Thursday, 16 January 2020

Egypt to hit pause on USD eurobonds until end of fiscal year, looks at green and other instruments instead


What We’re Tracking Today

All eyes will be on the Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee today as it meets this afternoon for the first time in 2020 to decide on interest rates. There’s no consensus among analysts, with four out of seven we polled earlier this week calling rate cuts of between 50-100 bps, and three expecting the MPC to hold. A survey by Reuters had eight out of 11 analysts calling a cut. The MPC cut rates by 100 bps when it last met in November, capping a year of accelerated easing that saw 450 bps in cuts.

GERD talks in Washington deliver an agreement … to kick the can down the road. Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese officials, who for the past three days have been locked in what had been positioned as last-ditch talks, agreed to meet again in Washington on 28-29 January in a bid to hash out an agreement on the filling timetable for the dam. We have more in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Egypt officially becomes a regional energy hub today, as the East Med Gas Forum sees Egypt and Israel announce the official start of shipping gas from Israel to Egypt. The group, which also includes Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Jordan and Palestine, first convened in January 2019 to accelerate the creation of a regional gas market. More on that in Speed Round, too.

On the same topic: Egypt’s electricity interconnectivity project with Sudan is on track to start “within days,” the local press reports, citing unnamed sources. Both sides are finalizing signaling and frequency tests for the 50 MW launch for the project, which will eventually reach a capacity of 300 MW. The interconnection project has been in the works for nearly two years, but was stalled several times.


Fintech and bankers, pay attention: Visa signed a “definitive agreement” to acquire financial services startup Plaid in a USD 5.3 bn transaction earlier this week, the payments giant said in a statement. The acquisition of Plaid, which allows users to safely connect their financial and banking data to other apps they use to manage their finances, is expected to open up new markets for Visa in the US and elsewhere in the world. The story is getting wide coverage in the business and tech press globally as signalling that fintech as gone “mainstream.”

Research coverage of Aramco is out, Reuters reports. The highlights:

  • BofA: neutral, target price: USD 9.60 / share;
  • JPMorgan: overweight, TP: USD 9.86 / share;
  • Goldman Sachs: neutral, TP: USD 10.90 / share;

Gold surge on the horizon? Co-chief investment officer of Bridgewater Associates Greg Jenson seems to think so, saying the safe haven asset could break the USD 2k barrier as central banks take a dovish stance and halt monetary easing, reports the FT.

Bitcoin kicked off the year with its strongest rally since 2012, trading at USD 8,637 amid a broader wave of investor optimism in commercial cryptocurrency adoption this coming year, according to the Wall Street Journal. Financial managers’ interest in allocating assets in digital currencies is growing, the journal says, spurring Bitcoin’s rally.

US and China ink “Phase One” trade war truce: The two-year trade war between the US and China could ease after the two inked a “phase one” agreement, the Wall Street Journal reported. The eight-part pact still leaves US tariffs on USD 370 bn in Chinese goods (or about three-quarters of what China sells to the US), but will cut tariffs by half to 7.5% on about USD 120 bn worth of imports. Beijing will commit to importing at least USD 200 bn in US goods and services over the coming two years than it purchased in 2017.

The Donald’s impeachment trial will start this coming Tuesday after the US House moved the articles of impeachment to the Senate overnight. The House has tapped seven managers to present the Democrats’ argument for impeaching Trump, the Wall Street Journal reports. Trump should now be naming a team to defend him in the Senate.


Have no fear, your favorite podcast is here (and out today): Making It is back for its first episode in 2020, featuring a FMCG manufacturer that is always present at your local koushk. And you know how the saying goes: Behind every good snack, there’s a good story. He describes himself as the captain of the ship who had to steer his business through tumultuous times: the revolution, the devaluation, increasing competition, a late export subsidy, and shifting interest rates. Look for today at 2pm on our website | Apple Podcast | Google Podcast or in your inbox.

If you want to refresh your memory a bit, these are the guests whose episodes are already out:

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

It was an extremely slow night on the airwaves last night, with the nation’s talking heads running out of steam as they wrapped up the week.

By far the biggest story of the night was the news that Egyptian authorities had raided Turkey’s state news agency. Yahduth Fi Misr’s Sherif Amer reported that security forces had detained four people during a raid on Anadolu’s Cairo office on Tuesday (watch, runtime: 1:30). We have more on this in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Amer then moved to discuss the latest round of negotiations on the Grand Ethipian Renaissance Dam (GERD), with veteran Egyptian diplomat Mostafa El Feky hailing the presence of the World Bank in the negotiations. El Feky argued that Egypt should invite more mediators to the table to help put pressure on Ethiopia (watch, runtime: 4:08).

The inauguration of the Bernice Military base also got some airtime with Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal, who reported the attendance of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The base, which is located in the southern military region in the Red Sea Governorate, will help secure the southern borders (watch, runtime: 1:52).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

EXCLUSIVE- The government is pressing pause on USD-denominated eurobond issuances for the remainder of the current fiscal year and will instead rely on a diverse set of debt instruments during the coming period, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told Enterprise. Egypt successfully issued USD 2 bn-worth of USD-denominated eurobonds in a triple-tranche issuance that went to market in November at “very good yields” that the government does not expect to replicate on a similar issuance. Green bonds will likely take the lead in the government’s debt sales for the remainder of FY2019-2020, with a ministry committee currently looking at social and environmental sustainability projects to tie to the issuances, Maait says. The ministry will also rely on EUR-denominated eurobonds and sukuk (sharia-compliant bonds) to cover its financing needs.

Background: Maait had said last month that his ministry was considering tapping bond markets three more times before the end of FY2019-2020, saying that the offerings could be comprised of sukuk, green bonds, and variable-rate bonds. The minister had not disclosed a target figure at the time, but had said in September that the government plans to issue USD 3-7 bn in international bonds during the fiscal year. USD 2 bn of that target figure was achieved in the November issuance.


Egypt could re-export Israeli gas to EU “in months” -Steinitz: Egypt could start to re-export shipments of Israeli gas to Europe “in a few months,” Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Reuters. Egypt yesterday began receiving the first shipments of Israeli gas under the landmark USD 15 bn gas agreement signed in 2018. Asked if the gas was going through the Idku LNG plant for re-export to Europe, he said: “Not today, but they think it might take place in a few months’ time.”

We now have a better idea of how much gas we’re importing: Two Egyptian sources cited by Reuters said that Egypt is initially importing 200 mcf/d of gas, while Israeli gas firm Delek Drilling said 2.1 bcm of gas will be shipped each year from the Leviathan field alone, rising to 4.7 bcm by 2H2022. Sources previously said that between 1.5-3 bcm a year will initially be shipped, gradually increasing to 4-5 bcm in 2021 and 7 bcm in 2022. Egyptian company Dolphinus Holdings agreed to buy 85 bcm over a 15-year term under the revised USD 19.5 bn agreement in October last year.

Everyone is showering praise on the agreement: In a letter to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said that the gas partnership was “linking our two countries and our two peoples,” calling yesterday a “day to celebrate.” Meanwhile, Delek CEO Yossi Abu said that the arrangement “marks a new era in the Middle East energy sector.”

Gas exports to Asia in the making: Egypt and Israel have discussed the potential of building a pipeline from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea then link that to Asia, Steinitz said, noting that the Indian demand for gas is growing rapidly as it looks to phase out coal. It emerged last year that the two countries are considering building a new LNG export facility on the Red Sea coast, enabling Israeli and Egyptian gas to be exported to Asia.

Turkey-Libya maritime agreement not a problem: Steinitz dismissed concerns over the maritime agreement struck between Turkey and Libya’s Government of National Accord last year, which Egypt has also been critical of. “Nobody can block… or own the Mediterranean,” Steinitz said.

In other gas-related news: Eni is set to connect its last deepwater well in the Zohr gas field to the national grid next week, reports the local press. The move would bring the field’s total production capacity to 3.2 bcf/d of gas.

MENA fund managers seen leaving Egypt allocations unchanged for now: “Most” of the nine MENA fund managers polled this week by Reuters said they were keeping their allocations to Egypt, the UAE, Qatar, Turkey, and Kuwait unchanged. Fund managers polled in October and August had said they plan to increase their exposure to Egypt, citing a solid equities market and improved economic indicators.

Aramco IPO, relaxed regs spur bullish view on Saudi: Five of those polled said they plan to increase their investment in Saudi Arabia, anticipating favorite policy reforms. Last year, Saudi Arabia relaxed a 49% limit for foreign strategic investors in shares of listed companies, which the fund managers also cited as a key attraction for their investments. Social reforms and greater spending on infrastructure projects and homebuilding are also expected to spur gains in Saudi stocks in 2020, particularly following the successful IPO of Saudi Aramco.

Hassan Allam, Sovereign Fund of Egypt sign joint investment agreement: Our friends at Hassan Allam Holding and the Sovereign Fund of Egypt have signed an MoU invest in electricity, water, infrastructure, and renewable energy projects, the two parties said in a joint press release (pdf). The MoU will see the two partner with international co-investors on “high-impact, sustainable” investments, including greenfield and existing projects. “With the renowned international co-investors and leading technical experts we plan to bring into the equation, we are confident that not only will we lay the groundwork for more fruitful public-private partnerships, but that we will herald in both local and foreign investments,” Hassan Allam CEO Amr Allam said.

M&A WATCH- Bank Audi remains in Egypt — for now: Bank Audi has not officially filed a request to exit the Egyptian market but is in discussions with several parties on a potential sale of its Egypt unit to secure funding for its main office in Lebanon, Al Mal reported, citing an official statement from the bank. Press reports on Monday claimed that Bank Audi was looking to shut up shop due to the ongoing economic crisis in Lebanon. CFO Tamer Ghazaleh told Reuters on Tuesday that the bank would consider a sale if it receives a suitable offer, confirming that investors had shown significant interest in its Egypt operations.

IPO WATCH- E-Finance to begin IPO procedures in March: State-owned e-payments platform E-Finance is expected to be ready to begin taking the final steps towards debuting on the EGX by March, Chairman Ibrahim Sarhan tells Hapi Journal. According to Sarhan, the company will complete the necessary legal procedures and fair value study by the end of the month, which will then be presented at a general assembly meeting scheduled to take place in March. Domestic press reports last week had suggested the IPO could go to market by April, while Sarhan had suggested last month that it could happen during the first three months of the year.

Advisors: Pharos Holding and Renaissance Capital are joint global coordinators. Zaki Hashem & Partners were previously reported to have been retained as legal advisors, while Baker Tilly was tapped to prepare the fair value report. Inktank is investor relations advisor.

PRIVATIZATION WATCH- Deadline to bid for 10% stake in HHD with management rights extended until February: Heliopolis Housing & Development (HHD) has extended to 21 February the deadline for investors to submit their bids for a contract to take over the company’s management along with a 10% stake in the company, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf). It remains unclear when state-owned investment bank NI Capital will announce the selected bid. Chairman Hany El Deeb had previously said that the final contracts would be signed at the end of 1Q2020.

Who’s in the running? Eight companies have been reported to have shown interest, including SODIC and BPE Partners, who were the first to purchase the prospectus, along with EFG Hermes, Emaar Misr, and Orascom Development.

M&A WATCH- Cairo 3A acquires 50% of Pyramid Poultry: Cairo 3A has acquired a 50% stake in Pyramid Poultry for EGP 340.2 mn, according to the local press. Pyramid Poultry’s financial advisor CI Capital valued the company at EGP 680.4 mn, with each of its 12 mn shares valued at EGP 56.7. The company is planning a EGP 153 mn capital increase within the next two months, more than doubling its current capital to EGP 273 mn from EGP 120 mn currently. The two companies were negotiating the sale of a 60% stake but decided on 50% before concluding the transaction.

Rameda Pharma is planning to expand sales to 10 new Gulf and African markets in the medium term as part of its post-IPO expansion plan, the local press reports, without disclosing the planned investment value. New markets on Rameda’s radar include Uganda, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, and Palestine, while the company will expand its business in existing markets including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Nigeria.

Rameda was one of two companies to debut on the EGX last year. The company’s shares dipped on the first day and lost a total of 9% of its value since going to market, but HSBC said in a research note last week that it expected the company’s operational performance to see a “sharp recovery” in 2020.

INVESTMENT WATCH- EBRD invests USD 60 mn in Egypt’s Infinity Energy: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has become a shareholder in Infinity Energy after investing USD 60 mn equity in the energy company, according to an official statement. The new investment is earmarked for developing renewable energy and electricity distribution projects as well as electric vehicles charging stations. Infinity this week established a joint venture with Emirati renewable energy company Masdar under the name of Infinity Power. The new company aims to produce 1 GW of power from renewable projects within the next five years.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Pioneers Holding plans to invest EGP 3 bn through its subsidiaries by the end of this year, according to the local press. It remains unclear what these investments will be used for. Pioneers had submitted a mandatory tender offer (MTO) for a 90% stake in five of its subsidiaries listed on the stock exchange.

REGULATION WATCH- FRA issues new regs to protect minority shareholders in listed companies: The Financial Regulatory Authority's (FRA) board of directors has signed off yesterday on a change to the regulations governing listed companies to require boards to provide more information to their general assemblies on potential conflicts of interest, FRA boss Mohamed Omran said (pdf). Under the change, the executive board must outline in its reports to the general assembly all the cases in which the interests of a board member, top executive, or major shareholder could overlap with what’s best for the company. The board must also report more thoroughly on existing conflicts of interest.

LEGISLATION WATCH- Mineral Resources exec regs issued: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly has issued the executive regulations for the amended Mineral Resources Act, cabinet said in a statement. The regs confirm that the changes cap royalty payments at 20% of the value of annual production, and introduce a minimum of 5%. They outline the responsibilities of a newly-established committee that will advise on the royalty rate for each raw material separately, as well as a new authority that will take the power to issue and control licenses away from governorates.

The new committee will meet four times a year to decide on any changes in rates that might come from legislative amendments, resolve mining disputes, and decide which materials are eligible for export. The authority, meanwhile, will act as a supervisory body charged with enforcing the law.

Other important changes: We previously noted that the changes abolish the old 16k sqm area licensing limit, allowing the authority to issue licenses to areas of unlimited size. Mining firms will have to pay 6% of annual production to the home governorate. Unlike the previous legislation where governorates had the power to amend the percentage of production every four years, the amendments place this power in the hands of the prime minister, with governorates now only able to request changes. Licenses can also be renewed for more than one term, and another important new stipulation splits contracts into separate exploration and extraction contracts.

Background: Industry players and top miners have lauded the changes for making Egypt’s mining sector more attractive for investors. The royalty model introduced is in accordance with global standards and is a welcome change from the mandated revenue split between the investor and the Egyptian Mineral Resource Authority (EMRA), top executives of Aton Resources, Thani Stratex, and Resolute Egypt said in a piece they wrote for Enterprise when the Oil Ministry first floated the idea of changing the law. Since then, we have been picking up reports with broadly good things to say about the changes (here, here, and here).

LEGISLATION WATCH- House committee asks Amer to clarify aspects of Banking Act: The House of Representatives’ Economic Committee has approved the proposed overhaul of the Central Bank and Banking Act in principle but asked central bank Governor Tarek Amer to clarify several aspects of the bill, according to Al Mal. These include how the legislation would prevent monopolistic practices and the mechanisms for handling shortages of hard currency.

The committee will discuss the bill again next week with the goal of sending it to the floor of the House for a vote shortly after. The Madbouly Cabinet had approved the 242-article final draft of the act in October 2019.

What’s in the bill? The Central Bank and Banking Act would grant the Central Bank of Egypt increased oversight over the banking sector. It would raise capital requirements for local and foreign banks and introduce measures governing e-payment, fintech businesses, and cryptocurrencies. It would also enhance data protection and customer privacy by requiring banks to obtain written consent for indirect or direct data dissemination.

LEGISLATION WATCH- House SMEs Committee approves Microfinance Act: The House SMEs committee approved the six amendments to the 2014 microfinance law proposed by the Financial Regulatory Authority, paving the way for a general assembly vote within days, according to Al Mal. The legislative amendments would bring dedicated SME lenders, including finance companies and NGOs, under the microfinance law. The bill would also introduce a EGP 20 mn capital requirement for SME lenders and keep the requirement for their microfinance counterparts at EGP 5 mn. They would also allow SME finance providers to be members of a rebranded Egyptian Microfinance Federation.

LEGISLATION WATCH- PPP Act amendments get final House committee approval: The House Planning Committee has approved amendments to the PPP Act that would streamline public-private partnership (PPP) contracts, committee chair Hussein Eissa said. The changes will now make their way to the House general assembly for a final vote, before being handed over to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to be signed into law.

What would the changes entail? According to Eissa, the proposed changes would explicitly state that government authorities are allowed to partner with private companies on infrastructure and utility developments in sectors including transport, energy, communications, and healthcare. They also add provisions meant to ensure higher quality standards by changing an article of the 2010 law (pdf) on how to calculate the minimum five-year post-project engagement period. This minimum period would start from the date the government signs off on a formal document accepting the work done on a certain project, rather from the project delivery date.

Other details we know about the amendments: The amendments would cut the time to issue tenders for PPP projects and introduce new mechanisms for private sector contracting, including allowing private sector players to submit unsolicited proposals. The government would also be allowed to negotiate directly with a sole bidder without needing to take the project through the competitive bidding process. The government is looking to encourage private sector involvement in infrastructure, public services, and utility developments, particularly in the new cities.

Progress and uncertainty in Washington as GERD talks end without agreement: The Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese foreign ministers have agreed to return to Washington on 28-29 January for another round of talks after negotiations yesterday ended without agreement over the filling timetable of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. A joint statement released following three days of last-ditch talks said that the countries had agreed to fill the dam in stages and take measures to prevent Egypt and Sudan from being hit by drought, but key points of disagreement appear to remain unresolved.

What did they agree? There was agreement to fill the dam in stages, and do so initially to a level of 595 meters above sea level. Filling will take place during the wet season between July and August.

What happens after that is still very much up in the air. The statement says that filling after this initial stage will be done based on the condition of the Blue Nile and Ethiopia’s filling targets for electricity generation. Crucially, these long-term aspects of the filling schedule — which have been the key hurdle to an agreement between Egypt and Ethiopia — are yet to be agreed. The statement also says that Ethiopia will take “appropriate mitigation measures” while operating the dam to prevent drought downstream, but does not elaborate on how much water the country is prepared to release.

More technical and legal talks will be held prior to the meeting, the statement said.

Egypt committed to political settlement: The Foreign Ministry spokesperson emphasized Egypt’s hopes for a final agreement at the end of the month, and conveyed Minister Sameh Shoukry’s appreciation of the US and World Bank, which agreed in November to sponsor the latest round of talks.

Tensions with Turkey rise as Egypt raids Cairo office of state news agency: Egyptian authorities on Tuesday raided the Cairo office of Turkey’s Anadolu Agency and detained four staff members, the state-run broadcaster said yesterday. Security forces took the office’s Turkish financial director and three Egyptian employees to an unknown location, the agency said.

Egypt accused Anadolu of being an Ikhwani front, the Interior Ministry said. Turkey is predictably unhappy, having summoned Egypt’s charge d’affaires in Ankara, while the US has called for the release of the staff. The arrests come against the backdrop of a spiraling proxy conflict in Libya. The story is getting picked up in the foreign press: Associated Press | Reuters | Bloomberg.

MOVES- Ihab Rizk (LinkedIn) has joined the Sovereign Fund of Egypt as chief human resources officer. Rizk moves to the fund after a 13-year run heading HR at Qalaa Holdings. An AUC graduate (BA, MBA), he previously served stints with Shell, LinkdotNet and Fayrouz International and is a chartered fellow of the UK’s Chartered Institute for Personnel Development.


Enterprise is available without charge — just visit our English or Arabic subscription page, depending on which edition you would like to receive. We give you just about everything you need to know about Egypt, in your inbox Sunday through Thursday before 7am CLT (8am for Arabic), and all we ask for is your name, email address and where you hang your hat during business hours.

Egypt in the News

Yesterday’s news that Israeli gas shipments have begun arriving in Egypt is getting top billing in the foreign press: Reuters | Associated Press | AFP | Bloomberg | Wall Street Journal | Haaretz.

GERD talks are also getting major play in the foreign press: The Financial Times is running an ominously-titled opinion piece by David Pilling about preventing war between Egypt and Ethiopia. Fortunately, he concludes that armed conflict between the two powers is by no means inevitable. “With skilful diplomacy and a forward-looking agreement, the Nile need not be a source of conflict, but rather a force for co-operation,” he writes. Al Bawaba’s Abdellatif El Menawy is optimistic, hypothesizing that the US will pressure “the three sides toward making concessions and reaching an agreement that satisfies everyone.” The Globe Post also recaps the full sequence of events that brought us here.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

SME Authority inks EUR 50 mn in loans and grants: The SMEs Development Authority has signed a long term loan agreement with the German Development Bank (KfW) and the EU worth EUR 30 mn to expand the authority’s financing capabilities for youth-led SMEs, reports the local press. The agreement also includes a separate EUR 4.5 mn grant from the German government and another EUR 14.9 mn grant from the EU. Trade and Industry Minister Nevine Game, who is also the head of SME Authority, said that another USD 200 mn World Bank loan agreement, will be signed soon, Al Mal reported. This came following talks with a World Bank delegation.


EasyJet resumes flights to Egypt

Budget airline EasyJet is resuming UK flights to Egypt in June, after a five year hiatus. The airline will operate two flights a week from Manchester to Sharm El-Sheikh, followed by two flights a week from London Gatwick to Sharm El-Sheikh in September, Reuters reports.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Interior Ministry denies allegations that deceased US-Egyptian inmate was mistreated

The Interior Ministry has denied allegations that US-Egyptian citizen Mostafa Kassem who died this week in Egyptian custody was mistreated. Authorities advised Kassem that his hunger strike would harm his health and that legal and medical measures were taken to prevent his death, the ministry said.

New team to investigate Giulio Regeni case

Prosecutor General Hamada El Sawi has ordered the formation of a new team to study Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni's murder file, according to Al Mal. This comes a day after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi held talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Cairo. Italian prosecutors accuse elements within Egypt’s security services of abducting and murdering Regeni in 2016.

My Morning Routine

Dina Aly, managing director and co-founder of brand consultancy Matter: 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 Dina Aly (LinkedIn), managing director and co-founder of branding firm Matter.

I am Dina Aly, mother of two wonderful daughters, Lela and Nedjma Abbas. I am also a passionate triathlete — a sport I started two years ago with my husband. Together we have completed Ironman 70.3 six times and Ironman 140.6 once (that’s a crazy 3.9 km swim, 180 km bike and 42 km run).

Endurance sport was also an inspiration for my second business, a healthy energy bar called Brüz. I started this business with my friends because we understand firsthand the impact of good nutrition on performance, health and well-being, and because we are big advocates of sports, adventure and an active outdoor lifestyle.

I started my entrepreneurial journey eight years ago with my two amazing partners. We are constantly pushing the envelope to be better and we love what we do. Over the years I had the amazing job of building over 200 brands across various industries, from global brands like Heinz, Pepsi and Nestle Mega to local brands like Flo and EGbank. We are in the business of transforming ideas, services and products into impactful brands that drive business growth.

I am not a morning person at all, yet my crazy schedule requires me to wake up very early. My day usually starts at 6.15am which gives me five minutes of silence before the storm begins. I get up, put on my bathing suit, and grab a “Brüz bar” (yes, I’m unabashedly promoting my own brand) to be at swim training at 7am, before heading to the gym.

My busy schedule doesn’t allow me to see family and friends as much as I’d like, so I spend the daily commute catching up with them and taking work-related calls. Being in the professional services industry for more than 15 years, I have a love / hate relationship with my phone, so for my sanity and the sake of everyone around me, I usually switch my phone to silent and return calls every couple of hours once I am out of the car.

My day at Matter involves working with different people. Internally we hold workshops, reviews, and sessions to get insights, build our processes, systems and tools. Externally we work with our clients to translate their ideas into impactful brands. There’s never a dull moment and hardly time to eat, so I always eat at meetings.

I constantly buy books but unfortunately no longer have the time to read them all. I usually read non-fiction. Mindfulness, branding, business, sports, psychology, neuroscience, spirituality are some of the topics I love. I recently read David Eagleman’s The Brain, Reza Aslan’s God: A Human History of Religion, and Letting Go: The Pathway to Surrender by David Hawkins.

Since we started Matter, our goal was to put Egypt on the branding map. We focus on building expertise, developing a strong methodology and tools to transform brands and drive business growth. Branding is often confused as a design or communication exercise. Now more than ever, branding is the translation of your value proposition into a carefully designed brand experience and culture. People do not just buy a product, they affiliate with the brand and its values.

I always joke with my team that we’re a bit like psychologists. We interact daily with many different kinds of people and organizations: Creatives, clients, startups and big corporate entities, and each is unique. We need to understand people’s mindsets, be flexible in working with different personalities, and be respectful of the different expectations within organizational working culture.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.79 | Sell 15.91
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.80 | Sell 15.90
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.83 | Sell 15.93

EGX30 (Wednesday): 13,770 (+0.1%)
Turnover: EGP 530 mn (21% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -1.4%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 ended Wednesday’s session up 0.1%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended up 0.5%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Egyptian Resorts up 2.5%, Madinet Nasr Housing up 1.9%, and Emaar Misr up 1.4%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Pioneers Holding down 2.5%, Egyptian Iron & Steel down 2.3% and Qalaa Holdings down 2.1%. The market turnover was EGP 530 mn, and foreign investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net short | EGP -21.2 mn
Regional: Net long | EGP +15.6 mn
Domestic: Net long | EGP +5.5 mn

Retail: 49.5% of total trades | 41.0% of buyers | 58.1% of sellers
Institutions: 50.5% of total trades | 59.0% of buyers | 41.9% of sellers

WTI: USD 58.10 (-0.2%)
Brent: USD 64.22 (-0.4%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.12 MMBtu, (-2.9%, February 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,556.60 / troy ounce (+0.8%)

TASI: 8,432 (-0.5%) (YTD: +0.5%)
ADX: 5,174 (+0.1%) (YTD: +1.9%)
DFM: 2,817 (+0.5%) (YTD: +1.9%)
KSE Premier Market: 7,089 (+0.4%)
QE: 10,635 (-0.0%) (YTD: +2.0%)
MSM: 4,039 (+1.6%) (YTD: +1.5%)
BB: 1,636 (+1.0%) (YTD: +1.6%)

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January: 1,000 artifacts to be displayed when Hurghada Museum opens.

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

19 January (Sunday): International peace talks between Libya’s warring leaders, Berlin, Germany (Berlin Conference on Libya).

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

21-24 January (Tuesday-Friday): World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting, Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

23 January 23 – February 4: Cairo International Book Fair 2020, New Cairo International Exhibition and Convention Center, Egypt

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

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

27 January (Monday): Cairo Economic Court will look into minority shareholder's lawsuit against Fincorp Investment Holding as Adeptio AD Investments' financial advisor for its mandatory tender offer (MTO) for Americana Egypt.

27-29 January (Monday-Wednesday): African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association’s North African Fund Manager Masterclass, Sheraton Cairo Hotel, Galaa Square, Cairo.

28-29 January (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

February: An Italian business delegation will visit Egypt to discuss investments in the Port Said industrial zone.

February: A delegation of Swiss businesses will visit Egypt to discuss investment.

February: Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar will visit Minsk, Belarus.

1 February (Saturday): The administrative court will look into an appeal by Adeptio AD Investments against a Financial Regulatory Authority to submit a mandatory tender offer (MTO) for Americana Egypt.

3-5 February: The Arab-African International Forum, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

4 February (Tuesday): Court hearing for PTT Energy Resources’ USD 1 bn lawsuit against Egyptian government.

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

9-10 February (Sunday-Monday): The the 33rd ordinary African Union (AU) Summit where Egypt will hand over the African Union presidency to South Africa

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

23 February (Sunday): Court session for Arabia Investments Holdings’ lawsuit against Peugeot. It was previously postponed to 24 November 2019 and then to 5 January 2020, and now 23 February.

23 February (Sunday): Court session for Amer Group, Porto Group compensation claim against Antaradous

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

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.

1 March: A conference on “logistics and its impact on the movement of goods and industry,” venue TBD, Alexandria.

4-5 March (Wednesday-Thursday): Women Economic Forum, Cairo.

7 March (Saturday): International Conference for Investment organized by Suez Canal Economic Authority, Al Galala City, Egypt

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

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

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

12 April (Sunday): Easter Sunday.

20 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim, national holiday.

23 April (Thursday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

23-26 May (Saturday-Tuesday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

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

28-29 April (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

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

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

9-10 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

17-20 June (Wednesday-Saturday): 2019 Automech Formula car expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo.

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

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

28-29 July (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

30 July-3 August (Thursday-Monday): Eid El Adha (TBC), national holiday.

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

20 August (Wednesday-Thursday): Islamic New Year (TBC), national holiday.

15-16 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

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

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

29 October (Thursday): Prophet Mohamed’s birthday (TBC), national holiday.

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

4-5 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

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

15-16 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

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

25 December (Friday): Western Christmas.

1 January 2021 (Friday): New Year’s Day, national holiday.

7 January 2021 (Thursday): Coptic Christmas, national holiday.

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