Sunday, 27 December 2020

Healthcare giants Cleopatra and Alameda on track to announce merger

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the final week of 2020. We hope those of you who celebrate had a wonderful weekend with family and friends.

The accelerating second wave of covid-19 dominates the news agenda here at home, overshadowing the Central Bank of Egypt’s decision to leave interest rates on hold heading into 2021. We have chapter and verse on both stories in the news well, below.

Abroad, Christmas weekend has so far been fairly quiet, with the big news being the fact that we may finally have a UK-EU Brexit trade agreement as Britain looks set to avoid the prospect of a hard Brexit after reaching a trade agreement on Thursday evening with the European Union. The news ends months of drawn-out negotiations, according to statements from London and Brussels. The agreement won’t introduce new tariffs or quotas on goods, but will impose new rules of origin requirements and health and safety specifications. It also imposes border controls and takes away the right from UK citizens to work, live, or study in the EU without a visa.

The European Parliament will sit down tomorrow to “provisionally” give the agreement a thumbs-up. Bloomberg has a rundown on the agreement’s key points.

Speaking of the EU: The Egypt-UK post-Brexit trade agreement will come to effect on New Year’s eve. The agreement could prompt new UK investment in Egypt, including in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, oil and gas, manufacturing, agribusiness, healthcare and education sectors, UK Trade Envoy to Egypt Sir Jeffery Donaldson said last month.

** This morning’s edition is our final “normal” issue of the year. We’ll be back in your inboxes tomorrow with abbreviated issues that cover the top three or so stories each day — and that give you the rundown in the year that was in covid, debt capital markets, startups, macro, investment, M&A and equity capital markets. For each, we channel our Carnac the Magnificent with a look ahead to what you might expect in 2021.

We wrap up the year on Thursday with a special Your Wealth issue on how much the times have changed in health, education, travel and more.

THANK YOU to every single one of you for allowing us the honor of writing you each weekday morning. 2020 has, uh, been a “challenge” — your kind words have been a huge part of helping us get through it.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

Our friends at Cira are shooting to become the third company in Egypt to issue corporate sukuk this week. The company expects to wrap the EGP 600 mn sale by New Year’s Eve as it awaits regulatory approval, we’re told. The sale follows Talaat Moustafa Group’s EGP 2 bn offering in April and Sarwa Capital’s EGP 2.5 bn sale in November. We have all you need to know about Cira’s issuance here.

PSA #1 – We have ugly weather in store today to round out an ugly year: Expect to see heavy fog this morning in the capital city and across the Nile Delta, North Coast, and Canal cities, while other areas are in for some rainfall, according to Egypt’s Meteorological Authority.


PSA #2- You’re going to be charged transaction fees on withdrawals from ATMs other than your bank’s as of Friday. The Central Bank of Egypt looks set to bring the fees back into force after having extended until the end of the year a waiver it had introduced in March to push traffic to digital channels.

PSA #3- Are we getting Thursday off? Banks with Jan-Dec fiscal years are typically closed on 1 January to close their books. With New Year’s Day falling on a Friday, we’re waiting to see whether the central bank (and, as a consequence, the EGX) order Thursday off instead — or whether bankers will be trudging in to work this weekend.


CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

EGX-listed companies better have at least one woman member of their board of directors at the office NYE party. Under FRA regulations, listed companies must have at least one female board member by the end of the year. When we checked earlier this month, almost half of EGX30 companies still had all-male boards.

Car owners have until the end of the week to get RFID electronic stickers on their vehicles.

The government is loosening attendance restrictions for the Men’s Handball World Championship 2021, allowing 30% of seats to be filled at the event which will be held in Egypt from 13-31 January 2021, reports Ahram Gate. The Health Ministry has decided that a “bubble” system will be in effect — think: the NBA — meaning all players, coaches, organizers, media personnel, and other attendees will not be allowed to interact with outsiders to the bubble and will undergo PCR tests every 48 hours. The event will see 32 teams travel to Egypt and will be played in four venues in Alexandria, Cairo, Giza and the new capital.

The bubble system seems like it will be the norm for sporting events in the coming period as The Egyptian Olympic Committee announced that all sports tournaments held indoors must comply with the system or be suspended.

Also next month, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is looking to get one final state-sponsored vacation to the region, with Egypt among the countries he plans to visit.

enterprise

ECONOMY

You called it: CBE leaves rates on hold

The Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee left rates on hold in its policy meeting on Thursday, citing higher inflation and muted economic growth in the third quarter of the year, the CBE said in a statement (pdf). The decision comes amid growing global concern about a new, faster spreading covid-19 variant. This prompted the central bank to pause its easing cycle after having already enacted two consecutive rate cuts.

Where do rates stand? The CBE’s overnight deposit rate is at 8.25% and the lending rate 9.25%. The main operation and disc. rates are 8.75%. The central bank has so far cut rates by 400 bps this year, including a record 300 bps cut in March and 50 bps cuts at each of the last two meetings.

The CBE also adjusted its inflation target to a range of 7% (+/- 2%) by 4Q2022, from a previous target range of 9% (+/- 3%), it said. Inflation has been muted for the better part of 2020, exceeding the lower 6% band of the CBE’s target range only once in January. The annual headline figure, however, accelerated to 5.7% in November from 4.6% in October. Inflation could increase in 2021 due to “unfavorable base effects related to the normalization of monthly inflation rates,” but is unlikely to stray away from the 7% (+/- 2%) by 4Q2022, Bloomberg quoted Pharos’ head of research Radwa El Swaify as saying.

In line with expectations: All 10 economists and analysts we surveyed last week predicted the CBE would leave rates unchanged in its final meeting of the year. Most argued this would be due to rising inflation, the ongoing pandemic, and to support the all-important carry trade. Egypt’s carry trade is attractive to overseas investors as, despite the recent rate cuts, the country’s real interest rate is still second highest in the world, surpassed only by Malaysia, according to a list of more than 50 major economies tracked by Bloomberg.

While economic growth was slow in 3Q2020, it was better than the previous quarter: Real GDP growth recorded 0.7% between July and October, up from a contraction of 1.7% in the previous quarter, when lockdown measures were in full force, the CBE said. “Most demand side leading indicators for October and November 2020 show continued signs of recovery after displaying weakness during [2Q2020],” the CBE added. Planning and Economic Development Minister Hala El Said had announced the muted growth figure in last week’s cabinet meeting, citing the pandemic-induced hit to the tourism industry as the main culprit.

When can we expect the CBE to resume its easing cycle? There’s still room for authorities to cut rates, “but the timing and magnitude of the cuts are completely reliant on volatility in global markets,” El Swaify said. The first rate cut may come in early 2021, analysts we surveyed for our poll said. HC Securities penciled in a100-bps cut in 1Q2021, while Renaissance Capital predicted a total of 100-150 bps over the next 12 months.

M&A WATCH

CHG + Alameda merger this week?

EGX-listed Cleopatra Hospital Group and Alameda Healthcare Group are on track to reach an agreement on their planned merger before the year is out, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Alameda could be valued at USD 450-500 mn, including debt, Bloomberg’s sources say. The transaction would see CHG issuing convertible loan notes to Fahad Khater, Alameda’s chairman and controlling shareholder, and make Khater the merged group’s second-largest shareholder with a 25% stake.

Background: Cleopatra owns six major hospitals in Greater Cairo. El Khater’s Alameda owns high-profile facilities including As-Salam International and Dar Al Fouad. The two healthcare players have been in talks since February to merge and become the largest private-sector healthcare service provider in Egypt. An Egyptian Competition Authority investigation earlier this year concluded that the merger would not negatively impact market competition and would not need to be blocked.

COVID WATCH

Christmas mass at Egypt’s Orthodox churches will be limited to 20 attendees, including priests and other members of the clergy, Pope Tawadros II told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 16:30). The Coptic Orthodox Church has also decided to extend until the end of January its suspension of funerals, mass, and other prayers and services in Cairo and Alexandria as covid-19 cases continue to rise and have so far claimed several lives within the church, Tawadros said.

The Health Ministry reported 1,189 new covid-19 infections yesterday, with Thursday marking the first time the tally crossed the 1k mark since 9 July with 1,021 new cases. Friday’s case count increased further to record 1,133 new cases. The ministry also reported 43 new deaths yesterday, bringing the country’s total death toll to 7,352.

We’re now doubling in one week: It took seven days for total daily cases to double. As of Thursday, it had taken us 13 days for the daily case count to double.

Among the virus’ most high profile victims was the head of Egypt's National Elections Authority, Lashin Ibrahim, who died on Friday of complications from the disease, reports Ahram Gate. Ibrahim was previously an Attorney General at the Public Funds Prosecution and served as VP to the head of the Court of Cassation.

Three newly-elected MPs have now passed away from the disease over the past month, according to Al Masry Al Youm. One of the representatives will be replaced with his daughter, who was listed as his “reserve” candidate, while by-elections will be held to replace the two others, according to Ahram Online.

Zamalek football club head Ahmed Al Bakri also passed away on Thursday from covid-19, reports Youm7.

At least seven people also died in a fire Saturday at the Misr Al Amal hospital, which was treating covid-19 patients in El Obour City, Reuters reports. The fire appears to have been caused by an electrical fault, and the surviving patients were later transferred to a public hospital in Cairo.

As numbers rise, Egypt has signed contracts to obtain 50 mn doses of two vaccines, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said at a press conference, according to a press release (pdf) from the ministry. The final price of the jabs has yet to be determined, but Maait said the government has an “open budget” to ensure the safety of the population.

Which vaccines are we getting? While Maait didn’t specify which vaccine manufacturers were tapped for the incoming supply, Ahram Online reports that we’ll receive 20 mn doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine and 30 mn doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is in line with Health Minister Hala Zayed’s statements that we reported on last month. Egypt currently has 500k doses of the Sinopharm vaccine — which it will likely approve in the coming days — and is expecting further deliveries of the vaccine soon. The country has also applied to receive vaccines through the WHO’s Covax scheme.

Meanwhile, China’s Sinovac has reported its covid-19 vaccine is above 50% effective and safe for use based on clinical trials in Brazil involving 13k patients, reports Bloomberg. A 50% efficacy rate is above the minimum threshold for emergency use in many countries including the US; however, the Sinovac jab has fallen behind the Sinopharm vaccine, which is said to be 86% effective, but for which full data has yet to be released.

HEALTHCARE

Axa gets in on universal healthcare scheme

Health ins. provider Axa will provide its services under Egypt’s new universal healthcare system after signing an agreement with the General Healthcare Authority, according to a Health Ministry statement. Axa will initially roll out in Port Said and Luxor, where the new healthcare system is being piloted. The partnership comes as part of the government’s efforts to partner with private sector providers under its Universal Healthcare scheme, said Health Ministry Spokesperson Khaled Megahed. Under the scheme, the government will contract out healthcare services to the private sector hospitals that have signed up to provide services under the Universal Healthcare Act, including nonprofits, university hospitals, and non-Health Ministry affiliated hospitals under a unified pricing system.

WHO’S IN THE MARKET FOR DEBT

TMG tapping securitized bond market again

Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG) subsidiary Al Rehab Securitization plans to issue EGP 885 mn in securitized bonds to finance the development of TMG’s real estate projects, sources told Al Shorouk. No further details on the timeline for the issuance were given. In a statement (pdf) earlier this month, the FRA said that five companies were planning seven securitized bond issuances worth a combined EGP 9.3 bn in the near future, though the names of the companies were not disclosed.

Advisors: EFG Hermes will act as financial advisor and will manage the issuance, while two other unnamed banks also playing a role. Need a refresher on securitized bonds? We have one for you here.

IN OTHER DEBT NEWS:

  • Egyptian fertilizer company Evergrow will receive a USD 312 mn loan from a syndicate of Egyptian banks led by the National Bank of Egypt.
  • Oil company Oilex will receive a EGP 2 bn loan from a syndicate of banks led by the National Bank of Egypt and First Abu Dhabi Bank to fund the extraction and production of vegetable oils.
  • Another TMG subsidiary, the Arab Company for Projects and Urban Development, is seeking a EGP 1.2 bn facility from an unnamed bank for the development of its EGP 33 bn Celia project in the new capital, Al Shorouk reports.
  • The Finance Ministry is acting as guarantor for a EGP 100 mn facility the New Urban Communities Authority is receiving from local banks.

LEGISLATION WATCH

No real estate tax exemption for industry, but maybe a rate cut

Factories will not be getting the real estate tax exemption they have been vying for, but could instead see a significant reduction in their property tax dues under a new draft bill the finance and trade and industry ministries have drafted, the local press reports, citing unnamed government sources. The bill, which would see factories pay real estate taxes equivalent to “service fees,” will be on the incoming House of Representatives’ agenda in its first session next year, the sources say.

Industry has been calling for real estate tax relief since the beginning of the year when the Investors Union urged the government to abolish the tax for factories. This came a week after cabinet green-lit amendments — later signed into law in May — that exempt unused land from being taxed and give the cabinet the power to issue exemptions for some buildings.

Finance Minister Mohamed Maait had said last month that a complete exemption was unlikely seeing as real estate tax is already falling short of generating sufficient state revenue, despite a statement by the Trade Ministry in September saying it was working on proposals that would exempt factories from real estate tax.

BUDGET WATCH

Egypt misses revenue targets thanks to pandemic, but expenses are down, too

Egypt recorded a budget deficit of EGP 462 bn — or 7.9% of GDP — in FY2019-2020, according to Finance Ministry figures (pdf) published this weekend. The overall deficit fell short of ministry forecasts of 7.2% of GDP at the end of the fiscal year, but is still an improvement from the 8.2% recorded in FY2018-2019. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said last month that Egypt is on track to continue narrowing the budget deficit in FY2020-2021, and is targeting bringing down the deficit to 6.3% of GDP.

Meanwhile, the primary surplus, which strips debt service payments, narrowed to 1.8% of GDP in the fiscal year, down from 2% in FY2018-2019, and slightly missing an initial target of 1.9% of GDP.

Revenues for FY2019-20 came in lower than expected at EGP 975 bn, around EGP 200 bn below a forecast of EGP 1.2 tn. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait previously said that state revenues took a hit in the final quarter of the fiscal year. This came as the lockdown and economic disruption hit tax revenues, the suspension of flights brought the tourism sector to a standstill, and trade disruptions caused Suez Canal revenues to dip.

The collapse in oil prices was a plus as expenses came in at EGP 1.4 tn, outperforming the state’s draft budget, which had forecast a figure closer to EGP 1.6 tn. The consistent drop in oil prices guided government spending on fuel subsidies down 77% during the fiscal year, Maait previously said.

The net drop in expenses came despite pressure on state coffers from stimulus and health spending to face covid-19. The government had allocated EGP 100 bn at the onset of the pandemic to tackle emergency spending needs, of which it had doled out some EGP 65 bn by July to purchase medical supplies, staple goods, and pay employment grants for day laborers.

DEBT WATCH

One step closer to being Euroclearable

The new central clearing and depository company that will handle all the clearing and registry of government debt issuances earned Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly’s final sign-off, according to an official decision published in the Official Gazette on Thursday. Cabinet had approved the establishment of the new central clearing and depository company last year. The company will have initial capital of EGP 100 mn, 60% of which will be put up by the Central Bank of Egypt, with the Finance Ministry and Misr for Central Clearing, Depository and Registry (MCDR) each contributing 20%.

The establishment of a central securities depository is one of the conditions to clearing local debt issuances with Belgium-based clearing house Euroclear under the terms of a 2019 agreement, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait had said earlier this month. This would give foreign investors — who can currently only access the market through a few local banks — better access to Egyptian debt.

How does it differ from MCDR? The new company would fulfill the roles previously shared by Misr for Central Clearing and Depository and the CBE, head of the Finance Ministry’s Debt Management Unit Mohamed Hegazy told Enterprise yesterday. Earlier plans to establish the clearing mechanism in early 2020 were slowed by covid-19. The ministry now expects to reach that milestone sometime between September and November 2021, Maait said earlier this month.

ENERGY

Fill ‘er up

Car owners that make the switch to natural gas and dual fuel engines will have access to 325 more natgas filling stations in 2021, as the Oil Ministry looks to bring the total number of stations across the country to 550, Minister Tarek El Molla told Extra News (watch, runtime 9:08). The government had said it planned to set up 50 new filling stations in FY2020-21 as part of its plan to promote the natural gas transition plan, with an eye to convert 250k old cars to run on dual-fuel vehicles by the end of 2023. The government plans to build a network of natural gas filling stations each with a capacity of 1.3k cars per day El Molla had said in July, while former EGPC deputy chief Medhat Youssef told us he expected the state to roll out 100 stations in the program’s first wave.

The open question: How much of that network will be built by the private sector?

The transition plan will get a strong boost next month, as a local expo will be held in January to display natural gas-powered and dual-engine vehicles. Two things are hoped to be achieved at this expo: more automotive companies might join in and offer natgas engine cars or help assemble them, and it will be a chance for diesel and petrol car owners to take advantage of an EGP 1.2 bn incentives package to replace their cars.

Want more on the nat gas conversion scheme? We took a deep dive this summer into the plan in our weekly infrastructure vertical Hardhat: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3.

TRANSPORT

More World Bank railway funding?

The Transport Ministry is in talks with the World Bank for two loans worth a combined USD 400 mn for a planned railway upgrade project, Al Shorouk reports, citing unnamed government sources. The potential funding packages would include USD 200 mn to finance the transition to an electric railway signaling system in the Giza-Beni Sueif line, in addition to another USD 200 mn to finance upgrades to the railway tracks and control system for the line. The government has a plan to spend EGP 56 bn through 2023 to upgrade signaling systems across the country, with EGP 17 bn acquired from foreign lenders. The ministry has reportedly scrapped the tender it had issued last month for the electric signaling system, the newspaper reports, citing an unnamed source from France’s Alstom, which had bid in the tender. Alstom had been invited to bid for the same tender in 2018 but was rejected for being overpriced.

ALSO ON THE RAILWAY FRONT- The high-speed electric rail connecting Ain Sokhna to Alamein is expected to cost some USD 6 bn, according to the newspaper. The price tag includes USD 3 bn for the civil and construction works, which are being carried out by a consortium that includes China Railway Engineering Corporation, China Railway Construction Corporation Limited, the Arab Organization for Industrialization, Orascom Construction, Samcrete, Arab Contractors and others. The remaining USD 3 bn is the expected cost of the electro-mechanical component of the rail line, the sources say. The government had previously said it is looking to tap Siemens for the project.

EDUCATION

Pilot of UCAS-style platform launching next semester

The Higher Education Ministry is launching a UCAS-style platform for private universities for the coming Spring semester, after gaining approval over the weekend by the Higher Education Ministry’s Supreme Council of Private Universities, according to a cabinet statement. The platform launch will be a pilot phase that includes a few private and nonprofit universities that receive a high volume of applications, an official told Enterprise.

The platform will become mandatory for all universities starting from the Fall semester of the 2021-22 academic year, the source added.

What is the platform exactly? The platform will consolidate enrollment applications to all non-state universities in one place. Private and non-profit universities will still set their own acceptance requirements, including GPA and aptitude tests, and make their own admission decisions. However, everything will be reported centrally and revised by the ministry to make sure the candidates have indeed met all the requirements.

How does the platform work? The source explained that the platform will be similar to the Tansik system used for admission to public universities. Graduating high school seniors will register on the online platform and fill out applications including their choices of private universities and majors. Students will ultimately learn their university acceptance through the new platform. It’s possible that students may also pay for applications through the platform.

But why? The platform aims to ensure equality and parity in private universities’ enrollment by ensuring that students are admitted based on their grades and academic abilities, the source said. It also aims to bring enrollment procedures at private and nonprofit universities in line with those at their public sector counterparts.

Want to know more? We delved into the new enrollment platform and concerns about universities’ autonomy in selecting their student body in our education vertical, Blackboard, earlier this year: Gov’t considers implementing UCAS-style enrollment system for private universities.

enterprise

MOVES

Ayman Fathy Hossam El Din is now officially chairman of the Consumer Protection Authority (CPA) after stepping into the role temporarily earlier this year and replacing Ahmed Samir Farag, according to Youm7. Hossam El Din previously served as deputy supply minister.

Sahar El Damaty has resigned as managing director at Heliopolis Housing and Development (HHD), Al Shorouk reports. According to the newspaper, El Damaty submitted her resignation one month ago, but the reason remains unclear. Prior to joining HHD last year, El Damaty was vice president of Banque Misr.

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

As the second wave of covid-19 takes hold, the key talking point on the airwaves yesterday was that Egypt’s hospitals are well-equipped and ready. Taking stock of testing capacity: The ministry conducts around 10k nasal swabs on a daily basis across the country and has 62 affiliated labs to process the tests, head of the Health Ministry’s central laboratories department Nancy El Gendy told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal (watch, runtime: 10:07).

The Higher Education Ministry has set up 25 out of 115 university hospitals as dedicated quarantine facilities, while the rest will have isolation wards, ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel Ghaffar told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 4:26). Around half of ICU beds at university hospitals are now occupied, while regular beds at university hospitals are at a 65% occupancy rate, Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar told Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime: 0:19).

In a best case scenario, the second wave is sticking around until the end of February. The prediction is based, however, on our experience with the first wave, when citizens were vastly more cooperative and adhered to precautionary measures more strictly than they are now, Khaled Abdel Ghaffar told Moussa (watch, runtime: 1:48). The second wave sees a rising proportion of infections in young children compared to the first wave, according to the head of Kasr Ainy Hospital Amr El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 6:51).

Also on the airwaves last night (and over the weekend):

  • More than 2k Egyptian expats are currently stranded in the GCC, with the vast majority in the UAE, Emigration Minister Nabila Makram said (Lobna Assal on Al Hayah Al Youm | watch, runtime: 9:36).
  • Political changes in the Middle East and on the global scale were the main topic of discussion for former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa in a lengthy interview (Ibrahim Eissa | Hadith Al Qahera watch, runtime: 1:26:34).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

It’s a really mixed bag for Egypt in the international press, with a handful of eternal tropes (from antiquities in the FT to foreign belly dancers and opinions on the military’s involvement in the economy) leavened with a tragic New York murder mystery centered on a family of Egyptian expats. And who knew George Blake (dead at age 98), who famously spied for the USSR before being arrested, escaping jail and defecting to Moscow, had a Cairo connection?

Covid in Egypt makes an appearance, too, thanks to Reuters and the BBC.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Egypt is soon getting the final tranche of a Chinese loan to finance the new capital’s business district, cabinet said in a statement on Friday. Officials signed an agreement with a group of Chinese banks this weekend to disburse the third and final tranche, the statement noted without mentioning a size and timeline. Egypt closed USD 3 bn in Chinese financing back in May 2019 to finance the construction of the district, which is being built by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC). The release of the loan had reportedly faced delays earlier this year after the government failed to meet certain conditions, government sources said at the time, without disclosing more information.

Other things we’re keeping an eye on this morning:

  • Vodafone Egypt is looking to launch a pilot nano lending service with Bank of Alexandria through mobile wallets, Vodafone Egypt’s external relations director, Ayman Essam, told Bloomberg.
  • The National Bank of Egypt and state-owned fintech firm e-Finance will establish an e-payment system for services offered by a number of local municipalities.
  • The Egyptian Commercial Service is considering establishing eight new commercial offices in Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Togo, Senegal, Cameroon, Nigeria and Mozambique.
  • NBE and Banque Misr are providing EGP 50 mn under a program with the World Food Programme (pdf) to small farmers and women entrepreneurs in Upper Egypt.
  • Authorities have completed a renovation of the Philae Temple in Aswan, and are planning to reopen the landmark to the public soon.

PLANET FINANCE

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China’s competition watchdog has launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba, it said in a statement cited by the Associated Press. The country’s State Administration of Market Regulation recently opened the investigation after complaints of Alibaba’s use of a policy known in China as “pick one of two,” which forces merchants to sell exclusively through its platform. The probe comes after Chinese regulators blocked an IPO by Alibaba’s sister company Ant Group, which is led by Chinese b’naire and Alibaba co-founder and former CEO Jack Ma.

Elsewhere in b’naire-verse, Elon Musk is considering an IPO of SpaceX’s galactic internet arm Starlink, he said on Twitter. A listing of the company would make sense as soon as investors can “reasonably” predict its revenue growth. As for Tesla, Musk would like to reverse its “public duties” and take it private to work more extensively on innovation, but such a move would be “impossible,” he separately tweeted.

Up

EGX30

10,684

+0.1% (YTD: -23.5%)

Down

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.65

Sell 15.75

None

USD at CIB

Buy 15.64

Sell 15.74

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Down

Tadawul

8,703

-0.2% (YTD: +3.7%)

Down

ADX

5,126

-0.3% (YTD: +1.0%)

Up

DFM

2,527

+0.6% (YTD: -8.6%)

Up

S&P 500

3,703

+0.4% (YTD: +14.6%)

Up

FTSE 100

6,502

+0.1% (YTD: -13.9%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 51.29

+0.1%

Down

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 2.52

-3.5%

Up

Gold

USD 1,883.20

+0.4%

Up

BTC

USD 26,543

+6.9%

The EGX30 rose 0.1% on Thursday on turnover of EGP 987 mn (27.3% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 23.5% YTD.

In the green: Orascom Investment Holding (+6.5%), Dice (+6.3%) and Beltone Financial Holding (+4.6%).

In the red: EFG Hermes (-2.0%), Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals (-1.0%) and Edita (-0.9%).

CALENDAR

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.

31 December (Thursday): Deadline for EGX-listed companies to comply with regulations requiring at least one member of their boards of directors be a woman.

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

January 2021: US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is set to visit Egypt.

1 January 2021 (Friday): New Year’s Day, national holiday.

5 January 2021 (Saturday): The annual GCC summit will be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The agenda includes potential resolution of the three-year-old spat with Qatar.

7 January 2021 (Thursday): Coptic Christmas, national holiday.

13-31 January (Wednesday-Sunday): Egypt will host the 2021 Men’s Handball World Championship in four venues in Alexandria, Cairo, Giza and the New Capital.

Mid-January: Local expo to display natural gas-powered and dual-engine vehicles for Egypt’s car replacement program.

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 2021 (Saturday-Thursday): Mid-year school break.

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

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

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

25 April 2021 (Sunday): Sinai Liberation Day.

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

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

3 May 2021 (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

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

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

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).

17 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.

2H2021: Egypt’s Commodities Exchange (Egycomex) will begin trading.

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

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

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

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

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

13-17 December 2021: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

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

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