Sunday, 15 November 2020

Surprise rate cut + everything you need to know about the new e-invoicing system


What We’re Tracking Today

Good morning, friends. We’re going to make ourselves nicely unpopular this morning by telling all of you that you really do need to take a covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available. Too many otherwise very smart people are telling us that they’re pretty certain they won’t be taking a vaccine. So, uhm … you like the status quo? You’d like a few more years of this [redacted]?

The whole point of there being a vaccine is that we all take it — and, as a result, get to do nice things again. Like go out for dinner with our families. Catch a play, concert or movie. Travel. See elderly and at-risk family members.

We’re not the only ones worried about this. US coronavirus expert Anthony Fauci is also concerned, saying “What I would hope is that even though there’s a degree of skepticism about vaccines in general, that when the general public sees how effective this vaccine is, we might see a turnaround of the attitude toward vaccination.”

Look, folks, you may well not have a choice. Taking the vaccine will likely be required of anyone who wants to travel to most any country — and of kids to enrol in school. Y’all are really smart people. Don’t go all anti-vaxxer on us, okay?

Let’s not debate whether to take an eventual vaccine — but rather who should get access to it first, as a very smart friend of ours suggested yesterday. Front-line workers including MDs, nurses and hospital staff should be at the front of the line, followed by the elderly and folks with underlying conditions.

The first phase of the Tax Authority’s new e-invoicing system will be up and running today, with 134 companies to begin logging their invoices electronically to the Finance Ministry’s platform, the Finance Ministry said. Companies in the pilot program include multinationals Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Oracle, and Coca Cola, as well as local heavyweights Elsewedy Electric, Ezz Steel, Raya, and MM Group.

How will this work? These 134 companies must obtain an e-signature (E-Seal) using the steps outlined here and register an account and their products and services to the Tax Authority’s platform. Using the account, they log all of their invoices on the platform. The authority will then be able to track each transaction back through the customer’s regular tax filings, which will include the invoice.

Why is the ministry doing this? To clamp down on tax evasion and compel companies that have not registered with the Tax Authority to do so, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait tells us.

The ministry hopes to use this to create a white and black list of companies based on their level of compliance with the new system, Maait tells us. White-listed companies could see fewer tax audits compared to black-listed companies. This will help the ministry focus its enforcement on black-listed, non-compliant companies, he added.

It’s coming to B2C transactions, too: The platform currently only requires e-invoicing for B2B transactions with e-signatures by issuers, but companies will eventually need to issue and submit data on B2C transactions.

Some 340 more companies will be told within the next two weeks that they’re part of the second phase of the rollout, Mohamed Keshk, who heads an internal audit department at the Tax Authority’s large taxpayers’ division told us. The phase should be rolled out in February 2021, we noted last month. Preparations are under way to have all large taxpayers on board by May 2021, he said.

So, what’s the timeline? All B2B transactions are expected to be accounted for on the system by 30 June 2021, the ministry yesterday said, and all tax-paying companies will be enrolled by April 2023, Maait told us separately.

Tap/click here (pdf) for the full list of phase-one companies or here (pdf) for a detailed guide of how the system works.

The recently-approved Customs Act comes into effect today after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi signed the bill into law over the weekend, reports Al Mal. The act — a long-awaited overhaul of customs law that allows for expedited clearance — received a final nod from the House of Representatives in August. You can find details on what to expect from the act here.

The National Elections Authority will announce the results of the second stage of the parliamentary elections today at 4pm at a press conference at the TV Building in Maspero, Al Mal reports. The second round covered 13 of Egypt’s governorates, including Greater Cairo, Qalyubia, Menoufia, Dakahlia, Gharbiyah, Kafr El Sheikh, and Sharqiyah, and took place on 4-8 November. The run-off is scheduled for 5-7 December for those voting from abroad, and 7-8 December for local voters.

The Health Ministry reported 228 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 224 cases on Friday and 214 cases on Thursday. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 110,547 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 13 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 6,442. We now have a total of 100,946 confirmed cases that have fully recovered.

Egypt is encouraging more countries to allow inbound tourism in light of the strict precautionary measures the government has put in place at tourism hotspots, Assistant Foreign Minister for European Affairs Badr Abdel Aty said during a meeting with the ambassadors of several European countries. Some European nations — such as the UK — have prevented people from travelling abroad for non-business purposes to try and contain the second wave of the virus.

Egypt holds its collective breath after football star Mohamed Salah twice tested positive for covid-19. Salah is showing no symptoms and is currently in isolation in Cairo, according to an Egyptian Football Association statement. The rest of the Egyptian national squad tested negative for the virus after they all came into contact with Salah when he trained with them on Tuesday ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations match against Togo that took place yesterday, the Pharaohs said in a Tweet. The story is receiving widespread coverage in the foreign press: Associated Press | Reuters | The Telegraph | Sky Sports | BBC | The Guardian.

The US continues to break the global daily record of new covid-19 cases, reporting 184k new cases on Friday, up from 153k on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally. Deaths, which have not yet risen relative to the surge of cases, rose to the highest level in 10 days on Friday, but remain more than 1k under the record set in April.


Pfizer breakthrough triggers record inflows into equities: Investors plowed USD 44.5 bn into global equity funds after Pfizer announced its covid-19 vaccine breakthrough last Monday in what was the biggest week of inflows in decades. Data provider EPFR said it was the biggest week since it began collecting data more than two decades ago, while Bank of America claimed that it was the best week ever. The Financial Times and MarketWatch have the story.

US stocks were volatile towards the end of the week: Investors sold off stocks across the board and bought into safe haven assets on Thursday, as the surge in covid-19 cases in the US continued and talk of new lockdowns increased, only to recover on Friday leading the S&P 500 and the small-cap Russell 200 rallied to close at record highs, and the Dow to climb to pre-covid levels.

We should prepare for more volatility ahead, according to several equity analysts, who say that the sharp escalation of cases in the US may soon drown out the post-Pfizer euphoria. “Markets are reacting to this realization that we are going to get through the pandemic, but it is probably going to get worse before it gets better,” Patrick Leary, chief market strategist and senior trader with Incapital, wrote in a note. “This is why we see large risk-on moves followed by corrections.” (S&P Global)

The world’s largest trade agreement will be signed by Asia-Pacific leaders today after almost a decade of negotiations, the BBC reports. The 15 signatories to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) include the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Together, they account for 29% of global GDP and almost a third of the world’s population.

Poor countries could be allowed to apply for debt write-offs and negotiate better lending conditions under a new framework agreed by the G20 group and the Paris Club of creditor countries, according to the Financial Times. The new rules, which build on the debt freeze agreed earlier this year, aim to help low-income countries, which often have per capita GNI short of USD 1k, avoid running into long-term debt problems by ensuring lenders negotiate the same terms with debtors.

It’s too little too late for Zambia, which is on the brink of becoming the first African country to default on its debt payments since the onset of the covid-19 pandemic, the Financial Times reports. The country’s bondholders rejected its request for a six-month freeze on payments, setting it up to miss a payment on USD 3 bn of bonds and sending it into default.

Libya has scheduled its parliamentary and presidential elections for 24 December 2021, reports Reuters. Libya’s rival factions, the Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army, had previously anticipated that the elections could take place in mid-2020.

It’s a bad morning for: Terrorists. Israel appears to have assassinated Abu Muhammad Al Masri, Al Qaeda’s number two, on a Tehran street. The New York Times has the story, which reads like a spy thriller. Meanwhile Twitter is rife with (still entirely unconformed) speculation that Al Qaeda boss Ayman Al Zawahiri died of natural causes some two months ago.

PSA #1- Working out can help you keep cancer at bay by supercharging the immune system’s ability to target and kill cancer cells, the New York Times writes.

PSA #2- Egyptian non-profit Nahdet El Mahrousa, in partnership with Cleantech Arabia and Hivos, has launched a growth acceleration program targeting green businesses. Entrants will receive a EGP 250k non-equity investment, mentorships, consultations and other forms of business support. You can find out more about the program here (pdf) and get the application form here. Application deadline: 21 November 2020.


Meet Egypt’s football data guru: Ali ElFakharany started Arqam FC in 2017 to provide data analytics services to Egyptian football teams. Arqam’s data collection center caught the eye of UK-based Statsbomb, which in 2019 acquired Arqam in a share swap that kept Ali and his team on board. Today, the company serves 42 European and US football teams including clubs from the English Premier League, the Bundesliga, and MLS, ElFakharany told us on this week’s episode of Making It.

You already have a podcast player on your iPhone, or you can listen to the episode through our website (no download required). We’re also on Google Podcasts | Anghami | Omny. Making It is on Spotify, but only for non-MENA accounts.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

The nation’s talking heads had Mo Salah on the brain last night, after it was revealed at the weekend that the star had tested positive for covid-19. Guests also provided an update on the disease nationwide while the tourism minister and the head of the Supreme Council for Antiquities dropped in to discuss the recent archaeological find at Saqqara.

Mo Salah catches covid-19: Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi phoned Amr El Ganainy, the head of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA), who assured viewers that Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah is currently asymptomatic. He said the Health Ministry and Liverpool are keeping tabs on the situation, and that the club has contacted him to advise on UK protocols upon his return (watch, runtime: 9:20). Al Hayah Al Youm’s Mohamed Sherdy (watch, runtime: 9:58) and Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa also spoke with El Ganainy (watch, runtime: 12:19).

Covid-19 update: Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hosary phoned Adel Khattab, professor of chest diseases at Ain Shams University, who said that the virus is spreading rapidly across the country, but with patients exhibiting milder symptoms that are only differentiated from the seasonal flu by the loss of taste and smell (watch, runtime: 13:41). El Hekaya’s Amr Adib also spoke with Hossam Hosni, the head of the Health Ministry’s covid-19 committee, who said that the numbers of new cases could easily rise the next two months should citizens neglect precautions (watch, runtime: 1:10). Sherdy also interviewed Hosni, who said that there are some 800 people working daily to receive citizens’ calls on the 105 hotline. He reiterated the need for increased vigilance during the winter season, and said that the ministry is constantly updating the protocols as necessary, with serious cases now divided into severe and critical (watch, runtime: 47:47).

New archeological discovery at Saqqara: Sherdy also phoned Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Antiquities, who announced the discovery of new sarcophagi in Saqqara, bringing the number of newly discovered coffins in the area to 160 since last October. He said a formal announcement would be made soon, and that the archaeological team is searching the area for the workshop where the sarcophagi were designed. The new sarcophagi will be distributed to four museums including the Grand Egyptian Museum, the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, Tahrir Museum, and the Administrative Capital Museum (watch, runtime: 9:21). Moussa also covered the news (watch, runtime: 5:19).

Discoveries important for Egypt’s tourism recovery -El Enany: Moussa phoned Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El Enany, who said that these archaeological discoveries attract tourists from Egypt’s key markets such as Germany, France and Italy. Egypt is currently attracting some 3k tourists per day, and this hasn’t been affected by the return of lockdowns in Europe, since tourism didn’t recover properly from the first wave, he said. El Enany said that the ministry is planning for a New Year's Eve party at the pyramids, but that this depends on the covid-19 situation in Egypt. He pointed out that the precautionary measures for hotels will not change during New Years Eve and that no one will enter Egypt without a negative PCR test (watch, runtime: 10:34).

Speed Round

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) cut interest rates by 50 basis points on Thursday for the second consecutive time to support economic recovery from the covid-induced slump, the CBE said in a statement (pdf). The CBE’s overnight deposit rate now stands at 8.25% and the lending rate is 9.25%, while the main operation and discount rates are 8.75%. The decision — which comes as inflation remains low despite a slight uptick in October — follows a surprise 50 bps cut following a meeting in September. The CBE has now shaved 400 bps over three interest rate cuts since the beginning of the year. The rate cut was largely a surprise, as only Pharos’ Radwa El Swaify and Arqaam Capital’s Noaman Khalid predicted the move in our poll of eight leading economists last week.

The rationale: support economic activity while inflation is still muted. “The reduction … provides appropriate support to economic activity, while remaining consistent with price stability,” the CBE said. Egypt’s economy grew 3.6% in FY2019-2020, which ended in June 2020, down from 5.6% in FY2018-2019. The slowdown was concentrated in 4Q2019-20, during which the economy contracted 1.7% due to partial lockdown measures, said the CBE. Consumption picked up in the following quarter, but it “was not enough to offset the combined contraction in investments and to a lesser extent in net exports,” the central bank added. Key indicators for the second quarter of the year, meanwhile, “continue to show gradual signs of recovery,” the central bank said.

The cut came despite October’s slight uptick in inflation: Annual urban inflation edged up to 4.5% in October, from 3.7% in September and 3.4% in August, but still remains near historic-lows. The CBE now expects inflation to fall below the lower end of its 6-12% target range in 4Q2020. And because the path for current policy rates remains a function of medium-term inflation expectations rather than current inflation outturns, the MPC decided to cut key policy rates by 50 basis points, the central bank said.

Rate cut impact on Egypt’s carry trade will be minimal: Even after the rate cut, Egypt maintains the world’s highest real interest rate and offers carry trade returns second only to Argentina, Bloomberg data shows. “The magnitude and pace of monetary easing have [also] been very gradual to preserve foreign interest in local debt instruments in light of volatile global growth dynamics,” Pharos’ El Swaify told Bloomberg. Foreign holdings of EGP-denominated sovereign debt more than doubled to USD 21.1 bn as of mid-October from USD 10.4 bn in May following a strong recovery from a global market panic in the spring caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The rate cut will help set up corporate borrowing in 2021 to support growth. Most corporations will not take on major new debt at the end of a fiscal year, meaning we could see an uptick in demand for debt to finance CAPEX in the new year at companies that are hitting production ceilings. Egypt’s non-oil private sector grew in October at its strongest rate since December 2014, with the purchasing managers’ index gauge showing that demand is holding up amid looser covid-19 restrictions. With liquidity being a main issue, the rate cut could therefore prove very helpful.

Curbing the EGP: Policymakers may have had one eye on the currency, which has been strengthening against the USD in recent days, James Swasnton, MENA economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note. The EGP is currently up by 3% against the USD year-to-date, and is looking “increasingly overvalued,” he wrote.

Further monetary easing this year? It’s too early to say, El Swaify tells us. “We see the CBE possibly taking a breather in its final meeting,” which falls on 24 December, but we have to wait and see how local inflation dynamics play out, changes in USD inflows, and any covid-19 or global growth trends, she adds.

And in the longer term? Renaissance Capital sees another 200-300 bps of rate cuts in 2021 as being sufficient to stimulate investment and attract foreign direct investment into the manufacturing sector in 2022, global chief economist Charles Robertson wrote in a note. These cuts will likely bring the EGP back down to 16.5-17 against the greenback, he said.

Corrected on 15 November 2020
Egypt’s economy contracted 1.7% in 4Q2019-2020, not 3Q2019-2020.

Egypt’s post-Brexit trade agreement with the UK will come into effect on 31 December, the UK’s trade envoy to Egypt Sir Jeffery Donaldson told Ahram Online on Thursday. The agreement is based on the EU-Egypt Association Agreement, Donaldson said without divulging further details on the agreement. The UK is particularly keen to develop further ties in the oil and gas, manufacturing, agribusiness, healthcare and education sectors, and boosting investment in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, he noted.

M&A WATCH- Samih Sawiris will offload his shares in affordable housing player Orascom Housing Communities to an unnamed British investment fund, Al Shorouk reports, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter. Sawiris will reportedly sell 85% of the company’s shares, including his personal 55% stake and the 30% held by sister company Orascom Development (ODH). Sawiris has reached an agreement with the fund to sell his stake for an undisclosed sum, while negotiations are ongoing to sell ODH’s stake, the sources said. The American investors who hold the remaining 15% will retain their ownership.

About the company: Established in 2007, Orascom Housing Communities is a partnership between ODH, US company Blue Ridge and PE firm Equity International. It owns and develops low-income housing projects. The company will change its name to Orascom New Housing and purchase 600 feddans in Qena as part of its current restructuring plan.

M&A WATCH- Egypt Kuwait Holding (EKH) more than doubled its stake in Mohandes Insurance to 20.4% in a EGP 109.7 mn transaction, according to a regulatory filing (pdf) on Thursday. EKH, which already owned a 10% stake in the company, acquired the bulk of the shares from the National Bank of Egypt, which sold its 10% stake for EGP 105 mn, according to a bourse filing (pdf). Pharos Holding executed both transactions on the OTC market.

M&A WATCH – The Egyptian Saudi Insurance House (ESIH) acquired a 6.5% stake in clothing manufacturer Dice for EGP 49.8 mn, according to a bourse filing (pdf) on Thursday. Shuaa Capital advised on the transaction, according to the filing.

LEGISLATION WATCH- Snackfood industry petitions House not to impose full VAT on sweets: Snackfood makers are lobbying the House Planning and Budgeting Committee to leave VAT on pastries and baked goods unchanged in any upcoming amendments to the VAT Act, CEO of snack food giant Edita Hani Berzi told the local press on Thursday. The move follows reports in the local press that the House plans to subject crackers and sweet pastries to the full 14% VAT rather than the current 5% schedule tax. The sensitivity of snack foods to price changes means that the application of a higher VAT rate could see their prices soar by anywhere between 50-100%, Berzi, who also heads up the Food Export Council, said.

One way or another, we won’t hear the end of this for at least another three months: Discussions in the House on the amendments will be postponed until the next legislative season when a new House is seated after the results of the still-unfolding election process. That won’t be until February 2021 at the earliest, parliamentary sources said.

Background: Some business groups are also opposing the proposed imposition of 14% VAT on the rent and purchase of commercial and administrative properties, with real estate developers arguing that they will not be able to cope with the additional costs because of covid-19 induced losses. The amendments would also subject most commercial advertising to the tax but scrap the 20% stamp tax on ads and allow tourists to claim VAT rebates.


INVESTMENT WATCH – Agriculture trader Cairo 3A plans to invest EGP 7 bn in its poultry farm project off of the Bahariya Oasis road over the next three years, company chairman Mona Mehrez told the local press. Some EGP 2.5 bn will be dedicated to the project’s first stage, which should produce 60 mn chickens annually, while the EGP 4.5 bn second stage should take production to 200 mn. Cairo 3A signed an agreement with worldwide poultry breeder Hubaard last week to begin importing a high-efficiency chicken breed to Egypt, the local press reported.

Background: Cairo 3A expanded into poultry farming with the purchase of a 50% stake in Pyramid Poultry in January 2020. The company has secured an EGP 1.26 bn syndicated loan in August to finance the establishment of poultry farms in Giza. Cairo 3A also has business in the animal feed industry, having acquired 97.5% of the Egyptian Starch and Glucose Company earlier this year.

Egypt’s sugar import ban is hurting EU sugar exports: The European Union’s sale of sugar to Egypt are at a four-year low thanks to Egypt’s ban on imports as part of a self-sufficiency drive, Bloomberg reports. The EU’s white sugar exports dropped to a record low last season, as Egypt went from being the EU’s second largest export market two years ago to its fourth largest, following Israel, Switzerland, and Norway.

Egypt is aiming to increase its beet-sugar production 16% to 1.45 mn tonnes in FY2020-21 in a bid to completely eliminate imports, Delta Sugar Chairman Ahmed Abo El Yazeed told Bloomberg. Egyptian sugar imports for the year since October 2019 have accounted for only 7% of EU exports according to a European Commission report (pdf), down from 16% in FY2018-19.

A temporary reprieve? While the import ban continues till at least the end of this month, state-run Egyptian Sugar and Integrated Industries Co. (ESIIC) has received exceptional approval to import 100k tons to cover necessary supplies for subsidy card holders, sources told Al Mal reports.

Background: The Supply Ministry decided in September to extend the import ban on white and raw sugar originally imposed in June for an additional three months. Egypt had planned to import up to 700k tons of sugar in FY2020-21, but introduced the ban to protect domestic beet and sugarcane growers from competition with cheap foreign exports.

DEBT WATCH- AT Lease pushes securitized bond issuance to 2021: AT Lease is looking at a securitized bond issuance in 2021, CEO Tarek Fahmy told local press. Fahmy previously said the company would securitize EGP 1 bn of its portfolio in a three-tranche issuance during 3Q2020. The leasing company also plans to expand its factoring services for SMEs — which it launched last October after obtaining its license — during FY2021.

EARNINGS WATCH- SODIC’s net profits rose 179% to EGP 468 mn y-o-y in 3Q2020, according to the company’s earnings release (pdf). Revenues for the quarter increased 50% y-o-y, reaching EGP 2.1 bn, while gross contracted sales surged 174% to EGP 2.2 bn from 393 units sold. Residential sales recorded EGP 2.1 bn, up 264% y-o-y. The company delivered 530 units in 3Q2020 compared to 311 during the same period last year, selling 335 in East Cairo and 162 in West Cairo. Net profits after tax in 9M2020 rose 6% y-o-y to EGP 536 mn, despite a 7% decrease in revenues, on the back of a 33% increase in operating profits. The company sold 776 units during the nine-month period, raising gross contracted sales by 23% y-o-y to EGP 4.1 bn. Almost two-thirds of sales were in West Cairo, with Vye contributing 37% and the Estates 10%. Some 39% of sales were in East Cairo, with Villette accounting for 24% and SODIC East 10%.

The outlook: SODIC remains on track to hit its sales targets this year despite setbacks suffered earlier this year due to covid-19, the company said. Both cancellations and delinquency rates, which spiked during the height of the outbreak in the first half of the year, are both now trending downwards as the economy recovers from the lockdown period, it said.

Telecom Egypt’s 3Q2020 net profits increased 14% y-o-y to EGP 1.5 bn, the company said in an earnings release (pdf). Revenues for the quarter were up 17% to EGP 7.4 bn, driven by 55% y-o-y growth in its mobile customer base and 12% y-o-y growth in its fixed line customers.

Beltone Financial posted losses of EGP 35.9 mn in 9M2020, down 43% from losses of EGP 63.3 mn reported in 9M2019, according to an EGX filing.

Naeem Holding’s net profits increased 127% y-o-y in 9M2020 to USD 652.3k, according to an EGX filing on Thursday. The brokerage firm had posted losses of over USD 2.4 mn during the same period in 2019. Naeem Holding Investment is considering the acquisition of unlisted asset management firm Alpha Capital, it said in a separate filing (pdf). The brokerage firm is currently undertaking due diligence and seeking the necessary approvals from the Financial Regulatory Authority, the statement said.

Talaat Moustafa Group’s net profit increased 20% y-o-y in 9M2020 to EGP 1.6 bn according to an earnings release (pdf). Revenues for the period were up 34% y-o-y to EGP 10.4 bn.

The Housing and Development Bank’s (HDB) standalone net profits were down 6% y-o-y in 9M2020, to EGP 1.42 bn from EGP 1.52 bn, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf). Revenues were down 11.8% y-o-y to EGP 4.3 bn.

Clarified on 30 November 2020
A previous version of this coverage didn’t specify that HDB made ‘standalone’ net profits of EGP 1.42 bn in 9M2020. The story was updated to reflect this

MOVES- Karim Nour has joined Kashat as co-founder. Kashat is the first nano-finance company in MENA to provide small productive loans to the unbanked — all backed by machine learning. The company has been operating for a year now and recently wrapped a successful pilot. Karim joins Kashat from Tarek Nour Communications, which he served for 17 years, most recently as chief executive officer. He remains non-executive chairman of the Tarek Nour Group.

“Financial inclusion has become a passion of mine in recent years,” Karim tells us, “and the opportunity to do well by serving people who don’t have access to the financial system is exactly what I want to do at this stage in my career. This move is about the excitement of the challenge, but it is also an expression of confidence in the strong leadership team at TNC who continue to innovate and deliver real results for clients in mass outreach and communication”

Ahmed Tarek and Basel el Deeb take over from Karim as co-CEOs of Tarek Nour Communications.

DO YOU EVER DREAM OF A SECOND ACT? It takes confidence to step out of a successful career into something new — to roll the dice and see if you can build a second (or third) success. Maybe you dream of binning your corporate job and going back to school. Or of leaving medicine to start your own business. Or maybe to change industries as a senior exec.

If so, we want to hear from you. Second acts are one of the big themes of season four of Making It, our podcast on how to build a great business in Egypt. Karim will be joining us — will you? If you’re a “career switcher” in any sense of the word (or know someone who is) we’d love to hear from you on

Egypt in the News

Leading the conversation on Egypt in the international press this morning:

Seven peacekeepers with the US-led Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) died on Thursday after their helicopter crashed near Sharm El Sheikh, the organization said in a statement. Five Americans, a French and a Czech citizen were among the deceased while another American peacekeeper who was also on board the helicopter was badly injured. The crash is not being treated as an attack, with both the MFO and the Egyptian Foreign Ministry saying that initial evidence points to a mechanical malfunction being to blame. A full investigation into the cause of the crash is under way.

What is the MFO? The international force’s mission is to supervise the implementation of the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty. The MFO was established in 1981 “as an alternative” to the envisioned UN force in Sinai. It is funded equally by Egypt, Israel, and the US, with 13 countries contributing troops to the organization.

The story is everywhere: Associated Press | Reuters | Bloomberg | The New York Times | Wall Street Journal | CNN | CBS and more.

The unveiling of a huge trove of archaeological findings at the Saqqara complex is also getting a lot of digital ink. More than 100 coffins and some 40 statues were unveiled by the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry at a news conference on Saturday. The artifacts date back to 664-332 BC and will be put on display in three museums in Egypt, including the Grand Egyptian Museum, Minister Khaled El Enany said. Associated Press | Reuters | Sky News | NBC | Sputnik | Daily Mail.

A viral video of a man who set himself on fire in Tahrir Square is getting coverage in the foreign press. Reuters | Euro News Arabic | Al Monitor | Arab Weekly.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

On the diplomatic front this morning- Madbouly attends Al Khalifa funeral in Bahrain: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly was in Bahrain yesterday to attend the funeral of Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 84, cabinet said in a statement.

Egypt and Sudan yesterday kicked off joint military exercises that are set to last until 26 November, the Egyptian Armed Forces said in a statement. Units from Egypt’s Air Force and the Sa'ka special forces travelled to the Marwa Air Base in Sudan, where they will run combat and search and rescue drills, the statement said. The exercises come amid heightened tensions in the region as the negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam continue to tread water and a military offensive by the Ethiopian government in the restive Tigray region sends refugees fleeing into Sudan.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.59 | Sell 15.69
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.59 | Sell 15.69
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.60 | Sell 15.70

EGX30 (Thursday): 11,017 (+0.2%)
Turnover: EGP 1.7 bn (51% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -21.1%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session up 0.2%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended down 0.2. EGX30’s top performing constituents were GB Auto up 7.3%, Dice up 6.2%, and Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals up 3.4%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were Orascom Development Egypt down 2.8%, TMG Holding down 1.2% and Qalaa Holdings down 1.1%. The market turnover was EGP 1.7 bn, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net long | EGP +41.0 mn
Regional: Net short | EGP -1.5 mn
Domestic: Net short | EGP -39.5 mn

Retail: 72.9% of total trades | 68.8% of buyers | 77.1% of sellers
Institutions: 27.1% of total trades | 31.2% of buyers | 22.9% of sellers

WTI: USD 40.13 (-2.41%)
Brent: USD 42.78 (-1.72%)

Natural Gas: (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.00 MMBtu, (+0.64%, December 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,886.20 / troy ounce (+0.69%)

TASI: 8,434 (-0.17%) (YTD: +0.54%)
ADX: 4,855 (+0.49%) (YTD: -4.33%)
DFM: 2,262 (-0.88%) (YTD: -18.15%)
KSE Premier Market: 6,103 (-0.47%)
QE: 10,212 (0.92%) (YTD: -2.04%)
MSM: 3,628 (+0.45%) (YTD: -8.87%)
BB: 1,449 (-0.16%) (YTD: -10.00%)

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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.

10-19 November (Monday-Thursday): A World Bank delegation arrives in Egypt to discuss financing development projects.

13-15 November (Friday-Sunday): A conference on banking in the time of covid by the Union of Arab Banks, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

13-20 November (Friday-Friday): Cairo Jazz Festival.

14 November (Saturday): Startups Without Borders Summit will be held virtually

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.

15 November (Sunday): Results of the second phase of Egypt’s parliamentary elections will be announced.

16 November (Monday): Postponed trial of alleged abuser Ahmed Bassam Zaki, after he failed to attend the previous court date

16 November (Monday): The fifth edition of Destination Africa will be held virtually and will highlight African manufacturers and suppliers of fashion and textiles, among others. The expo will continue for one month.

18 November (Wednesday): The 50 Million African Women Speak online event will be held, organized by the Egyptian MSME Development Agency and Comesa

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

21 November (Saturday): Deadline to install electronic vehicle stickers

22-25 November (Sunday-Wednesday): Cairo ICT 2020, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

23-24 November (Monday-Tuesday): Runoffs 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 (date TBC): Egypt Economic Summit, Cairo, Egypt, venue TBD.

December: Fifth round of Egypt-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks.

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.

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).

5 December (Saturday): A court will hold a postponed hearing to look into an appeal by Syria’s Anataradous against an arbitration ruling in favor of Amer Group and Amer Syria.

7 December: Former Civil Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafik faces trial over embezzlement allegations.

7-8 December (Monday-Tuesday): Runoffs 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 December (Tuesday): House of Representatives reconvenes from recess.

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.

31 December (Thursday): Egypt-UK post-Brexit trade agreement to take effect.

1Q2021: The Seventh Annual Egypt Automotive Summit will be held

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.

25-29 January 2021 (Monday-Friday): The World Economic Forum’s “Davos Dialogues” will take place virtually.

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).

18-21 May 2021 (Tuesday-Friday): The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting will be held under the theme of “The Great Reset” in Lucerne-Bürgenstock, Switzerland

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).

1 October 2021-31 March 2022 (Friday-Thursday): Postponed Expo 2020 Dubai.

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