Sunday, 14 April 2019

House to vote on constitutional changes this week, setting stage for a referendum as early as next week

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

It’s time to get busy, ladies and gentlemen. We have less than two weeks until Thursday, 25 April. That’s when we head out on break for Sinai Liberation Day. Depending on how you bridge the three holidays the following week (Easter, Sham El Nessim and Labour Day), that also means we have only the equivalent of two work weeks before the start of Ramadan.

With referendum banners already up across the country, it’s all about the constitutional amendments this week. Procedural and committee work on package is expected to wrap today, setting the stage for the House of Representatives’ general assembly to vote on Tuesday.

Look for a referendum as early as next week: House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal has said citizens could go to the polls as early as 22-24 April. We have more in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

It’s official: You’re paying the 0.25% healthcare levy on your top line, and you have until 12 July to remit payment. The Finance Ministry has issued a document (pdf) outlying some of the broad points of the health levy designed to fund the Universal Healthcare Act. The six-point document reaffirms that the tax is 0.25% of all revenues by all businesses, declaring that you must declare your due healthcare tithe by 12 July 2019. The document, on which we first reported on Thursday, also gives the broad strokes on how outliers will be taxed, including for insurance businesses, businesses that rely on commissions, and hotel management companies.

Also coming up this week week:

  • A delegation of 21 Hungarian companies will arrive in Cairo to explore investment options on Tuesday.
  • The two-day North Africa Iron and Steel Conference gets underway at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza, also on Tuesday.
  • OPEC+ oil ministers will meetin Vienna on 17-18 April to discuss an extension to the oil supply cuts.
  • Keep a close eye on US corporate earnings this week, with dozens of companies in a range of industries set to report.

The IMF is sounding a bit more positive: Global economic growth will “firm up” in 2020 despite the current slowdown, the IMF said in its closing communique yesterday at the end of the spring meeting. That said, the downside risks are many: trade tensions, political instability and high debt levels all pose varying levels of risks to global growth.

Have things really improved over the past few months, despite the IMF’s occasionally ominous warnings? “The world is in a different place from where it was at the end of last year,” Angel Ubide, head of economic research for fixed global income at Citadel, told the FT. “The US-China trade conflict is now less of a concern, and the global economy is getting a boost from the U-turn in monetary policy. Tightening is now off the agenda for a long while.”


Jumia shares popped 75% on the online marketplace’s first day as a publicly traded company. Jumia is the first African tech startup to IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Berenberg underwrote the transaction, and you can read Jumia’s prospectus here. We have more in this morning’s Spotlight, below.

Shocker: Fund managers are spending a lot less on research in the wake of Mifid II, the Financial Times reports, saying anecdotal evidence suggests buyside spending on research from brokerage houses is down as an average of 30%.

ExxonMobil is in talks to build a floating LNG facility that would expand Israel’s export reach, sources close to the matter told Bloomberg. Israel’s Delek Drilling has been eyeing increasing its natgas exports to Egypt beyond the USD 15 bn agreement signed last year with Alaa Arafa’s Dolphinus Holding, but the status of Israel’s pipelines has raised questions on whether it will be able to meet its contractual obligations.

Egypt to play opening AfCON match against Zimbabwe: Egypt has landed in the African Cup of Nations’ Group alongside Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, in what Egypt’s assistant coach says is a “comfortable” pool, according to BBC. The championship draw on Friday placed the Pharaohs in what the national team’s assistant coach says is a “comfortable pool. The tournament opens on 21 June, which will see Egypt face off with Zimbabwe in the opening match.


Burned out at work? Here’s how to find your passion — or get it back, the Wall Street Journal suggests.

PSA #1- The final season of Game of Thrones begins tonight in the US and Canada, but we’ll catch the first episode tomorrow. You can watch on OSN or try OSN’s standalone streaming service Wavo. Wavo doesn’t have much other than GoT on offer, but at the asking price, that’s more than enough. It advertises that it will have episode one of season eight tomorrow. Can’t wait for your GoT fix? Go read Bloomberg’s ranking of the wealthiest families in Game of Thrones.

PSA #2- The mercury this afternoon is expected to cool to a more seasonal 28°C after an unusually hot Saturday in Cairo, according to the four-day forecast from the meteorological authority. Look for a cooler Monday and Tuesday, with daytime highs of 21°C and 25°C in the capital city.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Finance Minister Mohamed Maait’s talk about the IMF and World Bank’s spring meetings was a big topic on the airwaves last night

Egypt’s economy is doing well, part XXVI: Egypt’s economic reform program has received “encouraging signs and praise songs from the local and international investment community,” Maait said after convening with heads of international investment banks on the sidelines of the meetings, according to Hona Al Asema’s Reham Ibrahim (watch, runtime: 10:31). Ibrahim also rang up Youm7’s Ahmed Yacoub, who covers the economy beat. Yacoub said discussions held by Maait and Central Bank of Egypt Governor Tarek Amer during the meetings show that there is “great confidence” in Egypt’s economy going forward, citing the latest World Bank MENA report. We have more on the spring meetings in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

El Hekaya’s Amr Adib, meanwhile, fell in love with a large scale greenhouse project in 10th of Ramadan (watch, runtime: 3:45). The project, inaugurated last December, is home to locally-made, highly productive greenhouses, he said, and employs 5k workers. Some 100k feddans are covered with greenhouses as part of a series of projects that aim to hike Egypt’s agricultural by as much as 4x while cutting water consumption by about 60%, Agriculture Minister Ezzedin Abu Steit previously said on the airwaves.

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

LEGISLATION WATCH- All constitution, all the time: Constitutional changes designed to lengthen presidential terms and bring back the upper house of parliament are set to be signed off today by the House of Representatives’ Legislative and Constitutional Affairs committee.

A proposed tweak could see El Sisi in office until 2038: Members of parliament are looking at changes to the proposed amendments that could theoretically allow President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to hold office until 2038, Youm7 reports. Rep. Mohamed El Etmany reportedly suggested that any lengthening of presidential terms should be applied retroactively. This would mean adding an extra four years (two for each of El Sisi’s two terms) before he is then eligible to run for an additional two six-year terms under the transitional clause. If passed, that would mean that El Sisi’s current term would end in 2026, instead of 2022. He would then be eligible to run in the two following presidential elections.

Background: Prior to El Etmany’s suggestion, the amendments would have allowed El Sisi to remain in power until 2034. The proposal to amend presidential term limits comes as part of a package of several other proposed constitutional amendments, including bringing back the Shura Council, granting the president the authority to appoint judges and the prosecutor general, and deepening the role of the Armed Forces, among a host of other suggestions.

Women’s election quota could be slashed as well: Proposed amendments that would introduce a quota for women members of parliament could also be watered down to 15% from the original suggestion of 25%, according to Youm7. There had been opposition to the quota from parliament and the business community.

We could be heading to the polls for a referendum as soon as next week: The House Legislative and Constitutional Committee will put the amendments to a vote today before referring them to a plenary session, according to Youm7. A final general assembly vote is scheduled to take place on Tuesday. House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal has said he expects the national referendum on the amendments (which will only be necessary if they receive parliamentary approval) to take place on 22-24 April, according to Ahram Online.

MOVES- Trump names veteran diplomat Jonathan Cohen as next ambassador to Egypt: US President Donald Trump has nominated acting US representative to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen (bio) to become the next US ambassador to Egypt, a White House statement said. Cohen is a senior US diplomat, having overseen the European and Eurasian affairs from 2016 to 2018, and been the deputy chief of mission in Iraq, France and Cyprus. He has served as the acting representative to both the UN and the UN Security Council since Nikki Haley resigned from the position last year. The US has been without an ambassador in Cairo since 2017 when Robert Beecroft left the role. Thomas Goldberger has been chargés d'affaires in the period since. The Hill has more.

Abraaj founder Aref Naqvi and managing partner Mustafa Abdel-Wadood have been arrested on fraud charges at the request of US prosecutors, according to Reuters. US prosecutors are seeking extradition for Naqvi, who was arrested in the UK on Friday. “Mr Naqvi maintains his innocence, and he fully expects to be cleared of any charges,” a statement from Naqvi’s external PR firm reads. Abdel-Wadood, who appeared at a federal court hearing in Manhattan, pleaded not guilty to charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy. Prosecutors have accused Naqvi and Abdel-Wadood of artificially inflating the value of Abraaj’s EM assets by more than USD 500 mn and of using the proceeds to fund Abraaj’s own operating costs without notifying investors, according to Bloomberg. Prosecutors also allege that Naqvi may have used the funds for personal purposes. Abraaj was widely seen as a standard-bearer of emerging markets private equity before it collapsed last year amid concerns about the misuse of funds.

The story is getting major play in the financial press: The FT, theWSJ and The National are all opining on the latest twist in the story.

 

Al Futtaim is expanding Cairo Festival City mall, adding 120 retail stores and restaurants stretching over 22k sqm, it said in a press release (pdf). No details were provided on the expected investment value or timeline of completion or on the brands that may be participating in the next phase of expansion.

Look for the expansion to focus on luxury? The expansion will include 60 retail stores, 20 food and beverage outlets and two “brand new entertainment concepts,” the company said, referring to the announcement as the “brand-new Festival Avenue luxury expansion.”

Correction: 14 April, 2019

An earlier version of this article mistakenly attributed the expansion of Cairo Festival City mall to Majid Al Futtaim, which is a separate company from Al Futtaim. 

Watch this space: Emaar Misr has donated EGP 878 mn to national megaprojects, a form of corporate largesse that Public Enterprise Minister Hisham Tawfik told Al Mal over the weekend is unrelated to the real estate developer’s ongoing dispute with state-owned El Nasr Housing. The donation was announced on Thursday and comes a little more than a month after Emaar was said to be nearing a settlement agreement with El Nasr over a land dispute and delays in Emaar’s Uptown Cairo project. Tawfik told Al Mal yesterday that a “permanent” resolution to the dispute is expected soon. An arbitration case against Emaar Misr filed by El Nasr Housing was still being reviewed last month (pdf) by the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration.

The number of mobile subscribers in Egypt fell again in January to 93.48 mn users, down 7.8% from 101.32 mn in January 2018 and 0.38% m-o-m from 93.78 mn in December 2018, according to an ICT Ministry report (pdf). This brought Egypt’s mobile phone penetration rate to 101.09% by month-end, down 10.46% y-o-y and 0.53% m-o-m. The number of ADSL subscribers, meanwhile, increased 24.2% y-o-y, to stand at 6.62 mn in January, up from 5.33 mn in January 2018 and 6.53 in December 2018. Mobile internet users also rose 7.59% y-o-y to record 36.53 mn in January.

Egypt pushes non-eurobond issuances into FY2019-20: Egypt will not issue yen- and yuan- denominated bonds (also known as Samurai and Panda bonds) — or green bonds or sukuk, for that matter — before the next fiscal year, which begins on 1 July, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told Bloomberg in an interview in Washington, DC. The issuances were originally planned to take place in the current fiscal year but have been postponed to give the government more time to prepare and to comply with Euroclear regulatory requirements, Maait said. The government is also working to meet requirements for Egyptian debt to join the JPMorgan Emerging Market Bond Index. The Finance Ministry had said last week that Egypt would not tap the international debt market again this fiscal year, after successfully issuing EUR 2 bn-worth of eurobonds on the London Stock Exchange.

FinMin takes Euroclear plans forward: Maait also revealed that the ministry has signed an MoU with Euroclear to have EGP-denominated debt available on the Belgium-based clearinghouse, according to AMAY. We noted earlier this year that the ministry is expecting to finalize the agreement in June ahead of the coming fiscal year. Having domestic debt available on Euroclear will facilitate settlement for overseas investors, who can currently only access the debt market through a few local banks licensed to operate as primary dealers. “The move comes at a time of increasing foreign interest in Egyptian treasuries,” Maait said, adding that it will reduce Egypt’s debt servicing bill. Maait opened talks with Euroclear last September. He also said in February that Egypt is looking to be included in the JPMorgan Emerging Market Bond Index as part of a strategy to cut borrowing costs and boost inflows in the debt market.

Egypt and the IMF are cooking up a post-EFF partnership: Maait said the government is currently in talks with the IMF for a non-financial partnership to reassure investors once the extended fund facility expires this year. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi gave his nod to proceed with talks when he met with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde last week.

Here’s what the Investment Ministry thinks you need to know about the IMF and World Bank’s spring meetings, which wrapped this weekend in Washington, DC:

Egypt secured a USD 200 mn loan from the World Bank to support entrepreneurship and SMEs during the spring meetings in Washington over the weekend, the Investment Ministry said in a statement. The loan is meant to encourage entrepreneurship among women and youth. Ragui El Etreby, an alternative executive on the bank’s board, had also told reporters at AmCham’s annual Doorknock mission earlier this month that in addition to the USD 200 mn loan, Egypt and the World Bank are in talks for another financing package for digital infrastructure development. Investment Minister Sahar Nasr discussed the pledge, as well as further support for transport and infrastructure projects, in a later meeting with newly-elected World Bank President David Malpass.

That digital infrastructure loan looks set to come from a pool of USD 82 bn the World Bank has also earmarked for digital transformation and infrastructure projects in Africa. World Bank Vice President for Infrastructure Makhtar Diop discussed the funcing in a separate meeting with Nasr, according to a ministry statement. Of the proceeds, USD 25 bn will go towards digital infrastructure development in a 10-year private sector partnership plan, and USD 57 bn toward traditional infrastructure projects over the next three years. Egypt holds the presidency of the African Union this year.

This came as the bank, the IMF, and the UN all vowed more support for developing countries —particularly through funding to empower the private sector, according to another statement from the ministry. Lending countries have a responsibility to support developing countries via sharing technical and technological expertise, the organizations said to Nasr on the sidelines of the spring meetings.

In other news from the meetings, Egypt supports the G20 nation’s goals to promote global economic stability and growth, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in a speech during a gathering of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors, which Egypt took part in as this year’s president of the African Union. Al Shorouk has the full transcript.

The Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) expects Egypt’s GDP growth to reach 5.3% in 2019 and 2020, outstripping the expected regional average of 3.1% in 2019 and 3.4% by 2020, it said in its Arab Economic Outlook report (pdf). The fund expects the region’s combined budget deficit to reach 5.5% of GDP in 2019 and surplus to register around 1.6% through 2020. Oil exporters in the region should see growth of about 2.8% and 3.1% in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

What is it, 2016 again? A 63k tonne shipment of French wheat that authorities rejected last week for ergot contamination has been accepted after re-testing, according to Reuters. The supplier requested the re-test after earlier results showed a 0.1% ergot level, higher than the 0.05% allowed by Egypt’s state tender rules and international standards. The new test, meanwhile, revealed a 0.01% ergot level. The shipment will now be offloaded and distributed after being held at Safaga port since it’s arrival last week.

Background: Egypt instituted a zero-tolerance policy for ergot contamination in 2016, throwing a wrench in the global wheat market. With state institutions at loggerheads over whether to ban wheat with ergot contamination, the Higher Administrative Court decided last year to strike down the zero-tolerance policy, allowing imports with up to 0.05% ergot contamination.

In other commodity news, Egypt purchased 180k tonnes of Romanian and 60k tonnes of Ukrainian wheat in an international tender held on Friday by GASC, reports Reuters.

LEGISLATION WATCH- Council of State reviews draft law to increase pensions: The Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) has completed its review of a draft to increase monthly pension payouts, Youm7 reports. It is unclear whether the pensions-related draft is the same one approved by cabinet in a meeting earlier this month following President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s recent decisions to increase public sector pensions and wages or part of the in-the-works Pensions Act. The judicial body also reviewed eight other drafts involving licensing the Oil Ministry to sign contracts with the EGPC and foreign oil and gas companies for petroleum exploration in the Western Desert. All drafts were referred back to cabinet to present it to the House of Representatives for a vote.

REGULATION WATCH- The Financial Regulatory Authority has issued regulations for brokerages wanting to deal in futures, Al Mal reported. The FRA board has previously gave the market regulator the authority to issue licenses for futures exchanges and issued regulations for companies wanting to serve this role.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year rule came to an end following his ouster by the military on Thursday after months of protests. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling on the international community to back the choices of the Sudanese people in shaping the future of their country. An Armed Forces council has been set up and will rule the country for a period of two years, according to an announcement on Thursday by Sudanese Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf, Reuters reports. Protesters remain in the street and are calling for civilian rule.

From the foreign press, pundits have been clamoring to draw parallels between the Sudanese uprising (and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s recent decision to step down following protests) and the Arab Spring, but claim that demonstrators seem determined to learn from the events of 2011. The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Independent, and AFP have more.

EgyptAir resumed flights to Sudan yesterday after a two-day suspension, Ahram Online reports. Egyptian authorities have also managed to bring home 120 students stranded at the Egypt-Sudan Arqin border crossing.

Spotlight

EXCLUSIVE- What Jumia’s IPO means for e-commerce in Egypt: Jumia became the first African tech company to list on a major global stock exchange when it concluded a New York IPO on Friday, the company said in a statement (pdf). Jumia raised USD 196 mn after selling 13.5 mn shares at USD 14.50 apiece, Bloomberg reports. We had a chat with Jumia Egypt CEO Hesham Safwat to break down what the listing means for the company and the way forward for e-commerce in Egypt.

The IPO will boost confidence and consequently business, particularly “for investors who see Africa as challenging, as well as sellers and customers who still see e-commerce as a black box,” Safwat said. “This would create more variety in products and more competition so that customers can find the best prices.”

Jumia isn’t profitable yet, but the share sale process reflects optimism: “Our losses are between EUR 120 mn and EUR 150 mn per year, but we are still growing the business and this is just the start of another phase in Jumia's journey,” Safwat said. “Investors like the potential. when they see the high growth which is still in the beginning. Also Africa is the fastest growing continent and there are 700 mn internet users in the countries we operate in and rising.”

So when should we expect profitability? The company’s loss-to-revenue ratio fell to 20% in 2018 from 32% in 2017 and is expected to fall further in 2019, indicating the company is moving toward profitability, Safwat said. Jumia recorded EUR 828 mn in revenues in 2018 — a 63% increase compared to 2017. Gross profit increased 62% y-o-y to EUR 45 mn in 2018. In Egypt, revenues grew by 80% y-o-y in 2018 and the company is eyeing a 75% y-o-y increase in 2019. “We are building a sector, not a company, so we are subsidizing the service to build a market. Otherwise, we can be profitable if we put the real price of the service,” Safwat said.

The E-commerce Act should not treat all online entities as equals: The law should differentiate between various types of e-commerce — whether online malls like Jumia, companies websites and individual social media pages — and there should be support and incentives for this sector. “We create jobs, reduce costs of stores, open up trading opportunities and reduce the cost of electricity and fuel. What we want is for the government to incentivize companies to move to online trading,” Safwat said. On the flipside, Safwat sees the Finance Ministry’s plans to tax online sales as beneficial, since it would better regulate the sector and improve its reputation.

Government support is important: “This is a new phase in which we need the government's support for this sector mainly through reducing taxes,” Safwat said. “The government is trying to regulate the informal sector and the best way to do this is put them under e-commerce umbrellas like Jumia and giving them incentives to become part of the formal economy,” he added.

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Egypt in the News

Driving the conversation on Egypt on a day in which there is lots of coverage, but no single narrative: The New York Times is out with a lengthy piece about the treatment of animals in Egyptian society. The paper says there are calls for tourists to boycott animal rides at Egypt’s most popular tourist sites due to what it calls the “rampant mistreatment” of camels, horses and donkeys.

Startups leading new waste recycling initiatives in Cairo are generating pushback from the city’s Zabaleen, who see them as encroaching on their market share, the Guardian says. The conflict over waste has led to threats and attacks from the Zabaleen, although recycling startups offering financial incentives for residents to separate recyclable materials maintain that the two provide different services, making peaceful coexistence possible.

Other stories worth noting in brief:

  • A new foreign policy challenge: Egypt should wait and watch events play out in Khartoum before it forms a response to the overthrow of Sudan’s President Al Bashir last week, Hamza Hendawi writes in a piece picked up by The National.
  • Congress should do something about Trump’s support for President Abdel Fattah El Sisi ahead of a vote to extend the Egyptian president’s rule, according to a Washington Post editorial.
  • Behind the US-Egypt pleasantries: Egypt’s planned arms deal with Russia, as well as Trump’s long-touted Middle East peace plan, is causing friction between Egypt and the US, Amr Emam writes for The Arab Weekly.
  • Third time's a charm (el talta tabta): This nicely sums up the story of Android-based browser Wasla, a startup by Egyptian entrepreneurs Serag Meneassy, Taymour Sabry, and Mahmoud El Said, writes Wamda’s Yasmeen Nabil.
  • Russian bellydancer Johara was last week sentenced to a year in prison for “immorality” and “inciting debauchery,” according to the Irish Sun.

On The Front Pages

Egypt’s three main state-owned dailies are running different front page stories this morning. Al Ahram is taking note of Tuesday’s parliamentary vote on the proposed constitutional amendments. Al Akhbar is highlighting comments from new World Bank President David Malpass expressing his keenness to work with Egypt under El Sisi. And Al Gomhuria has press statements from Finance Minister Mohamed Maait on the sidelines of the IMF and World Bank spring meetings.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Egypt, US to hold trade talks in July: Customs officials from Egypt and the US will sit down in July to discuss “procedural and administrative matters” for the Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFA), Customs Authority head Kamal Negm said during the most recent round of discussions on the agreement, according to Al Shorouk. Relaxing trade barriers is key to reaching a free trade agreement with the US. Intellectual property rights, merchandise standards, food safety, and SME support were among the chief issues discussed during the round held in Washington last week.

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi signed several MoUs with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara on health, culture, and information technology during a visit to Abidjan on Thursday, according to an Ittihadiya statement. The trip was the first time an Egyptian president has visited the Ivory Coast. El Sisi also visited Senegal, where he and Senegalese President Macky Sall agreed to increase economic cooperation and investments between the two countries, Ittihadiya said in a statement.

Energy

Cypriot parliament ratifies natural gas agreement with Egypt

The Cypriot House of Representatives has ratified an agreement with Egypt to build a direct subsea natural gas pipeline, Cyprus News Agency reported. The Egyptian parliament last month signed off on the agreement, which would allow natural gas from the Aphrodite gas field to be transported to Egypt’s liquefaction facilities at Idku and Damietta, and re-exported as liquefied natural gas. The two countries had signed the agreement in September.

Elsewedy Electric unit signs EGP 550 mn Port Said transmission station contract

Elsewedy Electric signed a EGP 550 mn contract to build an electricity transmission station at Port Said’s industrial zone on a turnkey basis, the company said in a bourse filing (pdf). The project will take 10 months to complete.

Scatec Solar starts commercial operations on first part of solar plant in Benban

Scatec Solar has launched commercial operations on the first part of its 400 MW solar plant in Egypt’s 1.5 GW Benban solar power park, the company announced on Thursday. The Norwegian company has grid connected a 65-MW share of the project, which, when completed, will comprise six solar plants in total, containing bi-facial solar panels for increased energy generation. Scatec Solar expects to complete all six plants by the end of 2019. When finished, they are expected to produce 870 GWh each year.

Eni to link three new Zohr wells to Shorouk concession to boost output

Eni aims to link three new wells in the Zohr field to the Shorouk concession to boost production, an EGAS source told Al Shorouk. The company will this month finish digging its 15th well and will have 11 wells in production by the end of next month.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt plans to cultivate 200k feddans of less water-intensive rice this season

The government is planning to cultivate 200k feddans of drought- and salt water-tolerant rice this harvest season as part of its strategy to save water, according to a cabinet statement. This came a week after Abdel Atti revealed Egypt’s USD 50 bn 18-year plan encouraging modern irrigation methods, fewer water-intensive crops and establishing desalination plants. This national strategy is supported by legislative amendments to the Agriculture Act, and aims to clamp down on water-intensive crops to reduce water shortages.

Manufacturing

Huhtamaki inaugurates flexible packaging manufacturing facility in Egypt

Finnish food packaging manufacturer Huhtamaki has inaugurated a EUR 23 mn flexible packaging manufacturing facility in Cairo, according to a company press release. The unit is owned and operated as a joint venture with Huhtamaki’s joint venture partner in Egypt, Ayman Korra, with Korra holding a 25% stake.

Law

Shalakany tagged top-tier firm in seven practices by Legal 500

Shalakany Law Office was ranked by Legal 500 as a top-tier firm in seven practice areas, Shalakany said in a statement (pdf). Four of the firm’s partners, including Khaled El Shalakany and Aly El Shalakany were named as leading lawyers. Another four partners and senior associates were named next-generation lawyers.

Automotive + Transportation

Egypt considering two China-heavy consortiums for USD 8.5 bn Alamein-Sokhna electric rail

Two consortiums of predominantly Chinese companies have submitted their technical and financial offers to construct the USD 8.5 bn Alamein-Ain Sokhna electric railway, a government official tells Al Shorouk. The first consortium is comprised of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), China Railway Construction Corporation Limited (CRCC), local construction firm Samcrete, and the Arab Organization for Industrialization. The second includes China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC), the China State Construction Engineering, Germany’s Siemens, the French state-owned railway company SNCF, Arab Contractors, and Orascom. The Transport Ministry is expected to announce the winning bid next month. Six other consortiums were bidding for the tender but withdrew.

National Security

Egypt and France hold naval drills as part of military cooperation

Egyptian and French naval forces conducted a joint drill in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday, as part of an initiative to boost military cooperation, MENA reports. The training focused on countering maritime security threats and protecting cargo ships.

Sports

All-Egyptian squash finals to be played today

The finals of the DPD Open 2019 will be all-Egyptian as the world’s top four squash players go head-to-head today. World no.1 Raneem El Welily will play world no.2 Nour El Sherbini in the women’s final while Ali Farag and Mohamed Elshorbagy will compete for the men’s title. The games will take place at 15:00 this afternoon.

Nestle tips

On Your Way Out

Actor Mahmoud El Guindy died last week at the age of 74, Ahram Online reported. El Guindy, whose funeral was held in his hometown of Beheira last Thursday, began his acting career in the 1970s and appeared in over 100 films and tens of plays.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 17.27 | Sell 17.37
EGP / USD at CIB:
Buy 17.26 | Sell 17.36
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.25 | Sell 17.35

EGX30 (Thursday): 15,106 (0.00%)
Turnover: EGP 664 mn (25% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: 15.9%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session unmoved at 0.00%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended up 0.7%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Emaar Misr up 4.3%, Eastern Co. up 1.2%, and Orascom Investment Holding up 1.2%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were Egypt Kuwait Holding down 4.3%, Egyptian Resorts down 1.5% and Qalaa Holdings down 1.3%. The market turnover was EGP 664 mn, and local investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net long | EGP +24.9 mn
Regional: Net long | EGP +11.3 mn
Domestic: Net short | EGP -36.2 mn

Retail: 45.3% of total trades | 40.7% of buyers | 49.9% of sellers
Institutions: 54.7% of total trades | 59.3% of buyers | 50.1% of sellers

WTI: USD 63.89 (+0.49%)
Brent: USD 71.55 (+1.02%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.66 MMBtu, (-0.15%, May 2019 contract)
Gold: USD 1,295.20 / troy ounce (+0.15%)

TASI: 9,087.97 (+0.12%) (YTD: +16.11%)
ADX: 5,052.34 (-0.11%) (YTD: +2.79%)
DFM: 2,790.16 (-0.63%) (YTD: +10.29%)
KSE Premier Market: 6,125.90 (+0.15%)
QE: 10,259.07 (+0.22%) (YTD: -0.39%)
MSM: 3,983.79 (+0.30%) (YTD: -7.86%)
BB: 1,438.48 (-0.28%) (YTD: +7.57%)

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Calendar

April: Russian companies will receive the first 1 square-km plot in the 5.2 square-km Russian Industrial Zone within the Suez Canal Economic Zone

April: The EUR 250k first phase of Egypt’s national waste management program will kick off.

12-14 April (Friday-Sunday): IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington, DC.

16 April (Tuesday): The House of Representatives votes on the proposed constitutional amendments.

16-17 April (Tuesday-Wednesday): North Africa Iron and Steel Conference, Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Cairo.

17-18 April (Wednesday-Thursday): OPEC+ meeting, Vienna, Austria.

21 April (Sunday): A court will look into a lawsuit by a subsidiary of Arabian Investments, Development and Financial Investment Holding Co. (AIND) against Peugeot Citroen. The lawsuit, seeking EUR 150 mn in damages, was postponed from 17 March.

21 April (Sunday): RT Imaging Summit & Expo-EMEA, InterContinental City Stars, Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt.

21-22 April (Sunday-Monday): Egypt CSR Summit, InterContinental City Stars, Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt.

23-24 April (Tuesday-Wednesday): SME Corporate Governance Workshop, Fairmont Nile City Hotel, Cairo, Egypt.

25 April (Thursday): Sinai Liberation Day, national holiday.

25 April (Thursday): Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, Beijing, China.

28 April (Sunday): Easter Sunday, national holiday.

29 April (Monday): Easter Monday, national holiday.

30 April-1 March (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

May: 50 Egyptian companies are set to visit Libya to discuss trade, investment and reconstruction.

May: An IMF delegation will be in town to conduct its final review of the reform program.ahead of the disbursement of the fifth and final tranche of Egypt’s USD 12 bn IMF loan.

1 May (Wednesday): Labor Day, national holiday.

4 May (Saturday) An administrative court will look into an appeal by Emirati business figure Mohamed Alabbar’s Adeptio AD Investments against a Financial Regulatory Authority order to submit a mandatory tender offer (MTO) for Americana.

6 May (Monday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

23 May (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s monetary policy committee will meet to review interest rates.

1H2019 (date TBD): Investment Minister Sahar Nasr will head a delegation of businessmen into Mexico City to explore cooperation avenues with the Latin American country.

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

June: Egypt will host the first economic forum for Union for the Meditteranean (UfM) countries to promote trade and investment in the 43 member states.

4-5 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): Global Entrepreneurship Summit, The Hague, the Netherlands

5-6 June (Wednesday-Thursday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

11-12 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): Offshore Congress MENA, InterContinental Semiramis, Cairo.

16-17 June (Sunday-Monday): Mega Projects Conference, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

16-18 June (Sunday-Tuesday): Middle East & Africa Rail Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

17-18 June (Monday-Tuesday): Seamless North Africa, Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo.

17-19 June (Monday-Wednesday): Cairo Technology Week, Hilton Heliopolis, Cairo.

18-19 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

19-20 June (Wednesday-Thursday): Pharos Holding Annual Investor Conference, El Gouna, Egypt.

23 June (Sunday): Cairo Arbitration Court hearing for Amer Group vs. Antaradous for Touristic Development

28-29 June (Friday-Saturday): G20 Global Economic Summit, Osaka, Japan.

30 June (Sunday): June 2013 protests anniversary, national holiday.

July: Customs officials from Egypt and the US will sit down to discuss “procedural and administrative matters” as part of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFA).

11 July (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s monetary policy committee will meet to review interest rates.

19-21 July (Friday-Sunday): LED Middle East Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

23 July (Tuesday): 23 July revolution anniversary, national holiday.

30-31 July (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

7-11 August (Wednesday-Sunday) Eid El Adha (TBC).

22 August (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s monetary policy committee will meet to review interest rates.

29 August (Thursday): Islamic New Year (TBC), national holiday.

2-4 September (Monday-Wednesday): The Big 5 Construct Egypt, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

8-11 September (Sunday-Wednesday): Sahara Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

9-12 September (Monday-Thursday): The 9th Annual EFG Hermes London Conference, Arsenal Emirates Stadium, London.

17-18 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

26 September (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s monetary policy committee will meet to review interest rates.

6 October (Sunday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

10-13 October (Tuesday-Sunday): Big Industrial Week Arabia 2019, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

23-24 October (Wednesday-Thursday): Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference, Hilton Heliopolis, Cairo.

23 October-1 November (Wednesday-Friday): CIB PSA Women’s World Championship, Great Pyramid of Giza, Cairo.

29-30 October (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

3-5 November (Sunday-Tuesday): Electrix 2019, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

9 November (Saturday): Prophet Mohammed’s birthday, national holiday.

10-14 November (Sunday-Thursday): GeoMEast International Congress and Exhibition, Marriott, Cairo.

14-17 November (Thursday-Sunday): Machtech Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

14-17 November (Thursday-Sunday): Transpotech Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

14-17 November (Thursday-Sunday): Airtech Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

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

3-6 December (Tuesday-Friday): Cairo WoodShow, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

9-11 December (Monday-Wednesday): Pacprocess Middle East Africa, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

9-11 December (Monday-Wednesday): Food Africa 2019 Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

10-11 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

26 December (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s monetary policy committee will meet to review interest rates.

9-12 January 2020 (Tuesday-Sunday): PLASTEX, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

25 January 2020 (Saturday): 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day, national holiday.

11-13 February 2020 (Tuesday-Thursday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International

Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

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