Sunday, 1 March 2020

Global markets in correction territory on covid-19 fears, four cases have Egypt links


What We’re Tracking Today

The story of the day is clearly the global spread of the covid-19 virus. Fears it will tip developed economies into recession and curb corporate earnings for at least the current quarter saw global markets collectively have their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis — US markets are now in a correction, defined as 10% down from a recent high, and reached that point “at unprecedented speed,” the Wall Street Journal notes. A number of Asian markets are also now in correction territory.

Industry conferences are being cancelled worldwide, airlines are still cancelling routes (the most recent saw American Airlines halt flights to Milan) and large gatherings are being banned as the virus has now taken root in nearly 60 countries, leaving market watchers wary of what will happen in global markets reopen tomorrow.

Closer to home: At least four covid-19 cases have Egypt links, but it’s unclear whether the patients (two in France, one in Canada and one in Taiwan) contracted the virus in Egypt, or came here infected and asymptomatic before testing positive after returning home.

We have chapter and verse on the story in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

What can you do to keep yourself and your family safe?

  • Wash your hands — frequently;
  • Make a concerted effort to stop touching your face;
  • Don’t go to work if you have a fever (or a cough) — does your company have a remote-work policy?;
  • No more shaking hands or hugs as greetings for the next little while;
  • Keep at least a one-month supply of any necessary medications on hand;
  • Figure out what your childcare plan might be if schools were to be closed for period of time.

With the beginning of a new month, here are the regularly scheduled news triggers to keep your eye on:

  • PMI figures for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will land on Tuesday, 3 March.
  • Foreign reserves figures for February will be released on Wednesday, 4 March.
  • Inflation figures for February are out on Tuesday, 10 March.

Coming up this week:

CBE sells only half of t-bills on offer as investors seek higher yield: The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) sold EGP 4.95 bn of six-month treasury bills in an auction on Thursday — less than half of the EGP 10 bn on offer, according to official data. The central bank also fell short in an auction of one-year bills, selling EGP 6.74 bn of EGP 10.5 bn on offer.

It’s all about the yields: The six-month bills carried an average yield of 14.33% against 14.45% average requested by investors. In the one-year offering, investors asked for an average yield of 14.20% and CBE only accepted bids with an average interest of 14.08%. The accepted bids in both tranches are higher than the average return in a similar auction last week, up by 52 bps for the six-month bills and by 22 bps on the one-years. The CBE will offer EGP 4 bn of three-month bills and EGP 10.5 bn of nine-month bills today.


Biden rescues campaign with decisive win in South Carolina primary: Joe Biden looks set to be the overwhelming winner in yesterday’s South Carolina primary in a victory that could help him recover from early losses in Iowa and New Hampshire. At the time of dispatch, Biden had secured 48.7% of the vote with Senator Bernie Sanders in a distant second with 19.9%. The win will probably not be enough for Biden to surpass Sanders in the overall delegate count but will give his campaign much-needed momentum going into Super Tuesday, when almost 1,400 delegates will be awarded across 14 states.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Hurghada Airport is prepared for covid-19: Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal discussed Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly’s visit to the quarantine facilities at the airport (watch, runtime: 2:32), part of a wider trip to governorate. He commented on the French Health Ministry’s announcement on two tourists infected with covid-19 who were in Egypt, noting that they were on tourist visas and no longer here. He added that the hotel they were staying at, its workers, and the tourist group they associated with had all been inspected. We have more on this in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Never mind the masks? El Hosary spoke with Cabinet Spokesman Nader Saad by phone, who said that Egypt has the capabilities to detect “any person” infected with covid-19. He added that parents shouldn't panic and that there was no need to compel children to wear surgical masks, which he added would only cause a mask shortage and raise prices (watch, runtime: 17:10).

(On that front, Saad’s comments exactly echo those of the US Surgeon General, who took to Twitter on the weekend to declare “Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS. They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk.)

Covid-19 will likely strike Egypt: El Hekaya’s Amr Adib spoke with Health Minister Hala Zayed by phone. The minister noted that none of the four cases flagged by other governments were still in Egypt and said their places of residence during their time here have been “inspected” (watch, runtime: 3:17). She added, however, that no country is immune to an outbreak and that while precautionary measures were in place there is still a “high probability” that the virus will arrive in Egypt. Min Masr’s Amr Khalil (watch, runtime: 11:50), (watch, runtime: 2:22) also covered the story.

Ethiopia's GERD no-show not well received: Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary spoke of Ethiopia’s “unjustified absence … at this crucial stage” of talks about the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam in Washington, DC (watch, runtime: 13:12), (watch, runtime: 13:12). She referred to the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s latest statement on the GERD’s filling and operating agreement signed on March 23, 2015. She said that Egypt showing up to sign conveyed “seriousness in achieving goals and objectives” and hoped Sudan and Ethiopia would do the same. Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal (watch, runtime: 6:26) also discussed Ethiopia’s absence from the latest round of talks.

Ethiopia out of line? El Hekaya’s Amr Adib took it a step further by saying Ethiopia had for the first time in nine years of dam negotiations demonstrated “clear antagonism” with its absence from the talks and request for further review (watch, runtime: 2:26), (watch, runtime: 6:00). He lauded the US Treasury department for insisting that the talks were “no joke,” and stressing that it was “not permissible” that Ethiopia proceed with plans to begin filling the dam’s reservoir in June until it had signed the agreement with Egypt and Sudan (watch, runtime: 14:19). Again, we have the full story in Speed Round, below.

Speed Round

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CORONA WATCH- Four new covid-19 cases linked to Egypt: Four people who had recently travelled to Egypt were diagnosed with the covid-19 virus over the weekend. The French health minister confirmed that two elderly French tourists had contracted the virus, and the Ontario government said that a Canadian man had tested positive. A fourth Taiwanese person who had travelled to Egypt and the UAE was reported to have tested positive for covid-19 yesterday.

It remains unclear where the individuals were infected: The World Health Organization said in a statement that none of them exhibited any symptoms while passing through entry points, and that only a small percentage of cases are discovered even if examination procedures are in place.

The tourists didn’t necessarily pick up the virus from Egypt, Health Minister Hala Zayed told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib yesterday (watch, runtime: 3:17). Egypt has taken all necessary precautions and medical teams have examined their places of residence, she said.

Egypt takes preventive measures in airports: Egypt is buying 20 thermal screening gates to be placed in airports to help measure the temperature of passengers arriving on flights, said health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed, according to Mubasher. Airports have also been instructed to stamp passports with a quarantine logo for all arrivals into the country to indicate that medical examination is necessary.

Egypt holds that there have been no more cases of coronavirus: The government on Friday denied rumors that there are additional cases of coronavirus in Egypt, Ahram Online reported.

But that may not be the case for much longer: Zayed told Adib that there is a high possibility that the virus could spread within Egypt and that even with a highly robust healthcare system it is difficult to prevent it from entering the country.

Egypt’s sole confirmed case of covid-19 fully recovered -Health Ministry: A Health Ministry spokesperson announced on Thursday that the person diagnosed with covid-19 in Egypt has fully recovered and has been discharged from a quarantine hospital.

EgyptAir will cancel all flight reservations of passengers holding “Umrah” visas to Saudi Arabia: The airline’s decision was enacted as of Thursday and maintained until further notice, according to Egypt Today. The cancellations come in light of the Saudi government's decision to temporarily ban entry for Umrah pilgrims and tourists from countries where covid-19 is present.

In worrying news for Egyptian exporters: Shipping companies have increased freight rates for goods from Egypt by 30-50% and a 70% increase for goods heading to China, the local press reports, citing exporters which obtained notifications from international shipping lines.

Shipping prices have been raised because of shortages in Shanghai and Xingang ports, said Maersk’s Sealand, which the domestic press saus has raised shipping prices to northern Europe to USD 1k, and to western Mediterranean countries, including Spain, Italy and Morocco, to USD 900 for 40-foot containers. Safmarine raised their prices for 40-foot containers to USD 1000 to those ports, while CMA CGM raised prices to USD 1,250 for same-size containers to ship to those ports.

The outbreak could even impact the government’s plans to reintroduce capital gains tax on EGX transactions: Unnamed sources told the press that the potential impact of the virus on the EGX have led to calls for the government to shelve its plans to reintroduce the 10% capital gains tax on EGX transactions until markets stabilize and concerns over covid-19 have been addressed. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said on Thursday that the ministry is almost ready to announce its plans for the tax but didn’t provide further details.

Background: A committee made up of the ministry, the Egyptian Tax Authority, and the Egyptian Capital Market Association has been meeting for weeks to discuss the tax on stock market transactions. The ministry has also been closing in on finalizing draft amendments that will settle whether the capital gains tax will be making a comeback, after being shelved for three years in 2017 in favor of a provisional stamp tax. The three-year period is officially set to elapse in May 2020. You can get a refresher on the proposals for its reintroduction here.


Global equities markets have worst week since 2008 on covid-19 fears: Global equity markets were a sea of red on Friday as growing fears that a covid-19 pandemic could both stall economic growth and hurt corporate earnings caused investors to dump stocks in what became the worst market sell-off in the US since the financial crisis in 2008.

The worst week for US equities in almost 12 years: Around USD 7 tn has been erased from equity markets around the world since 19 February, with the US market alone losing USD 4.3 tn. The S&P 500 fell 11% during the week and the Dow Jones plunged more than 12% to its lowest level since June 2019. European stocks suffered similar losses, with major indices — including the FTSE 100, the German DAX, France’s CAC 40 and the Euro Stoxx 50 — all losing 11-12.5% during the week, officially entering correction territory. Indices in Asia were not hit quite as hard, with the Hang Seng falling 4.3% and Shanghai Composite 5.2%.

The EGX 30 is proving a bit more resistant, closing down 1.5% on Thursday. The index is now down 6.8% for the full year.


US treasury yields hit record lows: Investors are piling into safe haven assets, pushing yields on US 10-year and 30-year bonds to record lows. And as yields continued to fall through the floor, the ICE Bank of America MOVE index — a measure of volatility in the bond market — hit its highest level since February 2016, according to Bloomberg.

“Investors are selling stocks first and asking questions later,” Keith Lerner, SunTrust’s chief market strategist, wrote in a note picked up by Bloomberg. “We are seeing signs of pure liquidation. ‘Get me out at any cost’ seems to be the prevailing mood. There is little doubt the coronavirus will continue to weigh on the global economy, and the U.S. will not be immune. There is much we do not know. However, it is also premature to suggest the base case for the US economy is recession.”

US crude posts biggest weekly fall since 2008: Fears that the outbreak will hit global oil demand caused West Texas Intermediate crude to plunge more than 15% during the week, closing closed Friday at USD 45.25 per bbl from USD 53. Brent followed a similar trajectory, falling 14.3% to USD 50 per bbl.


Powell intervenes to calm the market: US stocks staged a late recovery on Friday after US Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell hinted that the central bank may consider cutting interest rates in response to the outbreak. “We will use our tools and act as appropriate to support the economy,” the statement said, emphasizing the US economy “remains strong” but that covid-19 is presenting “evolving risks” that could necessitate central bank intervention.

Fed likely to resume easing this month: The market is now pricing in a 25 bps rate cut when the Federal Reserve meets on 17-18 March and a further 2-3 similar cuts by the end of the year, Bloomberg reports. Bank of America is forecasting the central bank to make a 50 bps cut in March and Goldman Sachs expects 75 bps in cuts by June. The Fed Funds Rate currently sits at 1.5-1.75%.

What are the chances of an emergency rate cut? “An emergency cut is clearly a growing possibility for a number of reasons — from the hit to sentiment, to the lower oil price, moves in equity markets, risks to the global supply chain etc,” said John Wraith, a rates strategist at UBS Group AG in London.

It may not matter though: Mohamed El Erian, Allianz’s chief economist adviser, told CNBC that the Federal Reserve will not be able to prevent the fallout from covid-19. “You need a lot of cash and very little debt to navigate what’s ahead, because markets will start freezing up even if the Fed cuts rates, which I think it will,” he said. “All that that’s going to do is help balance sheets and give some minor relief to markets. But it’s not going to encourage people to travel. It’s not going to encourage people in China to go back to work.”

Time to scale back expectations for US earnings: There will be zero growth in corporate earnings this year as a result of the virus, Goldman Sachs’ chief US equity strategist David Kostin wrote in a note on Thursday, according to CNBC. The consensus among US banks is that earnings will grow 7% over the course of the year, but Kostin says that earnings will suffer as the Chinese economy deteriorates, hitting demand for US exports, disrupting supply chains and generating uncertainty.

Goldman predicts “short-lived global contraction”: Stopping short of forecasting a full-blown global recession, Goldman Sachs economists have predicted the global economy to go into a “short-lived” contraction, Bloomberg reports. Global GDP is likely to shrink during the first half of 2020 before recovering in the second half, they wrote in a report on Friday.

CORONA WATCH- WHO raises global risk assessment for covid-19 to ‘very high’ from ‘high’: The elevated risk level is meant to push countries to boost their response system to keep the disease from spreading further, said Mike Ryan, who runs the agency’s emergencies program, according to Bloomberg. The WHO has not yet deemed the situation a pandemic.

China’s PMI falls to all time low amid virus spread: China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index fell to a record low of 35.7 in February as the country’s economy struggles under the weight of the covid-19 outbreak, China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced on Saturday, according to the Financial Times. The reading is worse than during the 2008 financial crisis underscoring the enormity of the threat posed by the virus to the world’s second largest economy. Banking Group ANZ has estimated that prior to this weekend the economy was operating at just 20% capacity, with around 50% of workers returning over the past few days.

Covid-19 continued to dominate headlines in the foreign press over the weekend as the number of confirmed cases and the death toll continued to climb:

  • South Korea: More than 800 new covid-19 cases were reported in South Korea on Saturday. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Iran: At least 210 people in Iran have now died from the virus. (BBC)
  • Europe: Italy and France introduced a ban on all public gatherings as the numbers of cases increased. (The Guardian)
  • US: A patient in Seattle became the first person to die in the US. (CNN)

IPO WATCH- EFG Hermes, JPMorgan, Citi, Goldman compete to advise on Arab Refining Co. IPO: Bulge bracket fixtures JPMorgan, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs are among those competing to advise Qalaa Holdings’ Arab Refining Company (ARC) on its initial public offering, Bloomberg reports, citing a person familiar with the matter. EFG Hermes, HSBC and Renaissance Capital will also submit bids, the source said. The company will choose up to three banks in 2Q2020 to provide advice on the listing.

The IPO is currently scheduled to take place during 4Q2020. Qalaa chairman Ahmed Heikal said back in 2018 that ARC could offer a 30% stake in an IPO but has since not commented on the size of the offering. ARC owns a 67% stake in the Egyptian Refining Company (ERC), which built the USD 4.4 bn Mostorod refinery which is expected to generate EGP 50-55 bn in revenues this year.

ARC isn’t the only Qalaa subsidiary slated to IPO this year: Qalaa is expected to list 30-40% of energy company TAQA Arabia on the EGX during 2Q this year. EFG Hermes and HSBC are on board to manage the IPO.

But keep your eye on timing when it comes to any pre-summer IPO. What’s going on in global markets right now (see above) is likely to send more companies running to the back half of the year.

Qalaa will invest EGP 10 bn in its subsidiaries over the next two years, Heikal said at the weekend, according to Al Shorouk. Speaking during the Metal and Steel Egypt Exhibition over the weekend, Heikal said that the investment will enable Qalaa to add an additional 1.2 mn tonne-capacity to the 4.7 mn-tonne ERC, and expand Dina Farms by 2k acres from its current 100k, develop its agricultural productivity and grow its logistics companies. The investment will be made using the company’s capital and not via bank loans,

Qalaa is looking to pile into gold exploration in Ethiopia through its Ascom Precious Metals (APM) company and its partners, Heikal said. It is on track to be completed within two years, he said. Heikal added that the Qalaa is also looking to increase the energy capacity of its Al Takamol cement plant in Sudan, without providing details or a timeframe.

Qalaa is open to working with Egypt’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, Heikal told Hapi separately, adding that it would be a partnership the company would give “priority,” without providing details.

Meanwhile, Qalaa subsidiary GlassRock will be supplying insulation material to “national and strategic projects” in the new administrative capital, he said. These include the government district, and an undisclosed military facility among others.

E-Finance IPO postponed to 4Q2020: The government has postponed the IPO of e-payments firm E-Finance to the final quarter of 2020, citing delays valuing the company, government sources told the local press. The fair value report was originally expected to be completed at the end of January paving the way for the company to go public in April. Sources said over the weekend that the report will take another 1.5-2 months to finish and that the government will push the listing to the final quarter of the year.

Deja vu: This isn’t the first time that the government has pushed the company’s IPO. Chairman Ibrahim Sarhan said last year the IPO will take place before the end of 2019 only for the government to kick all upcoming IPOs into 2020 citing unexpected delays.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing: As we note above in connection with TAQA Arabia’s IPO, a push to the second half of the year may prove sensible given where market sentiment is right now.

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

Spain’s Naturgy is pulling out of its Egypt operations, allowing liquefaction operations at Damietta LNG plant to begin again: Italy’s Eni and Spain’s Naturgy have reached an agreement with the Egyptian government that will see Naturgy exit Union Fenosa Gas (UFG), its joint venture with Eni, according to statements from Naturgy and Eni. The agreement will grant Naturgy USD 600 mn for UFG’s assets outside Egypt and its equity in the Damietta LNG plant transferred to the remaining stakeholders in the plant. It will now be 50% owned by Eni, 40% by Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Co. (EGAS) and 10% by the Egyptian General Petroleum Company (EGPC). Reuters has the story.

Arbitration disputes cleared: The agreement puts to bed a legal battle that has been waging between UFG and the Egyptian government for more than five years, putting the Damietta LNG liquefaction facility’s 5 mn tonne annual production on pause. Naturgy said the agreement will amicably end the dispute, despite the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes ordering the Egyptian government pay a USD 2 bn settlement to UFG. Last month, those demands were restated in testimony made to a DC court. The cleared dispute now puts the plant on track to begin production again by June 2020, Eni said.

Restarting operations at Damietta is particularly important now that we have surplus natural gas thanks to several new gas discoveries. Egypt officially became a net exporter of LNG last year, with imports of LNG falling to zero in 2019 and exports amounting to some USD 1.24 bn-worth of LNG, marking a nearly 150% y-o-y increase. A USD 15 bn Israeli gas import agreement that was signed in February 2018 and upgraded earlier this year, will see Israel ship more than 85 bcm of gas to Egypt over the next 15 years and the first shipment made its way into Egypt in January. Private sector companies will buy the gas shipments from Alaa Arafa’s Dolphinus before deciding whether to liquify and export it via the Damietta and Idku liquefaction plants, or sell it to the domestic market.

Some skepticism from analysts still lies over pricing: Analysts have cast doubt on Egypt’s ability to sell liquefied natural gas (LNG) for USD 5 per mn British thermal units under long-term agreements. Low domestic demand, falling demand in its only pipeline export market Jordan, and the start of gas imports from Israel earlier this month are all contributing to oversupply — all the while Egypt’s LNG selling point sits higher than global gas prices at the moment, estimated at a value of USD 4.41/mmBtu by JKM and USD 3.49/mmBtu by Platts Analytics.

The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) is studying 10 military-owned companies to offer them for co-investment, CEO Ayman Soliman tells the Financial Times' Heba Saleh. The evaluations come under an agreement the SFE signed last month with the military-affiliated National Service Products Organization (NSPO) to open up its subsidiaries for investors and address private sector complaints that the military is crowding them out. Soliman noted that the NSPO would be “happy” to exit selected assets 100%. He declined to name the companies currently under assessment.

Background: The agreement signed last month is part of the government’s steps towards privatizing some military-owned companies. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said twice that we could see army-owned companies and assets selling stakes on the EGX as part of the state privatization program. According to NSPO’s website, the organization holds 32 companies operating in heavy and specialized industry, commodities and food manufacturing, agriculture, fisheries and livestock, quarrying and mining, contracting, and services including conference management.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Pharma giant Pfizer is looking to invest an additional USD 70 mn in Egypt “in the coming months,” Pfizer Vice President and Assistant Treasurer Brian McMahon told Planning Minister Hala El Said on Thursday, according to an official statement. The statement did not provide further details on the planned investments. Pfizer has invested a total of USD 80 mn to support its operations in Egypt and was among several pharma makers that said at the end of last year they are looking to expand investments in Egypt and make the country a regional center of operations.

National gas grid usage fees go up 29%: The Gas Regulatory Authority has raised usage fees for the national gas grid 29% to USD 0.375 per mmbtu, according to a statement picked up by Reuters. The previous usage fees of USD 0.29 per mmbtu were set in December, which marked a 24% decrease from the earlier price set in August 2018 that stood at USD 0.38 per mmbtu. The hike is a step towards the “gradual liberalization of the market,” the regulator said.

Washington GERD talks wrap without agreement as Ethiopia no-shows: Egypt is waiting on Ethiopia and Sudan to agree to sign the final pact on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) “as soon as possible” after the latest round of talks in Washington, DC, once again did not yield a signed accord, according to a Foreign Ministry statement. Egypt had initialed a preliminary draft of the agreement during a previous round of negotiations in the US capital, but was the only country of the three to do so. Ethiopian officials did not attend the talks, the Associated Press reports. Ethiopia had said last week it would not attend what had widely been expected to be the final round of GERD talks, and had asked the US to push the meeting to give it more time for “consultation.” Sudanese officials attended the talks, and held separate bilateral meetings with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Egypt showed up ready to sign, but Ethiopia still has “reservations”: Egyptian officials who were in Washington on Thursday and Friday for the talks showed “readiness” to sign the agreement, and had signaled the government’s “commitment” by approving the preliminary draft, according to a US Treasury Department statement on Friday. Addis Ababa is still holding its national consultations, the statement says, without providing further details.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuching called on Ethiopia to prevent “significant harm to downstream countries,” saying that “final testing and filling should not take place without an agreement.”

The US is still going to act as a mediator until a final agreement is reached, according to the statement, stressing that the filling of the dam should not begin before the three countries ink the agreement. Reuters and Bloomberg have the story.

Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan had agreed to hammer out an accord by the end of February, but a final agreement has remained elusive even as the US and the World Bank stepped up their efforts to mediate the dispute. Leaks earlier this month suggested that Egypt and Ethiopia remain at loggerheads over key aspects of filling and operating the dam, with the US pressuring both sides to make concessions on how much water will be released each year, how to monitor the flow, and even on the definition of “severe drought.” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested a final agreement could be “months” away, saying last month that “a great [amount] of work remains” to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.

EARNINGS WATCH- Sarwa profits up 37% in 2019: Sarwa Capital’s net profit rose 37% to EGP 389 mn in 2019 from EGP 283 mn the year before, the company said in a press statement (pdf). 4Q profits came in at EGP 109 mn, a 215% increase on the same period in 2018. “We are delighted to report our full year results for 2019, delivering strong growth while continuing to expand our business in a year marked by inconsistent market conditions and weaker than anticipated underlying asset markets,” the company said.


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Egypt in the News

It’s a quiet morning in the foreign press: Writing in the Washington Post, Ezzedine Fishere calls last month’s decision to ban public performances of mahraganat part of a “campaign of cultural discipline” that seeks to erase expression that challenges the elite-sanctioned image of Egypt.

The waning of the Egyptian cotton brand and attempts to salvage it: The New Yorker takes a trip down memory lane on how a neglected long-fiber cotton plant in Cairo took over the world’s textile industry at some points, how it almost died, and the attempts to resurrect it.


HA Property Management renews facilities management contract at Egypt’s Benban

Hassan Allam Property Management has renewed its contract to manage facilities at the Benban solar power park for up to 12 months, according to an emailed statement (pdf). “The scope encompasses operations and maintenance of shared facilities, provision of emergency services, site security, and management of park logistics including water, wastewater and solid waste.” Hassan Allam Property Management is a subsidiary of Hassan Allam Properties.

EGAS plans to drill 10 new wells in the Mediterranean and Nile Delta

Ten new gas wells will be drilled in the Mediteranean and Nile Delta regions during FY2020-2021, EGAS chairman Osama El Bakly announced at the company’s general assembly, according to Al Mal. The state gas company expects to sign seven new agreements worth USD 690 mn in the coming fiscal year, he said.


Egypt Kuwait Holding to begin wood production next year

Egypt Kuwait Holding Company (EKH) aims to start production from its EGP 2 bn pressed wood factory next year, investors relations manager Haitham Abdel Moniem told CNBC. The company had announced its plans to invest a total of EGP 3 bn in wood production back in 2018, including EGP 2 bn in a compressed wood plant in Beni Suef and an additional EGP 1 bn to grow feedstock for the plant.


Grand Egyptian Museum general admission tickets set at EGP 30

General admission tickets for the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) will be sold at EGP 30 apiece, while a separate EGP 50 ticket will be sold for entrance to the King Tutankhamun exhibition. The museum will also offer an all-inclusive EGP 60 ticket option to provide access to both, according to a cabinet statement. Egyptian and Arab students will be granted discounted access to the entire museum for EGP 30. The museum is set to open its doors later this year.

Automotive + Transportation

Orange Egypt to outfit Mwasalat Misr buses with WiFi, set up control center data

Orange Egypt and Mwasalat Misr signed an agreement on Thursday that will see the mobile network operator outfitting Mwasalat buses and bus stations with no-charge WiFi, according to an emailed statement (pdf). Orange will also set up electronic communication and data transmission services between Mwasalat’s buses and its control centers, which will help the mass transit operator to monitor its fleet “through the cameras installed in each bus, check the numbers of passengers in each trip, [and] track traffic.”

On Your Way Out

Egypt plans to plant 500 feddans of mangrove trees on the Red Sea coast, in Safaga, Hamata, and Shalateen, according to Egypt Independent. The project aims to contribute to sustainable development and reduce the impact of climate change in Egypt, according to the project’s director. Mangrove trees are critical for bees and equilibrium in the ecosystem, he explains.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.56 | Sell 15.66
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.55 | Sell 15.65
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.55 | Sell 15.65

EGX30 (Thursday): 13,009 (-1.5%)
Turnover: EGP 988 mn (69% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -6.8%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session down 1.5%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended down 1.0%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Orascom Investment Holding up 2.8%, Telecom Egypt up 0.7%, and Pioneers Holding up 0.4%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were GB Auto down 8.0%, Orascom Development Egypt down 6.3% and EFG Hermes down 4.5%. The market turnover was EGP 988 mn, and foreign investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net short | EGP -84.0 mn
Regional: Net long | EGP +16.1 mn
Domestic: Net long | EGP +67.9 mn

Retail: 35.9% of total trades | 38.8% of buyers | 33.1% of sellers
Institutions: 64.1% of total trades | 61.2% of buyers | 66.9% of sellers

WTI: USD 44.76 (-4.95%)
Brent: USD 49.67 (-3.98%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 1.68 MMBtu, (-3.88%, April 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,566.70 / troy ounce (-4.61%)

TASI: 7,628 (-1.07%) (YTD: -9.07%)
ADX: 4,901 (+0.22%) (YTD: -3.43%)
DFM: 2,590 (-1.17%) (YTD: -6.32%)
KSE Premier Market: 6,730 (0.0%)
QE: 9,490 (-0.61%) (YTD: -8.97%)
MSM: 4,130 (-0.19%) (YTD: +3.76%)
BB: 1,660 (-0.11%) (YTD: +3.12%)

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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.

March: The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry is sending 10 French companies to Egypt to promote French tourists to visit

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.

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

21-22 March (Saturday-Sunday): An international conference to market investment prospects in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, Al Galala City, Egypt

24 March (Tuesday): The Annual Export Summit, Cairo, Egypt

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.

12 April (Sunday): Court session for Amer Group, Porto Group compensation claim against Antaradous

19 April (Sunday): Court session for Arabia Investments Holdings’ lawsuit against Peugeot.

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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