Tuesday, 25 August 2020

MPs are now on summer break, but the pace of business is picking up

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

Good morning, friends. If you’re feeling a bit dizzy, it’s because the train is accelerating out of the station as we speed toward fall — it’s another busy news day on the business front.

We’ll be keeping a close eye today on a crucial Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) meeting, which will look at guidelines and regulations for the long-awaited futures exchange. Launch of the exchange will make derivatives trading here in Egypt. The meeting will bring together a host of stakeholders, including private-sector commercial and investment banks, as well as insurance companies along with representatives from the EBRD and the International Finance Corporation, according to FRA Deputy Chairman Khaled El Nashar has suggested.

On the agenda — will the private sector be allowed to own a chunk of the new exchange? El Nashar suggested that the FRA is looking into allowing the private sector to not only own shares in the new exchange, but raised the possibility that private companies could together hold a majority stake.

The House of Representatives officially adjourned for summer recess yesterday, bringing its fifth legislative session to a close, Speaker Ali Abdel Aal confirmed. MPs had a mammoth agenda on their last day, but managed to push through nearly everything that was on their docket. We have the full rundown in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

We’re going to see the same MPs for a final, abridged fall session that will begin on 1 October, Abdel Aal confirmed. A new House is due to be elected this fall, with reports earlier this week suggesting the vote could take place in October or November.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is due in Amman today, where he will talk trade, investment, and regional developments with Jordan’s King Abdullah and Iraqi premier Mustafa Al Kadhimi. The leaders are pushing ahead with the summit although Iraq’s ICT minister tested positive for covid-19, the National says.

Diplomacy continues to feature heavily in the news this week, with updates expected on our beef with Turkey in the EastMed, GERD, and Libya. We have coverage of Turkey in Speed Round and this morning’s Diplomacy + Foreign Trade section covers GERD and Libya.


SIGN OF THE TIMES #1- Global dividends have suffered their worst quarterly plunge in more than a decade, with more than USD 100 bn wiped off their value in the quarter ending 30 June. That’s the worst plunge in percentage terms since 2009, the Financial Times writes — and at USD 382 bn or so, the total payout is the lowest 2Q total since 2012. It’s bad news for fund managers who rely on dividends — and good news (from an “attractiveness to the buy side” POV) for any corporation in a position to pay a dividend this year despite the insanity that is 2020.

SIGN OF THE TIMES #2- Lockdowns may not be the way to go this fall if there’s a second wave, the Wall Street Journal reports, saying that about a half-year into the pandemic, “evidence suggests lockdowns were an overly blunt and economically costly tool.” The better approach: Targeted measures including compelling widespread use of masks, social distancing requirements, and closing down crowded indoor venues such as gyms, movie theaters, bars and restaurants, the Journal suggests. That meshes with what a New York Times analysis that was out overnight showing covid cases are falling in US cities and states that have imposed mask requirements and closed bars, restaurants and gyms.

The take home: Many people will voluntarily choose to stay home more and try to WFH where possible during a pandemic, the data is suggesting, but a full lockdown may cause more damage to businesses and the economy at large than it prevents.


The Health Ministry reported 138 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 103 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 97,478 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 18 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 5,280. We now have a total of 66,817 confirmed cases that have fully recovered.

You know we’ve sort of “canceled covid” when the zoos have opened up: Remember when covid-19 first broke out and fear of bats and live, caged animals was rampant? Gone are those days, as the Giza Zoo, which has been closed since March, reopened its doors yesterday with some restrictions, Ahram Online reports.

Kuwait’s travel lobby is pushing for Egyptians to be allowed back into the country, suggesting that an entry ban imposed earlier this month on residents of 31 countries, including Egypt, be lifted, Al Mal reports. Negative PCR tests would still be required from visitors if the ban is lifted. Anti-Egyptian sentiment in Kuwait has recently bubbled to the surface, and Kuwaiti media suggest that the entry ban isn’t going to be lifted anytime soon.

In other news from around the region, the UAE and Israel’s bromance is now extending to healthcare research, according to WAM. This comes as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Israel taking credit for passing the love notes between lockers of the two countries, AP reports.

enterpriseFor the first time in the Red Sea, Somabay launches the newest destination app which provides fully fledged integrated services (available here for iOS users and here for Android) in line with supporting the company’s plans for digitizing hotel guests’ experiences using trending technologies.

The Donald officially secured the Republican Party’s nomination as their candidate for the 3 November presidential elections, reports the Wall Street Journal. Trump is already making weakly-backed claims that he’s going to face a “rigged election,” according to Reuters.

US stocks continue rally on Trump expediting vaccine: It looks like the beleaguered President Mirinda Orange’s (we understand President Cheeto was offensive to some) announcement of a vaccine is driving a stock market rally. The S&P 500 rose 0.8% on Monday, while the Dow Jones climbed 0.6%, and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 1.2%, according to the Wall Street Journal. The US FDA authorized use of convalescent plasma, the antibody-rich blood component taken from recovered covid-19 patients, for the treatment of serious coronavirus cases, the agency said on Sunday. The emergency-use authorization does fall short, however, of a full approval.

In an environment of negative interest rates, money market managers are forced to forgo fees: Some US investment firms are waiving or lowering their charges on money funds to keep investor yield above zero, including such names as Blackrock, JP Morgan, Federated Hermes, and Fidelity, reports the Wall Street Journal. Money market funds, which are used by investors to park cash until they decide on what to invest in, are typically used by managers to invest in fixed income securities such as government bonds. With interest rates heading towards zero, the USD 5 tn (with a T) industry faces very little returns, if not actual losses to the investor, forcing managers to cut fees. The Fed cut its short-term benchmark rate to between 0-0.25% to calm markets in March and pledged to keep rates near zero for the near future.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

It was another night of the Ahmed Moussa Show™, as the rest of the nation’s talk show hosts appear to still be enjoying their summer by the beach. The Ala Mas’ouleety host took note of yesterday’s legislative marathon at the House of Representatives, which we recap in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

MPs’ discussions of the Unified Tax Act with Finance Minister Mohamed Maait took up much of Moussa’s attention, particularly as there appeared to be some tension between the minister and our illustrious representatives over the potential imprisonment of tax evaders (watch, runtime: 9:06 and runtime: 6:24). Parliament granted the bill preliminary approval after voting to strike down Article 16, which would have granted powers of arrest to state employees responsible for implementing tax laws. House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal said that this article contradicts the Banking and Central Bank Act (watch, runtime: 1:58).

Public Prosecutor Hamada El Sawi issued an arrest warrant yesterday for the alleged perpetrators of the 2014 gang [redacted] of an 18-year-old woman at a prominent Cairo hotel, Moussa noted. Allegations emerged on social media several weeks ago that six men intoxicated and [redacted] the woman. The perpetrators have also been placed on airport arrival watchlists and are now banned from travel (watch, runtime: 3:46).

Other talking points yesterday included a potential reduction of railway ticket prices for passengers departing from stations in Upper Egypt (watch, runtime: 36:56) and ongoing upgrades at the Suez Canal (watch, runtime: 8:23).

Speed Round

MEGA LEGISLATION WATCH- House gives final approval to new Customs Act, paving the way for expedited clearance: The House of Representatives gave a final nod to the new, improved Customs Act in what was the final plenary session before MPs take off for summer vacation. The long-awaited bill allows for expedited clearance, expands the powers of customs clearance agents, and ratchets up penalties for customs evasion. The bill will need to be signed into law by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi before its executive regulations are formulated and published.

Highlights of the new customs law suggest that it will:

  • Allow importers of heavy equipment, machinery, and other capital goods to pay customs in installments, paying extra for that privilege based on the value of the unpaid portion each month;
  • Regulate the work of customs clearance offices through new licensing requirements, rules, and penalties in case of violations — the details on which are left to the executive regulations;
  • Amend the customs pre-clearance system to bring it in line with the International Convention on The Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (the Revised Kyoto Convention);
  • Set a ceiling for the service fees payable to the Customs Authority, including fees paid through the recently created one-stop shop system for customs in several airports and seaports. (This apparently closes an inadvertent loophole in previous legislation.);
  • Simplify the passage of “transit goods” between ports in Egypt or to ports abroad by exempting them from laws that ban imports and exports of certain goods;
  • Introduce a new system that allows goods to only be temporarily stored at entry points to ensure they don’t pile up at ports;
  • Cut to 2.5 years from four the length of time certain goods are given temporary customs clearance. The Federation of Egyptian Industries had been lobbying for authorities to stipulate three years;
  • Regulate the dispute resolution process by allowing tariff payers to file appeals to a state administrative body before resorting to arbitration;
  • Distinguish between minor violations and acts of outright customs evasion, and will apply strict penalties to the latter;
  • Allow customs officers to disclose secure information to national authorities or outside parties with which Egypt has agreements in place to “simplify customs procedures.”

What we don’t see in the breakdown of the law: The creation of a white-list of importers, which we had previously noted was among the key aims of the new bill. The white-list was expected to create a customs fast-track and help further streamline customs procedures at Egypt’s ports. The law does create a new risk management framework that allows the clearance of goods through green channels of trusted companies, which could mean that whitelisted companies would be cleared through these green channels. We expect that this will be clarified in the executive regulations of the law.

Also receiving a final nod yesterday — a law to regulate, encourage investment in waste management: The House also passed yesterday a draft law to set up an authority to oversee and monitor waste management in Egypt, Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad said in a statement. The new authority will be in charge of regulating the industry; it will also be tapped to come up with a national strategy for waste management. The law also includes investment incentives as well as other measures to encourage garbage collectors, small companies, private contractors, and recycling centers to join the formal economy. Tap / click here to learn more.

Tougher penalties in Electricity Act: The House gave its final approval to amendments to the Electricity Act imposing tougher penalties for anyone with an illegal hookup, the local press reports. Electricity company employees who aid in electricity theft or fail to report a theft can expect at least six months in jail and a fine of up to EGP 100k. Officials who deny a hookup to the grid without a legitimate reason will face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to EGP 100k. The House Legislative Committee approved the amendments to the draft law earlier this month.

Experience a power outage lately? Electricity theft is probably among the causes. Learn more in our ongoing Hardhat series on why we still get power cuts despite an electricity surplus.

The House also gave its final approval for amendments to the Eminent Domain Act, which grants the president the right to seize private property for projects that are in the “public interest,” Al Shorouk reports. The bill allows the president to take privately-owned land under eminent domain and offer compensation that includes a 20% premium on the market value of the land, among other provisions. The new amendments also increase the time between when an eminent domain order is issued and the purchase of the land to three years, from two previously.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s new Unified Tax Act receives an early nod: The House “preliminarily” approved during yesterday’s plenary session the proposed Unified Tax Act, which would create a single tax platform through which to file income tax, VAT, stamp tax, and real estate tax returns. The bill still needs to pass the House in a final vote before being signed into law by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

Other bills approved in yesterday’s general assembly:

enterprise

Some 126k tourists have visited Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada, and Matrouh since Egypt started direct flights to the seaside resorts on 1 July, Tourism Minister Khaled El Anany said yesterday. Out of all the tourist arrivals, only one suspected case of covid-19 has been reported, the minister added. El Anany’s statements came during a meeting between Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, who earlier this week lauded the covid-19 precautions Egypt is implementing at its hotels during an inspection tour in Hurghada. Egypt’s tourist arrivals reached a record 13 mn last year before the covid-19 pandemic suddenly brought the industry to a halt.

Pololikashvili also separately sat down with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to discuss Egypt’s efforts to bring tourists back, Ittihadiya said in a statement. Indications that Egypt’s tourism industry is showing signs of a comeback have been emerging this week despite the ongoing pandemic and the acceleration of covid numbers across much of Western Europe.

IPO WATCH- MM Group’s e-payments subsidiary looks to start work on IPO in 1Q2021: An e-payments company recently established by consumer electronics distributor MM Group will begin the process of selling an undisclosed number of shares in an initial public offering on the EGX in 1Q2021, the local press reports, quoting sources close to the matter. EFG Hermes is reportedly quarterbacking the transaction.

MM Group recently completed a merger of two of its payments subsidiaries, Bee and Masary, bringing them under the fold of the unnamed e-payments company that will act as the corporation’s fintech investment arm, said IR Director Ashraf Al Ghannam. MM Group could also potentially sell shares in an IPO for its non-banking financial services arm Ebtikar in 2021, Al Ghannam said earlier this year.

Mobile security startup MagicCube has secured an undisclosed second investment from Visa, Business Insider reports. “Visa’s continued support of MagicCube shows how much potential there is in the new SDT category, which we are leading,” MagicCube CTO Nancy Zayed said. Zayed (LinkedIn) and co-founder Sam Shawki (LinkedIn) are an Egyptian power couple whose careers have taken them from an Egyptian startup to major tech companies including Apple and Netscape — back to a startup, this time in the heart of Silicon Valley.

What does MagicCube do? It offers a software-based “trusted execution environment” for mobile and internet of things devices, allowing businesses to process secure payments and protect personal data. CIB’s VC arm CVentures, along with Bold Capital, Epic Ventures, Sony, NTT Data, Azure Capital, Visa and Luqman Weise Capital, have recently invested in the company.

Learn more about MagicCube and the company’s awesome founders in the third season of Making It, our podcast on how to build a great business in Egypt. Season three kicks off at the end of September.

Palm Hills Development to issue EGP 1.5 bn worth of securitized bonds this year: Palm Hills Developments (PHD) is planning on issuing EGP 1.5 bn of securitized bonds before 2020 closes out as the company looks to capitalize on low interest rates and reduce its debt exposure by settling outstanding loans, IR and Investments Associate Vice President Mamdouh Abdel Wahab told Al Mal yesterday. The company is looking to bring down its debt levels to EGP 1.5 bn by the end of the year, from the EGP 2.2 bn reported during 1Q2020. PHD has yet to disclose who will be tapped to handle the issuance, but the company last year appointed Sarwa Capital to lead an EGP 776 mn offering.

M&A WATCH- MNHD accepts EGP 30 mn offer for its 98.4% stake in Nasr Utilities and Installations: Madinet Nasr for Housing and Development (MNHD) has accepted an offer from an as of yet unnamed investor to purchase its 98.4% stake in construction company Nasr Utilities and Installations (NUI), MNHD said in a bourse filing on Monday (pdf). The total value of the transaction is EGP 30 mn, which includes around EGP 4.9 mn for MNHD’s 98.4% stake, while the remaining amount is debts NUI owes to MNHD. The offer also covers the purchase of the remaining 1.6% stake in NUI, which is held by MNHD subsidiary El Nasr Civil Works. MNHD received the offer earlier this month

El Nasr Civil Works is still looking at the purchase offer for its 1.6% stake in NUI to the investor for EGP 80k, according to its bourse disclosure (pdf).

MNHD could also exit El Nasr Civil Works: MNHD agreed earlier this month to allow Odin Investments to begin due diligence on El Nasr Civil Works ahead of a possible acquisition of the real estate developer’s 52.5% stake in the company.

EGX releases “D-list” of companies that could be kicked out: The EGX has introduced a naughty list of companies who could face delisting over non-compliance with listing and disclosure rules, the EGX said in a statement on Monday. The bourse released a series of six conditions that would land a company’s stock on the wonderfully named “D-list.” These include violating corporate governance regs and repeated failure to meet disclosure requirements, in addition to other “cases the EGX and FRA deem require the company be delisted.” As a procedural matter, companies that are also about to either voluntarily or involuntarily delist, will see their shares named on the list before actually delisting. The EGX’s listing committee will convene in the coming weeks to determine which companies and securities will be added to the new list, the statement notes.

The “D List” is the latest addition to three other Sesame Street-style grading lists, which include an “A-List” for the most active (get it?) stocks; a “B-List” for stocks seeing medium activity, and a “C-List” for securities that do not see enough activity to qualify for listing. Might we recommend that the stats on the stocks that will go on the lists be tallied by the Count.

A positive spin on covid: Egypt’s petroleum imports will fall 17.1% this fiscal year: Egypt will reduce its imports of oil and petroleum products in FY2020-21 to 18.4 mn tonnes, a 17.1% y-o-y drop from the 22.2 mn tonnes imported in FY2019-20. This should bring our fuel import costs down to USD 13.1 bn, from USD 16.1 bn last year, the local press reported, citing unnamed Oil Ministry sources. While it is very likely that covid-19 and the lockdown have significantly reduced our consumption of fuel, the sources stressed that it marks a steady trend in declining imports — Egypt had imported 28.4 mn tonnes in FY2018-2019 — as the country ramps up exploration and sets up new production fields on existing production lines in an effort to cover more of its domestic consumption.

And they wouldn’t be wrong: State-owned Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) signed nine oil and gas exploration and production agreements this year that will see companies including Shell, Apache, and Petronas invest at least USD 452 mn to drill 38 wells in concessions in the Mediterranean and Western Desert. The EGPC plans to drill 40 new exploration and development wells with investments of EGP 2.6 bn, and bring its total production to about 106 bbl/d in FY2020-2021, according to figures in the Oil Ministry’s planning budget.

Reducing our dependence on foreign oil will likely get a big shot in the arm from the government’s plan to have us all driving natgas cars. Take a deep dive into the plan with our three-part series in Hardhat: Part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Germany weighs in on Turkey’s EastMed shenanigans today: Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will discuss the eastern Mediterranean Sea dispute pitting Turkey against pretty much everyone else in the region, according to Reuters. Maas’ visit to Athens and Ankara comes as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Greece for being the region’s agent of “chaos,” Reuters reports.

Why does this matter? As one of the biggest economies in Europe, Germany represents the customers who would be buying the gas from the region that everyone is scrambling for.

Where does it stand? Germany regrets Turkey’s decision to extend the activities of an exploration ship, the spokesman added at the regular government news conference. Turkey has been stirring the pot since last year after obscuring exploration missions on Cypriot territorial waters. They’ve reached a fever pitch this month, when Turkey dispatched a vessel to conduct a seismic survey in the eastern Mediterranean. The sultanate is also upping the ante on its gas geopolitics by announcing a major gas find on its Black Sea coast last weekend, and has even begun major redevelopment in the disputed northern part of Cyprus, according to Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, Egypt and Greece are expected to close ranks on the matter tomorrow, when the Greek parliament ratifies an accord defining maritime border zones. The move to formally determine maritime zones is a step towards both countries maximizing their utilization of the resources available in the region, and marks a step towards more natural gas exploration and extraction for Egypt.

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Egypt in the News

It’s a quiet morning for Egypt in the international press, with Al Monitor offering a progress report on work on the Giza Pyramids Plateau development project, Arab News noting that some worshippers had problems abiding social distancing rules at churches on Saturday, and the United Nations saying human rights activists in Egypt’s prisons face “grave and unnecessary” health risks amid the pandemic.

Meanwhile: Ethiopia’s biggest pop star — one Mr. Teddy Afro — has released a song slamming Egypt over GERD, according to Global Construction Review.

Worth Watching

Egypt welcomes back tourists to the Red Sea with video campaign: The Tourism Ministry is out with a promotional video campaign welcoming tourists back to Red Sea resort towns — and reminding would-be tourists of the warm, pristine waters that await them (watch, runtime: 01:10). The short video features tourists describing their experience visiting Egypt during the pandemic, including the safety precautions currently in place. We’ve been seeing the tourism industry slowly but surely staging a recovery over the past couple of weeks, with national flag carrier EgyptAir’s operation rates reaching a post-covid record this week, and some 126k tourists arriving in Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh, and Matrouh since the resumption of commercial air travel in early July.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

GERD talks resume ahead of Friday deadline to submit report to AU chair: Technical committees from Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia met yesterday to continue discussing a report compiling the three countries’ proposals and sticking points on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to an Irrigation Ministry statement. The statement does not provide any details on whether the meeting yielded any progress. The committees are expected to bring a final report and a roadmap for further negotiations to African Union Chair Cyril Ramaphosa this Friday, 28 August.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will land in Khartoum today to discuss bilateral relations with Sudanese leaders, state news agency SUNA reports. Here at home, the Foreign Ministry is rallying diplomatic support from European ambassadors, who sat down with Deputy Foreign Minister for African Affairs Hamdi Sanad Loza for a debrief on the negotiations, according to a statement.

Moscow is also cajoling Addis Ababa to help resolve the gridlock by encouraging engagement in good faith negotiations, Russian ambassador to Egypt Georgy Borisenko said earlier this week. Borisenko stressed, however, that Moscow is not taking sides on the matter.

Elsewhere in regional diplomacy: Shoukry and French Le Drian welcome Libyan cease-fire: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian welcomed news of a ceasefire in Libya announced by the Government of National Accord (GNA) calling the move an “important step on the road to achieving a political settlement” and restoring “stability and security” in the country, during a call between the two diplomats on Sunday, according to a ministry statement. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi had welcomed the GNA’s call for a ceasefire on Friday, saying the move is “an important step on the road to achieving a political settlement.”

It seems that everyone is happy about this, except Haftar: The LNA appeared to scoff at the proposed cease-fire, deriding it as a “media stunt” on Sunday, according to Bloomberg. But since everyone giving it life support seems to be supportive, naturally, they did not reject it.

Energy

Bapetco made eight discoveries in Egypt last fiscal year

Shell-EGPC JV Badr El-Din Petroleum Company (Bapetco) made eight new discoveries in its Egypt concessions in FY2019-2020 with confirmed oil reserves of 10.6 mn bbl, according to an Oil Ministry statement. Bapetco drilled 44 developmental wells and one exploratory well last fiscal year.

Infrastructure

EGAS, TAQA Arabia sign agreement to bring natgas in El Wadi El Gedid homes

The Egyptan Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) signed yesterday a cooperation protocol with Qalaa Holdings’ TAQA Arabia to connect homes in El Wadi El Gedid to the natural gas grid by using compressed natural gas (CNG), according to an Oil Ministry statement. The agreement will see 14k homes in the governorate connected to the grid as a first phase, while later phases will connect more homes and expand to commercial and industrial consumers.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt’s GASC wants unspecified amount of wheat for October delivery

State grain buyer GASC has launched a tender for an unspecified amount of wheat it plans to have delivered between 11 and 31 October, Reuters Arabic reports. GASC earlier this month purchased 410k tonnes of Russian and Ukrainian wheat after receiving a “record number” of bids. GASC has been increasingly tapping the international wheat market as the country looks to ensure its reserves of basic commodities amid the global pandemic.

Egypt’s potato exports dip 25% y-o-y

Egypt’s potato exports declined 25% this year, coming up almost 200k tonnes short of our 850k-tonne target for the year as a result of pandemic-induced disruptions in global trade, said Mohamed Heggi, head of the Union for Producers and Exporters of Horticultural Crops, according to Al Masry Al Youm. Egypt remains the world’s second-largest potato exporter despite the slowdown this year, Heggi said.

Manufacturing

Egypt to launch fourth phase of industrial investment map in October

The Trade Ministry is planning to launch the fourth phase of its online industrial investment map in October, Hapi Journal reports, citing an unnamed ministry source. The new phase is expected to include some 3k investment projects up for grabs across 1.8-2 mn sqm of land in 15 governorates, and is expected to reel in some EGP 2 bn-worth of investments, the source says. The breakdown of projects by industry was not disclosed. The industrial investment map was first launched in 2017.

Health + Education

CIB offers remote training for Egypt’s private university students

CIB has completed Egypt’s first online training program for undergraduates from AUC, GUC, and the Arab Academy for Science and Technology. At the end of the program, students gave presentations on products they came up with offering digital solutions.

Real Estate + Housing

Amer Tourism Development scraps plans to buy New Sohag land

Amer Group subsidiary Amer Tourism Development Company is reportedly no longer interested in purchasing a 50 acre land plot in New Sohag City, where it had planned to construct an urban project, Al Mal reports, citing sources familiar with the negotiations. The company also received approval from the New Minya City Authority earlier this month to decrease the area allocated for an integrated urban project in New Minya to 45 acres instead of 110 acres.

Telecoms + ICT

Egypt’s mobile subscriptions inch up in March

The number of mobile subscribers in Egypt rose 3.2% y-o-y to hit 96.42 mn by the end of March, according to a CIT Ministry report (pdf). ADSL subscribers reached 7.53 mn by the end of March, marking 10.4% growth from the same month last year, while the number of mobile internet users rose 11.23% y-o-y to reach 39 mn subscribers.

Automotive + Transportation

Egypt in talks with three foreign entities to construct railway manufacturing facility

The Transport Ministry is in talks with three unnamed international iron and steel companies to set up a complex to manufacture and supply railway tracks under a public-private partnership with the National Railways Authority (NRA) and another government entity, Al Mal reports, citing an unnamed ministry source. The exact size and location of the facility were not disclosed, but the source said it will be set up on NRA-owned land near a port, with an eye to export production output at a later stage.

Banking + Finance

National Bank of Egypt expands internet, mobile banking platforms

The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) has added new services to its internet banking platform its mobile banking app, the country’s largest bank said in a press release (pdf). NBE clients will now be able to complete local bank transfers, activate their credit cards, and pay their bills through Fawry using the platforms, among other new services. The launch of the new services aims to increase the use of internet and mobile banking to reduce footfall in the bank’s branches amid the pandemic, NBE Chairman Hisham Okasha said.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Old Cairo district head arrested on graft charges

Authorities arrested the head of the Old Cairo district on Sunday on charges of accepting a EGP 400k bribe from a waste collection contractor in exchange for postponing the termination of the district’s contracts with the company and allowing them to collect late fees from the government, according to an Administrative Control Authority statement.

On Your Way Out

Tutankhamun exhibit returns to Egypt after world tour

The traveling exhibition “Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” is returning to Egypt this week after completing its two-year tour in London, Paris, and Los Angeles, according to Youm7. The exhibition’s 166 artifacts will be displayed in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir before being transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum, where all of King Tutankhamun’s belongings will be on display in the same place for the first time. The exhibit set an all-time record for visits in Paris’ Petit Palais last September, when it drew 1.42 mn visitors, notes France24.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.84 | Sell 15.94
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.84 | Sell 15.94
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.94 | Sell 15.95

EGX30 (Monday): 11,434 (+0.4%)
Turnover: EGP 1.9 bn (83% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -18.11%

THE MARKET ON MONDAY: The EGX30 ended Monday’s session up 0.4%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended up 0.3%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Dice up 3.7%, AMOC up 3.3%, and Elsewedy Electric up 2.8%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Orascom Development Egypt down 2.5%, Madinet Nasr Housing down 2.0% and Qalaa Holding down 1.4%. The market turnover was EGP 1.9 bn, and regional investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP -9.9 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +32.7 mn
Domestic: Net Long | EGP -22.8 mn

Retail: 67.9% of total trades | 66.9% of buyers | 69.0% of sellers
Institutions: 32.1% of total trades | 33.1% of buyers | 31.0% of sellers

WTI: USD 42.52 (-0.23%)
Brent: USD 45.16 (+0.07%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.52 MMBtu (+0.12%, September 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,938.60 / troy ounce (-0.03%)

TASI: 7,957.38 (+0.70%) (YTD: -5.15%)
ADX: 4,569.91 (+0.59%) (YTD: -9.97%)
DFM: 2,281.07 (+2.03%) (YTD: -17.50%)
KSE Premier Market: 5,741.56 (+1.69%)
QE: 9,890.37 (+0.83%) (YTD: -5.13%)
MSM: 3,690.15 (+1.69%) (YTD: -7.31%)
BB: 1,365.54 (+0.78%) (YTD: -15.19%)

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Calendar

25 August (Tuesday): President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will meet with Jordanian, Iraqi leaders in Amman for a trilateral summit.

25 August (Tuesday): FRA to discuss regulations for derivatives trading and the futures market with private sector banks and development partners including the EBRD and IFC.

26 August (Wednesday) Greek parliament to ratify Egypt-Greece maritime boundaries accord.

26-27 August (Wednesday- Thursday) "Tutankhamun … Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" exhibition will arrive back in Egypt from it’s latest tour stop in London

28 August (Friday): Friday prayers at all major mosques will resume with safety measures in place.

28 August (Friday): Tripartite technical committee on GERD will complete technical report and submit it to the African Union for discussion.

September: The Egyptian Federation for Securities will hold elections for its board of directors after they were postponed in March due to the lockdown.

1 September (Tuesday): Tourist activities will resume in Luxor and Aswan.

1 September (Tuesday): All tourists flying to Egypt must show PCR tests.

September (date TBD): The General Authority for Investment (GAFI) will host a virtual meeting with the Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry and some 120 German companies to discuss investment prospects in Egypt.

8-9 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): Run-off Senate elections.

9 September-25 October: KLM to run passenger flights to Cairo for the first time since 2017.

12 September (Saturday): Court session for Egyptian Resorts Company lawsuit against the Tourism Development Authority

14-15 September (Monday-Tuesday) The Chemical Industries Export Council will organize a virtual conference to discuss export options for Egyptian chemical exporters in Kenya and Uganda

15 September (Tuesday): 2019-2020 academic year ends for Egyptian universities.

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

16 September (Wednesday): The last day for the final results of the senate elections to be announced.

20 September (Sunday): A Cairo administrative court is due to issue a ruling in a third-party lawsuit demanding the government block YouTube in Egypt for carrying an allegedly sacreligious video. The case is an infamous 2012-vintage lawsuit still wending its way through the courts.

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

Late October or November: Voters head to the polls to elect a new House of Representatives. Election dates still TBD.

1 October (Thursday): House of Representatives reconvenes for its sixth and final legislative session before elections for the house later in October or November.

4 October (Sunday): Senate convenes for its first session.

6 October (Tuesday): Armed Forces Day.

8 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day.

17 October (Saturday): 2020-2021 academic year begins for K-12 students at state schools and students in public universities

23-31 October (Friday-Saturday): El Gouna Film Festival, El Gouna, Egypt.

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.

4-7 November (Wednesday-Saturday): Cityscape Egypt Expo, International Exhibition Center, Cairo

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

1 December (Tuesday): The IMF will conduct a first review of targets set under the USD 5.2 bn standby loan approved in June (proposed date).

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.

25 January 2021 (Monday): 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

28 January 2021 (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

4 February 2021 (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

18 March 2021 (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

12 April 2021 (Monday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

25 April 2021 (Sunday): Sinai Liberation Day.

29 April 2021 (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day.

29 April 2021 (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

3 May 2021 (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

6 May 2021 (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sham El Nessim.

12-15 May 2021 (Wednesday-Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

1 June 2021 (Tuesday): The IMF will conduct a second review of targets set under the USD 5.2 bn standby loan approved in June 2020 (proposed date).

10 June 2021 (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

26-29 June 2021 (Saturday-Tuesday): The Big 5 Construct Egypt, Cairo International Convention Center

22 July 2021 (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

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