypt is about to overtake Spain as world’s largest orange exporter

Egypt’s orange exports have been gaining ground in European and global markets, with sales growing by 17% in Europe alone, according to a report by Radio France Internationale (RFI). This year, Egypt could export up to 1.65 mn tonnes of oranges and replace Spain as the world’s main orange exporter, Freshplaza notes. Egypt is already one of the world’s largest producers of oranges, behind Brazil, India, China, Mexico, the US and Spain.


Gov’t completes studies for USD 7.5 petrochem complex in Egypt’s New Alamein

State-owned Egyptian Petrochemical Holding Company has completed feasibility studies for a USD 7.5 bn petroleum refining complex in New Alamein, a company source said. The source said a US-based company conducted the studies, but did not disclose its name. The facility will refine some 5 mn tonnes of crude per annum when it comes online in 2024. We had noted in July that the Oil Ministry is studying petrochemicals and refining projects, which could potentially take shape under public-private partnership frameworks, in the city.

El Marakby for Steel to establish new EGP 500 mn factory in Egypt

El Marakby for Steel will establish a new EGP 500 mn factory as part of its expansion plans, CEO Hassan El Marakby told Al Shorouk. The new factory, which will see El Marakby’s production capacity increase by 25%, is expected to be completed within two years.

Real Estate + Housing

SAK, Landmark to partner up on EGP 400 mn project in new capital

Real estate players SAK Developments and Landmark Sabbour are partnering to develop EGP 400 mn-worth of commercial and administrative units in the “investors district” of the new capital, CEO Ahmed Kadry tells Al Mal. The project is slated for delivery within three years from the signing of contracts — for which Kadry gave no specific date.

NACC sells new capital business district land to NUCA at EGP 10k per sqm

The New Administrative Capital Company (NACC) has priced the land it sold to the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) in the new capital’s business district at EGP 10k per sqm, sources told Al Mal. China State Construction Engineering Company is the main contractor NUCA hired to develop the business district, in which the company is investing USD 3 bn.


Egypt mulling re-issuing tender to sell 51% stake in Shepheard Hotel

The Public Enterprises Ministry is mulling re-issuing a tender to sell a 51% stake in the Shepheard Hotel in downtown Cairo or bringing the hotel under Egypt’s in-the-works EGP 200 bn sovereign wealth fund to finance the hotel’s development, Minister Hisham Tawfik tells Al Mal. The state-owned Egyptian General Company for Tourism and Hotels (EGOTH) had called off a tender to sell a stake in the hotel last week after neither of the two offers it received met the tender requirements. If the ministry decides to re-issue the tender, it will change the requirements, Tawfik says. The minister did not clarify when a decision will be made on the matter.

Automotive + Transportation

Three consortiums bidding for Egypt’s Sixth of October-Giza monorail

Three consortiums are bidding for the tender to construct a monorail that will link Sixth of October to Giza, Transport Minister Hisham Arafat said, according to Al Mal. An earlier report had indicated that the first consortium included the Military Production Ministry, Malaysia’s Scomi Group and the UAE’s Arabtec Construction, the second included Arab Contractors, Orascom Construction and Canada’s Bombardier while the third included China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), CRRC Corporation Limited and local contractors Concorde and Samco. Arafat did not disclose when the ministry will announce the winning bid.

Legislation + Policy

Misr El Kheir holds first round of public discussions for Egypt’s NGO Act

Misr El Kheir Foundation hosted yesterday the first round of “community dialogue” for the amendments to the NGO Act, local news reported. This comes after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi agreed last month to form a committee and to set the stage for amendments to the controversial law.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Overdue taxpayers have until end of week to avoid 70% of late penalties

Taxpayers have until the end of the week to settle overdue payments, and avoid 70% of incurred late penalties, according to a Finance Ministry statement. The ministry will grant another period of 50% penalty discounts between 28 December and 9 February 2019.

Prosecutor General refers 13 officials to criminal court in wheat corruption case

Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek referred 13 silo employees to criminal court yesterday on charges of graft worth EGP 607 mn, according to Youm7.


Egypt’s national football team ranks 56th in end of year FIFA rankings

Egypt’s national football team came in 56th in the year-end FIFA/Coca Cola World Ranking. Belgium came in first for the third consecutive month.

On Your Way Out

British American Tobacco (BAT) has launched a campaign against the sale of tobacco products to those under 18 years of age in Egypt, according to an emailed statement. The campaign, which follows a similar global campaign the company had launched last year, will aim to put in place preventative measures to curb the practice by raising awareness among retailers and warning them that it’s against the law to sell to minors.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.86 | Sell 17.95
Buy 17.89 | Sell 17.96
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.78 | Sell 17.88

EGX30 (Thursday): 13,138 (+0.5%)
Turnover: EGP 925 mn (14% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -12.5%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session up 0.5%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended up 2.1%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were CIB up 2.1%, and Egypt Kuwait Holding up 2.0%, and Orascom Construction up 1.4%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were Arab Cotton Ginning down 2.8%, Egyptian Iron & Steel down 2.6% and Qalaa Holdings down 2.5%. The market turnover was EGP 925 mn, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +77.3 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -18.9 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -58.4 mn

Retail: 43.5% of total trades | 42.4% of buyers | 44.7% of sellers
Institutions: 56.5% of total trades | 57.6% of buyers | 55.3% of sellers

WTI: USD 45.59 (-0.63%)
Brent: USD 53.82 (-0.98%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.82 MMBtu, (+6.50%, January 2019 contract)
Gold: USD 1,258.10 / troy ounce (-0.77%)

TASI: 7,753.36 (-1.36%) (YTD: +7.29%)
ADX: 4,855.94 (-0.08%) (YTD: +10.40%)
DFM: 2,509.81 (-1.35%) (YTD: -25.53%)
KSE Premier Market: 5,308.88 (-1.1%)
QE: 10,412.51 (-0.80%) (YTD: +22.16%)
MSM: 4,336.84 (+0.00%) (YTD: -14.95%)
BB: 1,313.95 (-0.04%) (YTD: -1.33%)

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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

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.

23 December: The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) will hold a hearing to review the conditions it set for Raya Holding founder Medhat Khalil’s mandatory tender offer (MTO) to take Raya private, local news reported.

25 December (Tuesday): Western Christmas.

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

27 December (Thursday): Deadline to settle overdue taxes and avoid 70% of the amount owed in late penalties, according to a Finance Ministry statement.

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.

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.

05 January 2019 (Saturday): An administrative court will hear Beltone Financial’s appeal against a six-month suspension the FRA handed to its investment banking arm, Youm7 reported.

07 January 2019 (Monday): Coptic Christmas, national holiday.

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

10-12 February 2019 (Sunday-Tuesday): Third African Forum: “Building on Science, Technology and Innovation to Boost Private Sector and Socio-Economic Transformation in Africa”, Venue TBD, Cairo.

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

19 February (Tuesday) The Cairo Economic Court to deliver decision on pharma distributors appeal, Egypt.

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

23 February 2019 (Tuesday): Supreme Administrative Court to issue decision in case brought by drivers of white taxis demanding Uber and Careem be suspended.

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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