Thursday, 10 October 2019

The fight for HHD management is getting interesting


What We’re Tracking Today

Expect another low inflation reading when Capmas releases September’s figures later today. Annual headline inflation plunged to 7.5% in August, the lowest reading in six-and-a-half years. Analysts are expecting the downward trend to hold, with Pharos’ Radwa El Sweify predicting overall annual inflation to cool to 4.7% and Prime Research estimating urban inflation to fall to between 5.3% and 5.5%.

A Russian business delegation headed by Trade Minister Denis Manturov is in town for the last day today for a joint forum to discuss cooperation. Manturov told Trade Minister Amr Nassar yesterday that 55 Russian companies are interested in getting involved in the Russian Industrial Zone (RIZ). We have the story in Diplomacy + Foreign Trade, below.

A Portuguese investor delegation is in Suez today to eye up a piece of the city’s shipping business, according to Masrawy.

IDA’s new industrial land platform to launch today: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly will hold a press conference today to launch the Industrial Development Authority’s (IDA) new electronic platform for investors to buy industrial land.

Key dates for your diaries this month:

  • The IMF and World Bank annual meetings take place next week from 14-20 October.
  • The fifth ‘Egypt Can’ conference will be held on 16-17 October. The event will be attended by 65 of the biggest foreign investors in Egypt, as well as representatives from international financial institutions, businesses and the Egyptian government.
  • The Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference will take place at the Hilton Heliopolis on 23-24 October.
  • B2B conference for German, Egyptian companies to talk cooperation: The German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development, and Energy are hosting a B2B conference for a German delegation that will be in Cairo later this month to talk potential cooperation with Egyptian businesses. The event will take place on Monday, 28 October in Cairo. Click or tap here to register.
  • The US Federal Reserve will meet on 29-30 October to review key interest rates.

Afreximbank announces potential GDR offering on LSE: The Cairo-based African Export-Import Bank is considering an initial public offering of global depository receipts (GDRs) on the London Stock Exchange, according to a statement (pdf). The GDRs would represent the bank’s class D ordinary shares, and would, if executed, be exchangeable with depository receipts listed in Mauritius. The bank has yet to determine the size of the offering, which “comes as a rare boost to the UK’s anaemic IPO market, which is suffering from a dearth of new listings as Brexit hangs over the country’s economy and capital markets,” the Financial Times says.

Advisors: Afreximbank has tapped JPMorgan and HSBC to act as joint bookrunners on the potential listing.

Are this year’s IPO disasters reminiscent of the dot-com bubble? Former Nasdaq CEO Bob Greifeld has said that this year’s boom in less-than-impressive tech IPOs has eerie similarities to the dot-com bubble in the 1990s, CNBC reports. Despite multi-bn USD pre-IPO valuations, Lyft, Uber and Peloton all bombed on the market this year, as investors became increasingly concerned about profitability. “In a sense, it reminded me back of the dot-com era, when you had companies going public that had no known path to profitability,” Greifeld said.

Global tech firms may soon be forced to whisper it pay their taxes. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has unveiled plans (pdf) to overhaul the global tax system in a bid to crack down on tax avoidance by our tech overlords. Current international taxation rules hold that governments only have a right to tax companies with a physical presence in the country, allowing digital service providers to ship profits overseas to countries with low corporate taxes. The OECD is now calling for this system to be overturned, giving countries the right to tax profits wherever they are placed in the world. The Financial Times has more.

The road to debt default is paved with good intentions. The World Bank, IMF, and other development banks are contributing to debt distress in the world’s poorest countries even as they seek to alleviate these problems, chief executive of the Currency Exchange Fund Ruurd Brouwer writes in the Financial Times. By offering “one size fits all” USD-denominated loans as part of their debt sustainability framework, these institutions end up forcing vulnerable countries into taking on currency risk that they can ill afford, he says.

Negative interest rate insanity continues: Greece — yes, that country which just four years ago was inches away from economic oblivion — is now selling bonds at a negative yield. Bloomberg reports that our neighbors to the north sold EUR 487 mn-worth of -0.02% interest-yielding treasury bills yesterday, meaning that investors are actually paying to hold debt issued by a government which had it not been for bns of EUR in bailout money would have been declared insolvent long ago.

Did China just offer a way out of the trade war? Beijing has offered to import more US agricultural products to break the impasse in trade negotiations as a new round of talks kick off today, sources told the Financial Times. “[China’s chief negotiator] Liu He is coming with real offers, it’s not an empty visit,” one of the sources said. “The Chinese are ready to de-escalate.” Both sides are reportedly keen to avoid a new round of tariffs, which are scheduled to kick in on 15 October if no agreement is reached. US stocks reacted positively to the news, with the S&P 500 up 0.9% and the Nasdaq Composite rising 1%.

B’naire Samih Sawiris took a slightly run-down “ghost town” in a secluded part of the Alps and turned it into Switzerland’s best-kept ultra-luxury secret ski resort. This Bloomberg article tells the story, complete with gorgeous photos. Sawiris’ ability to see promise in undiscovered areas is discussed further in today’s My Morning Routine with Raouf Tawfik, general manager of El Gouna, below.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s meetings with visiting foreign delegations was the number one topic on the nation’s airwaves last night.

El Sisi invited South Korean businesses to invest in Egypt during a meeting with an investor delegation yesterday, Al Hayah Al Youm’s Khaled Abu Bakr reported. The president then held talks with Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, and a US congressional delegation from South Carolina (watch, runtime: 5:15). We have a rundown in this morning’s Diplomacy + Foreign Trade, below.

Egypt’s ranking on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index improved a single notch to 93rd out of 140 countries, Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan noted (watch, runtime: 7:37). We have a breakdown of our performance in Speed Round, below.

Shawki talks education reform amid shuffle speculation: Radwan interviewed Education Minister Tarek Shawki about his education policies, a day after Deputy House Speaker Soliman Wahdan suggested that the ministry could soon get a new minister (watch, runtime: 7:20). “What we are trying to do is extremely hard, there’s a time aspect,” he said, adding that his “radical changes” will take time to yield results. Shawki’s K-12 reform program aims to move away from grade-focused education towards building skills.

Speed Round

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Emaar, SODIC, BPE, ODE interested in HHD management: State-owned Heliopolis Housing and Development’s (HHD) offer of a 10% stake in return for managing the company has piqued the interest of at least eight companies, sources told the press. Emaar Misr, SODIC, private equity firm BPE, and Orascom Development Egypt (ODE) are among the companies considering bidding for the stake, the sources noted. EFG Hermes is also reportedly in the race, an unnamed source from the investment bank said.

BPE was the only one to comment. BPE founding partner Alaadin Saba told the newspaper that the private equity firm will submit a formal request for qualification “within days.” So far, HHD has only received one formal request from an alliance of a private equity firm and real estate developer, anonymous sources separately told Al Mal. Several other real estate developers have also been in touch with HHD for general inquiries about the plan.

HHD will put out a shortlist of qualified companies by mid-November ahead of issuing a conditions booklet early December. The qualified companies will then be able to submit technical and financial bids, HHD Chairman Hany El Deeb said.

Background: The state-owned real estate developer invited private equity firms or alliances of private equity firms and private real estate developers to qualify as eligible bidders for the sale earlier this month. The sale will include a 10% stake that will be offered to either private equity firms or alliances of private equity firms and private real estate developers that will both invest in and manage the company’s day-to-day operations. Shareholders approved the move at an extraordinary general assembly meeting in August. Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik recently told us that the sale will not take place before the end of the year pending the wrap-up of a handful of procedures.

 Investors shy away from Egypt’s USD-denominated bonds in anticipation of new issuance: Egypt’s 30-year USD-denominated bonds dropped USD 0.009 to USD 1.053, its biggest fall in one day since protests last month, and the 2047 bond fell USD 0.003 to USD 1.04, its lowest in almost two months, Reuters reported. “There’s been some noise about a new [USD] bond issuance coming out of Egypt soon and, given the heavy investor positioning, we might expect some selling as investors make space in their portfolios to purchase the new issue in the primary market,” said Farouk Soussa, senior Middle East and North Africa economist with Goldman Sachs. Soussa also pointed to concerns about supply. Egypt plans to issue USD 3-7 bn in international bonds during FY2019-2020, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said last month.

Other potential causes for the fall: Concerns from investors that Egypt may take steps to reverse austerity measures such as subsidy cuts to calm public discontent could have also been behind today’s fall, Capital Economics’ Jason Tuvey told the newswire. “There might be concern that if protests escalate then Egypt’s debt ratio could be put on an upward path,” said Tuvey. The government last month restored some 1.8 mn people to subsidy rolls who had previously been disqualified for earning too much, and on Tuesday some members of parliament called on the government to take action on wages, pensions, and social programs.

EFIA lobbies for new natgas pricing mechanism: The Egyptian Federation of Investors Associations (EFIA) will ask the Finance Ministry to impose a new mechanism that would determine natural gas prices for manufacturers akin to the floating customs exchange rate, EFIA’s head of tax and customs Sobhi Nasr told Youm7. Comparing it to the recent exchange rate float decision, Nasr said under the new mechanism, gas prices would be reviewed every month and would apply to all local industries. The EFIA is preparing to hold a meeting to discuss the government’s decision last week to reduce gas prices for three industries.

Background: Responding to pressure from manufacturers, the government last week lowered the price of natural gas for the cement, metallurgy, and ceramics industries, and said it would review it every six months. The price for cement factories was slashed to USD 6 / mmBtu, down from USD 8. Metallurgy and ceramic companies, meanwhile, saw their rates drop to USD 5.5 from USD 7. The move is designed to offset the recent surge in operating costs, and boost output and exports.

STARTUP WATCH- Hive, a Cairo-based ride-hailing app for children, has secured a USD 400k investment from Abdelmoneim Al Adawy, one of the application’s earliest customers, according to Menabytes. The investment will be used to improve the application’s safety and scale up the company.

An alternative to school buses: Hive was founded by Abdelrahman Osama and Mohamed Aboali as a substitute for school buses. The startup completed over 6k trips during the last school year, and is now trying an Uber-esque concept of ride-sharing by offering money to parents who have extra space in their cars to take other children along.

New minimum wage for civil servants coming next month: A decision to raise civil servants’ minimum wage to EGP 2,000 from EGP 1,200 will come into effect next month, the Finance Ministry’s head of budgeting told the House of Representatives, according to the local press. The ministry has prepared a booklet that clarifies all the necessary information on the minimum wage decision. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait earlier this week urged all public bodies to commit to the decision.

Egypt ranked 93rd out of 140 countries on the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Competitiveness Index, rising one place from last year’s ranking of 94.

Where we’ve improved: Egypt is on a general upward trajectory, with our institutions, infrastructure, labor market, financial system, business dynamism, and innovation capability all receiving higher scores than last year. Readings for the burden of government regulation and corruption have improved — areas that were faring worse last year than in previous years. Where we’re really doing well is in the government’s responsiveness to change and long-term vision, as well as energy regulation — new areas where we rank very highly. We also score highly for SME financing and the growth of innovative companies. As we noted last year, Egypt has a significantly larger market size than the regional average.

Where we haven’t: Egypt’s ranking for macroeconomic stability continues to fall, and both this and ICT adoption are well below the market average. We are ranked 124, close to the bottom of the 141 participating countries, for the cost of starting a business. We also don’t fare well for trade openness. While the report cites the skill level of the labor market as having improved from last year, we don’t score highly at all for critical thinking in teaching.

You can download the report in full here (pdf).

STARTUP WATCH- Egypt’s ExpandCart has been accepted into the fifth cohort of Hong Kong accelerator Betatron, making it the only African startup to have been included. Entry into the accelerator is notoriously competitive, with Venture Burn reporting that Betatron had an overall acceptance rate of just 0.6% of the 1301 startups that applied. Betatron has invested USD 150k into each startup in the cohort — which features seven other companies in addition to ExpandCart — according to a post from its marketing director, Sam Ameen. Each company will now be assigned a mentor from Betatron’s network, and will receive support on a variety of issues that are key to building a business. They will spend the next three months working to scale up.

ExpandCart is an e-commerce platform that allows customers to easily create and manage online shops, even if they don’t have any prior technical experience. Support is offered to customers in marketing, sales, store management and website design, in both English and Arabic. The company was founded in 2013 by Egyptians Yasser Seleem and Amr Shawqy.

Madbouly, Shoukry fire back on GERD as Ethiopia presses ahead with construction: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry yesterday accused Ethiopia of violating bilateral agreements for pushing ahead with the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). “Ethiopia’s radical positions represent a violation of the declaration of principles reached by the presidents of Egypt, Sudan and the prime minister of Ethiopia in Khartoum on 23 March 2015,” Ahram Online quoted Madbouly as saying in a statement to the House. "This unilateral decision was in violation of international agreements, and despite this fact we choose dialogue to reach agreement with Ethiopia." Shoukry, meanwhile, called Ethiopia’s actions “unacceptable” and warned that they will have” negative consequences for stability in the region,” according to Reuters.

Background: The ministers’ statements are the latest salvo in an escalating war of words between Egypt and Ethiopia over the dam’s potential disruption to the flow of the Blue Nile. It emerged this week that Ethiopia had referred to Egypt’s proposal as “an effort to maintain a self-claimed colonial era-based water allocation and veto power on any project in the Nile system.” Talks in Khartoum last week failed to produce an agreement on how much water Ethiopia will release each year. Egypt depends on the Nile for 90% of its water and wants Ethiopia to release 40 bcm a year from its reservoir, a higher quantity than the 35 bcm proposed by Addis Ababa. Egypt has called for the US to step in and mediate the talks, an idea that Ethiopia rejected from the outset.

Arab League to meet in Cairo on Saturday as Turkey invades Syria: Arab foreign ministers will meet in Cairo on Saturday to discuss Turkey’s invasion of Syria following calls from Egypt for an emergency meeting, the Arab League said in a statement picked up by Reuters. A source told Gulf News that ministers will explore ways to protect Syria’s sovereignty.

Egypt isn’t happy: Egypt’s Foreign Ministry yesterday condemned “in the strongest possible terms” Turkey’s invasion of north-east Syria and called for an emergency Arab League meeting to discuss the crisis. In its statement the Foreign Ministry called the operation a “blatant and unacceptable attack” on Syria’s sovereignty, and accused Ankara of “demographic engineering.” President Abdel Fattah El Sisi discussed the offensive with Iraqi President Barham Salih on the phone last night, according to an Ittihadiya statement.

Erdogan clearly hasn’t read ‘How to Win Friends…’: The Turkish military launched airstrikes and artillery fire against Kurdish targets in Syria and began a ground invasion yesterday. The offensive came just two days after US President Donald Trump announced that US forces in Syria would stand aside and allow Turkey to take control of Syrian territory controlled by Kurdish militia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the operation is intended to wipe out a so-called “terror corridor” on the country’s southern border. "It constitutes an unacceptable attack on the sovereignty of an Arab member state of the League," Reuters quoted Arab League Assistant Secretary General Hossam Zaki as saying. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the EU denounced the incursion, while the Trump Administration tried to distance itself from events after Republican lawmakers heavily criticized his decision to pull out from Syria.

MOVES- CIB has appointed seasoned Indian bankers Rajeev Kakar and Paresh Sukthankar as non-executive board members, the bank said in a statement. Dubai-based Kakar (LinkedIn) brings over 30 years of experience, and currently sits on the boards of both the Gulf International Bank and Greece’s Eurobank Ergasias. Sukthankar, meanwhile, is the lead partner at Mumbai-based Sanaksh Advisors and a former deputy MD at India’s HDFC Bank.


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The Macro Picture

Chinese tech companies are dominating in Africa: Tecno, a phonemaker owned by Shenzhen-based Transsion, has become one of the most well regarded brands in Africa thanks to the Chinese company’s commitment to the market, David Pilling writes in the Financial Times. Unlike its Western competitors, Transsion has built cheaper phones specifically for lower-income African economies, providing a longer battery life, dual SIM capacity, and local language options. The company also sees Africa as a potential manufacturing hub, and has opened two factories in Ethiopia. All this has seen Tecno rise to become the fifth most respected brand on the continent, ahead of companies we usually think of as being dominant in the smartphone space, such as Apple and Google.

This is part of a wider trend that is seeing Chinese companies take the lead role in African telecoms. Tech giants Huawei and ZTE are providing the infrastructure and networking capacity almost on their own, while Alibaba’s e-payment platform Alipay is looking to expand on the continent. Transsion’s success is partly due to the reluctance from Western companies to engage with African countries as potential markets. As Pilling notes, there is still a tendency in the West to regard Africa as a charity case. The Chinese, meanwhile, see it as a whole new market.

Egypt in the News

Analysis of last month’s demonstrations continues to dominate coverage of Egypt in the foreign press. Egypt is at a “turning point” where the protests could be the start of a more sustained expression of discontent if changes are not enacted, writes Abukar Arman in Modern Democracy. James M Dorsey concurs in a piece for Eurasia Review, but says that the impact of lessons learned from years of pent-up frustration in the region is best seen in Iraq, Sudan and Algeria. In each country, protests are the inevitable result of widespread unemployment, bloated government bureaucracies, and corruption. Repressive measures taken to silence protestors only add fuel to the flames, he says. Meanwhile, a CGTN podcast (listen, runtime: 19:57) gives an overview of what’s driving the demonstrations, in a bid to understand whether they are likely to continue.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Fifty-five Russian manufacturers want to get in on the RIZ: Fifty-five Russian manufacturers have expressed interest in setting up shop in the USD 7 bn Russian Industrial Zone (RIZ), Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov told Egyptian counterpart Amr Nassar yesterday, according to a Trade Ministry statement (pdf). Moscow has committed to invest up to USD 190 mn in developing infrastructure for the zone, which is expected to produce USD 3.6 bn worth of products by 2026. The two ministers also discussed the ongoing negotiations for a trade agreement between Egypt and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

Manturov also met President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly for economic and cultural talks yesterday. Manturov is in Cairo for a two-day visit heading a business delegation for a joint forum to discuss cooperation in various fields. The delegation leaves later today.

El Sisi meets South Korean business delegation: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi yesterday met a delegation of South Korean multinationals in town for the Egypt-Korea Business Council, and urged them to step up their investments in Egypt, according to an Ittihadiya statement. We noted yesterday that 20 South Korean firms — including Samsung, LG, Hyundai Rotem and POSCO — expressed interest in investing in Egypt’s manufacturing and energy sectors during the forum. Companies operating in real estate and tourism are also looking to partner with the Egyptian private sector.

Egypt and Cyprus signed an agreement to renew their bilateral double taxation treaty during the trilateral summit that was held in Cairo on Tuesday, according to the Cyprus Mail. The new agreement will help deepen economic ties between the two countries while expanding the network of double taxation conventions helps establish them as international business centers. The original treaty was signed in December 1993.


Egypt reduces natural gas production amid lower demand

The Oil Ministry has reduced Egypt’s natural gas production to 6 bcf/d, from 7 bcf/d after lower domestic and international demand resulted in surplus production, an unnamed ministry source told the local press. It is expected that the production will gradually rise back to 7.5 bcf/d in this fiscal year.

NREA to study Vestas’ bid for 250 MW Ras Ghareb wind plant on Sunday

The New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) will on Sunday study an offer from Denmark’s Vestas for the tender to build a 250 MW wind energy plant in Ras Ghareb, sources told the press. Vestas is the frontrunner for the tender as the other bidder, Siemens Gamesa, has not been told of the date, the sources said. Another wind energy company, Germany’s Senvion, was also bidding for the project but retracted its bid earlier this month. The plant is expected to cost EUR 260 mn and is being built for Lekela Egypt, which will operate it under a build-own-operate framework.

Rosatom to break ground on Egypt’s Dabaa plant by mid-2020

Rosatom’s Atomstroyexport (ASE) expects to break ground on the construction of the USD 30 bn Dabaa nuclear power plant by mid-2020, ASE Egypt director Anatoly Kovtunov tells Al Mal. Kovtunov said earlier this week that the company plans to issue 20 tenders for the plant’s construction and management projects, and is currently in talks with Orascom Construction, Hassan Allam, and Arab Contractors.


NACCUD signs MoU with German consortium for new capital’s water infrastructure

The New Administrative Capital Company for Urban Development (NACCUD) signed an MoU with a German consortium led by Dorsch Gruppe to manage, operate, and maintain a water irrigation and drainage system for the new administrative capital, according to the local press. The two sides will set up a JV holding company with EGP 250 mn capital to finance the project.

Egypt, Russia’s Ak Bars to cooperate on developing shipbuilding industry

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) signed a cooperation protocol with Russian shipbuilding company Ak Bars Holdings to partner in the development of shipyards in Egypt and the construction and reparation of ships, the cabinet said in a statement. The two sides also discussed possibly setting up a joint shipyard in the El Gouna area.


Egypt’s Ceramica Cleopatra to invest EGP 6 bn in two new factories next year

Ceramica Cleopatra Group is planning to invest EGP 6 bn next year to set up two new factories to manufacture porcelain and ceramic tiles, and healthcare products, Chairman Mohamed Aboul Enein said, according to the local press. The factories, which will be set up in Ain Sokhna and the 10 Ramadan City industrial zone, are expected to come online in 2021 and should raise the company’s production output by 50%, according to Aboul Enein.

Godiva could set up a factory and stores in Egypt

Belgian chocolatier Godiva could set up shop in Egypt with chocolate stores and a factory to act as its regional base for manufacturing and sales, sources close to the matter tell Al Mal. Godiva is looking at setting up stores to test the appetite (pun not intended) for their products before moving ahead with a manufacturing facility in one of Egypt’s industrial zones.

Health + Education

Egyptian Modern Education to invest EGP 62-65 mn in new school

Egyptian Modern Education Systems will invest up to EGP 65 mn to establish an American school as part of efforts to upgrade its listing from the Nilex to the EGX, IR manager Haitham Allam said. The company has already begun building the new school in the Katameya area and expects to welcome students at the start of the next academic year.

Real Estate + Housing

NUCA offers land plots worth EGP 35.5 bn to investors

The New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) has tendered 26 mixed-use land plots worth EGP 35.5 bn in Sixth of October, Sheikh Zayed, New Cairo, and El Shorouk and Sadat cities under a new land tender mechanism, Housing Ministry sources told the press.

In related news: NUCA has granted Al Arabia Company For Real Estate Development (ARCO) a five-year extension to complete a project in Sixth of October City and adjust the price of the land, Al Mal reported. The authority did not elaborate on the price adjustment or explain what would what happen if the company were to miss the new deadline to complete the projects.

Amer Group launches EGP 3 bn Porto Heliopolis

Amer Group has launched its EGP 3 bn Porto Heliopolis project, according to a statement seen by Hapi Journal. The latest installment of the company’s signature mixed-use development Porto will include 27k sqm of residential, commercial, and administrative areas — as well as serviced houses, a shopping mall, and a promenade.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Policeman in the Nile Delta detained upon claims he assaulted lawyer

A policeman in the Nile Delta was detained last week after he allegedly assaulted a lawyer over a parking dispute, the Associated Press reports. The prosecutor-general’s office confirmed in a statement that it had ordered the arrest after graphic images of lawyer Ahmed Alwan went viral on social media, prompting dozens of lawyers to gather outside a police station in Mahalla el Kubra to demand the officer’s arrest.

My Morning Routine

Raouf Tawfik, general manager of El Gouna: 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 just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Raouf Tawfik, general manager of El Gouna, a self-contained resort town on the Red Sea that boasts some of Egypt’s most beautiful beaches and amenities.

My name is Raouf Tawfik. I’ve been married for six years, and my wife and I have two beautiful girls. The eldest is almost four, and we also have a new addition to the family who’s just seven months old. I trained as an engineer, then worked in finance for 16 years before assuming the management of one of Africa's largest dairy farms in 2016. Earlier this year, I moved to El Gouna to take on a new challenge.

I’m the general manager of El Gouna, which is one of the most beautiful resort towns in the world. I lead the town’s management team, and collectively we’re responsible for ensuring that anyone who comes to El Gouna, whether a visitor or a resident, has a relaxing experience. We want everyone to truly live out our motto of experiencing “life as it should be.”

As you can imagine, mornings in El Gouna are quite spectacular. I wake up early everyday, usually around 6.30-7 am, and have a coffee while reading Enterprise, then I head out for a quick workout. I spend the rest of the morning with my family before going to work; quality time with the family is so important. Recently, I also added windsurfing to the mix. It’s a hobby I let slide for about 20 years, but being on the water in the early morning and then heading to work afterwards completely changes the mood of the day.

When it comes to work, no one day is like the next. My team and I run a town, and this of course means handling the issues and surprises that arise when you have groups of people living together. Whether it’s managing security, the marina, the hospital, retail areas, or the school, we always do our best to make sure that everything is running smoothly. We also need to be responsive when it comes to addressing any issues that El Gouna residents might have and solving problems as they come up (which inevitably happens).

El Gouna has become a hub for prominent events which require a lot of logistical organization,including the El Gouna Film Festival, the El Gouna Squash International Open and the El Gouna Half Marathon, to name but a few. So an increasing amount of time is spent planning and executing these high-profile events, to make sure they go off without a hitch. The shorter-term intensive planning and rapid execution needed to run big events is quite a different thing to the regular planning and maintenance of El Gouna that we undertake on a continuous basis.

With so many things to think about, finding ways to switch off can be a challenge. Like many people, I find good Netflix shows to be one of the best ways of doing this. It’s great to disconnect for an hour or two after a long day at work. I recently watched a great miniseries called What/If, which is a thriller made in the US starring Renee Zellweger. I was stuck on a delayed flight to the UK and ended up watching seven out of the 10 episodes all at once. It’s one of the best new series I’ve seen lately — dark, compelling, and thought provoking. The other show that I really enjoy watching is Bns, which is all about power play in the world of New York high finance. It’s fast paced and looks at an industry I’m very familiar with.

El Gouna was founded 30 years ago by Samih Sawiris, who is a visionary. What many people saw as being just plain desert, he saw as an opening to develop something remarkable. In terms of its development, El Gouna started out as just a hotel, a marina, and a few villas, but it has since grown to become something entirely different. Now it’s a town with over 20k residents, 19 hotels with over 2.7k rooms in total, and over 3.5k delivered homes. It also has three schools, a university, hospital, airport, and two world-class marinas, which are home to over 350 yachts and more than 100 eateries around town.

El Gouna really offers something unmatched, which I believe is a blend of simplicity and sophistication. It’s difficult not to speak in clichés when you try to describe the place, so I don’t want to talk too much about the weather or the beauty of the Red Sea — although it’s difficult not to feel these things when you come here. There is honestly something about El Gouna that feels magical. We also pride ourselves on having a multicultural and open-minded community living and working here. These people were essential in developing the town’s unique identity.

People often don’t understand that our business is multidimensional. We are not a real estate developer; we are an urban developer. We build towns and communities, and this makes us very different from other players in the market. We don’t want to sell you a house — we want you to live out an experience and a lifestyle. To do that, it’s important to provide the necessary enablers, including easy ways to set up a business, good education and healthcare systems, and an overall family-friendly environment that is different to what you’ll find anywhere else in the world.

The force that will create the most change in this industry? Mortgages. Need I say more?

The best piece of business advice I’ve ever been given is that it’s always about people, people, people. Having the right team in place will get you to the moon. When it comes to management — which is, of course, a notoriously difficult skill to master — it’s very important to try to focus on people’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. You need to try to harness the different strengths of individual team members for the benefit of the team as a whole. This entails a mixture of motivation and discipline, but you will always get further with people if you focus on maximizing their strengths rather than chastising them for their weaknesses. Another very important piece of advice, from a big-picture perspective, is that you live and die by your cash flows — so always keep an eye on them.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 16.23 | Sell 16.36
Buy 16.24 | Sell 16.34
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 16.23 | Sell 16.33

EGX30 (Wednesday): 14,182 (-1.2%)
Turnover: EGP 536 mn (23% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +8.8%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 ended Wednesday’s session down 1.2%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended down 1.0%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Ezz Steel down 5.0%, Egyptian Resorts down 2.6% and Emaar Misr down 2.5%. The market turnover was EGP 536 mn, and foreign investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net short | EGP -54.6 mn
Regional: Net long | EGP +7.3 mn
Domestic: Net long | EGP +47.3 mn

Retail: 72.5% of total trades | 78.1% of buyers | 66.9% of sellers
Institutions: 27.5% of total trades | 21.9% of buyers | 33.1% of sellers

WTI: USD 52.70 (+0.2%)
Brent: USD 58.32 (+0.1%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.24 MMBtu, (-0.1%, November 2019 contract)
Gold: USD 1,511.10 / troy ounce (-0.1%)

TASI: 7,715 (-1.5%) (YTD: -1.4%)
ADX: 5,053 (-0.3%) (YTD: +2.8%)
DFM: 2,809 (+0.5%) (YTD: +11.1%)
KSE Premier Market: 6,194 (+0.7%)
QE: 10,197 (-0.7%) (YTD: -1.0%)
MSM: 4,039 (+0.1%) (YTD: -6.6%)
BB: 1,517 (+0.0%) (YTD: +13.5%)

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October: A forum will be organized by Russia’s Rosatom and the Nuclear Power Plants Authority to introduce local suppliers and contractors to the Dabaa nuclear plant.

October: German businessman delegation will visit Egypt to discuss good projects in order to spend German funds into Egypt.

October: A delegation of 40-50 Saudi companies will visit Egypt to discuss increasing exports of Egyptian furniture.

7-10 October (Monday-Thursday): A Russian delegation will visit Cairo to attend a joint forum to discuss cooperation in various fields, including trade.

8-10 October (Tuesday-Thursday): A delegation of 20 Korean companies visits Egypt.

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

14-20 October (Monday-Sunday): IMF, World Bank annual meetings, Washington, DC.

16-17 October (Wednesday-Thursday): Egypt Can conference, undisclosed location.

20-24 October (Sunday-Thursday): German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce’s ROI Week with ROI Institute, JW Marriott Hotel, New Cairo

22 October (Tuesday): Innovative Finance: A New Vision to Support Investment forum, venue TBD, Cairo.

22 October (Tuesday): 20th Century Middle Eastern Art annual auction: Sotheby’s Gallery, London

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

23-24 October (Wednesday-Thursday): Russian-African Summit, Sochi City, Russia.

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

28 October-22 November (Monday-Friday): World Radiocommunication Conference 2019, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

28 October (Monday): B2B conference for German companies organized by the German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy, InterContinental Semiramis, Cairo.

28 October-31 October (Monday-Thursday): A Cairo court will rule on the stock manipulation case, in which Gamal and Alaa Mubarak are involved, along with seven other defendants.

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

29-30 October (Tuesday-Wednesday): South Sudan Oil & Power (SSOP) Conference, Juba, South Sudan.

31 October-2 November (Thursday-Saturday): Angel Oasis 2019, organized by the Middle East Angel Investment Network (MAIN), El Gouna, Egypt.

November: Suez Canal Conference for Investment, organized in cooperation with the European Union

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

7-9 November (Thursday-Saturday): BiznEx Egypt 2019, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

8-22 November: Egypt will host Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations 2019.

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

9-11 November (Saturday-Monday): Vested Summit, Sahl Hasheesh, Red Sea.

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

11-13 November (Monday-Wednesday): Africa Investment Forum, Gauteng, South Africa.

12 November (Tuesday): Egypt Economic Summit, venue TBA.

13-15 November (Wednesday-Friday): Africa Early Stage Investor Summit, Cape Town, South Africa.

14 November (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

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.

22-23 November (Friday-Saturday): Invest in Africa 2019 conference, New Administrative Capital.

24 November (Sunday): Arabia Investments lawsuit against French Peugeot (after being postponed)

25 November (Monday): Global Trade Matters international dialogue on climate neutrality, Marriott, Cairo.

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

December: Indian automotive delegation to visit Egypt.

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

5-7 December (Thursday-Saturday): RiseUp Summit, American University in Cairo, New Cairo Campus

8 December (Sunday): Pitch by the Pyramids, Giza Pyramids

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.

14-17 December (Saturday-Tuesday): World Youth Forum 2019, Sharm El Sheikh.

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

January 2020: 2019 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Awards, Albatros Citadel Resort, Hurghada, Egypt.

January 2020: UK-Africa Investment summit, London, United Kingdom.

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.

25 January 2020 (Saturday): Midterm break for public schools and universities. Also known as: Two weeks of good commute.

8 February 2020 (Saturday): Midterm break ends. Traffic in Cairo stinks once more.

11-13 February 2020 (Tuesday-Thursday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

March: The Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) will visit Egypt to assess the progress of actions taken to combat money laundering and terrorist sponsoring activities.

25-26 March 2020 (Wednesday-Thursday): Mega Projects Conference, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

5-7 May 2020 (Tuesday-Thursday): AFSIC – Investing in Africa, London, United Kingdom.

November 2020: Egypt will host simultaneously the International Capital Market Association’s emerging market, and Africa and Middle East meetings.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of HSBC Egypt (tax ID: 204-901-715), the leading corporate and retail lender in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Mashreq (tax ID: 204-898-862), the MENA region’s leading homegrown personal and digital bank; Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt; Hassan Allam Properties (tax ID:  553-096-567), one of Egypt’s most prominent and leading builders; and Saleh, Barsoum & Abdel Aziz (tax ID: 220-002-827), the leading audit, tax and accounting firm in Egypt.