Sunday, 27 September 2020

What does the central bank’s surprise 50 bps interest rate cut mean?


What We’re Tracking Today

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the final week of the third quarter. As much as we’re looking forward to the end of 2020, we’re also cognizant that we’re probably looking at the better part of a year before things start resembling February 2020 more than they do the status quo. It’s US-centric, but Politico’s Here’s how the pandemic finally ends likely holds true (in the main) here in Omm El Donia, too. Consider it your morning must-read.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Egypt made a surprise (if modest) rate cut on Thursday, confounding pundits who expected it to leave interest rates on hold. We have chapter and verse in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

We’ll hear later today who’s throwing their hat in the ring for House elections, Youm7 reports. Voters go to the polls in phases starting late this month.

EFG Hermes’ virtual investor conference enters its second week today and is set to wrap this Thursday, 1 October. The conference brings together more than 650 institutional investors with aggregate AUM north of USD 17 tn with top listed companies to chew over the prospects for frontier and emerging markets. You can visit the conference website here.

WATCH THIS SPACE- The government will shop seven “industrial complexes” to potential investors starting next month, Trade and Industry Minister Nevine Gamea said during a virtual meeting of the Egyptian-Lebanese Businessmen’s Association on Thursday.


The CIB PSA World Tour Finals kick off tomorrow at Marakez’s flagship Mall of Arabia, which is hosting the event for the second consecutive year, according to a press release (pdf). The squash championship, which is sponsored by our friends at CIB, runs through Saturday and will see 16 men and women competing for a combined USD 370k prize. Egyptian world no.1 Nouran Gohar and compatriot Nour El Sherbini will go head-to-head in Women’s Group A, while world no.1 Ali Farag and defending champion Karim Abdel Gawad will be representing Egypt in Men’s Group A. The championship will be held outdoors at Mall of Arabia’s the Park, which has been set up to hold 1k spectators. You can get tickets for the event here.

October wll also be big month for squash fans: The CIB Egyptian Squash Open runs 10-17 October, overlooking the Giza Pyramids for the second year in a row.

And in other racket-sport news: Mayar Sherif has become the first Egyptian woman to make it to the main draw of the French Open at Roland Garros after defeating Italian Giulia Gatto-Monticone on Friday.

SIGN OF THE TIMES- Uber subsidiary Careem is moving to a permanent WFH schedule, the company announced in a Linkedin Live session Thursday. The move affects employees at 36 offices worldwide, with the company saying it has seen an uptick in productivity in the past few months. Careem’s current offices will be redesigned as “collaboration hubs” for employees wishing to meet in person. Want to know how other employers in Egypt are adjusting their remote working policies? Check out our WFH survey published last week.

MARKET WATCH- US stocks inched up on Friday but the brief rally wasn’t enough to offset the fourth consecutive weekly decline. Buoyed by a rally in tech stocks, the Nasdaq closed up 2.3% on Friday, while the S&P was up 1.6% by closing bell, and the Dow Jones finished 1.3% in the green.

The FAANG gang looks to be on track for a particularly ugly month: Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google have lost a collective USD 817 bn of their market value so far in September, putting the group of big tech stocks on track for their sharpest ever monthly decline, says MarketWatch.

Expect more volatility this week with a US jobs report out on Friday, hopes for progress in stimulus talks in Washington, and Tuesday night’s presidential debate meaning that stocks will likely continue to be whipsawed over the coming week, analysts tell CNBC.

The Health Ministry reported 111 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 112 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 102,736 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 16 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 5,869. We now have a total of 94,374 confirmed cases that have fully recovered.

Umrah pilgrimages from Egypt to Mecca will likely not resume before January, when a covid-19 vaccine is expected to be made available, Chamber of Tourism Companies member Ashraf Shiha told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib last night (watch, runtime: 7:44). Umrah will resume on Sunday, 4 October, with 6k people being allowed to perform the ritual daily. Pilgrims must be Saudis or current residents of the kingdom and will be allowed three hours to perform the ritual in groups of just 1k.

The covid-19 pandemic could claim 2 mn lives by the middle of next year even as vaccines are rolled out worldwide, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said during a presser on Friday, CNBC reports.

The world has seen more than 32 mn cases, and more than 990k deaths from the disease thus far, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally.

Remember SPACs? Along with scarce private funding, they’re helping to fuel a US IPO boom: US healthcare and technology companies are in an IPO bonanza that has raised more funding YTD than any year since 2000, except for 2014, the Wall Street Journal reports. Special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) — a kind of shell company used to acquire businesses and take them public after securing ‘blank check’ investment — are an increasingly popular alternative to conventional IPOs and are responsible for 40% of new listings in 2020, which has so far seen US companies raise USD 95 bn. Some 235 companies have gone public so far this year, putting 2020 on course to surpass the year 2000 when 439 companies listed during the height of the tech boom. Read: IPO market parties like it’s 1999.

One recent example: A blank check company formed by Vector Capital to target the tech industry, Vector Acquisition, last week raised USD 300 mn by offering 30 mn shares at USD 10, Renaissance Capital says.

US hedgies and activists shareholders could stay in “stealth mode” longer thanks to proposed regulatory changes across the pond that would require only funds with assets of more than USD 3.5 bn to submit quarterly 13F filings, which disclose their public equity holdings, according to the Financial Times. Listed companies are concerned the proposed changes would make activist investors — or investors who purchase a large number of shares with a view to winning a board seat and making changes — a significant threat to smaller companies.

In tech news worth knowing this morning:

  • The next few days could make or break the TikTok sale: Chinese regulators will this week either approve or block TikTok’s Beijing-based parent ByteDance’s agreement with Oracle to separate its US operations, while a US court will today decide whether to allow the Commerce Department to ban new downloads of TikTok.
  • US-China chip wars intensify: The US has sanctioned China’s biggest chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), in another move designed to choke the country’s domestic semiconductor industry after last year banning US suppliers from doing business with Huawei, the Financial Times reports.
  • Apple temporarily, partially drops 30% store tax: Apple is waiving the 30% commission it takes on covid-hit businesses looking to pivot to online-only events, after growing vocal opposition to the rules of its store, the Financial Times reports.
  • A step towards zero-emission air transport: A hydrogen fuel-cell plane capable of carrying passengers, ZeroAvia, completed its first flight this week, taking off from Germany’s Stuttgart Airport, CNBC reports.

For our fellow gadget nerds: Amazon has unveiled a drone that will fly around and keep an eye on things inside the house when you’re not home. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber speaks for us when he writes: “I can’t remember the last time when a product announcement filled me with such simultaneous ‘I need that’ glee (flying robots for $250) and ‘no way is that going in my home’ dread.” The Verge has a rundown on the 13 gadgets Amazon announced last week.

Lebanon’s prime minister-designate Mustapha Adib has stepped down a month after being picked for the position, after failing to form a non-partisan cabinet in the country where power is shared between Sunnis, Shia and Christians, Reuters reports.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an international peace conference in early 2021, AFP reports. His call comes as momentum builds in the region for closer ties with Israel following the recent normalization agreements signed by the UAE and Bahrain.


US ELECTION WATCH- Trump nominates conservative to fill Bader Ginsburg’s supreme court seat: Trump lauded Amy Coney Barrett as “one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds … a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution.” A Catholic and conservative jurist, Barrett’s confirmation would tighten the political right’s grip on the US’ highest court for many years to come, the Washington Post suggests. The nomination received wide coverage across US and international news outlets: Bloomberg | New York Times | Wall Street Journal | BBC | CNN | Financial Times |

Reminder: The first presidential debate will be held in Cleveland on Tuesday night.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

It was a mixed bag of nuts on the airwaves last night: We had the education minister on to talk about the upcoming school year, the public enterprises minister talking about a number of projects the ministry is working on, more coverage of the upcoming parliamentary elections — and of course, the updates on the government’s efforts to crack down on informal construction.

Hisham Tawfik on electric vehicles, cotton: Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik sat down for a wide-ranging interview with Ibn Misr’s Moustafa El Minshawy. Here are the highlights:

  • Electric cars: We could see electric vehicles produced at El Nasr Automotive’s factory on the street as soon as the end of next year, Tawfik said, without elaborating.
  • Cotton exchange to return next year: Tawfik said that they are planning to restore exchange for trading cotton by the end of next year. There are also attempts to plant short-staple cotton, and the results of the trial will be known by the end of September, he said.
  • New show for the pyramids: The Public Enterprises Ministry is working with the Sound and Light Company to prepare a new show at the pyramids, and will bring in the private sector to work on the project, he said without elaborating (watch, runtime: 12:28).

Shawki on the new system for the coming school year: El Hekaya’s Amr Adib phoned Education Minister Tarek Shawki, who elaborated on how teaching will be delivered in the upcoming school year. Students in public schools will have in-class lessons two days’ a week, and these hours will be dedicated to physical education, discussing assignments and answering questions. The main subjects which will be taught online during the other three days of the week, he said (watch, runtime: 6:19). Public schools are back in session on 17 October.

Wildcat builders now have another month to settle with the government: Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa phoned Cabinet Spokesman Nader Saad who said that the government decided to extend the deadline for settling building violations to 31 October. People who have already applied but with incomplete papers still have until the end of November. The number of reconciliation requests is now at 1.4 mn, he said.

Also making the rounds: Masaa DMC's Eman El Hosary chewed over upcoming elections for the House of Representatives ahead of the 21 October opening of polls (watch, runtime: 12:54). She also discussed plans to protect homes and businesses in Qena from flooding (watch, runtime: 4:54).

Speed Round

Central Bank of Egypt surprises with first rate cut since March: The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) cut interest rates by 50 bps on Thursday — the first since the emergency 300 bps rate cut in March, the central bank said in a statement (pdf).

The move was a surprise to most: All 11 economists and analysts we surveyed last week predicted the bank would leave rates unchanged to support the EGP and the all-important carry trade. In a research note out late last Wednesday, Arqaam Capital suggested however that there was a “decent chance” for a small rate cut as Egypt’s carry trade has been one of the most profitable among emerging markets for the carry trade, with double the risk-adjusted return on one-year t-bills offered by its EM peers.

Where rates stand now: The CBE’s overnight deposit rate is now at 8.75% and the lending rate is 9.75%. The main operation and discount rates are now at 9.25%.

Low inflation paves the way: “As incoming data continues to confirm the moderation of inflation expectations, the reduction of policy rates in today’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting provides appropriate support to economic activity, while remaining consistent with achieving price stability over the medium-term,” the central bank said. Annual headline urban inflation decelerated to a 10-month low of 3.4% in August, while preliminary figures show real GDP growth in FY2019-2020 came in at 3.5%, the central bank said. Despite unemployment rising to a two-year high in 2Q2020, the bank sees “a gradual recovery in economic activity,” as indicated by key economic indicators stabilizing in July and August.

The CBE now expects inflation to fall on the lower end of its 6-12% target range in 4Q2020. Renaissance Capital had expected as much, saying in a research note earlier this month that inflation is expected to close out the year just below the inner band target, thanks to muted consumer demand. The firm had expected the CBE to take “measures” to nudge inflation up to remain within the targeted range, suggesting that one possible route would be canceling the 15% high-yielding certificates of deposit — a prophecy that was realized last week.

The decision to move towards monetary easing suggests that the CBE is not concerned about spooking the carry trade, Arqaam’s Noaman Khalid told Reuters. Foreign liquidity is also “relatively stable,” Beltone Financial said in a research note on Thursday. Remittances from Egyptians working abroad rose 11% in July against expectations, which has helped provide FX support amid low revenues from tourism and exports.

Pushing back on the EGP? “The central bank may have also wanted to push back against the recent appreciation of the EGP,” Capital Economics’ James Swanston wrote, noting that the EGP has appreciated by 1% against the greenback since the last MPC meeting.

A rate cut could also help spur capex borrowing and generally be “good news for businesses in terms of liquidity, which has been quite tight since the pandemic,” Naeem Brokerage’s director of research Allen Sandeep told Bloomberg. Our 2020 reader poll earlier this year had suggested that 46% of you wanted to see interest rates fall to around their current levels to unlock capex spending, but private demand growth is now the key to encourage capex borrowing, Beltone said.

Could we see more rate cuts? It’s unlikely in the short term, says EFG Hermes’ head of macroeconomic research Mohamed Abu Basha. While there’s room for more monetary easing, Abu Basha says the “uncertain external environment” makes it improbable that the CBE will push more cuts soon. Swanston thinks that the central bank will “remain cautious” in the months ahead, but is now forecasting rates to fall to 7% by the end of next year.

Foreign holdings of Egyptian t-bills continued to rebound for the second consecutive month in July, rising to USD 10.8 bn from USD 7.7 bn in June, according to CBE data (pdf). The uptick signals continued confidence among foreign investors following a tumultuous few months earlier this year. Net inflows rose for the first time since February in June, a period which saw holdings fall 64% from USD 19.5 bn in February as investors panicked during the coronavirus-inspired market meltdown in March. Foreign holdings in all sovereign debt, including t-bills, had reached some USD 14 bn in July.

M&A WATCH- Bank ABC starts due diligence on Blom Bank Egypt: The Arab Banking Corporation (ABC) has begun due diligence on Blom Bank Egypt ahead of a submitting an offer to acquire the Lebanese bank’s Egypt assets, Al Shorouk reports, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter. Bank ABC had signalled its interest earlier this month after announcing it had entered early-stage talks over the acquisition. Blom confirmed in August it is looking to sell its Egypt assets as its home country suffers its worst economic crisis in decades.

Who else is in the running? Bank ABC is competing with fellow GCC lender Emirates NBD, which could wrap up its due diligence by early October, Al Shorouk’s sources said. Sources previously told the paper that Emirate NBD has valued Blom Egypt at EGP 6.5-7 bn, around 1.5x the bank’s total shareholder equity. An unnamed non-banking financial services firm is also considering submitting an offer for the bank, unnamed sources said earlier this month.

Advisors: Blom has hired CI Capital to advise on the sale, while HSBC is providing financial advice to Bank ABC.

People are being given another month to settle with the gov’t for illegal construction: The government has pushed the deadline to apply for settlements for building code violations until 31 October, instead of the end of this month, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said on Thursday. Until now, the government has remained steadfast that the deadline would not be pushed further into the future, but according to the prime minister will do so now to allow more people to settle. This comes a month after the government began taking a hard line towards wildcat building, giving people responsible for constructing illegal buildings a month to settle with the government or face demolition.

WATCH THIS SPACE- Legal buildings across the country will get unique IDs by the end of 2021 to regulate the buying and selling of illegal property, Madbouly said without offering further details.

Are factories getting the real estate tax break they’ve been hoping for? Industry could be getting a leg up from the government if the Madbouly Cabinet agrees to accept a proposal being drafted by the Trade Ministry and exempt factories from the real estate tax. The statement does not provide further details on the duration and extent of the potential tax cut. The government had granted companies in the industrial and tourism sectors a three-month real estate tax holiday as part of the relief package it rolled out in March to help support the economy.

Businesses have been pushing for the exemption since before the pandemic broke out. In February, government sources told us that state-affiliated factories and some private sector companies in specific sectors could be getting property tax relief. In addition to the temporary exemption, factories enjoy property tax exemption on idle land under amendments to the Real Estate Tax Act signed into law in May. The amendments also grant the cabinet the power to exempt land used by strategic industries and sectors to give them “preferential treatment” in property tax, and exempt land owned by factories from the real estate tax.

Private sector companies could see natural gas import plans dusted off as talks on licensing resumes: The Natural Gas Regulatory Authority (NGRA) will reportedly resume meetings “soon” to finalize its plans to roll out natural gas import licenses to private sector companies, after these plans were shelved in 2018, Al Mal reports, citing an unnamed government official. The authority is planning to complete and begin implementing the plan before the end of the year, the source says. The NGRA had decided to delay issuing the licenses, saying the private sector was “unprepared” after three companies that received initial approval failed to submit the paperwork in time.

Background: The regulatory body was born out of the 2017 Natural Gas Act that marked the start of natural gas market deregulation. The authority was set up to facilitate the opening up of the market to competition and oversee licensing to private companies for a number of commercial activities, including grid operations and maintenance, supply, distribution, and shipping. The authority maintains full control over issuing and rejecting licensing for activities within a 45-day timeframe. EGAS had granted preliminary approvals to grant import licenses to Qalaa Holdings’ TAQA Arabia, BB Energy and Fleet Energy, which were designed to be renewed every six months until the final licenses were issued. Reports at the time had suggested that the first license would be granted before the end of 2018.


Insurance giant MetLife has partnered with Egyptian pharma app Yodawy to launch a digital platform allowing its users to manage prescriptions, order medication and book consultations, the companies announced in a statement (pdf). “The MetLife-Yodawy partnership will alleviate many of the complexities of medical insurance claims, as well as introduce new services to MetLife insured members in Egypt,” the statement reads.

WATCH THIS SPACE- If recent discussions we’ve had with two of the more interesting playersi the field are anything to go by, insurance companies bundling digital services for policy holders will be big business in the coming years.

IN OTHER INDUSTRY NEWS- Sales of meds from private pharma companies grew 3.4% in August to EGP 6.8 bn, Souq Al Dawaa reports, citing unnamed industry sources. On a m-o-m basis, sales rose 1.5% from EGP 6.7 bn in July. Sales during the first eight months of the year have inched up 0.49% y-o-y to EGP 50.7 bn. Novartis, Amoun, Glaxo-Smith Kline, Sanofi and Eva Pharma were the biggest distributors during the month, while AUG Pharma topped the list of fastest-growing companies by sales for the second month in a row.

LEGISLATION WATCH- The Banking and Central Bank Act is now the law of the land after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi ratified legislation that gives the Central Bank of Egypt more regulatory oversight of the sector, including e-payment, fintech and cryptocurrencies, according to the Official Gazette (pdf). The long-awaited legislation, which has been in the pipeline since 2017, was approved by the House of Representatives in July. Banks now have 1-3 years to comply with the law.

Need a refresher on the law’s key provisions? We have the rundown on the entire process since legislators began drafting the law three years’ ago: a 1% industry-wide tithe on profits for a bailout fund; new capital requirements and the exemption of SME lenders and digital banks from them; bank bailouts and licenses for credit risk guarantee companies; the scrapping of a controversial article that would have introduced term limits on managing directors at private-sector banks; and a whole list of new provisions here.

MOVES- National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr bosses get three more years in office: A statement (pdf) says that Hisham Okasha will remain as NBE’s chairman, while Yehia Aboul Fotouh and Dalia El Baz will also stay on as deputy chairs for the three-year period. Mohamed El Etreby will also retain his position as Banque Misr chairman, with Hossam El Din Abdel Wahab and Akef El Maghraby staying on as deputy chairmen for three years. The appointments were approved by Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly.

MOVES- Ghada El Bialy (LinkedIn) will succeed Maged Fahmy as the new head of the Industrial Development Bank, Al Masry Al Youm reports. El Bialy, who will serve a three-year term, was previously an exec at the National Bank of Egypt. Hamdi Azzam will continue to serve as the bank’s deputy president.

MOVES- Four state-owned newspapers have new chief editors following a meeting by the National Press Authority on Saturday. Ahmed Galal will take the reins over at Akhbar Al Youm, replacing Yasser Rizk who has held the post since 2014. Mohamed Abu Haggag will head the Dar El Tahrir institute, which publishes the Al Gomhouriyah daily, while Ayman Fathy Tawfik will head Rose El Yusuf. Ahmed Moustafa will now also take charge of the Dar Al Hilal institute.

Abd El Mohsen Salama will stay on as the head of Al Ahram, while Ali Hassan will continue to run the MENA news agency. Said Abdo will continue to helm the Dar Al Maaref institute, the authority said.

EARNINGS WATCH- Eastern Company reported net profits of EGP 663 mn in 4Q2019-2020, down 21% from EGP 837 mn last year, citing lower demand from the covid-19 pandemic and government curfew measures, according to an EGX filing (pdf). Sales during the quarter were also down almost 11% to EGP 3.1 bn from EGP 3.47 bn.


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Image of the Day

“Mummy portraits” were surprisingly accurate: Austrian and German scientists have completed a 3D facial reconstruction of a boy mummy that bears a striking resemblance to a portrait of the mummy that was buried alongside his remains, according to LiveScience. An analysis of the skeleton’s bones and teeth indicates that the boy was roughly 3 to 4 years’ old, whereas the mummy portrait suggests the boy was older. This discrepancy suggests this could have been an artistic convention of the time, said lead researcher Andreas Nerlich. The so-called “mummy portraits” became popular among Egyptians during the Greco-Roman times with artists painting a portrait of the deceased to be buried with them.

Egypt in the News

Topping coverage of Egypt in the foreign press this morning: Egypt returned the bodies of two Palestinian fisherman to Gaza yesterday after they were allegedly killed at sea by Egyptian naval forces, Associated Press reports, citing a statement by the territory’s Interior Ministry. A third fisherman is receiving treatment in Egypt. Reuters, Haaretz, and the Times of Israel also picked up the story.

Small demos reported in Damietta: Security forces arrested 10 people in Damietta on Friday after small demonstrations broke out, the Associated Press reported. Four more people were said to have been arrested in Luxor on charges of intention to spark riots.

Also getting attention this morning:

  • Egypt’s #MeToo: The success of Egypt’s feminist social media campaign against male violence hinges on it escaping social media to penetrate broader segments of society, NGOs say, according to Reuters.
  • Court upholds controversial anti-Jewish ruling: A 2014 ruling prohibiting the celebration of the birth of Jewish rabbi Abu Hasira in Beheira Governorate has been upheld by the Supreme Administrative Court, BBC Arabic reports.
  • Efforts to reduce water waste: Reuters took a look at the Irrigation Ministry’s scheme to promote drip-irrigation and sprinkler systems among farmers in a bid to combat water waste in agriculture, which farmers say uses 25% less water and improves yield by 20%.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Topping diplomatic coverage this morning: Shoukry talks MidEast peace with Jordan, France, Germany, UNRWA: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed Middle East peace and the Palestine-Israel conflict in a four-way meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and the EU’s Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process Susanna Terstal, according to a joint statement. Shoukry also sat down for separate meetings with King Abdullah, Le Drian, and Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, Philippe Lazzarini.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed used his virtual address to the UN General Assembly yesterday to reiterate that his country has “no intention of harming” Egypt or Sudan with its construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, and that his government remains committed to finding a political solution.

Canadian Ambassador Jess Dutton proves his Twitter game is strong as he departs Egypt, writing that “a lot has changed since I was a backpacker [in Egypt 24 years ago], but the people are still the same, among the most friendly & welcoming in the world.”


Egypt launches campaign to promote ecotourism

The Environment Ministry launched Egypt’s first ecotourism campaign to protect the country’s nature reserves, cabinet announced in a statement on Friday. Dubbed ECO Egypt, the campaign will run for three years and promote 13 reserves, including Ras Mohamed, in its first phase. The ministry has committed to preserving the reserves’ biodiversity while introducing them as eco-friendly tourism destinations.

Real Estate + Housing

UAE’s City Creek Construction to invest EGP 600 mn in Egypt this year

Emirati real estate developer City Creek Construction will establish an arm in Egypt and invest EGP 600 mn in three construction projects by the end of the year, Al Mal reports, citing a legal consultant to the company. The company has purchased 6.2k sqkm of land in Tanta for a residential project, and is looking into buying land in New Cairo and the North Coast.

Automotive + Transportation

Mitsubishi submits EUR 500 mn bid to upgrade, maintain metro railcars

Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi has submitted a EUR 500 mn offer in the tender to upgrade and maintain 58 railcars on the Helwan-El Marg and Shobra El Kheima-El Monib metro lines, Al Mal reports, citing unnamed sources familiar with the negotiations.

Banking + Finance

Who’s in the market for debt: Faragalla Group, BPI

Faragalla Group is reportedly in the market for an EGP 2.05 bn syndicated facility being led by the National Bank of Egypt; the company will use the proceeds to finance working capital and restructure existing debts, Al Mal reports. CIB, Arab Bank, AAIB, Attijariwafa Bank subsidiary Wafa Assurance, the United Bank of Egypt, Emirates NBD and QNB Alahli.

Benchmark Power International (BPI) is reportedly in talks with the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) for an EGP 1.09 bn facility to to finance an ammonia plant, Al Shorouk reports, citing unnamed sources close to the matter.

CORRECTION- 27 September 2020 

The original version of this entry carried a story from the local press that incorrectly said Arabian Cement is in talks with CIB and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for two loans totaling USD 280 mn. 

Egypt Politics + Economics

Three men connected to Fairmont case extradited to Egypt

The Public Prosecutor’s Office yesterday ordered the four-day pretrial detention of three Egyptian men alleged to have attacked a woman at the Fairmont Nile City hotel in 2014, according to a statement. The three men — Ahmed Helmy Ezzat Toulan, Amr Hussein Mahmoud Ismail and Khaled Hussein Mahmoud Ismail — were flown to Cairo after being arrested in Beirut on Thursday.

On Your Way Out

Veteran comedic actor El Montaser Bellah has passed away at the age of 70 in Alexandria hospital after a long struggle with illness, Masrawy reports. Born in 1950, El Montaser Bellah began his acting career on stage with the Trio of Lights troupe, and has performed in a number of national classics, in both theatre and film, including Against the Government, Muhammad Ali Street, The Succubus Who Loved Me, and Arabesque.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.70 | Sell 15.80
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.71 | Sell 15.81
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.70 | Sell 15.80

EGX30 (Thursday): 10,911 (-0.6%)
Turnover: EGP 1.3 bn (16% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -21.9%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session down 0.6%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended down 0.1%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals up 1.7%, Dice up 1.7%, and Ezz Steel up 1.0%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were Orascom Investment Holding down 2.8%, GB Auto down 2.7% and TMG Holding down 2.6%. The market turnover was EGP 1.3 bn, and foreign investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net short | EGP -134.4 mn
Regional: Net long | EGP +28.6 mn
Domestic: Net long | EGP +107.8 mn

Retail: 73.3% of total trades | 73.9% of buyers | 72.8% of sellers
Institutions: 26.7% of total trades | 26.1% of buyers | 27.2% of sellers

WTI: USD 40.25 (-0.15%)
Brent: USD 41.92 (-0.05%)

Natural Gas: (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.14 MMBtu, (-4.85%, October 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,866.30 / troy ounce (-0.56%)

TASI: 8,236 (-0.10%) (YTD: -1.82%)
ADX: 4.466 (-0.52%) (YTD: -12.00%)
DFM: 2,252 (-1.45%) (YTD: -18.54%)
KSE Premier Market: 6,221 (-0.3%)
QE: 9,788 (+0.01%) (YTD: -6.11%)
MSM: 3,627 (+0.15%) (YTD: -8.90%)
BB: 1,450 (-0.04%) (YTD: -9.92%)

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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.

21 September-1 October (Monday-Thursday): EFG Hermes’ second Virtual Investors Conference.

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, The Park, Mall of Arabia, Egypt

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

October: Trade and Industry Ministry allocates SMEs seven industrial complexes.

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

1 October (Thursday): Deadline for students to transfer between schools.

1-10 October (Thursday-Saturday): Alexandria Book Fair, Kouta, Alexandria.

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.

12 October (Monday): The Egyptian Iron and Steel company general assembly would discuss demerging its mining and quarrying unit and restructure the company’s board of directors

10-17 October (Saturday-Saturday): CIB Egyptian Squash Open, New Giza Sporting Club / Pyramids of Giza

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

18-22 October (Sunday-Thursday): The annual Cairo Water Week event — which will be semi- virtual this year — will be held under the slogan “Water Security for Peace and Development in Arid Regions”

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.

November: An Egyptian-Russian ministerial committee will meet to discuss trade and investment in Moscow.

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.

19-28 November (Thursday-Sunday): Cairo International Film Festival, Cairo Opera House, Egypt.

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.

December: The 110th regular session of the Egyptian-Iraqi Joint Higher Committee will be held under the chairmanship of the prime ministers of the two countries.

December: IMF delegation visits Egypt to in first of two reviews ahead of disbursement of second tranche of USD 5.2 bn SBA.

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.

9-10 December (Wednesday-Thursday): BiznEx, the international business expo in Egypt, venue TBD.

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.

6-18 February (Saturday-Thursday): Mid-year school break.

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.

24 June 2021 (Thursday): End of the 2020-2021 academic year.

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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