Sunday, 13 September 2020

Parliamentary elections to kick-off on 21 October


What We’re Tracking Today

Good morning, everyone. It’s shaping up to be a very busy news week amid word that we’re heading back to the polls next month to elect a new House of Representatives. Meanwhile, planning for 2021 is underway in corporate offices across the country, the Sisi administration has unveiled important new rules in its ongoing push to get us all to abandon cash, inflation has hit a 10-month low, and clinical trials have resumed on AstraZeneca’s highly anticipated covid-19 vaccine.

Before we elect new MPs, we’ll find out on Wednesday the final results of our first Senate elections after the run-off elections wrapped last week. The first round of voting last month saw 174 members elected to the newly-constituted upper chamber, and the run-off round will determine another 26. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will appoint the remaining 100 members of the 300-seat Senate after the final results of the votes are announced.

It’s also a big week for us tech nerds. Where to even start?

  • Sony is set to announce tomorrow its A7c entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera — the leaks are already out;
  • Don’t expect a new iPhone on Tuesday. Instead, pundits figure Apple will release new iPad and Apple Watch models. Also possible: Apple Tags to track your lost bits and pieces and over-the-ear headphones. You can watch it live here on Tuesday at 7pm CLT.
  • Another division of Sony will unveil pricing, release date and more for its PlayStation 5 at an event on Wednesday;
  • Nikon is expected to take the wraps off two new lenses — and to drop hints of when it will release successors to its Z6 and Z7 mirrorless cameras.

All of this while we digest the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, the Microsoft Surface Duo (great design, buggy software, say WSJ and the Verge), Android 11 and wait for reviews of the Xbox Series X and smaller Xbox Series S.

The EGX rebounded on Thursday, gaining 1.3% to outperform regional peers on the last trading day of the week. EGX30 heavyweight CIB closed up 1.0%, while 24 shares in the benchmark index closed in the green. Trading remained moderate, with EGP 1.1 bn-worth of shares changing hands — 1% below the trailing 90-day average. The EGX30 is now down 20.7% year-to-date, making it one of the region’s worst performers this year, as we reported last week.

The tech sell-off on the Nasdaq continued on Friday, driving the benchmark index to record its worst week since March, CNBC reports. The index was down 4.1% for the week.

The Health Ministry reported 148 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 151 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 100,856 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 20 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 5,627. We now have a total of 83,261 confirmed cases that have fully recovered.

Do you want to take an experimental covid-19 vaccine? The Health Ministry has launched a website through which it’s seeking up to 6k volunteers to take two doses 21 days apart as part of phase three clinical trials in a joint initiative with the Chinese government and the Emirati health firm G42 Healthcare, a ministry statement said on Saturday. Some 45k volunteers in the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt are taking part, with 35k people having already begun the trial.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca has resumed clinical trials in the UK of the covid-19 vaccine it is developing with Oxford University, the company said in a statement on Saturday. The trials were placed on hold last week for a standard review of safety data by independent committees and international regulators, who concluded that trials in the UK are safe to resume.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi called on the government to expand virus awareness campaigns ahead of the start of the new school year to prevent the occurence of a second wave, an Ittihadiya statement said.

Flights from Kazakhstan have resumed, with the first plane landing at Sharm El Sheikh International Airport on Friday, a Civil Aviation Ministry statement said.

Wizz Air is planning to launch flights from Milan to Alexandria on 17 September, the local agent of Wizz Air said in a statement to Al Shorouk. Europe’s third-largest discount carrier will run three weekly flights between the two cities on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

France reported more than 10k fresh cases on Saturday, the country’s highest single-day toll since the crisis began, Sky News reports.


Jane Fraser will become the first female CEO of a US banking giant after Citigroup boss Michael Corbat retires next year, the bank announced on Thursday.

Two blockbuster M&As are nearing completion:

  • Japanese tech powerhouse SoftBank is on the verge of selling UK chip designer Arm Holdings to Nvidia for more than USD 40 bn, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • US pharma giant Gilead Sciences is on the verge of acquiring Immunomedics for USD 20 bn, the Financial Times says.

Bahrain followed in the UAE’s footsteps to become the second Arab country to normalize relations with Israel in less than a month, according to a joint statement on Friday from Bahrain, Israel, and the US — which brokered the agreement. Bahrain will now join in on the UAE and Israel’s treaty signing ceremony in Washington this Tuesday, 15 September. The UAE had normalized relations with Tel Aviv on 13 August in a watershed agreement that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said at the time could have a domino effect in the region. Reuters has a timeline of Israel’s efforts to make peace with the region.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi lauded the agreement in a call to Bahraini King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on Friday, according to an Ittihadiya statement.

How does Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel differ from those Bahrain and the UAE signed? The Camp David accords were designed to end the war between Cairo and Tel Aviv, and yielded a “cold peace,” as opposed to the trade and investment that is expected to come out of Israel’s treaties with Bahrain and the UAE, Timothy Kaldas writes in a Bloomberg Opinion piece.

Meanwhile, Libya’s Tripoli-based government is in fresh talks with Turkish officials on exploring nearby oil and gas blocks, cooperating in power generation and operating energy pipelines, Bloomberg reports, citing an unnamed Turkish official. Both sides signed late last year a maritime demarcation agreement that passes through waters Greece and Cyprus say is theirs under international law. Egypt and Greece last month signed another competing agreement that ignores the Turkish-Libyan accord.

But Ankara’s EastMed gas adventures are beginning to irk the US: The US State Department is “deeply concerned” about Turkey’s gas exploration efforts in the eastern Mediterranean, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said yesterday, Bloomberg reports.

US ELECTION WATCH- Trump comes through with his most wild accusation yet — claiming that rival Joe Biden is using stimulants to get himself through debates. “I think there’s probably — possibly — [redacted] involved,” Trump said in a Fox News interview broadcast last night. “That’s what I hear. I mean, there’s possibly [redacted]. I don’t know how you can go from being so bad where you can’t even get out a sentence … ,” he said, without finishing his sentence.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Building code violations and the reconciliation law were all the rage on the airwaves last night after Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly announced that the government would reduce fines in rural areas to EGP 50 per sqm (more on this in this morning’s Speed Round, below). Among the highlights from the wealth of coverage last night:

Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary spoke with Agriculture Ministry spokesperson Mohamed El Qersh, who discussed the prime minister’s announcement. He said that Egypt has lost more than 90k acres and bns of EGP since 2011 from construction on agricultural land. El Qersh noted that reclaiming one acre costs the state EGP 200k (watch, runtime: 11:43).

El Hosary spoke with Atef Makhlif, a member of the House of Representatives’ Housing Committee, who discussed amendments to the reconciliation law. He said that the government realized the burden on citizens and reduced the cost of the reconciliation to EGP 50 per sqm (watch, runtime: 6:09).

El Hekaya’s Amr Adib praised the government’s decision to reduce the fines (watch, runtime: 0:58) and rang up the governors of Damietta (watch, runtime: 2:12) and Qalyubia (watch, runtime: 3:18) to discuss local developments.

Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 7:53) and Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 4:22) both had coverage of the prime minister’s presser .

Covid-19 vaccines: El Hekaya’s Amr Adib phoned Health Minister Hala Zayed who said that Egypt is collaborating on the development of four covid-19 vaccines with international partners, one of which has entered phase three clinical trials. Working with China and Emirati health firm G42 Healthcare, the Health Ministry is looking for 6k Egyptians to participate in the tests. Around 35k people in other countries have already been through trials and no complications have been detected, Zayed said. The ministry will contact them 24 hours after taking the vaccine to check for side effects, and will administer a second dose after 21 days, she said, adding that volunteers will not receive financial compensation for taking part.

Meanwhile, Zayed said covid-19 has become less virulent in Egypt and elsewhere in the world and said precautionary measures are in part responsible for the declining death rate (watch, runtime: 3:05), (watch, runtime: 3:42), (watch, runtime : 3:10). (watch, runtime: 2:06), (watch, runtime: 2:09). Al Hayah Al Youm Lobna Assal phoned health advisor Noha Assem to comment on the vaccines (watch, runtime: 7:45).

Electricity exports: Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal had coverage of the Bloomberg article we picked up last week about how Egypt’s electricity surplus could allow it to export power to energy-hungry countries in Europe and Africa (watch, runtime: 4:30). Assal phoned Electricity Ministry spokesperson Ayman Hamza, who said that Egypt’s abundance of renewable energy could allow it to become a gateway between Africa and Europe to export electricity, and said that rumours claiming Egypt would be exporting electricity to Europe at “subsidized rates” were false (watch, runtime: 5:39).

Speed Round

We’re heading to the polls again next month to elect a new Parliament: The two-phase elections for a new set of faces in the House of Representatives will kick off in late October and wrap by mid-November for voters here at home and abroad, the National Election Authority (NEA) announced on Thursday (watch, runtime 22:29). The first round of voting in Egypt will see polls open in late October for voters in 14 governorates, while citizens in the remaining 13 governorates will cast their ballots in early November.

Who’s voting when? The first phase of voting will run 24 and 25 October and cover residents of Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira, and Matrouh. Egyptians living abroad whose original residency is in one of these 14 governorates will cast their ballots between 21 and 23 October.

The second round of voting will take place 7-8 November for residents of Cairo, Qalyubia, Menoufia, Gharbia, Kafr El Sheikh, Sharqia, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, and North and South Sinai. Expats will vote between 4-6 November.

Run-off elections for the first phase will be held on 23-24 November, and for the second phase on 7-8 December. You can also check out the NEA’s breakdown here (pdf).

When do we get the results? We should expect preliminary results from the elections to be announced on 1 November for the first stage of voting, and on 15 November for the second. Final results from the run-off vote should be announced by 30 November for the first 14 governorates and 14 December for the second batch.

And, uh, who are we voting for? A total of 568 seats will be decided at the voting booths, while another 28 seats (5% of the parliament) will be appointed directly by the president. The 568 seats are split evenly between individual and party list members — meaning there will be 284 candidates from each category. The Elections Act also stipulates that 25% of the total seats be allocated to women. Those who want to run in the elections are required to file applications to the NEA between 17-26 September. Expect to see a whole lot of campaign banners in the street around the end of the month.

Inflation hits 10-month low as food prices continue to fall: Egypt’s annual urban inflation decelerated to 3.4% in August — its lowest level since October 2019, according to Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) calculations (pdf) of Capmas figures. Inflation cooled last month from 4.2% in July. The falling headline rate, which came despite an unfavorable base effect from a drop back in August 2019, came as food prices continued to decline on a monthly basis.

Food prices see sharp fall, transport prices inch up: A sharp 2.6% monthly drop in food and beverages prices for the third consecutive month was the primary reason behind the fall in August’s recorded annual rate. The month-on-month drop in prices across all food items was enough to offset a 4.8% uptick in transportation costs and a 2.4% increase in healthcare expenses, the state statistics agency said.

Core inflation up slightly: Annual core inflation, which strips out volatile items such as food and fuel, rose to 0.8% during the month from 0.7% in July. Monthly core inflation recorded -0.2%, compared with -0.4% in August 2019 and -0.1% in July, the CBE said. The price of core items fell 0.2% during the month, compared to a 0.4% drop in July. 

Will the CBE keep rates on hold on 24 September? Pharos Holding said in a research note that it expects the CBE to keep interest rates unchanged when its Monetary Policy Committee meets on 24 September. The CBE is likely “to assess the impact of the [recent 300 bps] cut and the [other] stimulus packages” before cutting rates further, the investment bank said. Stability in interest rates will help “keep forces balanced between private sector support and attractiveness of Egypt’s real interest rates” to avoid a drop in foreign portfolio investment and carry trade, it added. We’ll be out with our poll of analysts ahead of the MPC meeting next week. 

Forecast ahead: Pharos expects the annual inflation rate to stabilize at 4.5% in September and October, from which point it would fluctuate between 5-6% during the final months of the year and remain well within the 9% (+/-3%) target range during the first half of 2021. CBE Governor Tarek Amer said last week he expects inflation to average around 6.2% during 4Q2020, noting that the figure has held steady within the single-digit range since June 2019 and has remained below 6% since February.

LEGISLATION WATCH- New rules on mandatory cashless payments — gov’t is getting serious about taking commerce online: Private sector companies and government bodies have been given six months to install electronic payment terminals on-site after the Madbouly Cabinet recently approved the executive regulations for the E-Payments Act, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in a statement The statement does not say when the regulations earned Cabinet approval. The law, which passed the House of Representatives last year, requires private and public sector entities to make payments electronically. It also aims to gradually get everyone to pay for their everyday purchases using as little cash as possible by putting limits on accepting cash as payment.

Phasing out cash in everyday life: The first phase of the e-transition plan requires businesses and state-owned enterprises in a number of sectors to only accept cash payments of up to a certain amount for different purchases, said Samar Adel, who heads the ministry’s e-payments unit. Under phase one, the ministry will put the following limits on cash payments:

  • EGP 500 for tuition fees, monthly, quarterly and annual metro passes, and retail loan installments and insurance payments;
  • EGP 1k for mobile phone and internet bills, and car fuel;
  • EGP 3k for monthly gas bills;
  • EGP 5k for monthly electricity and water bills, and non-peer-to-peer car and property rentals;
  • EGP 10k for plane and boat tickets, and non-peer-to-peer car and property sales.

B2B payments: Under the regulations, all state bodies and companies in which the state is the majority shareholder will need to pay their suppliers, contractors, service providers, and subsidiaries electronically. Private sector companies, meanwhile, will be required to do so only if those payments exceed EGP 5k, or EGP 10k if they’re buying cars or properties, said Hamdy Hosny, who leads the project management department at the e-payments unit.

Incentives: State bodies that sell products or services to the public will be allowed to offer discounts of up to 5% to anyone who opts for e-payments, according to the statement. Also on the table: Rebates of up to 3%, points programs to regular e-payers, and other financial and in-kind rewards of up to 5% of the amount paid electronically.


M&A WATCH- It looks like STC will indeed submit a lower bid for Vodafone Egypt –report: Vodafone Group and Saudi Telecom Company (STC) have reportedly reached a preliminary agreement to reassess the value of Vodafone Egypt ahead of a potential acquisition of its majority stake by STC, Al Mal reports, citing sources in the know. The Saudi firm originally submitted an initial USD 2.39 bn bid for Vodafone Group’s 55% stake in the company, but the liquidity-starved UK telecom giant is now open to accepting a lower valuation with its share price down almost 25% year-to-date, the sources said. The company would still negotiate a “profitable exit” from Egypt to support costly 5G investment plans elsewhere, they added. This confirms recent reports that STC could lower the USD 2.39 bn price tag originally announced when it signed a non-binding MoU with the group in January before the pandemic hit.

Remind us again why STC would lower the price? Pharos Holding suggested in a recent research note that a slowdown in global growth and tumbling oil prices, coupled with a liquidity crunch facing most corporates in the GCC as a result of the pandemic, make it likely that STC could cut its initial offer. STC may also be factoring in the possibility that the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) might force it to submit a mandatory tender offer for the remaining 45% of the company, which would nearly double the cost of the acquisition, Prime Capital said.

Vodafone doesn’t see TE using its right of first refusal: Vodafone Group doesn't think state-owned Telecom Egypt (TE), which holds a 44.8% stake in Vodafone Egypt, will use its right of first refusal and lodge a bid for the 55% stake held by the UK company, the sources said. TE could actually be looking to offload its stake, but is still waiting for Vodafone and STC to agree on a final value for the Egypt business, they added. An analyst at Naeem Brokerage last week said that TE’s debt load makes it unlikely that it will go ahead with the purchase.

Background: STC began due diligence in March after signing a non-binding MoU with Vodafone Group in January to purchase its stake in Vodafone Egypt in a sale that would value the largest mobile operator in the country at USD 4.4 bn. The sale could potentially be the biggest-ever M&A in Egypt. The FRA said after the initial acquisition agreement that the Saudi company may be required to make a mandatory tender offer for 100% of the company if it goes ahead with the transaction.

Gov’t slashes fines on wildcat building in 23 governorates: Local authorities have reduced fines paid to the government to settle building code violations by 10-70% in 23 out of Egypt’s 27 governorates, Local Development Minister Mahmoud Shaarawy told Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly on Friday. Fines in Cairo dropped the most after the governorate approved a 30-55% fine reduction per sqm of buildings, followed by another 20-70% cut on the discounted amount. Other major governorates — including Alexandria, Port Said, Suez, Damietta, and Luxor — saw cuts of up to 50%. Buildings in areas classified as rural will see fines drop to EGP 50 per sqm, and those who settle their fines immediately could benefit from an additional 25% discount, Madbouly saids during a press conference on Saturday. Click / tap here for the full list of reductions, courtesy of Al Mal.

At least five major contractors and developers have paid more than EGP 1 bn to settle their building code violations, and hundreds of employees have been referred for prosecution for illegal construction contracts, Madbouly said during the presser (watch, runtime: 2:01), without providing additional details, except that some of the developers built several towers in Alexandria and the surrounding area.

Background: News of the reductions came after reports that MPs have been lobbying the government to extend for six months the end-of-September deadline to settle building code violations, arguing that mns are not able to cover the costs due to the harsh economic conditions wrought by the pandemic. Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly on the same day reiterated that 30 September is the final date, but the government now seems to be open for compromise after the reductions.

NTRA to offer additional frequencies to MNOs in coming days: The National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) will offer the country’s four mobile network operators (MNOs) licenses for new cellular frequencies in the coming days, Al Shorouk reports, citing unnamed government sources who didn’t provide further details. The MNOs have repeatedly asked the NTRA to provide access to more spectrum since 2017 when the regulator first launched 4G in the country. The NTRA sold licenses for 4G frequencies for USD 1.1 bn and EGP 10 bn, asking that MNOs pay half the cost in greenbacks and half in EGP. Each provider was allocated spectrum between 5-15 MHz, with state-owned Telecom Egypt receiving 15 MHz, Orange and Etisalat both getting 10 MHz, and Vodafone receiving 5 MHz.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has approved a two-year USD 25 mn working capital loan to Orascom Construction (OC), according to the bank’s website. The loan aims to support the company’s working capital requirements, which have risen amid the covid-19 crisis, and is not tied to any specific project. The facility will improve OC’s financial resilience, ensuring the company has sufficient working capital and liquidity, the bank said. OC’s profits plunged almost 70% to USD 9.8 mn in 2Q2020 from USD 31.3 mn in 2Q2019, despite a marginal uptick in revenues.

UPDATE- 21 September 2020

Baker McKenzie acted as legal counsel to EBRD on the loan agreement.

MOVES- Sherif Saleh (Linkedin) has been appointed as co-CEO of Misr Italia Properties, according to Al Mal. Saleh is also the vice chairman of Nahdet El Mahrousa, an NGO that aims to support social entrepreneurs. He was previously the head of marketing at Mountain View and Palm Hills Developments.


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

It was a mixed bag in the foreign press over the weekend. A journalist has been detained for allegedly reporting fake news, according to the Associated Press, while the discovery of 13 unopened coffins thought to contain 2,500-year old human mummies at a site in Saqqara last week was on CNN and Xinhua’s radars. Meanwhile, a Canadian couple’s Egypt travel bucket list, featured in the Planet D, covers all the usual suspects, from Siwa to Luxor to Sharm.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

It was a busy weekend on the diplomatic front: Kenya has reneged on its Comesa trade commitments by introducing tariffs on Egyptian goods, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi spoke withFrench President Emmanuel Macron, and International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat caught up with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on its plans for the next five year.

The private sector and international institutions discussed sustainable investment in Egypt through green finance, renewable energy, infrastructure, and other areas during a webinar hosted by the UK Embassy in Cairo on Thursday, according to an embassy statement. Attendees included Vodafone, Wood PLC, Lightsource BP, Globeleq, the African Development Bank, and CIB, as well as UK Trade Envoy to Egypt Jeffrey Donaldson, and representatives from Egypt’s Trade Ministry and GAFI.

El Sisi, Macron talk EastMed, Libya: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussed the situations in EastMed, Libya, and Lebanon in a phone call on Friday, according to an Ittihadiya statement.

EBRD + Egypt in 2021: International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat spoke by phone with Jurgen Rigterink, the acting president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), to review the bank’s Egypt strategy for 2021-2025, a cabinet statement said on Saturday. The multilateral lender will focus on reducing carbon emissions, improving gender parity in the workplace, and the country’s digital transformation.

Egypt has resumed efforts to mediate negotiations for a potential prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas, after an Egyptian intelligence delegation visited the Gaza Strip last week, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Aid to Sudan: Egypt has sent additional shipments of food and medical supplies to Sudan to aid in the country’s post-flooding relief efforts, the Armed Forces said.


Egypt in talks with seven companies to set up desalination plants

The Housing Ministry is in talks with seven unnamed companies to build seawater desalination plants as part of the government’s recently-announced 30-year plan to increase potable water capacity, Deputy Housing Minister Sayed Ismail said, according to a cabinet statement. The contenders include international and local firms, four of whom have submitted technical and financial studies for plants that could be built under a PPP framework, Ismail added. Housing Minister Assem El Gazzar said last month that Egypt is investing EGP 134.2 bn through 2050 to increase its potable water capacity by 6.4 mn cbm/d over six, five-year phases. This comes as water is high on the Sisi administration’s agenda to tackle potential water shortages as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam comes online in coming years.

Hassan Allam, Orascom Construction to build five towers in New Alamein

Orascom Construction and Hassan Allam have won contracts from the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) to build five towers in New Alamein, Al Shorouk reports, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter. Hassan Allam won contracts for three towers while Orascom took home agreements to build two. The towers will cost an almost EGP 2 bn each to construct and are expected to be completed in 2021.

NUCA extends payment deadline on land in fourth generation, Upper Egypt cities by six months

The New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) has granted a six-month grace period for companies to pay for land plots in fourth generation and Upper Egypt cities, according to a Housing Ministry statement. The six-month period begins once the authority’s board approves the allocation of land or the company pays the down payment on the plot, whichever comes last. The companies will not be fined or charged additional fees for the land during the grace period.

Health + Education

CIRA begins digging, construction work for first phase of Badr University

Private sector education outfit CIRA began on Thursday excavation and construction work for the first phase of its flagship Badr University in Assiut, according to a company statement (pdf). Once complete, the 81-acre project will include several faculties and community colleges, in addition to a commercial complex and a hospital.

Telecoms + ICT

Egypt signs agreements with French, UK companies for AI projects

Three foreign artificial intelligence outfits are closing in on agreements with the Ministry of Communications and IT, according to a ministry statement. The agreements include a letter of intent with France’s TheraPanacea to use AI to develop radiotherapy and the evaluation of immunotherapy protocols for cancer patients. The ministry also signed an MoU with UK’s InstaDeep to use AI to create enterprise solutions as well as a letter of intent with France’s Teklia to develop a joint project that supports Arabic in automated extraction of information, semantic processing, and the indexing of scanned documents.

Banking + Finance

Who’s in the market for debt? Rooya, monorail, Canal Sugar

Weekends are usually a quiet time for the customary leaks in bankers’ never-ending quest for a bit for PR on the issue of why (may be) loaning what to whom. Among the highlights:

  • Real estate developer Rooya is said to be in the market for EGP 2 bn in finance to allow it to continue building, extending an earlier EGP 3 bn facility. Bank Misr and AAIB are said to be involved.
  • Credit Agricole says it is leading a EUR 1.9 bn loan to finance the Cairo-new administrative capital monorail. (Al Shorouk) Orascom Construction, Bombardier and Arab Contractors broke ground on the 96-km, USD 4.5 bn monorail in May.
  • Canal Sugar Company is reportedly seeking a EGP 1.5 bn loan from a consortium of six banks as an extension to a EGP 2.9 bn facility it received in March 2019. NBE QNB, Alexbank and the Suez Canal Bank are among those reportedly participating.

CBE asks banks to monitor Syrian accounts

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has asked banks to monitor activity on accounts held by Syrian customers, Al Shorouk reports, citing unnamed banking sources. The newspaper says that while no restrictions were being placed on Syrian residents, the CBE is stepping up vigilance to ward against money laundering and potential ties to banned organizations.

Other Business News of Note

Porto, Amer Group determine their shares of USD 51.68 mn compensation payment from Syria’s Antaradous

Syrian tourism company Antaradous will pay out USD 36.6 mn in compensation to Porto Group and USD 15.1 mn to Amer Group as a final settlement for the six-year dispute between the firms, Amer financial advisors FACT Financial has calculated in a report (pdf). The two companies — which were originally one entity before demerging in 2015 — were awarded the compensation in February 2019, when the Cairo Regional Center for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA) issued a ruling on a dispute dating back to 2008 over a partnership to develop a Porto-style project in the coastal city of Tartous. CRCICA had originally fined Antaradous USD 39.9 mn, and this amount has now appreciated to USD 51.68 mn thanks to accrued interest since 2014.

Clearance agents can now take out copies of their work history from all ports across Egypt

The Customs Authority has reversed a decision that required independent licensed clearance agents’ work to obtain copies of a document with record of their work only from Cairo and Alexandria, and is now allowing them to obtain this document from all ports across the country again, according to a letter carried by Al Mal. The reversal came after a complaint from a Port Said-based agent, who found it harder to have records at hand whenever they were needed for tax and official purposes.

Egypt Politics + Economics

MB leaders receive life sentences over 2013 violence

Leaders of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood including Muhammad El Beltagy and Safwat Hijazi, as well as the group’s general guide, Mohamed Badie, were handed life sentences on Saturday for inciting violence outside a police station in Port Said governorate in 2013, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The incidents came on the heels of the dispersal of the Brotherhood-led sit-ins at Cairo’s Rabaa El Adawiya and El Nahda squares.


Squash women’s champions Gohar and El Sherbini to face off in upcoming CIB PSA World Tour Finals

Egyptian world no.1 squash champion Nouran Gohar and compatriot Nour El Sherbini will go head-to-head in Group A of the 2019-20 CIB PSA World Tour Finals from 28 September-3 October, according to PSA World Tour. Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb and Hania El Hammamy have been seeded in Group B for the women’s championship. In the men’s event, world no.1 Ali Farag — who is married to El Tayeb — and defending champion Karim Abdel Gawad will be representing Egypt in Group A, while Group B will feature Egyptians Tarek Momen and Marwan ElShorbagy. The USD 370k cash prize for the championship will be evenly split between the women’s and men’s events.

On Your Way Out

Google has unveiled an Arabic version of its Read Along app, which helps children improve their Arabic reading skills. Announced on International Literacy Day last week, the app utilizes Google’s voice recognition technology to aid children’s reading comprehension, and allows them to share verbal and visual notes while they read. Children around the world have used the app to read more than 32 mn stories, spending more than 3 mn combined hours to improve their reading skills.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.70 | Sell 15.80
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.70 | Sell 15.80
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.72 | Sell 15.82

EGX30 (Thursday): 11,070 (+1.3%)
Turnover: EGP 1.1 bn (1% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -20.7%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session up 1.3%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended up 1.0%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Porto Group up 6.8%, Ezz Steel up 5.9%, and Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals up 4.7%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were Eastern Co down 0.3%, EFG Hermes down 0.1% and Orascom Construction down 0.1%. The market turnover was EGP 1.1 bn, and local investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net short | EGP -37.5 mn
Regional: Net short | EGP -5.0 mn
Domestic: Net long | EGP +42.5 mn

Retail: 75.7% of total trades | 77.2% of buyers | 74.1% of sellers
Institutions: 24.3% of total trades | 22.8% of buyers | 25.9% of sellers

WTI: USD 37.33 (+0.08%)
Brent: USD 39.83 (-0.57%)

Natural Gas: (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.27 MMBtu, (-2.32%, October contract)
Gold: USD 1,947.90 / troy ounce (-0.83%)

TASI: 8,135 (+0.69%) (YTD: -3.03%)
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September: The Egyptian Federation for Securities will hold elections for its board of directors after they were postponed in March due to the lockdown.

September: 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.

14 September (Monday): Postponed EU-China summit in Leipzig to be held as a video conference, focused on trade.

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.

Mid-September: Proposed time slot for UAE-Israel normalization agreement signing ceremony which will be held in Washington, US.

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.

24-25 September (Thursday-Friday): The European Union will discuss imposing sanctions on Turkey to limit the country’s ability to expand its search for oil and gas in contested eastern Mediterranean waters.

27 September (Sunday): Former Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali to be retried on charges he squandered public funds in a case related to the printing of coupons for butane canisters.

28 September-3 October (Monday-Saturday): CIB PSA World Tour Finals, Cairo, Egypt.

End of September: Last chance to settle building code violations for illegal buildings.

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.

21-23 October (Wednesday-Friday): Polls open to international voters for first round of Parliamentary elections in Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira, Matrouh.

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

24-25 October (Saturday – Sunday) Polls open for first round of Parliamentary elections in Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira, Matrouh.

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.

2 November: Former Civil Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafik faces retrial at Cairo Court of Appeals in the so-called Aviation Ministry corruption case.

4-5 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

4-6 November (Wednesday-Friday): Polls open to international voters for first round of Parliamentary elections in Cairo, Qalyubia, Menofia, Gharbia, Kafr El Sheikh, Sharqia, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.

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

7-8 November (Saturday-Sunday): Polls open for first round of Parliamentary elections in Cairo, Qalyubia, Menofia, Gharbia, Kafr El Sheikh, Sharqia, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.

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

15 November (Sunday): Egyptian Tax Authority’s online intro seminar on new electronic invoice system for first tranche of companies transitioning to e-filing program.

23-24 November (Monday-Tuesday): Reruns for Parliamentary elections in Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira, Matrouh.

30 November (Monday): Final results will be announced for Parliamentary elections held in Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, New Valley, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, Red Sea, Alexandria, Beheira, Matrouh.

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).

7-8 December (Monday-Tuesday): Reruns for Parliamentary elections in Cairo, Qalyubia, Menofia, Gharbia, Kafr El Sheikh, Sharqia, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.

14 December (Monday): Final results will be announced for Parliamentary elections held in Cairo, Qalyubia, Menofia, Gharbia, Kafr El Sheikh, Sharqia, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.

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.

13-31 January (Wednesday-Sunday): Egypt will host the 2021 Men’s Handball World Championship at the Giza Pyramids

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

26-28 January (Tuesday-Thursday): Future Investment Initiative, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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).

31 May-2 June 2021 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

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.

30 July-3 August 2021 (Thursday-Monday): Eid Al Adha, national holiday (TBC).

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