Sunday, 23 February 2020

Pressing pause on easing cycle, CBE leaves rates on hold again


What We’re Tracking Today

***BIG NEWS OF THE DAY #1: The Central Bank of Egypt left interest rates unchanged on Thursday for the second consecutive meeting as officials take stock of the recent (if modest) uptick in inflation and the global impact of the covid-19 virus.

EGP WATCH- The EGP’s surge against the greenback continued on Thursday, rising another 3 piasters to hit EGP 15.51 per USD. The currency has now almost gained more than 3% — almost half an EGP — since the start of the year.

***BIG NEWS OF THE DAY #2: All defendants, including high-profile members of the business community as well as Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, were yesterday acquitted of charges they had illegally profited from the sale of Al Watany Bank to the National Bank of Kuwait in 2007. The high-profile case, which began back in 2012, was the last standing case brought against members of the business community for alleged misdeeds during the Mubarak era.

We have the full story on the interest rate decision and the AWB verdict in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Our friends at EFG Hermes are holding their annual One on One conference on 2-5 March at Atlantis, Dubai. The gathering is the world’s largest frontier- and emerging-market-focused investor conference.

Other dates for your diaries during the first week of March:

COVID-19 WATCH- There are no reported active cases of covid-19 in Egypt after our only reported patient tested negative for the virus. China remains the center of gravity for the infection, but there are concerns that South Korea may be a new hub for transmission and the New York Times notes that there are “multiple” infections in the United States, Italy, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Lebanon reported its first case over the weekend.

Conferences worldwide are pulling the plug or facing cancellations from anchor attendees, particularly after a Wall Street Journal investigation about how a single sales conference in Singapore helped spread the bug around the world. Facebook, which had earlier canceled its own 4k-person marketing conference, joined Sony in pulling out of the San Francisco Game Developers Conference, and Reuters reports that the RSA cybersecurity gathering is being hit by cancellations. MarketWatch has a solid piece on what the bug means for conference season.

Long-term US bond yields hit record low on virus fears: The yield on the 30-year US bond fell below 1.9% for the first time ever on Friday as investors flocked to safe havens on fears of a spread of covid-19 outside of China’s borders, the Financial Times reports. “We are now expecting the coronavirus to have a longer impact on global growth,” said Dickie Hodges, portfolio manager at Nomura Asset Management. “The US is one of the few places that has room to cut rates, and I think they will cut at least twice this year.”

Renewed concern puts an end to the two-week rally in US stocks: All three major stock exchanges in the US closed last week in the red, with tech stocks particularly hard-hit. MarketWatch has the figures.

Is the Fed actually preparing for a rate cut in response to the virus? Market uncertainty at the tail-end of last week has increased market speculation that the Federal Reserve will restart its easing cycle. The CME Group says that the market is now giving a 58% likelihood that the Fed will make at least one rate cut between now and June, up from less than 20% in January, according to the AP.

In covid-19 miscellany:

  • EgyptAir will resume its weekly Cairo-Beijing-Guangzhou flight as of Thursday to accommodate demand, according to a cabinet statement. The national flag carrier will gauge demand before deciding whether to add more flights.
  • The Health Ministry denied that Egypt’s pharma manufacturing has been affected by a halt of raw material imports from China, saying there are sufficient strategic reserves, according to another cabinet statement.
  • Lebanon on Friday confirmed its first case of the virus after a 45-year-old woman coming from Iran to Lebanon exhibited symptoms on a plane carrying 150 people, according to Reuters.
  • The virus has claimed its first Italian victim, an elderly man in the northern city of Padua, Reuters reports. The country’s Health Ministry said there are 15 cases in the wealthy Lombardy northern region and two in neighboring Veneto, where Padua is located.
  • Old Cairo’s Khan Al Khalili is missing its Chinese tourists, with vendors lamenting the lost business that usually accompanies the Spring Festival, Xinhua reports.


The votes were still being counted as of dispatch time, but Bernie Sanders is already penciled in as the winner of the Nevada Caucus, the Associated Press and CNN said. Sanders had claimed some 47% of the delegate votes as we hit “send” on this morning’s issues, with Joe Biden coming in second (with a wide berth) at around 24%, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sanders delivered his victory speech and moved on to Texas, where the next round of Democratic primary elections will happen on Super Tuesday (3 March).

What does this mean? Sanders’ “commanding victory” in Nevada places him firmly as the frontrunner to face off against Donald Trump in the presidential elections this fall, but the AP says it also “[escalated] tensions over whether he’s too liberal to defeat” the sitting president.

Trade tensions ease as China lifts more tariffs on US goods: The Chinese Finance Ministry has announced a one-year reduction in tariffs on industrial components and medical and factory equipment imported from the US to take effect from 28 February, the AP reports. The decision to cool tensions comes amid deteriorating economic conditions in China following the covid-19 outbreak. The ‘Phase One’ trade agreement signed by the two sides in January saw the US pledge not to increase tariffs on China’s imports in exchange for Beijing committing to increase its agricultural imports and opening discussions on tech policy.

Other international headlines worth your attention:

  • Is the US finally about to exit from the neverending war? The US and the Taliban are planning to sign a peace agreement next Saturday in Qatar following months of negotiations, according to Bloomberg. Negotiators have reportedly agreed on terms that would see US troops withdrawing from Afghanistan after almost 19 years of war, and talks starting between the two governments.
  • Libya’s ceasefire talks are moving in the “right direction,” the United Nations envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame told Reuters on Friday. The military talks between Libya’s two warring sides resumed on Thursday in Geneva.

Global investment banks’ revenues dip to lowest since 2008: Revenues at the world’s 12 largest investment banks sank to their lowest since the financial crisis in 2008 last year, according to the FT. Banks posted revenues of USD 147.5 bn in 2019, a 4% decline from the year before. The slide has led to 6% of workers in the banks’ investment banking divisions being laid off. This is in contrast to the record profitability at parent banks JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley, whose consumer banking and investment managing businesses are booming.

eBay has contacted several potential buyers for its classified-ads business, which could be worth roughly USD 10 bn, Reuters reports.

Carlos Ghosn is a fugitive in his own homeland, flanked by bodyguards wherever he goes with an eye out for suspicious-looking Japanese people, like the ones who rented a house in front of his and keep taking pictures. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the life of the ex-Nissan boss in Lebanon who fled Japan in a black box after being arrested on financial misconduct charges in 2018, an establishment figure in a country overtaken by protests against them.

PSA- Keep an umbrella in reach this week: Meteorologists are warning of a three-day wave of unstable weather starting today, with a chance of light-to-heavy rainfall in Cairo. Highs of 15-16°C and overnight lows of between 9-11°C are expected in the capital city.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

It was a mixed bag of nuts on the nation’s airwaves last night. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s sit-down with Ethiopia’s former prime minister and the acquittal of all defendants in the Al Watany Bank stock manipulation case were among the highlights.

Attorney alleges AWB case files were forged: A document submitted to court back when the insider trading case was first lodged in 2012 was found to be “forged” as some people were “deliberately” pushing the case due to post-2011 anti-Mubarak public sentiment, attorney Bahaa El Din Abu Shoka, who was one of the lawyers working the case, told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 16:42). Alaa Mubarak referenced this document in a tweet yesterday. Abou Shoka alleged that the only authentic report on the sale of Al Watany Bank, which was the basis of charges brought against the defendants, showed no breaches of the Capital Markets Act. We recap the full story in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

GERD agreement to open prospects for trilateral cooperation, says El Sisi: The expected signing of an agreement on the rules of filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) would “preserve the balance” and open prospects for cooperation, coordination, and development between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, El Sisi told Hailemariam Desalegn, who was the former Ethiopian prime minister and a special envoy to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in Cairo yesterday. Among those taking note: Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal (watch, runtime: 2:03), Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary (watch, runtime: 1:14), and Min Masr’s Reham Ibrahim (watch, runtime: 5:31). We have more in Diplomacy + Foreign Trade, below.

Amr Moussa talks GERD, Mideast peace plan: We should stay away from the ongoing GERD talks, and leave the government in the driving seat, former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said in a sit-down with Adib (watch, runtime: 1:43). Speaking on US President Donald Trump’s proposed Middle East peace plan, the one-time presidential candidate and veteran diplomat said it’s possible that the Palestinians will be forced to comply, but this will neither resolve the conflict nor give Israel legitimacy (watch, runtime: 1:32).

Former Egyptian health minister tapped as WHO advisor, joins committee to confront the coronavirus: The World Health Organization (WHO) has selected former Health Minister Maha El Rabat for a 6-member team to advise on policy to confront the covid-19 outbreak, Ibrahim reported (watch, runtime: 2:03).

Speed Round

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CBE leaves rates on hold for second consecutive meeting: The Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) left interest rates unchanged at its meeting on Thursday, citing inflation and macro headwinds, according to an official statement (pdf).

Uptick in inflation a key factor in the CBE’s decision: The CBE “will not hesitate to resume its easing cycle subject to further moderation of inflationary pressures,” the bank said in its statement, hinting that last month’s inflation figures may have been the deciding factor in its decision to leave rates on hold. Inflation rose for the third consecutive month in January, ticking up slightly by 0.1 percentage points to 7.2%. This remains within the central bank’s 9% (+/- 3%) target range.

The central bank has one eye on the covid-19: The CBE cited “disruptions to global economic activity following the recent coronavirus outbreak” as a reason for caution over its interest rate policy. It also noted the persistent slump in oil demand.

Where rates stand now: The CBE’s overnight deposit rate remains at 12.25% and its lending rate is at 13.25%. The main operation and discount rates are 12.75%. The central bank had lowered interest rates four times over the course of 2019, delivering a total 450 bps in cuts between February and November.

Ahead of the meeting, analysts were split on whether the CBE will resume its easing cycle. Five out of 12 economists we polled expected the CBE to keep rates unchanged while six of our polled analysts projected a 50-100 bps cut.

CBE to pause easing cycle for a little longer: The CBE’s decision to keep the rates unchanged suggests that policymakers are more concerned by the recent uptick in inflation than previously thought, Jason Tuvey, senior EM economist at Capital Economics wrote in a note. The research house maintains that the central bank will cut by another 225 bps by the end of the year but now says that all of these will occur in the second half of the year.

T-bill yields fall ahead of meeting: The yield on the 6-month treasury bill fell to 13.811% in an auction on Thursday, down almost 30 bps from auction on Tuesday, while the interest rate on the 1-year bond fell to 13.642%, down from 13.846% on Tuesday.

Differing views on the EGP: The CBE left rates unchanged to maintain the appreciation of the EGP against the USD to curb inflation and avoid any possible inflationary hikes, Sigma Capital’s Abou Bakr Emam told Enterprise. Capital Economics’ Tuvey wrote, meanwhile, that “the CBE may want to push back against the appreciation of the EGP … This has dented external competitiveness and is fuelling a deterioration in the underlying current account position.”

Awaiting the Fed’s next move: The central bank appears to be looking to the next Federal Reserve meeting to form a clearer view of the global economic landscape, Radwa El Swaify, head of research at Pharos Holding, told Enterprise. “We expect a 100 bps cut in the coming meeting if global developments stabilize,” she added, highlighting risks for emerging markets as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

The story also received coverage in the foreign press: Reuters | Bloomberg.

Correction: 23/02/2020

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the yield on 6-month t-bills fell 300 bps in an auction last Thursday.


Court acquits all defendants in Al Watany Bank case: The Cairo Criminal Court has cleared all defendants of charges of stock market manipulation and insider trading stemming from the sale of Al Watany Bank of Egypt to the National Bank of Kuwait in 2007, reports Ahram Gate. Among those acquitted were Gamal and Alaa Mubarak as well as former EFG Hermes co-CEOs Hassan Heikal and Yasser El Mallawany. Statements by Mubarak family attorney Farid El Deeb suggest that no direct link was found to convict the Mubarak brothers in the long-drawn out saga that the local press has grown fond of calling “the stock market manipulation case.” The prosecutor general’s office has 60 days to appeal the ruling.

Hassan Heikal, who returned to Egypt to stand trial in the case, provided a written statement to Enterprise overnight (pdf) that members of the community will want to read.

The verdict in the case should be welcomed by the market, which plunged 3.6% in a single day in September 2018 after Alaa and Gamal were arrested in connection with the case. The AWB defendants were reportedly given a brief window to arrive at a negotiated settlement (think “plea bargain” in Western terms) and declined.

If no appeal is filed, the Mubarak family presently faces no other criminal proceedings. Ousted presented Hosni Mubarak was cleared in 2017 of charges of killing protesters during the 25 January Revolution, and his two sons were released in 2015 after enough time in detention to fulfil a three-year sentence for alleged misuse of public funds.

The story is topping coverage of Egypt in the foreign press, with this quick piece by Reuters getting the widest pickup in the business press. We have more on this in this morning’s Egypt in the News section, below.

FinMin taps four banks to manage Egypt’s first sovereign green bond issuance: The Finance Ministry has tapped Credit Agricole, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, and HSBC to market the first sovereign green bond issuance in Egypt and the MENA region, an official ministry statement said. The ministry had received 17 offers for the job. Credit Agricole and HSBC were also hired as “structural advisors,” which appears to be a new role the ministry is including in its advisory team. They have the additional responsibility of preparing a prospectus for the offering.

What exactly are green bonds? A green bond is a type of fixed-income instrument that is specifically earmarked to raise money for climate and environmental projects. Global issuances of green, social, and sustainability bonds are forecast to rise 24% to USD 400 bn this year, with green bonds alone accounting for USD 300 bn, according to a report from Moody's.

What we know so far about the new bonds: The issuance of the green bonds will be the leading alternative for traditional debt instruments, such as USD-denominated eurobonds, for which the government is slowing down issuances for the remainder of the current fiscal year, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait had told us. A ministry committee had been looking at social and environmental sustainability projects to tie to the green bond issuance. The government has yet to confirm, but we had been told that Egypt’s inaugural green bond issuance will likely be to the tune of USD 500 mn. The ministry is also planning to rely on sukuk to cover its financing needs.

LEGISLATION WATCH– Egypt inches closer to maiden sukuk issuance as FinMin completes Sukuk Act: The Finance Ministry has completed the drafting of the Sovereign Sukuk Act and passed it to cabinet for review, an official draft suggests (pdf). Cabinet will, after approving the legislation, send it to the House of Representatives for discussion and a general assembly vote. The executive regulations will follow within three months of the passage of the legislation.

This probably means that we’re unlikely to see any sukuk issuance within the timetable floated by Finance Minister Mohamed Maait, who suggested in December that the government could issue the sharia-compliant bonds before the end of the current fiscal year. Sources told us earlier in 2019 that the ministry plans to issue up to USD 1.5 bn in medium and long term sukuk after the legislative framework is in place.

What are sovereign sukuk? The short answer is that they are a form of sharia-compliant bond. The difference is that sukuk are asset-based securities, not debt-based like conventional bonds. The new legislation paves the way for the formation of a new company that will oversee the issuance of sukuk and a committee that includes representatives from Al-Azhar to decide the rules for issuing the new security. Sukuk will be issued against state assets either for rent or to give usufruct rights for up to 30 years and will be tradable on the secondary market. They can be issued in EGP or any other foreign currency to be traded on foreign markets.

M&A WATCH- TE officially hires EFG Hermes and Citibank to advise on acquisition options: Telecom Egypt’s board of directors approved on Thursday hiring a consortium of EFG Hermes and Citibank to advise the company on its options with regards to Saudi Telecom Company’s (STC) acquisition of Vodafone Group’s 55% stake in Vodafone Egypt, the company said in a regulatory filing (pdf). The consortium was reportedly brought on board shortly after STC made its USD 2.4 bn bid official. TE has also tapped Al Tamimi & Company as legal advisor on the matter, CEO Adel Hamed said, according to Youm7.

All options are on the table: TE noted in its filing that all options are still on the table, including either invoking its right of first refusal and pre-emption rights to make a counteroffer (the legality of which the Egyptian Competition Authority is still studying) or seek to sell its stake in Vodafone Egypt. STC, on the other hand, is reportedly looking at options to avoid making a mandatory tender offer, despite the Financial Regulatory Authority saying it will have to.

EARNINGS WATCH- Telecom Egypt reported a 33% increase in annual net profits, rising to EGP 4.4 bn in 2019 from EGP 3.3 bn the year before, according to a disclosure to the EGX (pdf). It attributed the hike to strong top-line performance, FX gains and higher investment income from Vodafone, which offset the effect of enterprise resource planning and increased transaction and allowance expenses, the disclosure said. The company’s consolidated revenue increased 13% during the period to EGP 25.8 bn, up from EGP 22.8 bn. The growth was mainly driven by “higher data-related revenue across the home, enterprise and domestic wholesale segments,” according to the disclosure.

LEGISLATION WATCH- NGOs Act executive regulations with cabinet for final review: A government committee has finalized the executive regulations for the recently-ratified NGOs Act and sent it to cabinet to be issued following a final review, Talaat Abdel Qawi, head of the General Federation of NGOs, told Al Shorouk. The regs were previously expected to be released at the end of 2019. The new NGOs Act replaces the controversial Law No. 70 of 2017 that generated considerable criticism both in Egypt and overseas. It received both praise and criticism after it passed the House last year, with supporters applauding the removal of jail sentences for funding-related violations and detractors saying that it does not offer enough protections for civil society. We have a run-down of the key points of the new law here.

EARNINGS WATCH- Elsewedy Electric’s net profit after minority interest dropped 19.4% y-o-y to EGP 4.02 bn in 2019, down from EGP 4.99 bn in 2018, the company said in its earnings release (pdf). Revenues during the year rose 9.7% y-o-y to EGP 46.63 bn, which the company says was driven primarily by its turnkey projects segment, “whose contribution inched up significantly year-on-year to almost that of the Group’s original main contributing segment, wires and cables.” The company helped grow its revenue from the turnkey segment “through the execution of our ever-growing backlog across Egypt, the rest of Africa and the GCC,” CEO Ahmed El Sewedy said. Elsewedy has also secured its turnkey backlog “for the coming years” but is eyeing other “lucrative” projects across Europe, Africa, and the GCC.


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

The acquittal of defendants in the Al Watany Bank case is dominating the conversation in the foreign press this morning, with the Associated Press, Reuters, and AFP all taking note. Predictably, the international media has taken a “Gamal-and-Alaa” angle on the story. We recap the story in Speed Round, above.

Also getting digital ink: The prosecutor’s office extended Patrick Zaki’s detention yesterday amid an ongoing investigation into the Egyptian researcher, who was detained earlier this month on charges of inciting against the state, says the AP. The decision to uphold Zaki’s detention comes as students across Italy held demonstrations calling for his release, the New York Times reports. Human Rights Watch also issued a letter urging the European Council on Human Rights in Egypt to push for Zaki’s release.

Among the stories to keep on your radar:

  • A synagogue is restored, but will the Jews follow? The Economist suggests Egypt is “sending mixed signals” to the Jewish community by spending USD mns on restoring a historic synagogue in Alexandria but keeping the inauguration under tight security.
  • Zahi wants our temple back from the Spaniards: Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass has called on Spain to return the 2,000-year-old Temple of Debod to Egypt, claiming that Madrid is not taking proper care of the monument, according to The Times.
  • ABC News took note of the Musicians’ Syndicate’s decision to ban mahraganat (electronic folk) music.
  • Egypt’s proposal to establish a joint African military force is meant to curb Turkish intervention in the continent, Al Monitor says.
  • Radar survey revives theories behind location of Nefertiti’s burial tomb: Theories that the burial place of Ancient Egypt’s Queen Nefertiti is behind Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings have been revived thanks to a new radar survey of the tomb, according to The Times.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

El Sisi meets Ethiopian special envoy: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi discussed the agreement Egypt is expected to sign with Ethiopia and Sudan by the end of the month to end the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam deadlock with Hailemariam Desalegn, former Ethiopian prime minister and special envoy to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Ittihadiya said in a statement. The two also touched on post-GERD-agreement relations.

Background: The US Treasury Department and the World Bank, which recently stepped in to mediate the GERD dispute, are currently preparing a final agreement in hopes of getting the three countries to sign a contract by the end of the month. The contract should govern how Ethiopia will operate GERD during periods of drought and “prolonged dry years,” and outline mechanisms for cooperation and dispute settlement.

Egypt, Belarus ink 12 trade agreements, MoUs: Egypt and Belarus signed 12 new agricultural and industrial trade partnership agreements last Thursday, according to a Trade Ministry statement (pdf). The agreements were signed during Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s two-day visit to Cairo.

Egypt wants to expand UN Security Council, grant veto to two African countries: Egyptian diplomats are lobbying to secure at least two permanent seats in the UN Security Council to African countries, Arab Weekly reports. The proposal is part of a push to expand the council and its permanent members, which hold veto powers. Egypt's Permanent Representative at the Security Council, Mohamed Idriss, is arguing that the council currently lacks specialized knowledge of the continent and its security and economic concerns.


EETC invites seven companies to Egyptian-Saudi electric line tender

The Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) has invited seven companies to participate in the new tender for the construction of Egypt’s electricity interconnection project with Saudi Arabia, according to the local press. The companies include Elsewedy Electric, China’s State Grid Corporation, Kalpataru Power Transmission, Hyundai, NCC Power Projects, L&T Power, and KEC International. The EETC will accept offer submissions for the next two months. An initial tender was scrapped after the electric line plan was changed due to Saudi Arabia’s addition of its futuristic city project, Neom.

Russia, Belarus eye potential cooperation on constructing Egypt’s Dabaa plant

Russia and Belarus are in talks over potentially cooperating on the construction of Egypt’s Dabaa nuclear power plant, according to Belarusian news agency Belta. It is unclear what form this partnership would take. Hassan Allam, Petrojet, and Arab Contractors have already been contracted to carry out construction work for the plant.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt administrative court postpones billet case to 23 May

An administrative court has postponed to 23 May its ruling on an appeal by steel rolling mills to overturn a government’s decision to place import tariffs on steel rebar and iron billets, reports Al Mal. The decision came after a state commissioner said in a hearing held yesterday that the steel produced by the mills using imported billets doesn’t meet the minimum requirement to be considered a domestic product, which weakens the mills’ position. We have more on the appeal here.

Health + Education

CIRA announces management of Sharm Prime School in Sharm El Sheikh

Cairo for Real Estate Investments (CIRA) subsidiary Edu Systems International (ESI) has signed an agreement to manage the newly developed Sharm Prime School starting September 2020, where Russian will be the school’s official second language, according to a company disclosure to the EGX (pdf). The agreement will see CIRA take in an unspecified percentage of the school’s earnings without holding ownership stake.

Banking + Finance

El Sisi ratifies USD 130 mn loan with Arab Fund to develop electric grid

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has ratified a loan agreement worth KWD 40 mn (USD 130 mn) from the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development as part of the financing of the second phase of developing the electricity distribution network, the local press reports. The agreement was signed in August 2018 and approved by the House of Representatives in February 2019. The president’s ratification was published in the Official Gazette on Thursday.

Cairo Housing signs EGP 580 mn loan with ADIB to finance Point 90 mall

The Cairo Housing and Development Company’s board of directors has approved a loan agreement with the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank worth EGP 580 mn, according to a company statement (pdf). The seven-year loan will be used to pay off the company’s dues to the financial leasing companies that had financed its development of Point 90 Mall in New Cairo.

Legislation + Policy

Madbouly issues executive regulations for Egypt’s tech and innovation authority

Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly issued on Thursday the executive regulations to the law establishing a Technology and Innovation Finance Authority, according to a cabinet statement. The regulations allow the authority to commercialize the output of research projects and set up independent companies or JVs for that purpose. Cabinet had approved the law back in January 2019.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Egypt’s prosecutor general refers FGM doctor to criminal court

The prosecutor general has referred to a criminal court a retired doctor and the family of the 12-year-old girl who died from an illegal FGM operation last month, Ahram Online reports. The doctor, Ali Abdel Fadil, was released on bail earlier pending an investigation. The investigation found that the parents and Abdel Fadil agreed to have the girl circumcised in accordance with “customs and traditions.”

Court reverses decision to release Alaa Abdel Fattah, Reem Dessouky

An Egyptian court accepted on Thursday an appeal from the prosecutor general reversing the release of US-Egyptian citizen Reem Dessouky and prominent Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, ABC News reports. Dessouky’s detention will be extended for at least 45 days, one of her lawyers said. It remains unclear whether the same applies to Abdel Fattah.

On Your Way Out

UAE honors Sir Magdi Yacoub, raising EGP 360 mn in donations to new heart center in Cairo: Regional investors and organizations, including Samih Sawiris and the Emirates Islamic bank, donated mns to the USD 150 mn Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Centre — Cairo during Arab Hope Makers, which took place in Dubai over the weekend. The total raised was c.EGP 360 mn (AED 88 mn) — after Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum honored the Egyptian-British surgeon and doubled the amount pledged by donors.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.51 | Sell 15.61
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.51 | Sell 15.61
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.53 | Sell 15.63

EGX30 (Thursday): 13,721 (+0.2%)
Turnover: EGP 699 mn (20% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -1.7%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session up 0.2%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended up 0.1%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Egyptian Resorts up 5.7%, Dice up 5.3%, and Porto Group up 2.6%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were Juhayna down 2.3%, CIRA down 1.7% and Orascom Development Egypt down 1.2%. The market turnover was EGP 699 mn, and regional investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +35.8 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -132.6 mn
Domestic: Net Long | EGP +96.9 mn

Retail: 43.6% of total trades | 39.5% of buyers | 47.7% of sellers
Institutions: 56.4% of total trades | 60.5% of buyers | 52.3% of sellers

WTI: USD 53.38 (-0.93%)
Brent: USD 58.50 (-1.37%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 1.91 MMBtu, (-0.78%, March 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,648.80 / troy ounce (+1.75%)

TASI: 8,007.39 (+0.50%) (YTD: -4.55%)
ADX: 5,033.15 (-0.80%) (YTD: -0.84%)
DFM: 2,737.51 (+0.35%) (YTD: -0.99%)
KSE Premier Market: 6,871.28 (+1.42%)
QE: 9,934.10 (+0.56%) (YTD: -4.71%)
MSM: 4,191.63 (+0.40%) (YTD: +5.29%)
BB: 1,668.58 (+0.26%) (YTD: +3.63%)

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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.

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

23-29 February (Sunday-Saturday): 20 Egyptian companies will participate in the “Egyptian Trade Week” in Kampala, Uganda.

28-29 February (Friday-Saturday): Egypt Career Summit, The Greek Campus, Cairo, Egypt.

March: An international conference to market investment prospects in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

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 (Sunday): Egyptian Mining Day, Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada Convention, Toronto, Canada.

1 March (Sunday): 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 (Friday-Sunday): 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 Investment Conference for the Suez Canal Economic Zone, 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.

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).

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 May (Saturday): An administrative court will look into an appeal by steel rolling mills to overturn a government’s decision to place import tariffs on steel rebar and iron billets. The hearing was postponed from 22 February 2020.

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

4-6 June (Thursday-Saturday): 2020 Africa-France Summit, Bordeaux, France.

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.

24 September- 2 October (Thursday-Friday): El Gouna Film Festival, El Gouna, Egypt.

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.

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.

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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