Thursday, 6 February 2020

Regulators are raising questions about two of Egypt’s biggest-ever M&As

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

The business community will be watching closely in the days ahead as regulators raise questions about two transactions that count among the largest M&As ever attempted in Egypt. The Financial Regulatory Authority has apparently required STC to make a tender offer for 100% of Vodafone Egypt. The requirement was triggered after the Saudi network operator entered into an agreement to acquire the 55% stake in Vodafone Egypt help by Vodafone Group.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Competition Authority is warning prominent healthcare groups Cleopatra and Alameda not to go ahead with a merger, threatening all manner of consequences if they were to do so. The catch: On the numbers, there’s no way to claim the merged entity would have a monopoly on beds. We have the full rundown on both stories in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

It’s official: US President Donald Trump will stay in office after the Senate voted to acquit him yesterday. The vote went largely as expected, with Democrats unanimously voting “guilty” on both charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and Republicans voting “not guilty” on both. Mitt Romney was the sole Republican Senator to break ranks. The story is front-page news globally this morning. See: The Washington Post | New York Times | Reuters | Financial Times | Wall Street Journal | Bloomberg.


The unfortunately named FEDCOC, ECMA to draft proposal on tax policies to present to FinMin: The Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC)’s securities division and the Egyptian Capital Markets Association (ECMA) are meeting on Sunday with key stakeholders to look into the future of the provisional stamp tax and dividend tax on EGX transactions, the local press reports. The FEI and ECMA will present to the Finance Ministry their recommendations on these taxes, which will likely include a proposal to either lower or completely scrap the stamp tax to improve market liquidity, division head Awny Abdel Aziz says.

Egypt’s African Union chairmanship ends next week: Egypt will hand the chairmanship of the African Union over to South Africa during a summit of African heads of state scheduled to take place on Sunday and Monday in Addis Ababa. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is in the Ethiopian capital today to take part in preparatory meetings, during which officials will discuss a report on the African Continental Trade Area (AfCFTA) project and the issue of forced displacement in Africa, the ministry said.

Nearly 100 Egyptian companies will participate in the Fruit Logistica Exhibition today in Berlin, the world’s biggest agriculture product expo, according to the local press. The exhibit will run until Saturday.

The Kauffman Fellows are coming to Cairo this month: The global VC group will be in town for a series of networking events taking place on 13-15 February. The visit will kick off with an evening at the pyramids co-hosted by EFG Hermes, Swvl, Marakez and Vezeeta that will bring together a number of local and regional investors, businesspeople and media figures. AI startup and recent Making It guests Elves (who, it turns out, are Enterprise’s near-neighbours) will then host a BBQ on 14 February featuring a number of local startups, before AmCham and Endeavour organize a breakfast on the final day of the visit.

enterprise

Global stocks are recouping their coronavirus-induced losses, with the US and major European markets rallying yesterday, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.7%, while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 each hit new record highs by the end of trading. The rally began earlier this week, when the Chinese central bank’s anticipated liquidity injection in the local banking system began assuaging investor concerns over the extent of disruption to global growth from the coronavirus outbreak, the journal said. Investors also began offloading safe haven assets such as gold, particularly as a rising USD makes the commodity more expensive to overseas investors.

The coronavirus will hit oil demand growth by around 300k bbl/d this year according to current estimates, Apicorp Chief Economist Leila Benali wrote in a report. The multilateral development organization forecasts oil prices to trade between USD 55-65 after the second quarter as OPEC+ supply cuts, trade friction and other factors play out. You can find Apicorp’s press statement accompanying the report here (pdf).

Domestic oil demand is also expected to tumble in China, with energy execs anticipating consumption within the country to plunge by as much as 25%, the Financial Times says. The weak domestic demand will likely worsen the situation for the global oil market, which Opec+ is still scrambling to address after Russia rejected additional output cuts to shore up prices, according to Bloomberg.

A total of 490 people have died from the outbreak and there are more than 24k confirmed cases, according to Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, Beijing is still tending to its ongoing fight for economic supremacy against Washington, which isn’t over just because the two signed a preliminary trade agreement, chief economist at Enodo Economics in Longon Diana Choyleva argues in the Financial Times. Choyleva postulates that technology, not trade, will be the real battle arena, which became particularly evident with the US’ crackdown on Huawei. To that end, the White House is working with US tech companies to develop infrastructure and software for 5G telecom networks to undercut Huawei, US President Donald Trump’s chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow told the Wall Street Journal.


Saudi’s first post-Aramco IPO is kicking off: Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Group, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest private healthcare operators, is set to begin the bookbuilding process for its planned IPO next Monday, Bloomberg reports. The offering will see the company sell a 15% stake of its share capital. The shares will be priced on 20 February. Our friends at EFG Hermes are bookrunners, alongside Jadwa Investment and Riyad Capital. Jadwa and Riyad are also acting as financial advisers on the listing, which will act as a litmus test for investor appetite after Aramco raised more than USD 29 bn last December in the world’s biggest-ever IPO.

Intercontinental Exchange bids for eBay: The holding company that operates the New York Stock Exchange has submitted a takeover offer for eBay that would raise the value of the online marketplace to over USD 30 bn, the Wall Street Journal reports. The company, known as ICE, is not really known for acquiring consumer goods companies but has a reputation for buying underperforming trading platforms and turning profits. ICE’s shares initially tumbled on the news but closed up 0.31%, while eBay’s dipped 0.76%.


Tesla helps buoy EM sell-off: The meteoric rise of Tesla shares since the beginning of the year is helping fend off the worst of the coronavirus stock tumble in emerging markets that saw the MSCI Emerging Markets Index drop 4.7% since 17 January, Bloomberg reports. EV components manufacturers like LG Chem, Samsung SDI, Jiangnan Mould and CATL have largely bucked the trend thanks to Tesla’s performance.

The IMF thinks implementing a carbon tax is the “best way forward” to fight climate change, Bloomberg reports. Governments putting a price on carbon “will encourage households and firms to use less energy and shift to cleaner fuels,” Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in an address at Vatican City on Wednesday.

UN Security Council members have drafted a resolution denouncing US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, saying the proposed Israeli annexation of settlements in the West Bank would be a breach of international law, Bloomberg reports. The resolution, circulated by Tunisia and Indonesia, will likely face a US veto.

PSA- There’s a chance of dusty wind and rainfall this weekend, says the Egyptian Meteorological Authority (pdf). Look for daytime highs of 22°C and overnight lows of 16°C.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

It was a bland night on the country’s airwaves. The talking heads are still preoccupied with the coronavirus, and Egypt’s capacity to handle the outbreak (including the successful evacuation of expats from China’s Wuhan). The return of 32 Egyptian fishermen who were detained in Yemen also earned attention.

No coronavirus in Egypt, authorities are well prepared -WHO Cairo rep: There are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Egypt to date, and the country has taken all the necessary precautions to confront the pandemic, John Jabbour, the representative of the World Health Organization in Cairo, told Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan (watch, runtime: 4:10).

China wants our face masks: As it fights the coronavirus outbreak, China has approached several Egyptian factories to import 145 mn surgical masks, pharma division head at the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce Ali Auf told Yahduth Fi Misr’s Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 3:54). We won’t quite be able to meet the demand as Egypt only has around 10 factories capable of producing between 60-80 mn masks a year, or 120 mn if they operate at maximum capacity, Auf said.

Gov’t celebrates Wuhan rescue mission, return of 32 fishermen from Yemen: Cabinet spokesman Nader Saad had a brief chat with Al Hayah Al Youm about the successful evacuation of Egyptian expats from Wuhan and the secure return of 32 Egyptian fishermen from Yemen, where they were detained (watch, runtime: 5:41).

Speed Round

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M&A WATCH- Market regulator confirms STC must submit MTO for 100% of Vodafone Egypt, prompting TE to look for advisors: Telecom Egypt (TE) is in the market for an investment bank to advise it on the mandatory tender offer (MTO) Saudi Telecom Company (STC) is required to submit for TE’s shares in Vodafone Egypt, the state-owned company said in a bourse statement (pdf). This comes as the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) confirmed that STC is required under the Capital Market Act to submit an MTO for the 44.8% stake in Vodafone Egypt owned by TE and the 0.2% held by minority shareholders if it closes its bid to acquire Vodafone Group’s 55% stake.

Who’s in the running for the job? TE is reportedly fielding offers from four potential advisors, the local press says, citing a government official. According to the official, a choice will be made within only “a few days.” Vodafone Group has yet to announce who it has hired as its investment bankers.

Where STC’s acquisition offer currently stands: STC had signed a non-binding MoU to purchase Vodafone Group’s 55% stake in Vodafone Egypt in a USD 2.39 bn cash agreement last week. The sale values 100% of Vodafone Egypt at USD 4.4 bn and would give STC a 42% share of Egypt’s telecommunications market.The agreement is valid for another 75 days and subject to renewal, but all signs suggest so far that the transaction is moving forward. Telecom Egypt (TE) has raised no objections to the sale and has telegraphed that it will not exercise its right of first refusal under its shareholder agreement with Vodafone Group.

Moody’s says the agreement could squeeze STC’s margins and push the company into negative credit rating territory if the MTO is entirely debt-funded, especially in light of the telecom operator’s recently inaugurated 5G network. The pinch wouldn’t be catastrophic though as Moody’s estimates expect STC recoup the costs by diversifying its revenue base and exploiting lower labor costs in Egypt, reports Zawya.

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M&A WATCH- Healthcare giants Alameda and Cleopatra are in merger talks — and the ECA isn’t too happy about it: The Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) is reportedly looking to block ongoing merger talks between leading private healthcare providers Cleopatra Hospitals Group and Alameda Healthcare, ِAl Masry Al Youm reports, quoting unnamed government sources. News that the ECA could intervene emerged after unnamed sources confirmed the talks to Al Mal. Sources close to the talks confirmed to Enterprise that the two healthcare groups are in discussions. Cleopatra said in a bourse disclosure (pdf) earlier this week it had not signed contracts, but did not deny it is in talks.

The ECA is warning it could take unspecified “strict legal measures” to block the merger and has already asked the Health Ministry to fall back on a 2014 ministerial decree preventing ownership transfer at private hospitals without the greenlight from authorities. The move comes after the ECA weighed the negative effects a merger would have on competition, the sources said.

But here’s the thing: As big as these two groups are, they’re a drop in the bucket when it comes to total hospital beds in Cairo, let alone Egypt as a whole. Cleopatra has about 780 beds according to its most recent investor presentation, while Alameda has about 670. That would give the combined entity something around 1,450 beds — Egypt has at least 152k hospital beds, according to data from the World Health Organization (pdf), a figure that roughly squares with independent estimates the country as about 1.3-1.5 beds per 1k people.

The merged entity would have great brands, but far from enough beds to be anti-competitive. Colliers, the real estate consultancy, says Egypt had about 131k hospital beds in 2014. There are at least 33k beds in the private sector, while 41k are owned by the Ministry of Health and another 56k beds are run by entities affiliated with the state. Using Colliers’ figures, that would give the merged entity about a 4.4% market share of private sector beds and a market share of about 1.1% of the total market.

What can the authority do? The ECA has the right to slap fines and impose post-merger conditions (similar to what it recently did with the Uber-Careem merger), but only if it can prove that a merger constitutes a breach of the Antitrust Act with imminent and irreversible damage to consumers and / or to competition itself. You can check out our complete guide on anti-cartel legislative provisions for a sense of the scope of the ECA’s powers. The authority is currently drafting legislation to give it sharper teeth against anti-competitive M&A, Chairman Amir Nabil said last December — including, if those regs go through, formal right to approve any merger or acquisition worth more than EGP 100 mn.

Who are Cleopatra and Alameda? Cleopatra was formed in a rollup led by Abraaj. Listed on the EGX, its largest shareholder is now Care Healthcare, which holds 37.73%. The remaining shares are in freefloat, according to a regulatory filing (pdf). The group owns six major hospitals in the Greater Cairo area including Cleopatra, Nile Badrawy, Al Shorouk and Cairo Specialised. Most recently, it acquired El Katib Hospital in Dokki in November last year. Alameda, a partnership between CEO Dr. Fahad Khater and the Emirates’ KBBO Group, owns high profile facilities including As-Salam International and Dar Al Fouad.

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is considering renewing a currency swap with China that saw China deposit CNY 18 bn (equivalent to around USD 2.6 bn) against the equivalent in EGP, which expired at the end of last year, Al Mal reports, citing unnamed sources. The CBE had signed a three-year agreement with China in December 2016, after the EGP float, as part of its program to line up pledges of deposits necessary to land a wider USD 12 bn assistance program from the IMF. Since then, Egypt’s foreign reserves have been steadily inching up reaching USD 45.42 bn at the end of December 2019.

2019 was a “milestone” year for the Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund (EAEF), Chairman James Harmon wrote this week in his annual letter to shareholders (pdf). The EAEF acquired a majority stake in Egyptian seed company Misr Hytech with Helios Investment Partners, and made its debut in the education sector with the purchase of a non-controlling stake in private sector education outfit Nermien Ismail Schools. The fund also offloaded “at a significant premium” a part of its stake in e-payments company Fawry during its IPO in August, and increased its holdings in PE fund Tanmiya Capital Ventures.

Harmon reports “significant growth” among the fund’s existing portfolio companies: Dawi Clinics opened three new three branches during the year bringing its total number of clinics to eight, while both Sarwa Capital and Orchidia Pharma both performed strongly.

CABINET WATCH- Cabinet finally approves Real Estate Registry Act: The Madbouly Cabinet approved yesterday amendments to the Real Estate Registry Act that would speed up procedures for citizens to register properties, according to a cabinet statement. The House of Representatives has been consistently nagging the Council of Ministers to introduce the bill, particularly after House speaker Ali Abdel Aal criticized real estate registry offices and said many citizens defer from registering their properties due to the difficult procedures and the high costs. The cabinet argued that red tape, not fees, is the main problem and amended the act to speed up the process. Under the proposed amendments, registration applications would be given a temporary code that automatically becomes permanent if uncontested within one month.

Also approved during the weekly meeting:

  • A USD 2.9 mn grant from South Korea to create an intellectual property database that enable online patent applications and access to patent information;
  • Funding of EUR 120 mn from the European Investment Bank to develop a wastewater treatment plant in Alexandria.
  • A cooperation protocol between the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) and the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) to settle the financial disputes between the two by having the EEHC and its subsidiaries reschedule the debt they owe to the state oil company;
  • A cooperation protocol between state-owned enterprises, public electricity companies, and EGPC to drop interest and fines they owe each other, and settle their debts.

Gov’t moves ahead with USD 10 mn JV to promote Egyptian products in Africa: Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik met yesterday with potential shareholders in a planned USD 10 mn company to market locally manufactured products abroad, particularly in Africa, as part of his ministry’s “Gosoor” plan, according to Masrawy. The potential shareholders include the three main state-owned banks (Banque Misr, Banque du Caire, and the National Bank of Egypt), as well as unnamed private companies and businesses. Business tycoon Naguib Sawiris is eyeing a 10% slice of the new company, he told the local press yesterday.

Background: The government had begun operating a shipping route between Ain Sokhna and Mombasa in October last year in a bid to boost trade with Africa through new trade routes and logistical development. The second phase of the project, which includes land transport, customs clearance, and storage in 2Q2020.

MOVES- National Bank of Egypt (NBE) retail CEO Alaa Farouk (LinkedIn) was reportedly tapped as chairman of the Agricultural Bank of Egypt, and will take on his new role within days, Masrawy reports, citing industry sources. The veteran banker has been NBE’s retail boss since August 2018. He joined NBE in 2009 following 26 years at Barclays Bank Egypt (absorbed in 2017 by Attijariwafa Bank), where he eventually became head of the Alexandria, Delta, and Upper Egypt area.

MOVES- HSBC Holdings has tapped Stephen Moss (LinkedIn) as a regional chief executive overseeing Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and Canada, the multinational bank said in a statement. Moss, who is currently head of strategy and planning and chief of staff to the group chief executive, will take on his new role on 1 March.

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Egypt in the News

FGM in Egypt is in the spotlight once again following the arrest of the doctor responsible for a botched procedure that led to the death of a 12-year-old in Assiut. The Guardian and Sputnik look at the persistence of the practice in Egypt and the difficulties of enforcing a ban on the outlawed procedure.

Other stories doing the rounds in the foreign press this morning:

  • Even as the GERD dispute fades, the Nile River is still in trouble, Peter Schwartzstein writes for World Politics Review, citing farmers who can’t use polluted water to tend to irrigate their crops or wash their clothes.
  • Egyptian tie-in to street vendor project in NYC: Mohamed Attia, new director of the Street Vendor Project in New York, is working tirelessly to improve working conditions for the city’s street vendors and safeguard their rights. This New York Times piece gives an overview of his trajectory, from his 2008 emigration from Alexandria to his assuming the role of advocate for street vending as a legitimate entrepreneurial activity.
  • A 3,400-year-old stone anchor covered in hieroglyphic writing, found off the coast of Israel last year, almost certainly originally formed part of a larger decorative relief on a temple in ancient Egypt, Haaretz reports.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Egypt, Switzerland sign agreements at investment forum: The General Authority for Freezones and Investment (GAFI) signed a cooperation MoU with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs at the end of the Egyptian-Swiss Investment Forum, according to a GAFI statement. The Public Enterprises Ministry also signed an agreement with Swiss weaving company Rieter to develop the Egyptian textile sector. CIRA’s Badr University also signed a partnership agreement with Switzerland’s Business and Hotel Management School to offer hospitality management training and degrees at the university.

Separately, El Sewedy Technical Academy (STA) received a high-level Swiss delegation led by Economic Affairs MInister Guy Parmelin, according to a statement from El Sewedy (pdf). STA is a vocational education secondary school and the two sides discussed ways to enhance the program through cooperating in technical education and training aimed at enhancing skills, employability, and job market access for youth in Egypt.

Energy

First phase of Egypt-Sudan electricity interconnection project to launch this month

Egypt and Sudan will launch the first phase of the joint electricity interconnection project this month that will see them share 50 MW of capacity, the local press reported, citing a government official. The project reportedly cost EGP 509 mn and spans 1k km. The grid interconnection project has been planned for years, but was delayed by political upheaval in Sudan and complications from discussions over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. There are many other interconnection agreements in the pipeline as Egypt aims to become a Mediterranean energy hub.

EGAS scraps plan to increase domestic natgas production to 8 bcf this fiscal year

EGAS’ plan to increase domestic production of natural gas to 8 bcf/d in FY2019/2020 has been hindered by the global decline in the price of natural gas and the abundant supply for local consumption, sources from EGAS told Al Mal. The sources said that the inability to implement the plan is not due to technical, production or investment problems, but is linked to global and local changes. Global gas prices averaged USD 2.57/mmBtu last year, down from USD 3.15 over the past four years, and fell below USD 2 at the end of January.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt cultivated 3.18 mn feddans of wheat in 2019-2020

Egypt cultivated 3.18 mn feddans of wheat in the 2019-2020 season, Agriculture Ministry official Abbas Al Shennawi tells Reuters. Last season, Egypt’s wheat cultivation area hit 3.16 mn feddans, which fell below initial targets of 3.5 mn feddans.

Egyptian Investors Federation propose debt transfer scheme for faltering factories

The Egyptian Federation of Investors Associations proposed transfering faltering factories’ outstanding debts that fall between EGP 10 mn to EGP 50 mn to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), reports Masrawy. The transfer would potentially see the CBE purchasing said debts from the banks to whom they are owed.

Manufacturing

Manufacturers to directly remit VAT to FinMin for their purchases of scrap metal

Steel and iron, aluminum, and copper manufacturers will be remitting value-added tax for their purchases of scrap as raw materials to the Tax Authority on behalf of their suppliers, according to a decision published in the Official Gazette yesterday.

Health + Education

Nozha Hospital set to open new branch in New Cairo

Nozha International Hospital Company has obtained a license to establish a branch of Nozha Hospital in New Cairo, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf). Chairman Hazem Sammour had said in December that the company was aiming to start construction on the EGP 400 mn hospital at the top of this year and complete it within four years. The hospital will have a capacity of up to 100 beds, and will include intensive care and heart departments.

Real Estate + Housing

Al Burouj Egypt to invest EGP 1.5 bn in new capital mall

Al Burouj Egypt will invest EGP 1.5 bn in the Sixty Business Park mall project in the new administrative capital, according to the local press. The company is also investing EGP 400 mn in OIA, a compound in the new capital that Al Burouj is developing with Saudi partners El-Mashareq KSA through their joint mutual fund Edge Holding.

 

CORRECTED ON 6 February 2020

Al Burouj Egypt was the company that was referenced in the article, and not Al Borouj Capital Group, as we had previously noted.

Tourism

Qatari Diar to inaugurate Egypt’s St. Regis Cairo in 1H2020

Qatari Diar is planning to inaugurate its St. Regis Cairo Hotel on the Nile Corniche in the first half of the year after obtaining a license to get the facility up and running, sources told the press. The hotel was slated for inauguration as early as March 2018, but delays in finishing the paperwork pushed the timeline. The 515-room, 9.4k sqm hotel has cost the Qatari developer some USD 1.3 bn over the past three years. The St. Regis brand is owned by Marriot.

Automotive + Transportation

Egypt’s Mwasalat Misr deploys electric buses on Abdel Moneim Riad route

Mwasalat Misr has started using electric buses on a route it operates between Abdel Moneim Riad square and New Cairo, according to a statement carried by the local press. The company is planning to have its fleet entirely made up of electric buses by 2022 amid expectations that manufacturers all over the world will stop producing diesel-run buses by 2037. The total number of lines the company operates is seven, between Sixth of October and Sheikh Zayed to Abdel Moneim Riad and Cairo University, with a total of 50 buses.

Other Business News of Note

Qalaa’s ASEC Holding plans expansion into Oman and Mauritania

Qalaa’s ASEC Holding (ASCOM) plans to expand into Oman and Mauritania this year by supplying raw materials and providing drilling and extraction services, Chairman Fayez Geyres told Al Mal. The firm also aims to increase exports from its calcium carbonate subsidiary to 85% of its production from 80% currently.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Cairo criminal court releases Egyptian satirist Shady Abu Zeid

A criminal court in Cairo has ordered the release of satirist and vlogger Shady Abu Zeid after close to two years in pre-trial detention, reports Ahram Online. Abu Zeid was granted conditional release last year. He was arrested in May 2018 on charges of spreading false news and joining an illegal group.

Ain Shams, Helwan universities to implement niqab ban on campus

Ain Shams and Helwan universities will begin implementing a ban on women faculty members from wearing a niqab on campus, following the Supreme Administrative Court’s decision to uphold the ban, according to Asharq Al Awsat. Cairo University has already imposed the ban.

My Morning Routine

Dominic Goh, Singapore’s ambassador to Egypt: 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 Singapore’s recently-arrived Ambassador Dominic Goh.

My name is Dominic Goh, and I’m Singapore’s ambassador to Egypt, based in Cairo. My wife Sharon and I arrived in Egypt relatively recently, in September 2019. Prior to this, I was ambassador to Laos, and I’ve also served in diplomatic missions in Berlin and Bonn, among other postings.

My job requires a lot of adaptability. For expatriates and diplomats, if this doesn't come naturally to you, you'll find it very difficult to enjoy this kind of life. I find it hugely interesting to live in different countries, learn languages, and learn about different cultures, and these are among the reasons why I entered this field.

I need a big, strong cup of coffee in the morning to feel that my day has really begun. I’m not particular about what type of coffee I drink; I usually enjoy whatever’s available and fresh in-country.

Of course I read Enterprise from my inbox every morning, and my other go-to local and international news websites include CNN, the BBC, the New York Times, the Financial Times, Al Ahram and Singapore’s the Straits Times.

Egypt was the first country in the Arab world to recognize Singapore in 1965, and Singapore sees Egypt as a key partner in the region, with a strategic location as well as an economic hub. The relations between our two countries are excellent.

Singapore is actually the fourth largest Asian investor in Egypt — we have more investments here than in Japan or South Korea. These are mainly in logistics and food processing, but companies operating in other sectors are also starting to discover Egypt. A couple of months ago, our trade and overseas investment arm, Enterprise Singapore, organized a delegation of nine Singaporean companies to Egypt. This week, we have a group of fintech companies visiting.

One of the things we’re working on is improving tourism between our two countries. A recent Singaporean investment in Egypt began with the company owner coming here on holiday. At first, he thought it was just a one-off trip, but as he got more familiar with the country, he started to see possibilities for doing business. A few months later, he established a joint venture with an Egyptian partner.

Egypt is interested in learning from Singapore’s development experience in the port and education sectors. When President Abdel Fattah El Sisi visited Singapore in 2015, he was impressed with our port, and I believe he encouraged his ministers to study our experience in port management and development. I also recently met with Egypt’s education minister, who said they are interested to learn from us about how we teach math and science, as we have particularly high rankings in these fields.

Singapore has over 250 students currently studying at Al Azhar University, and this has been the case since the 1960s. The Malay Muslim community in Singapore sends potential imams and religious teachers to be trained at Al Azhar because it is the top university for Islamic studies in the world. And of course, many of these students stay on for Master’s programs and other things.

Recently I’ve enjoyed reading Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s a really fascinating book about how AI might reshape and disrupt the global economy in the future. I’ve also been rewatching the BBC’s Sherlock — a really intense and suspenseful TV series — on Netflix.

Singapore’s arts and culture scene has become quite vibrant nowadays. Apart from the usual shopping on Orchard Road and Marina Bay Sands, I think there’s something for everybody, with classical music, ballet, opera, modern dance, and jazz clubs. We even have Broadway and West End musicals for limited runs almost every year. Food is also a big draw for visitors, and we have a nature reserve right in the center of the island, which is great for hiking and a bit of fresh air.

My advice on acclimatizing to a new environment? Try to focus on the positives, and don’t dwell on what you can’t change. It’s always difficult to leave at the end of a posting, because you form an attachment to the people you meet in each place. But it’s also a part of the job and a phase that we all have to go through. The good thing is that you end up with a great network of friends around the world.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.74 | Sell 15.84
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.72 | Sell 15.82
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.74 | Sell 15.84

EGX30 (Wednesday): 13,987 (+0.5%)
Turnover: EGP 615 mn
EGX 30 year-to-date: +0.2%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 ended Wednesday’s session up 0.5%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended up 0.3%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Telecom Egypt up 5.3%, Dice up 4.9%, and Eastern Company up 2.9%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were KIMA down 2.9%, Ibnsina Pharma down 1.6% and Orascom Development Egypt down 1.0%. The market turnover was EGP 615 mn, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +86.0 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -31.7 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -54.4 mn

Retail: 49.9% of total trades | 44.4% of buyers | 55.5% of sellers
Institutions: 50.1% of total trades | 55.6% of buyers | 44.5% of sellers

WTI: USD 51.89 (+2.25%)
Brent: USD 56.30 (+1.85%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 1.88 MMBtu, (+0.75%, March 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,558.20 / troy ounce (-0.29%)

TASI: 8,094.36 (-0.54%) (YTD: -3.51%)
ADX: 5,080.79 (-0.29%) (YTD: +0.10%)
DFM: 2,771.76 (+0.16%) (YTD: +0.25%)
KSE Premier Market: 6,963.46 (-0.17%)
QE: 10,297.54 (+0.27%) (YTD: -1.23%)
MSM: 4,125.08 (-0.48%) (YTD: +3.61%)
BB: 1,654.99 (-0.51%) (YTD: +2.78%)

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Calendar

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

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

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.

12-13 February (Wednesday-Thursday) (TBC): Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to meet in Washington, DC, to review final GERD agreement.

13-15 February (Thursday-Saturday): Kauffman Fellows visit Cairo.

14-16 February (Friday-Sunday): A Euro-Mediterranean Organization for Economic and Development Cooperation delegation will visit Egypt to discuss cooperating in the field of organic cotton and home textiles

19-21 February (Wednesday-Friday): Egyptian Chamber of Leather Industry will participate in the Lineapelle Milano International Trade Fair, Milan, Italy

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

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

March: South Korean business delegation to visit Egypt.

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.

2-5 March (Monday-Thursday): EFG Hermes’ 16th annual One on One conference, Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai.

3 March (Tuesday): Business Today’s bt100 awards ceremony, Cairo.

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

5-8 March (Wednesday-Saturday): 25 Egyptian companies will participate in a forum on investment in startups in Saudi’s King Abdullah Economic City.

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.

26 March (Thursday): Court session for Amer Group, Porto Group lawsuit against Antaradous.

7 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).

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.

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

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

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.

25 June (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.

12 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.

24 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.

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. © 2018 Enterprise Ventures LLC.