Sunday, 29 November 2020

Welcome to Enterprise 2.0

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to Enterprise 2.0. Six years into this journey, we’re honoured to write to 150k or so of you every morning, whether you’re here for your 6am fix of Egyptian business, finance and economy news; to dive deeper with us into infrastructure and education in our weekly industry verticals; to listen to Making It, our podcast on how to build a great business here in Egypt; or to expand your horizons with Your Wealth on the first Friday of every month.

Our goal is simple: To make you smarter, faster by giving you the news you need to start your day. And because no person is an island, each issue includes trendlines alongside headlines plus major emerging market and global stories to help you stay connected. We also include a sprinkling of stuff that we hope speaks to you as a human being: Where to spend your time and money. How to manage your team or your business. What to eat / watch / read tonight. How to be a better person.

We think this morning’s redesign makes Enterprise a lot easier to navigate. We outgrew our old format. Stories are now bounded in grey boxes. Most have their own headlines and images, making them easier to find as you scroll through — particularly if you’re reading in your mail phone’s mail app. The emphasis is on what our friends at Axios call “smart brevity”: Longer where we need to be longer, and just one sentence where a sentence is all you need.

Everything you love about Enterprise is still here, but it may have moved. To get oriented, you may want to start this morning my scrolling through to get oriented — then zip back up to the top and start reading.

The changes aren’t only on the surface — our dev team is laying the groundwork that will allow us to roll out much smarter search results, a new homepage, and support the launch of a bunch of exciting new products in the months to come.

As we roll out new stuff, we’ll have more room to play. Room for more analysis pieces, more context, more background, more explainers and more interviews.

THE ISSUES THAT DEFINE OUR GENERATION are going to be front and center in everything we do: Financial inclusion. Infrastructure. Healthcare. Education. Consumerism. Climate. Artificial intelligence. Gender equity. Major realignments in foreign policy. In Egypt, in MENA and in emerging markets, and around the world.

ON A MORE PROSAIC NOTE: Technical limitations stink. You still can’t click the tl;dr links on your mobile. We’re sorry, we really are — but that’s thanks to the nice folks at Apple and Google, who don’t support the use of a very simple (very old, very secure) technology called “anchor points” in mail clients on iOS and Android.

Oh, and we’re kinda ugly this morning if you hit “froward” on your email. We hope to fix that and to spruce up our website a bit in the days to come.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Drop us a note at editorial@enterprise.press and let us know what you like about the redesign, where you think we could do better, or anything else you think would make your morning read richer and easier to navigate.

A SPECIAL THANKS THIS MORNING to our advertisers: Pharos Live, CIB, Sodic, Somabay, Orascom Construction and CIRA. Your support allows us to bring Enterprise to readers without charge every weekday morning, and for that we are eternally grateful.

THE WORLD IS ON THE EDGE OF ITS SEAT this week amid hopes that a covid-19 vaccine could start rolling out any day now. The UK hopes to start rolling out Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine as early as Monday 7 December, the Financial Times writes in an exclusive. Across the pond, United Airlines has started charter flights to preposition doses of the two-shot serum. “Pfizer has been laying the groundwork to move quickly if it gets approval from the Food and Drug Administration and other regulators world-wide,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

What about AstraZeneca’s less-expensive, easier to transport shot? A few days after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi cautioned that we may be waiting until the middle of next year until we get our hands on a vaccine, one of our jabs-of-choice suffered a setback that could extend the wait for regulatory approval. After announcing up to 90% effectiveness for their vaccine, AstraZeneca’s data and methodology came under scrutiny over the weekend after it was revealed that the magic half-dose full-dose combo that saw biggest success was actually administered by mistake — and that the inoculation had barely been tested on people over 55. Wired has the A-Z of the latest on the Astra vax.

The company is responding by launching a new large-scale trial across multiple countries, while assuring that the original timeline for regulatory approval should remain unchanged, the Guardian reports. The British government certainly doesn’t seem to have qualms about the study, reportedly asking the regulator to move ahead with the approval process.

Egypt has ordered enough of the shots to cover some 30% of the population, the health minister said last week. The vaccine is proving popular among much of the developing world, both because of its low-cost but because it is able to be transported via normal distribution chains (and not super-cold ones like is required by the Pfizer and Modern mRNA vaccines).

Vaccine optimism is keeping investors bullish on emerging market stocks, with EM equity funds attracting more than USD 14 bn over the past two weeks, according to the Financial Times. Prospects of a vaccine breakthrough have increased risk appetite, reversing the more than USD 90 bn outflows from EM equities at the outset of covid-19 lockdowns in March. Analysts predict EM value stocks, traditionally in volatile sectors such as energy and finance, will get a boost compared to tech’s highly priced growth stocks. Renaissance Capital’s Charles Robertson had said earlier this month that EM and FM will begin attracting portfolio flows, and recommended looking at local-currency bonds in Egypt, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Angola.


Egyptian investment banks aren’t the only ones who’d love to transmogrify themselves into commercial banks. Automaker General Motors is set to seek a banking charter in the United States, hoping that being allowed to take deposits will let it grow its automotive business while avoiding the near-disaster that befell it the last time it got into non-bank financial services, the WSJ reports.

SOUND SMART- When will Saudi Arabia ❤️ Israel? ‘Round about the time Joe Biden sits in the White House. Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman plans to offer to end the freezout of the Statelet of Qatar, the Financial Times reports, while also holding out the prospect of normalizing relations with our neighbors to the east. The WSJ quotes aides as saying MbS declined during his recent (not so) secret meeting with Bibi Netanyahu in the hope of having more bargaining power with the Biden administration.

Meanwhile: Agent Orange said for the first time this weekend that he will leave office if the electoral college votes for Biden on 14 December, CNN reports.

SIGN OF THE TIMES- Covid is the best thing to have happened to financial inclusion in … forever. Egyptians did 9.9 mn electronic transactions in October — a 156% rise over the comparable figure for March of this year, according to the National Telecoms Regulatory Authority. The whole WFH thing is also fuelling growth in the mobile segment, with the nation’s total stock of mobile subscribers growing 2% to 96.58 mn subscribers in 2Q2020.

Circle your calendar:

WHAT’S HAPPENING THIS WEEK? You can expect final results tomorrow for Giza and other ridings after runoff elections for the House of Representatives. Results for Cairo are expected on 14 December, the day before the current crop of MPs reconvenes in the House for its final season.

The newly-reconstituted Senate will begin reviewing its draft bylaws today, kick-starting a process that is expected to take several sessions, Youm7 reports.

The Egypt Economic Summit will take place this Wednesday at the St. Regis Hotel in Cairo. You can learn more about the event here.

It’s a big weekend coming up for: Art lovers, as the Cairo Art Fair kicks off on Friday and runs through 31 January 2021.

HEADING INTO DECEMBER- The domestic press expects another round of trade talks with the US of A and a meeting of the Egypt-Iraq higher committee as the two countries continue to draw closer. The CBE will next review interest rates on Christmas Eve.

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

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M&A WATCH

GCC wealth funds eye USD 700 mn Amoun Pharma acquisition

Amoun Pharma could be the target of a joint acquisition bid by the Emirati and Saudi sovereign wealth funds, who are said to be eyeing Bausch Health’s unit in Egypt as part of a larger, longer-term partnership, according to a Bloomberg report citing what it says are sources familiar with the matter. There were no details on the timeline or value of the potential transaction. We noted last month that the price tag could be north of USD 700 mn. Bausch — back before it rebranded to sidestep the tarnished Valeant name — acquired Amoun, which manufactures human and veterinary meds, in 2015 for USD 800 mn and some contingency payments.

Saudi, UAE funds in talks over a wider co-investment plan: Saudi’s USD 347 bn Public Investment Fund (PIF) and ADQ, the Abu Dhabi-based USD 136 bn sovereign fund, have recently been working closely on transactions in key industries such as healthcare, food security, and industrials, Bloomberg’s sources said.

ADQ seems to like Egypt: ADQ invested in October in Indian retailer Lulu’s recent foray into Egypt, and, according to Bloomberg, the PIF is mulling the same. ADQ was also said in October to be mulling a bid for frozen meats and poultry company Atyab.

OTHER M&A NEWS- State-owned Banque Misr and Al Ahly Capital acquired a 40% stake in Western Union’s local representative, International Business Associates Group (IBAG), according to a statement, which did not put a value on the transaction. Al Ahly Capital is the National Bank of Egypt’s investment arm. IBA traces its roots to the late 1970s, when the late WIlliam Harrison opened a business that aimed to help foreign investors do business here. At its height, it owed Western Union and FedEx in Egypt and published Egypt Today and Business Today Egypt magazines.

Advisors: Zaki Hashem & Partners acted as legal advisor for the state-owned banks, while Banque Misr’s investment firm Misr Capital acted as financial advisor. Bahaa-Eldin Law Office (in cooperation with BonelliErede) was the legal advisor for IBAG, while Ernst & Young conducted due diligence on the transaction.

M&A IN BRIEF-

Bahrain’s Arab Banking Corporation (Bank ABC) has wrapped up due diligence on Blom Bank Egypt and plans to make a “generous” offer to acquire the Lebanese bank’s Egypt assets, Masrawy reports, citing unnamed industry sources. Bank ABC is bidding against fellow GCC bank Emirates NBD.

The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) will complete its acquisition of a 24% stake in Aman by the end of the year, the local press reports, citing unnamed sources it says are familiar with the matter. Parent company Raya Holding approved the sale of the minority stake in the company’s non-banking financial services arm earlier this month. Advisors: NBE recruited Grant Thornton earlier in September as its financial advisor on the transaction, while Matouk Bassiouny & Hennawy is serving as legal counsel.

Speed Medical plans to acquire the Noor El Islam Medical Labs in Beheira and Kafr El Sheikh for a maximum of EGP 6.5 mn as well as El Sharq Labs in Kafr El Sheikh for up to EGP 2.5 mn. The lab and diagnostic testing company has also set up a healthcare facility management arm to offer management services to other operators.

Pioneers Holding’s demerger plans were approved by shareholders last week, moving the company closer to splitting into three entities specializing in financial services, real estate, and the industrial sector, according to an EGX filing (pdf).

DEBT WATCH

Sarwa sukuk sets record as biggest yet + first for an NBFS player

Egypt now has a sukuk issuance by a non-banking financial services player under its belt after Sarwa Capital closed its EGP 2.5 bn issuance, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf) Thursday. The sharia-compliant security carries a seven-year tenor and will be used to finance the expansion of Sarwa subsidiary Contact Credit and its affiliates. The bonds were offered exclusively through private placement to institutional investors and received an A- credit rating by Middle East Ratings and Investors Service (MERIS). This is only the second corporate issuance of the sharia-compliant securities after Talaat Moustafa Group closed a EGP 2 bn sale in April.

Advisors: Sarwa’s issuance was covered and guaranteed by Banque Misr and Misr Capital, and was co-underwritten by CIB and Ahli United Bank. ALC Alieldean Weshahi & Partners was legal counsel, KPMG Hazem Hassan provided financial auditing services, and Elite Consulting Group acted as independent financial consultant.

IS A HYBRID SUKUK NEXT? Amer Group’s anticipated issuance is set to hit the market in 1Q2021, Sarwa Capital CFO Ayman El Sawy told the local press. The Sarwa-managed offering could be Egypt’s first hybrid sukuk issuance with a mix of ijara and mudaraba bonds on offer. Local press reported in September that Amer could sell EGP 2 bn of the securities, though the final figure has not been confirmed. The Financial Regulatory Authority expects to see corporate sukuk issuance worth up to EGP 10.2 bn next year.

IN OTHER DEBT NEWS- Palm Hills plans to securitize EGP 1.6 bn of its portfolio in an issuance handled by the Arab African International Bank (AAIB), Hapi Journal reports. The company had said earlier this year it would be releasing the issuance, which is its largest to date, to capitalize on low interest rates and settle debts.

Advisors: AAIB, CIB and Al Ahli United bank will guarantee the issuance, while ALC Alieldean Weshahi & Partners will act as legal counsel and Grant Thornton Mohamed Hilal as financial auditor for the issuance.

What the heck is securitization, anyway? Check out our explainer for a primer on securitized bonds.

ECONOMY

Economy to grow at 2.8-4% clip next fiscal year, Maait says

Egypt’s economy is expected to grow between 2.8-4% in FY2021-2022, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told DMC over the weekend (watch, runtime: 8:28). The minister had previously said GDP growth would “recover significantly” at the start of FY2021-2022, but stopped short of giving a figure. The World Bank last month forecast a 5.8% growth rate for Egypt’s economy over the same period, while a Reuters poll put growth for the next fiscal year at a more conservative 5%. Maait had said Egypt’s economy is expected to close out the current fiscal year with 2.8-3.5% growth, penciling in a more conservative estimate than the 3.5-3.8% Deputy Planning Minister Ahmed Kamaly had projected earlier this month.

EVERYBODY LOVES EGYPT heading into 2021. We’re the only MENA economy set to grow this year, and the EGX is undervalued compared to regional peers, with the benchmark EGX30 having shed about 20% of its value YTD. From the real economy to the stock market, we’re on the list next year for everybody from Fitch and the EBRD to Credit Suisse (here and here).

Egypt’s economy is estimated to have grown 3.8% in FY2019-20, according to preliminary figures. The government had initially projected 6% growth for the fiscal year, but fell short of its target as a result of the economic fallout from covid-19.

MEANWHILE- Government spending on fuel subsidies fell 77% in FY2019-2020 to EGP 18.6 bn, while outlays on food assistance slid 7.6% to EGP 80.4 bn, according to new figures (pdf) published yesterday by the Finance Ministry.

Tax revenues up last year despite the impact of covid: Despite the body blow to tax receipts by the pandemic in the fourth quarter of 2019-2020, tax revenue rose 2.5% to EGP 676.8 bn from the previous fiscal year, the report adds.

CABINET WATCH

Competition watchdog could be getting sharper teeth

A handful of legislative changes on antitrust, civil society, and investment received nods from the Madbouly cabinet during the weekly meeting last Wednesday:

Changes to the Antitrust Act would require companies to seek the Egyptian Competition Authority’s (ECA) approval before finalizing mergers and acquisitions that could have an impact on competitiveness in any given industry, cabinet said in a statement. The changes would define same-sector M&As that threaten competition as agreements that establish or reinforce market dominance or “facilitate committing any violations stated in the law,” cabinet said.

What to watch for: The changes give the ECA more discretion over what it considers to be threats to competition, affording it the right to allow certain M&As that could save ailing companies or benefit the economy more than they hurt competition.

What exactly is new here? The 2005 Antitrust Act was designed to allow the authority to probe existing monopolies or anti-competitive practices and only gives the ECA the power to ask questions about an M&A after it is completed. The amendments would give the watchdog legal powers to probe M&As in advance and will also formally define “concentration,” which isn’t explicitly stated in the current version.

The ECA has wanted this for a long time, having demanded that Uber to seek pre-approval before buying MENA rival Careem and attempting to block or investigate several transactions ahead of their completion (here, here, and here).

CABINET ALSO SIGNED OFF ON… Investors in Egypt’s new administrative capital are in line for fresh incentives under changes to the executive regulations of the 2017 Investment Act, cabinet said. The statement gave no specifics, noting only that the incentives will be similar to those recently outlined for prospective Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) projects, which include a mixture of non-tax incentives and customs breaks.

Executive regulations for the recently-ratified NGOs Act also got the green light. They have been pending a final review since February, after having previously expected to be released at the end last year. The bill, which was ratified in August of last year, replaces the controversial Law No. 70 of 2017 that generated criticism in Egypt and abroad for its curtailing of civil society.

Also approved by cabinet last week:

  • A decision to lower tuition fees for international students by up to 35% at several state-run universities outside Cairo and Alexandria to encourage foreign student enrollment;
  • Allowing the SCZone to obtain a long-term debt in the form of an EGP 10 bn loan from the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr; and
  • Meet E-Tax: A plan by the Finance Ministry to set up a company to provide services and tech solutions to companies and authorities ahead of the transition towards the electronic tax system. The company, E-Tax, will be an EGP 100 mn JV between E-Finance, the Egyptian International Trade Point Sector (EITP), and the Finance Ministry, which will retain a controlling interest.

TOURISM

Tourism Ministry tempts airlines back to Egypt with new charter flight incentives

Charter flights landing in Egypt are eligible for a fresh batch of incentives under the next phase of the Tourism Ministry's charter flight program, which is set to run between 1 January and 30 April 2021, Minister Khaled El Enany said, according to Al Wafd. The ministry will offer unspecified incentives on two tiers, one for airlines flying 2-15 times per week, and other for those operating more than 15 weekly flights.

Background: Egypt’s last incentive program ran from November 2018 to April 2020 and saw airlines receive cash payouts starting from USD 2k per trip based on the number of weekly flights. After covid-19 nearly shuttered the country’s tourism industry, the ministry has been trying to spur inbound visitors while extending the tourism support program by three months.

OTHER TOURISM NEWS- EgyptAir will begin operating weekly flights between Hurghada and Budapest on Saturdays starting next week, according to Ahram Online.

EARNINGS WATCH

Banque du Caire 9M profits down 16%, revenues climb

Banque du Caire (BdC) generated a net profit of EGP 2.5 bn during 9M2020, down 16% from EGP 3 bn in the same period last year, according to figures released by the bank on Thursday. The state-owned bank’s revenues rose 24% during the period to EGP 8.9 bn, from EGP 7.2 bn in 9M20219.

Reminder: BdC is a perennial IPO candidate, having most recently been slated to debut on the EGX in April this year as part of the state privatization program, but the disruption caused by the pandemic forced the bank to abandon its plans for the foreseeable future. The bank was hoping to raise some USD 500 mn in what was expected to be the country’s biggest sale of state assets since 2006.

enterprise

MAKING IT

Season three finale of Making It drops this Thursday

The season three finale of Making It is out this Thursday. Until then, it's a good time to catch up on the last few episodes with founders and C-suite execs across industries including fintech, retail, healthcare, and security:

You can also listen on: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Anghami | Omny. We’re also available on Spotify, but only for non-MENA accounts. Subscribe to Making It on your podcatcher of choice here.

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

President Abdel FattahEl Sisi’s first visit to South Sudan led the coverage on the talk shows last night. Former foreign ministry officials and pundits were all over the airwaves last night chewing over the importance of the trip. Amany El Tawil, an Africa expert at the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, appeared on Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 6:30) and El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 2:41 | 1:14 | 1:13 | 1:57) and highlighted the timing of the visit, coming amid conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray which threatens to destabilize the region. Mohamed Hegazy, former assistant foreign minister for African Affairs, told Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa that South Sudan is an important strategic partner to Egypt in the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, without elaborating (watch, runtime: 15:31). Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal also had the story (watch, runtime: 7:37).

But the big topic last night? That would be Al Ahly’s 2-1 victory over longtime rival Zamalek in the African Champions League on Friday. Coverage: Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 5:44), Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 9:38), Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 27: 46), El Hekaya (watch, runtime: 3:44) and Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 14:06) all covered the derby.

Also on the airwaves last night: Restoration work on the National Cancer Institute will finish in the next 30 days, more than a year after the building was damaged in a terrorist attack, Higher Education Minister Khaled Abd El-Ghaffar told El Hekaya's Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 1:14).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Human rights still lead the conversation on Egypt in the international press, with the detainment of three members of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights getting digital ink from the the Independent, and the Washington Post. The UN’s news portal also has the story.

Egypt is signaling to the world that it is regaining control of its archaeological finds, a point made clear in newly-released Netflix documentary Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb, after centuries in which archaeological research in Egypt was dominated by foreigners. (Haaretz)

ALSO MAKING HEADLINES: Our latest entry in the Creepy Robot Derby sees a bot helping corral covid-19 patients (Reuters + an interview with Youm7), and Egypt is the backdrop for freediving in this chill-inducing piece from the New York Times. Meanwhile, high-profile Al Qaeda terrorist Adel Abdel Bary has finished a 21-year prison sentence in the US and may be deported to the UK.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Green finance is more and more a thing with each passing day. Most recently: The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) is getting a EUR 100 mn credit facility from the French Development Agency (AFD) to finance green projects in Egypt and Egypt could see the establishment of its first green industrial zone under a partnership between the Trade Ministry, Suez Canal Economic Zone, and UNIDO

In other industry news:

  • Edita is automating its sales and distribution processes using technology from software provider SAP.
  • Mashreq Bank has enlisted state-owned EgyCash for its money transfer and ATM restocking services.
  • The Suez Canal Economic Zone is offering discounts of up to 50% on transit fees for cruise liners and yachts.

COVID WATCH

The Health Ministry reported 351 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 357 the day before. The ministry also reported 13 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 6,621.

The daily infection rate reached a 17-week high on Friday after the ministry reported 368 new cases, the highest since the end of July.

PLANET FINANCE

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The EGX30 fell 0.8% on Thursday on turnover of EGP 1.6 bn (42% above the 90-day average) as foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 21.4% YTD.

In the green: Dice (+1.9%), Eastern Company (+1.4%) and Emaar Misr (+0.8%).

In the red: Beltone Financial Holding (-2.3%), Madinet Nasr Housing (-2.3%) and EFG Hermes (-2.2%).

Down EGX30 10,981 -0.8%
Down EGX30 YTD -21.4%
Down USD (CBE) Buy 15.60 Sell 15.70
Down USD at CIB Buy 15.61 Sell 15.71
None Interest rates CBE 8.25% deposit 9.25% lending
Up Tadawul 8,693 +0.05%
Down ADX 4,971 -0.34%
Up DFM 2,420 +0.28%
Up S&P 500 3,638 +0.24%
Up FTSE 100 6,367 +0.07%
Up Brent crude USD 48.18 +0.80%
Down Natural gas (Nymex) USD 2.84 -3.99%
Down Gold USD 1,788.10 -1.28%
Up BTC USD 17,808.77 +4.35%

Nigeria is showing us exactly why the EGP float was a good idea. The plunge in remittances into Nigeria may turn out to be exaggerated as expats take advantage of the USD black market to send money home, suggests Bloomberg. Data compiled by EFG Hermes shows that remittances have fallen by some 40% so far this year amid the economic disruption caused by the pandemic. But the presence of shadow remittances fuelled by a contraband market for greenbacks offering more attractive rates for the Naira, makes the pandemic’s true impact on inflows hard to quantify. This was a previously a problem faced by policymakers in Egypt — until the EGP float all but eradicated our black market.

MEANWHILE- HSBC looks to be accelerating its pivot to the east, reportedly considering shuttering its retail banking business in the US in favor of doubling down on its more lucrative activities in Asia, the Financial Times reports, citing unnamed sources it says are familiar with the situation.

AROUND THE WORLD

Somebody really wants to make something happen in the final days of Trump’s presidency. A prominent Iranian scientist and former head of the country’s nuclear program was gunned down outside Tehran on Friday, the Associated Press reports. Iran vowed not to leave the “criminal act unanswered.”

Also worth knowing this morning:

  • The latest from Tigray: Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed announced yesterday that government troops have completed military operations in the capital of the dissident Tigray province and pledged to rebuild the region.
  • China is now the global data superpower, accounting for around 23% of cross-border data flows — almost twice as much as distant second the US with 12%, Nikkei Asia reports.
  • Doha and Istanbul go deeper with their economic entanglements: Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is set to purchase a 10% stake in Turkey’s stock exchange for an undisclosed sum, as well as a 30% stake in a luxury Istanbul shopping center for USD 300 mn, the Financial Times reports.

IN DIPLOMACY: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi held wide-ranging talks with his South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir during his first diplomatic visit to the country this past weekend, an Ittihadiya statement said. The two discussed the current state of negotiations over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, economic and trade ties, and security cooperation.

Russia’s ambassador to Egypt Georgy Borisenko was less than pleased with an op-ed criticizing Moscow for refusing to resume flights to the Red Sea, saying there are still “pending issues” such as compensation for the Metrojet plane crash in 2015. The original op-ed is here in El Shorouk.

ON YOUR WAY OUT

It was a massive weekend for football fans: Al Ahly went home with their ninth Champions League title on Friday after beating Zamalek 2-1 in Cairo.

MORE- Egypt jumped three places in the FIFA November world rankings to no.49, putting us fourth in the regional pecking order after Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.

AND MORE- National treasure and Liverpool forward Mo Salah is among the nominees for the 2020 Best FIFA Men’s Player, going up against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar, according to FIFA.

IN OTHER FOOTBALL NEWS- Football legend Diego Maradona died at age 60 after suffering a heart attack on Wednesday, according to BBC. Maradona played for Barcelona and Napoli during his club career and represented Argentina in four World Cups, scoring the infamous Hand of God goal against England in the ‘86 quarter-finals. Among the hundreds of “flawed genius” obituaries published over the weekend, this piece in the Guardian is particularly touching, describing him as “an achingly human superstar” with the all-too human ability to represent beauty and ugliness at once.

WATCH- The trailer for HBO’s Diego Maradona documentary (runtime: 2:16). We don’t know how long it will stay online, but at dispatch time a full copy is up here on Youtube (runtime: 2:04:19).

CALENDAR

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: A meeting to finalize membership and trading rules governing Egypt’s Commodities Exchange (Egycomex).

December: The Egyptian-Iraqi Joint Higher Committee will meet.

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).

2 December (Wednesday): The Egypt Economic Summit will be held at the St. Regis Hotel in Cairo

4 December (Friday): Cairo Art Fair kicks off and runs through 31 January 2021.

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, Nile Ritz Carlton Hotel, Cairo, Egypt.

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.

31 December (Thursday): Deadline for car owners to comply with traffic regulations to install a RFID electronic sticker on their cars.

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

1H2021: Egypt’s Commodities Exchange (Egycomex) will begin trading.

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.

17 January 2021 (Sunday): 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 in case 445 of 2019.

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.

30 May-15 June 2021 (Wednesday-Thursday): Cairo International Book Fair.

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

30 June- 15 July 2021: National Book Fair.

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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