Tuesday, 11 February 2020

EGP hits three-year high against greenback + inflation is up fractionally


What We’re Tracking Today

There are three big stories this morning: Inflation is up fractionally, the EGP has hit a three-year high against the greenback, and the government is preparing a barrel of real estate tax exemptions for factories in select “strategic” industries (public-sector and private alike).

That said: Today’s news cycle will be dominated by the Egyptian Petroleum Show, which President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is set to inaugurate in a few hours’ time. Egypt’s emergence as a regional gas hub will likely be in the spotlight, particularly as US Ambassador to Egypt Jonathan Cohen said earlier this week that Washington is looking to “help Egypt realize its ambition to be a regional leader in energy production and distribution.” Cohen will be attending the expo alongside senior energy officials from the State Department, Department of Energy, and the US Trade and Development Agency. Twenty US companies and 10 French companies are participating, among other exhibitors, speakers and attendees.

You can also expect some chatter about inflation and the EGP rally, with January figures released yesterday showing an ever-so-slight uptick in inflation. Meanwhile, the EGP has clawed its way back to its highest value against the USD since mid-November 2016, driven largely by portfolio inflows from Gulf investors. We have both stories in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

The latest round of GERD talks will get underway in Washington tomorrow as Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese ministers work toward common ground on a timetable for filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is set to land in the US capital today, according to a ministry statement. We should find out late on Thursday whether the US and World Bank’s mediation efforts have borne fruit in the form of a final agreement.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) Vice President of Banking, Alain Pilloux, is in Egypt for a five-day visit, according to an emailed statement (pdf). Pilloux, whose visit coincides with the launch of the bank’s SME projects in the Suez Canal region and Sharkeya and Damietta governorates. will hold meetings with key cabinet ministers, CBE Deputy Governor Rami Aboul Naga, and Financial Regulatory Authority Chairman Mohamed Omran.

A joint chiefs of staff of G5 Sahel countries meeting will be held in Cairo today to discuss cooperation in counterterrorism measures, reports Ahram Online. The Guardian also has the story.

Key dates coming up this month:

  • Global VC group Kauffman Fellows kicks off its three-day visit to the capital from 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-neighbors) will then host a BBQ on 14 February featuring a number of local startups. AmCham will co-host a breakfast on the final day of the visit.
  • The Central Bank of Egypt will meet to review interest rates on Thursday, 20 February.

Expect lots of folks to be talking about New Hampshire today as voters head to the polls to the polls in the first primary in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. There’s a risk that “with the possibility of five leading candidates surviving beyond New Hampshire, the prospect of a long contest looms large,” the New York Times warns. Latest polls show Bernie Sanders in the lead in New Hampshire, followed by Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, who finished fifth in the Iowa caucus. Former vice-president Joe Biden is a distant fifth, trailing Elizabeh Warren, although his campaign says he doesn’t expect to start pulling ahead until South Carolina.

And keep your eye on El Corona, where the global death toll has now topped 1k and the repercussions for the global economy are sinking in as Chinese workers get extended holidays, snarling global supply chains. The novel Wuhan coronavirus has not yet made an appearance in Egypt or Africa, according to the WHO.


Time is running out for the natural gas found in the Mediterranean to be sold, Cypriot energy expert Charles Ellinas said at a recent panel discussion at the University of Cyprus. Cyprus’ prospects of selling gas to Egypt from the Aphrodite field are dwindling, as Egypt’s Idku plant is currently operating at full capacity and exporting natural gas though the EastMed pipeline is not currently financially viable, the Cyprus Financial Mirror reports him as saying.

The East Mediterranean Gas Forum will be of much more use when the region’s energy resources can be used in other markets, Ellinas added. Meanwhile,with a prospective European Commission agreement potentially calling for a cutback on carbon-based fuels, and Turkey rattling its sabre, the region’s hydrocarbons will stay at the bottom of the sea unless a solution is found, he warns.


Our Gulf neighbors could see their wealth disappear over the next 15 years -IMF: GCC countries need to make radical fiscal changes to avoid low oil prices burning through their estimated USD 2 tn in financial wealth, the IMF says in a new report. Although GCC countries have taken steps towards diversifying their economies away from oil, these will not be enough to offset future declines of oil revenues.

New technologies have already shifted the balance of power in the hydrocarbon sector away from the Arab world, and with climate concerns growing around the world demand for oil is expected to peak by the end of the next decade, the IMF warns. GCC governments have deferred the introduction of austerity measures and had to do so gradually to avoid upsetting the public, which could slow down their transition to non-hydrocarbon economies. Kuwait could find itself missing USD 180 bn in financing over the next six years while Saudi Arabia is already preparing for a deficit of USD 50 bn this year.

Case in point — Dubai is shedding more jobs than ever: The business condition of Dubai’s non-oil private sector has been getting worse and jobs are disappearing faster than any time in the last decade, according to Bloomberg. The financial hub Purchasing Managers’ Index dropped to 50.6, barely enough to keep it above the contraction threshold. The city is already pressured by geopolitical tensions and its tourism industry has only shown a “modest improvement” in January and is expected to face disruptions by the Coronavirus outbreak in China, which has already reached the UAE.

In other business miscellany this morning:

  • Fugitive ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn used a JV between Nissan and Mitsubishi to inflate his wages and cover a personal tax debt, lawyers for the companies argued in an Amsterdam court on Monday. (Reuters)
  • Google pulls out of Africa’s largest wind farm: Vestas Wind Systems is looking for someone to buy its 12.5% stake in Kenya’s 310 MW Lake Turkana Wind Power Project after Google bailed on the purchase last year. (Bloomberg)
  • Climate activists clearly don’t think Fink is doing enough to divest from environmentally-damaging companies: An activist group vandalized BlackRock’s Paris office and barricaded it for over an hour for its investments in environment-damaging companies. (Bloomberg)
  • Uber co-founder and ex CEO Travis Kalanick is among a group of investors who have put USD 20 mn into 3D printed hotel startup ‘Habitas,’ which is looking to expand to Asia, the Middle East and Africa. (FT)


South Korean film “Parasite” made history at the Oscars yesterday, becoming the first ever non-English language film to win Best Picture, and also walking off with the best international feature film, original screenplay, and director awards, the Wall Street Journal reports. Meanwhile, Joaquin Phoenix picked up the Best Actor award for his role in “Joker” and Renée Zellweger was awarded Best Actress for playing Judy Garland in “Judy.” The event saw Egyptian actress Yousra, producer and screenwriter Mohamed Hefzy, and Sheikh Jackson director Amr Salama join over 800 new attendees.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

The talking heads weren’t working at full steam, resulting in a rather bland night on the nation’s airwaves. Among the highlights were a coronavirus update by Health Minister Hala Zayed and an analysis on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam talks by Al Kahera Al Aan’s Lamees El Hadidy.

GERD back in Washington tomorrow: Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia may finally put pen to paper as an early GERD agreement is expected when the foreign and irrigation ministers of the three countries kick off their two day meeting in Washington tomorrow through Thursday, says El Hadidy (watch, runtime: 2:17:17). A final agreement is then expected to be signed by the end of the month.

El Hadidy chatted with Irrigation Ministry spokesperson Mohamed El Sebai, who recapped the progress of the US- and World Bank-sponsored talks. El Sebai said the officials will continue during the upcoming meeting to touch on the dam’s filling and long-term operation during periods of drought and “prolonged dry years, which is the key sticking point. They will also continue discussing a mechanism for monitoring and regulations, information sharing, and post-agreement dispute resolution.

Egyptians returning from Wuhan are safe, still no coronavirus in Egypt: There are still no coronavirus infections among the Egyptian expats who returned home from Wuhan last week, and no cases yet in Egypt, Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal quoted Health Minister Hala Zayed as saying (watch, runtime: 1:56). El Hadidy, meanwhile, phoned Ahmed Etman, head of the medical team attending to the returning Egyptians, who are currently in quarantine in Matrouh. Etman noted that they need to remain quarantined for at least 14 days until the incubation period of the virus ends (watch, runtime: 5:17).

Speed Round

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Annual urban inflation rose (ever so slightly) for the third consecutive month in January, inching up to 7.2% from 7.1% in December, according to Capmas figures released yesterday. On a monthly basis, prices rose 0.7% in January, after falling 0.2% in December.

Food prices — which comprise around a third of the basket of goods — were primarily responsible for the pickup in monthly inflation. Prices rose to 2.6% y-o-y in January from 1.8% in December, pushing up the headline rate by 0.3% percentage points.

Monthly inflation figures were driven by seasonal factors and changing household consumption, Allen Sandeep, director of research at Naeem Holding, told Enterprise. “The surge in monthly inflation is reflective of annual price revisions that are usually timed in January by traders and wholesalers and a slight adjustment to household consumption patterns,” he said.

Core inflation up slightly: Annual core inflation rose by 30 bps to 2.7% in January, while on a monthly basis it came at 0.7%, compared to 0.2% in December, according to the CPI release. Core inflation strips out volatile items such as food and fuel.

The jury is out on what the CBE will do when it meets this month to review interest rates: Capital Economics forecasts the CBE to make a 50 bps rate cut when it meets on 20 February due to deteriorating business activity in the non-oil private sector and inflation remaining beneath the midpoint of its 9% (+/-3%) target range. Sandeep, meanwhile, thinks the central bank is likely to hold off on further rate cuts.

Current interest rates: The overnight deposit rate currently stands at 12.25% and the ending rate is at 13.25%. The main operation and discount rates are 12.75%.

The story is being picked up in the foreign press: Reuters | Bloomberg.


CURRENCY WATCH- EGP surges to new three-year highs against the greenback: The EGP rallied yesterday to its highest value against the USD since it was floated three years ago as part of the country’s IMF-backed economic reform program, Reuters reports. The greenback was changing hands at EGP 15.67 yesterday.

The last time the EGP was this strong was 17 November 2016, when it traded at EGP 15.61 to the greenback two weeks after the government floated the currency ahead of signing the USD 12 bn loan agreement with the IMF.

Portfolio inflows are driving the rally: The appreciation in the EGP was driven mainly by inflows from Gulf investors purchasing EGP t-bills, the newswire says, citing an unnamed Cairo-based banker. The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) auctioned T-bills worth EGP 20.5 bn on Thursday, and another batch worth EGP 14.5 bn on Sunday, according to official data. The CBE also sold USD 984.8 mn in one-year USD-denominated t-bills yesterday at an average yield of 3.491%, down from 3.540% in an auction in January.

Stable inflows from tourism and remittances are also fueling gains, the source noted. Tourism receipts rose to USD 4.19 bn in 1Q FY2019-2020 from USD 3.93 bn a year before, and remittances climbed to USD 6.71 bn, from USD 5.91 bn.

EXCLUSIVE- Gov’t mulling whether to give property tax exemptions to state-affiliated factories and private-sector companies in a handful of “strategic” industries: After draft cabinet-approved amendments to the Real Estate Tax Act pass the House of Representatives, the government could move to exempt factories in which it holds shares from paying taxes on industrial land in a bid to boost profitability, government sources told Enterprise. Authorities might also do the same for “strategic industries,” such as oil and gas and steel, after the changes become law. Cabinet approved the changes last month. They would, if passed, exempt idle land from property tax and grant the government the power exempt land used in strategic industries and sectors. The move would set aside a recent agreement between the Finance Ministry and the Federation of Egyptian Industries that uses the size of land plots as part of the tax calculation.

State-affiliated companies would need to seek cabinet approval for exemptions, while private companies would apply to a Finance Ministry committee, both on a case-by-case basis, the sources said.

Idle factories and those facing financial difficulties would likely also get exemptions, with a presidential decree expected soon to waive part or all of the property taxes accrued during the period of inactivity, according to the sources. Those factories, many of which either shut down or struggled to recover post-2011, currently benefit from a debt relief initiative recently launched by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).

Oil and gas, hotels would be unaffected: The tax calculation agreement with the FEI, which is also in effect for the oil, gas, and mining and hotel industries, currently sees the latter group paying real estate taxes on installments, which will not change, say the sources. Oil and gas asset owners, meanwhile, are still adamant they should stick to the formula and are lobbying for their right to exemption, they added.

Maait says industry remains a priority area for gov’t: The Finance Ministry is studying several initiatives to boost local industry besides the proposed legislative changes, Minister Mohamed Maait told Enterprise. Maait declined to discuss those initiatives or the workings of the proposed changes, noting only that deciding which sectors will be identified as priority or strategic industries would depend on the executive regulations, which will be issued after the legal amendments are ratified by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

Taxation and debt relief are still key priorities for industry lobby groups: The Egyptian Federation of Investors Association is set to meet with Maait later today to discuss all matters tax reduction and debt relief for factories as amid the Real Estate Tax Act changes, reports Youm7. This came after the union petitioned the government to abolish all forms of real estate tax on factories.

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has waived EGP 48.5 bn-worth of debt and interest payments for struggling factories and companies as part of its ongoing debt relief initiative, Al Shorouk reports, citing a recent announcement. Meetings between a committee with members from the CBE and the Egyptian Federation of Investors Associations and businesses over the past few weeks saw agreements with 176 companies no longer obliged to pay EGP 15.9 bn in accrued interest to banks. Lawsuits filed by banks against 91 companies in default will be set aside.

In related news: A total of 141 businesses have applied for the CBE’s EGP 100 bn initiative to support local industry, CBE Deputy Governor Gamal Negm told the House Industry Committee, according to the local press. The CBE has doled out some EGP 18.3 bn-worth of loans to 80 factories and has forgiven or rescheduled 182 factories’ debt, Negm said.

Background: The CBE launched its local industry initiative in December to exempt nearly 5.2k factories from accrued interest payments through one branch of the two pronged approach and have their names removed from a blacklist maintained by the central bank. The initiative also targeted boosting medium sized domestic manufacturing through subsidized loans at a declining 10% interest rate. The CBE also issued a decision last week to halt legal action against struggling factories unable to pay off their debts.

BUDGET WATCH- Gov’t records budget deficit of 3.8% in 1H2019-2020: The Finance Ministry’s semi-annual fiscal performance report showed a budget deficit of EGP 236.7 bn (3.8% of GDP) in the first half of FY2019-2020, compared to EGP 186.7 bn (3.6%) in July-December of FY2018-2019. Revenues for the period came at EGP 390.1 bn, up slightly from EGP 388.3 bn in 1H2018-2019. The ministry recorded a primary deficit of EGP 30.5 bn (0.05% of GDP) in the first six months of the fiscal year, stripped of interest payments. The ministry expects to record an overall deficit equal to 7.2% of GDP by the end of the fiscal year.

Expenses, meanwhile, increased to EGP 621.7 bn, up 8.4% y-o-y from EGP 573.3 bn in 1H2018-19. This was driven by an increase in the interest bill to EGP 267.2 bn from EGP 207.5 bn during the period.

Line items on which the state spent more: Government spending on health, the new universal healthcare program, education, and commodity subsidies increased during the first half of the current fiscal year, according to a ministry release.

Energy subsidy spending, however, was slashed by 67% during the period to reach EGP 9.88 bn, from EGP 30.17 bn in 1H2018-2019. These cuts made room for higher health and education spending. The government increased subsidized fuel prices last summer by between 16-30% to get the prices of most petroleum products to now reflect their actual cost. Electricity prices were also raised by a 15% average at the start of the fiscal year. Reuters took note of this part of the story.

M&A WATCH- EBRD, NBE want a piece of Raya’s Aman Holding: The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and the National Bank of Egypt are both on a list of 24 investors who have submitted bids to acquire a minority stake in Raya subsidiary Aman Holding, Al Mal reports, citing informed sources. Eight local institutions and 16 foreign investors are interested in the 15-20% stake, the sources noted, which is expected to be completed within days. Aman Holding was set up last month to parent Raya’s three non-banking financial service arms — Aman for Financial Services, Aman for E-Payments, and Aman for Microfinance. The company holds a 99% stake in the former two businesses and a 74.5% stake in the latter.

Egypt signs USD 43 mn gas exploration agreement with Wintershall Dea: Oil Minister Tarek El Molla signed a USD 43 mn gas exploration and production agreement with Wintershall Dea to drill eight wells in East Damanhour concession area with a minimum investment of USD 43 mn and signing grants of USD 11 mn, according to a ministry statement. Egypt has so far this year signed more than USD 800 mn in oil and gas agreements, including a USD 332 mn pact with ExxonMobil and nine agreements worth USD 450 mn with Shell and Apache.

El Molla also met with Schlumberger CEO Olivier Le Peuch, according to a ministry statement. The two also looked into the company's projects in the field of supporting the digital transformation in the Egyptian oil and gas industry.

EIB to provide EUR 123 mn to finance infrastructure projects: The Egyptian government has signed three financing agreements worth EUR 122.7 mn with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to fund infrastructure projects. The bank will provide a EUR 120 mn loan to increase the capacity of the Alexandria West Wastewater Treatment Plant, a EUR 1.5 mn grant to the International Cooperation Ministry for the feasibility study for upgrading the Tanta-Mansoura-Damietta railway, and EUR 1.2 mn will go to the National Authority for Tunnels for a study into upgrading Metro Line 2.

The bank may still extend a EUR 90 mn loan for the Tanta-Damietta railway project floated in October, which remains under appraisal according to its website. The EUR 193 mn project involves double-tracking a 65-km section between Mansoura and Damietta, re-signalling the entire line, and potentially adding a freight yard and freight link to Damietta port.

The agreements were signed during a visit by an EIB delegation to Egypt, during which the bank agreed with the International Cooperation Ministry to focus its funding efforts on transport, education, healthcare, energy and environmental projects.

The government will sign 15 agreements with exporters in the coming weeks to settle outstanding export subsidies, Vice Minister of Finance Ahmed Kouchouk told the press. According to Kouchouk, agreements with 77 companies have so far been signed to settle EGP 6.5 bn-worth of overdues in exchange for expansions and investments. Up to 115 other companies that are owed EGP 1 bn will also be receiving their arrears in the form of tax breaks.

Background: Exporters are owed bns of overdue subsidies under an old subsidies framework, payments for which have been moving forward since last September with the launch of a new EGP 6 bn framework. They received 10% of their arrears immediately at launch, and an additional 10% last month. They have the option of either writing off taxes or customs, investing in domestic manufacturing, and / or receiving industrial land at a discount to get the remainder.

The latest: We reported earlier this week that the government will settle overdue subsidies owed to 32 foreign and local companies over five years, provided the companies commit to new investments. Despite those ongoing settlements, companies are still finding it hard to claim their arrears due to bureaucratic hurdles, according to statements from Edita Chairman and Food Export Council head Hani Berzi and Chairman of the Export Council for Engineering Industries Amr Abu Farikha.

LEGISLATION WATCH- House approves amendments for tougher anti-terror legislation: The House of Representatives greenlit in a plenary session yesterday proposed amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act, and referred them to Maglis El Dawla (State Council) for a final legal review, Masrawy reports. The changes received committee-level approval a day earlier. They aim to expand the definition of terrorist financing, and come at a time when Egypt’s legal framework against money laundering and funding terrorism is subject to a review by the the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force. The AP and Asharq Al Awsat both took note of the law’s passing.

EARNINGS WATCH- Juhayna profits fall 19% in 2019: Juhayna Food Industries’ profits fell 19% last year despite the company seeing a bump in revenue, according to the company’s earnings statement (pdf). Net income at the dairy company fell to EGP 329 mn from EGP 406 mn in 2018 even as revenues rose 7% to hit EGP 7.6 bn. Quarterly profits fell 19% y-o-y in 4Q to reach EGP 38 mn, despite increasing revenue to EGP 1.8 bn, up 8% on the year.

NBK-Egypt reports net profits of EGP 2.17 bn: The National Bank of Kuwait–Egypt announced profits of EGP 2.17 bn in 2019, up 8% from EGP 2 bn the previous year, according to its earnings release (pdf). The bank attributed the increase to rising revenues, which increased by 12% year-on-year to EGP 3 bn.

MOVES- Samih Sawiris has assumed the role of executive chairman at Orascom Development Holding, Reuters reports. Sawiris will be assisted in his temporary position by an interim committee consisting of Naguib Sawiris, Jurgen Fischer, Ashraf Nessim and Abdel Hamid Abu Youssef. Nessim and Abu Youssef were appointed to their respective roles as interim executive officers earlier this month following former CEO Khaled Bichara’s death late last month.

MOVES- Hussein Abu Saada has been appointed executive chairman of the Egyptian Resorts Company, according to a bourse disclosure (pdf). Shahinaz Foda and Hashem El Sayed have been appointed independent members of the board.


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Egypt in the News

The detention of Bologna University Graduate student Patrick Zaky is still getting digital ink this morning. Amnesty International issued a statement calling on Egyptian authorities to “immediately and unconditionally release Patrick, who is detained solely for his human rights work and opinions.” Italy, meanwhile, has asked the EU to monitor the case.

Other stories to skim this morning:

  • A British MP has called for the Ikhwan to be officially designated a terrorist organization and legally banned because of its intolerance towards other faiths, the National reports.
  • Mohamed Salah tops the Transfermarkt list of football’s most valuable players for the first time, knocking fellow right winger Lionel Messi off the top spot.
  • Egyptian to become oldest football pro in history: Reuters took note of the story of 75-year-old Ezz El Din Bahader, who was recently accepted into a third division football team in Egypt and only has to play two 90-minute matches to officially become the oldest pro the world has ever known.

Worth Reading

Substantial demographic pressures on MENA’s “increasingly educated” youth are only set to increase, as governments continue to grapple with joblessness rates and corruption, the Financial Times reports. Currently, some 207.7 mn people are aged between 15 and 39 — roughly 41% of the region’s total population. Levels of youth unemployment continue to soar, with a university education providing no certainty of a job, and the World Bank estimating that some 300 mn new jobs will need to be created by 2050 if current patterns persist. The social strain is compounded by endemic corruption, and living costs that far outweigh what many young people are able to earn through any work they can find.

The issues that are of paramount concern to young people have persisted over the past decade. There are about 18 mn more adults aged under 40 than when the so-called Arab Spring began, and the piece argues that echoes of 2011 can be felt in recent protests seen across the region. Fueling these demonstrations are overarching concerns and challenges facing MENA’s well-educated jobseekers, of which we see a snapshot through conversations with ambitious youth from Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Their preoccupations span the lack of appealing employment prospects, living costs, hope for their countries’ futures, economic growth, changing social structures, and the challenges of buying a home and starting a family.


UEEPC launches 3 tenders to develop Upper Egypt’s Karimat power plant

The Upper Egypt Electricity Production Company has launched three tenders for international and local companies to upgrade the 2.8 GW Karimat electricity plant, Al Mal reports, citing unnamed official sources from the Electricity Ministry. The company said it will be receiving offers until the end of the month.


UAE’s Corys looks to expand into water and gas networks in Egypt

Emirati pipe manufacturers Hepworth PME is seeking to capture 15% of Egypt’s water and gas distribution market over the next five years and sees growth potential in the country’s infrastructure sector, General Manager Richard Nakhla told Mubasher. Parent company Corys Investments announced a joint venture last week with GF Piping Systems, a division of Georg Fischer, and Egypt Gas to build a facility for plastic pipes and fittings near Cairo for the domestic market, with production to begin in 2021. Corys and GF will share a 75% stake equally, with Egypt Gas taking the remaining 25% stake.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt’s cement producers still unhappy with natgas prices

Cement manufacturers will only go back to using natural gas if the government halves the price at which it sells it to their factories to USD 3 / MMBtu, head of the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ cement division Medhat Estefanios tells Youm7. Coal will remain the more cost efficient energy source until then, says Estefanios. A recently formed government committee that meets twice a year cut gas prices to cement factories to USD 6 / MMBtu from USD 8 in its most recent meeting last October.

Al Canal sugar factory to output 400k tonnes when production resumes in 2021

Al Canal’s USD 1 bn Minya sugar factory will output over 400k tonnes of white sugar when production resumes in the 2021 season, CEO Eslam Salem told reporters, according to Reuters. Salem said that the factory will reach full capacity of 900k tonnes in 2023. The facility’s production will cover 80% of Egypt’s current sugar gap, where Egypt produces around 2.5 million tonnes of sugar annually but needs 3.3 million tonnes, according to the newswire. Separately, the company will close within months the second tranche of a USD 700 mn syndicated loan it received from Egyptian last year to contribute to financing its Minya project.

Mineral export fees to remain unchanged for another year

Trade Minister Nevin Gamea issued a decision yesterday to extend export tariffs on talc, quartz, feldspar, sand and granite for an additional year, as of yesterday, according to a ministry statement.


Edita invested EGP 25 mn in Molto Sandwich production line

Edita has invested EGP 25 mn in its Molto Sandwich production line in its E08 factory in the Polaris Al Zamil district in 6 October City, IR Director Menna Shams El Din tells Al Mal. The leading snackfoods manufacturer had launched its Molto Sandwich product, which forms part of the company’s R&D strategy to enter new areas of the bakery market, last month.

Health + Education

Egypt is building five technology universities

Egypt is building five new technology universities across Egypt in a bid to develop technical education and promote applied technology, Planning Minister Hala El Said said at a conference, according to Youm7. The government is also working to bring the total number of government-funded incubators to 13 by the end of 2020-2021.


Luxor-Sharm El Sheikh flights to launch this week

Egypt’s first direct flight between the Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh and the Upper Egyptian city of Luxor will take off this week, Tourism Minister Khaled El Anany said, according to Ahram Online. El Anany had announced a new tourist program dubbed ‘Come to Egypt’ that will introduce a package of cultural, beach and entertainment tourism with flights linking Luxor to Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada, and Marsa Alam. The new program is set to launch before the ITB Berlin Travel convention takes place in March.

Automotive + Transportation

Transport Ministry re-offers a tender to supply 25 metro trains

The Transport Ministry is re-issuing a tender to supply 25 trains for Cairo Metro Line 4 after receiving one offer from Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation, Al Shorouk reports, citing unnamed sources. The offer, which Mitsubishi had submitted last month, priced each train at EUR 15 mn, which puts the final price at EUR 375 mn for the 15 trains. Mitsubishi is also working with Orascom Construction on the construction of the line, which is expected to begin this month.

Transport Ministry postpones Alamein-Ain Sokhna high speed railway

The Transport Ministry has postponed the Alamein-Ain Sokhna high speed railway due to the project’s high cost, reports Al Shorouk, citing a ministry official. The ministry is still considering bids from the two consortiums of predominantly Chinese companies for the project, who have met the technical requirements. The ministry is also negotiating a USD 2.2 bn loan for the monorail project with three international financing institutions, namely the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, and an unspecified English bank.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.67 | Sell 15.77
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.67 | Sell 15.77
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.69 | Sell 15.79

EGX30 (Monday): 13,979 (-0.9%)
Turnover: EGP 547 mn (10% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +0.1%

THE MARKET ON MONDAY: The EGX30 ended Monday’s session down 0.9%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended down 0.6%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Dice up 4.0%, Ibnsina Pharma up 1.8%, and Cleopatra Hospital up 0.6%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Ezz Steel down 3.0%, Telecom Egypt down 2.9% and AMOC down 2.8%. The market turnover was EGP 547 mn, and regional investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +9.9 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -19.3 mn
Domestic: Net Long | EGP +9.4 mn

Retail: 48.2% of total trades | 47.5% of buyers | 49.0% of sellers
Institutions: 51.8% of total trades | 52.5% of buyers | 51.0% of sellers

WTI: USD 50.11 (+1.09%)
Brent: USD 53.96 (+1.30%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 1.77 MMBtu, (+0.28%, March 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,571.10 / troy ounce (-0.53%)

TASI: 7,971.93 (+0.24%) (YTD: -4.97%)
ADX: 5,093.38 (+0.06%) (YTD: +0.35%)
DFM: 2,765.37 (+0.47%) (YTD: +0.02%)
KSE Premier Market: 6,892.82 (-0.95%)
QE: 10,097.18 (-0.51%) (YTD: -3.15%)
MSM: 4,111.79 (-0.35%) (YTD: +3.28%)
BB: 1,660.01 (+0.09%) (YTD: +3.09%)

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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.

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.

6-8 March: Arab Banking Forum, for heads of risk management in Arab banks, organized by the Union of Arab Banks,with the Central Bank of Egypt and the Federation of Egyptian Banks.

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.

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