Sunday, 17 January 2021

Bank ABC wins bid for Blom Egypt

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to another Sunday. We’re settling in for a couple of weeks in which the news agenda is going to be dominated by government policy as well as bills wending their way through the House of Representatives. Throw in the local press’ favourite parlour game (“Who’s sticking around in a cabinet shuffle?”) and that should take us through to the end of month and into early February.

What to watch for: The prime minister’s now-traditional address to the House on his government’s legislative priorities. MPs were sworn in last week and have their committee assignments. They’re working through largely procedural stuff now (see Cabinet Watch, below), with the real heavy lifting likely to come only after the PM”s address — itself potentially contingent on a cabinet shuffle. Gadfly journalist and MP Mostafa Bakry floated last week his theory on the likely shuffle, which Masrawy later reported should see the cabinet economic group staying in place.

We have a brand new set of committees in the House: The MPs heading up the House committees were appointed on Thursday, paving the way for legislative activity to get up and running.

So, who’s quarterbacking the government’s agenda in the House? Committee chairs relevant to business include:

  • Economic Committee: Ahmed Samir (deputy head of the Sixth of October Investors Association, returning)
  • Industry Committee: Moataz Mohamed Mahmoud (former head of the Housing Committee)
  • Planning and Budgeting Committee: Fakhry El Fiqi (former IMF advisor and CBE board member, new);
  • Transport and Communications Committee Alaa Abed (former chair of the Human Rights Committee, new)
  • Education Committee Sami Hashem (returning)
  • Housing and Utilities Committee Emad Saad Hammouda (returning)
  • Tourism and Civil Aviation Committee Nora Ali (former president of the Federation of Tourism Chambers)
  • Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee Ibrahim El Heneidi (former legal and parliamentary affairs minister, new)
  • Health Affairs Committee Ashraf Hatem (former health minister, new)

Some committees started meeting yesterday and many will convene today to start structuring their legislative agendas. Look for the National Defense Committee to start chewing over amendments to the Traffic Act, Masrawy reported without going into detail.

PSA- We’re looking at wind with a good chance of a sand storm today — and the possibility of a shower this afternoon in the capital city. Look for a daytime high of 19°C and an overnight low of 9°C as we settle in for two weeks of cool weather, according to our favourite weather app.


MEANWHILE- Businesses have until 31 January to file their wage tax returns for 2020, Egyptian Tax Authority head Reda Abdel Qader said in a statement (pdf). Companies will have to file two separate tax returns: One covering the old income tax bands during 1H2020, and one for 2H2020 when the exemption threshold was raised to EGP 9k and a new top rate was introduced for those earning EGP 400k or more.

REMINDER- Are you a sole trader? Do you have income from outside where you hang your hat during daytime hours? You need to file your taxes electronically this year just like businesses do. Don’t sweat it if you have a day job with a company: Salaried employees in Egypt do not file income tax returns, but have income taxes deducted at source by their employer, which is responsible for remitting the wage taxes to the state.

Banks are being instructed to give their clients a rundown on tourism support initiatives to allow more businesses to benefit, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) said in a circular last week. The central bank has provided the tourism sector with discounted loans and debt repayment holidays as a way to support the industry through the pandemic.

Russia will increase the frequency of flights between Cairo and Moscow to five per week, Ahram Gate reported yesterday, citing Russian media. The report didn’t disclose when the new flight schedule would begin.

GLOBAL NEWS you need to know-

It’s inauguration week in the US of A: Security is tight in Washington, DC, and many state capitals ahead of the Wednesday inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Agent Orange will disappear from DC prior to the 12 noon Eastern time ceremony. Look for Biden to sign about a dozen executive orders on his first day in office as he promises “10 days of action” on “four overlapping and compounding crises” including the pandemic, the economy, climate change and racial equality.

Appointments to watch: Journalist turned activist and diplomat Samantha Power is set to become the head of USAID, while Gary Gensler — a regulator who the Wall Street Journal calls “an old foe of banks” — is apparently in line to become head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Want more on this and the mega-stimulus Biden will announce? Go read the very solid Biden seeks quick start with executive actions and aggressive legislation in the NYT.

WhatsApp has delayed a planned update to its privacy terms to 15 May from 8 February to give users more time to review the new terms, the company said in a blog post, after the announcement of the changes earlier this month caused a furor that sent users scrambling to rival messaging apps like Signal.

iSheep, that sound is your wallet weeping: Apple is studying the possibility of a folding iPhone (not this year), is bringing back MagSafe for updated MacBook Pros as it plans to give them new Apple Silicon processors (this year) and a new look, and is going to roll out its first redesign of the iMac in a decade (also this year).

MARKET WATCH- The US’ main stock indices were in the red on Friday: Energy stocks sold off amid a regulatory probe into Exxon Mobil, while investors exited banks despite reporting better-than-expected earnings, reports Reuters. The S&P 500 closed the day down 0.7%, while the Dow Jones lost 0.6% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq shed 0.9%.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The Cairo Center for African Studies is hosting a webinar on the economic impact of covid-19 and policy responses in Africa on Tuesday, 19 January. Speaking at the event are World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen, and Djibouti Marina Wes, IMF Senior Representative in Egypt Said Bakhache, and Institute of International Economic Finance Deputy Chief Economist Elina Ribakova. You can check out the flyer and register for the webinar here (pdf).

The 2021 Men’s Handball World Championship continues today: Egypt’s final group game will be played against Sweden tomorrow at 19:00. The Pharaohs qualified for the main round of the competition after yesterday beating North Macedonia 38-19. This followed a 35-29 victory over Chile in the opening game of the tournament last Wednesday.

Our next long weekend is in less than two work weeks. The nation is expected to take Thursday, 28 January as a holiday in observance of Police / Revolution Day, which falls on Monday, 25 January.

We then settle in for our long holiday drought: Your next day off will be mid-Ramadan. The Holy Month should start on or about Monday, 13 April.

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

enterprise

M&A WATCH

Bank ABC wins bid for Blom Egypt

Bahrain’s Bank ABC will purchase the Egypt unit of Lebanon’s Blom Bank for USD 480 mn in a transaction that includes the bank’s physical and non-physical assets and customer accounts, Reuters reports, citing unnamed banking sources. The Bahraini bank already has a presence in Egypt with Bank ABC Egypt, in which it owns a 93% stake, according to its website.

Five months in the making: Rumors that Bank ABC was interested in Blom hit the local press in August, just a couple of weeks after the Lebanese bank confirmed that it was looking to leave Egypt. After several months of speculation about whether fellow GCC lender Emirates NBD would compete for the acquisition, ABC said in December that it was in exclusive talks to acquire the Lebanese bank’s 99.42% share in its Egypt business.

Keep an eye out for: First Abu Dhabi Bank’s potential USD 700 mn acquisition of Bank Audi Egypt, which has been in the works since the two resumed negotiations in September that had been stalled because of covid-19.

Made in Lebanon: Both Blom and Bank Audi are exiting Egypt due to a near-collapse of the Lebanese financial system. Years of reckless lending left the banking sector paralysed after protests in late 2019 triggered a run on the LBP and capital flight.

TRANSPORT

Siemens puts pen to paper for high-speed electric rail

The USD 23 bn high-speed electric rail network moved one step closer to becoming reality on Thursday after Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser and the Transport Ministry signed an MoU confirming the German conglomerate’s involvement in the first phase of the project, according to a cabinet statement. The entire network is expected to span nearly 1,000 km, while the project’s first 460-km phase will connect Ain Sokhna to Alamein via the new capital.

Don’t be surprised to see that USD 23 bn figure rise: The first phase of the project is expected to cost around USD 8.2 bn, Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib last night (watch, runtime: 34:12), up from the USD 6 bn previously floated.

The first phase in detail: Siemens will be responsible for all things electrico-mechanical. This includes installing the signaling system, power infrastructure and a control center, as well as producing 34 passenger and 10 goods carriages. Siemens will be paid USD 3 bn on a 15-year maintenance contract, and payments will only be due six years after the project has begun, El Wazir said. Local companies will receive USD 5.2 bn for the construction (although arrears to local companies are open to negotiation), the minister said.

French public transport consultant Systra is also on board, and has already worked with the government to estimate cost metrics, El Wazir noted.

What’s the current status? Planning and surveying work as well as initial work on stations and fences has already been completed. The first phase is expected to take two years to complete.

What about the rest of the network? The whole network will be built across four phases: one connecting Ain Sokhna and Alamein, a second from Alamein to Marsa Matrouh, a third between Hurghada, Safaga, Qena and Luxor, and a fourth running from the Sixth of October further west, El Wazir added. The planned rail network will support high- and very-high speeds of up to 250 km per hour.

Green hydrogen coming to an energy facility near you?

Siemens will also work on a pilot project to produce green hydrogen in Egypt after signing a MoU with the Electricity Ministry on Thursday, according to a press release. Egypt is currently exploring green hydrogen as an alternative energy source, and will be integrated into the government’s 2035 energy strategy, according to the statement. Siemens has partnered with the Egyptian government on a number of recent energy projects, including the world’s three largest combined-cycle power plants a few years back, the New Administrative Capital’s national electricity control center and an upcoming 500 MW wind power plant.

DID YOU KNOW? Green hydrogen, which is produced using renewable sources of energy, is distinct from grey hydrogen, which is made from burning methane, thus emitting carbon into the atmosphere. Switching to green hydrogen will be important if countries are to meet the Paris climate goals and lower their carbon footprints.

COVID WATCH

WHO wants private labs to disclose test figures

The Health Ministry reported 887 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 879 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 155,507 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 54 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 8527.

The World Health Organization (WHO) wants labs in Egypt to disclose the number of covid-19 tests they administer and their method of testing. There is a need for more widespread testing to yield accurate daily case numbers, Regional Programme Director Rana Hajjeh said on the airwaves (watch, runtime: 20:56).

Meanwhile: The Armed Forces continue to disinfect public areas, including metro and bus stations and the area around Al Hussein and Al Azhar mosques in the capital city.

Egypt is prepared to manufacture and ship vaccines to Africa and the Middle East, and is willing to share its e-system for tracking vaccine recipients with countries that cannot develop their own, Health Minister Hala Zayed said during a meeting of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union. Zayed also said Egypt would seek to join the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), which aims to boost African countries’ ability to produce and distribute vaccines across the continent.

The Madbouly government hopes to begin a national vaccine rollout in early February, starting with the most at-risk groups.

COVID AROUND THE WORLD-

  • The UAE is racing ahead with its vaccination program, having already delivered 1.7 mn doses to its population of 9.9 mn people, according to the Wall Street Journal. The GCC country expects to have vaccinated 50% of its population by March.
  • India has begun the world’s largest vax rollout: The country yesterday began efforts to vaccinate 300 mn people, which will be the world’s largest vaccination program, according to CNBC.
  • The new variant discovered in the UK last year could become the predominant strain in the US by March, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning the mutant virus is likely to spread rapidly across the country in the coming months, reports the Financial Times.

OUTLOOK

No rate cuts soon, Capital Economics predicts

The Central Bank of Egypt will hold off on resuming its monetary easing cycle “for much of this year” due to rising inflation, James Swanston, MENA economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note on Wednesday. Rising food and fuel costs over the next 6-9 months will prevent the central bank from lowering rates further, but a fall in headline inflation in 4Q “should open the door” to more rate cuts, he wrote. The research firm expects the CBE to enact 150 bps of cuts by the end of 2022.

Headline inflation will peak at 7% in 3Q2020, at the midpoint of the CBE’s new inflation target of 7% (+/-2), before falling to the lower bound of the target range until the end of next year, Swanston wrote. Inflation has been gradually rising from near-record lows over the past six months, coming in at 5.7% in November before falling back slightly to 5.4% in December.

Food inflation will accelerate through the year: Although prices fell 1.2% in December, this is likely to end as the favorable base effect phases out. This will intensify if the recent pick-up in global prices continues.

Look for fuel prices to rise: Capital Economics expects global crude oil prices to continue rising, which will likely result in the fuel pricing committee raising prices later in the year. The committee left prices on hold for 1Q2021 in its first meeting of the year.

The FX rate could settle at EGP 16 / USD 1 by the end of 2021, from its current rate of EGP 15.60, Capital Economics says. The outfit cites the IMF’s latest review of Egypt’s standby loan in which they suggested policymakers should allow greater rate flexibility as an indicator the EGP could be slightly overvalued.

CABINET WATCH

Please, sir, can I have some more?

The Madbouly Cabinet signed off on a EGP 2 bn overdraft for the FY2020-2021 state budget to help finance measures to prop up the economy and certain sectors amid the fallout from the pandemic, according to a statement out after the ministers’ weekly meeting on Thursday. The decision comes as the Finance Ministry announced key figures from the budget’s performance in 1H2020-2021, which Minister Mohamed Maait had told us last week would determine whether to seek additional spending allowance and amend targets for the current fiscal year.

This isn’t the first time the budget has been extended this year: An EGP 80 bn overdraft to pay off state debts was approved in August.

The budget deficit narrowed to 3.6% in 1H FY2020-2021, from 4.1% during the same period in the previous fiscal year, while the primary surplus hit EGP 14 bn, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in a cabinet statement. State revenues increased 16% y-o-y, comfortably making up for the 9.9% increase in spending necessitated by the pandemic. Tax revenues rose 10% during the period.

This is a marked improvement from the previous six months: The government suffered a EGP 115 bn shortfall in tax revenue in the previous fiscal year as a result of the economic fallout caused by the pandemic.

Where is the extra spending going? The health sector (+14.7%), the social safety net (+35.8%), and education (+7.4%), Maait said.

ALSO FROM THE CABINET MEETING- The long-awaited Personal Status Act earned a preliminary nod and will be on the ministers’ agenda next week once some additional tweaks are included. The act, which has been with the House of Representatives since at least 2017, will include changes to matters of marriage and divorce, death, inheritance, and child custody.

Ministers also signed off on:

  • Funding agreements: A KWD 5.5 mn agreement with the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development to set up two water treatment facilities and a EUR 1.1 bn financing package from the European Investment Bank for public transport projects;
  • Wind farm: Signing a power purchasing agreement for the 500 MW BOO wind farm in Gulf of Suez constructed by an Engie-Toyota-Orascom construction;
  • Zamalek infrastructure: Setting up a specialized engineering committee to assess the two buildings in Zamalek that saw structural problems thought to be caused by the construction of the Cairo Metro.

OVER IN THE HOUSE- Newly-seated committees in the House of Representatives began work at the end of last week, having elected their heads on Thursday. The House Economic Committee has signed off on a USD 9.6 mn grant from Japan to support socioeconomic development, the Transport Committee has given a nod to an EUR 3 mn grant from the EBRD for a signaling and control project on Cairo Metro Line 1, and an EUR 200k grant from the Spanish Agency for International Development to support women working in tourism has cleared the House Tourism Committee.

INVESTMENT WATCH

EBRD still ❤ Egypt

Egypt was the top destination for EBRD investment in SEMED for third consecutive year: Egypt accounted for more than EUR 1 bn of the EUR 2.2 bn of financing the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) provided to the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) last year, the bank said in a statement (pdf). This is the third year running that Egypt was the top market for investment from the EBRD in the SEMED region. The investments include a combined EUR 784 mn in liquidity lines to banks for on-lending to SMEs, a USD 12 mn loan to Al Dau Al Haram to develop the Hyatt Regency hotel, and a USD 4.2 mn loan to Taqa Arabia’s renewable energy subsidiary, Taqa PV, for its green private-to-private project.

IN OTHER INVESTMENT NEWS- Nine Chinese companies are planning to invest USD 90 mn in Egypt in 2021, Han Bing, economic and trade adviser at the Chinese Embassy in Cairo said, without specifying the companies, reports the local press. Negotiations are currently ongoing between Egyptian and Chinese companies for cooperation in medical supplies, steel, textiles, transportation, new energy, recycling, and water waste treatment.

CURRENT AFFAIRS

US designates Egypt-based Islamist terror group as foreign terrorist organization

The US has ramped up sanctions against Egypt-based terrorist group Hasm, designating the group as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), the US State Department said on Thursday. The Ikhwan splinter group was responsible for terror attacks including a 2019 car bomb outside of the National Cancer Institute in downtown Cairo, which killed 20, as well as a 2017 attack on Myanmar’s embassy in Cairo. The statement added that two of Hasm’s leaders are currently based in Turkey, a popular exile destination for Ikhwanis.

What are the sanctions now in place? The FTO designation means Hasm and its leadership will be denied any resources and their US properties and interests will be blocked. All US citizens will be prohibited to engage in any transactions as it is now a federal crime to knowingly provide, or attempt or conspire to provide, material support or resources to Hasm.

The move got attention on the airwaves last night: Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal gave it a segment (watch, runtime: 8:13) while Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi gave it extended coverage (watch, runtime: 42:14).

ALSO IN DIPLOMACY- US aid to Egypt isn’t on Trump’s chopping block after all: The outgoing president last month slammed the US foreign aid budget and singled out the military assistance given to Egypt, complaining that Cairo would buy arms from Moscow with the money. But according to the letter sent to Congress last week Egypt’s aid seems to have been ring fenced from cuts to foreign spending. The White House was originally intending to cut both military and economic aid to Cairo but was persuaded against it following the intervention of some of the president’s advisors, Al Monitor reports.

REAL ESTATE

No NUCA fines until March

A grace period on late payment fines for properties developed by the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) is now ending on 15 March, instead of last month, the authority said in a statement. The grace period applies to homes, offices, retail space, and plots of undeveloped land, and the exemption is only applicable to those who pay all their installments in full. As was the case with the initial grace period, individuals whose ownership deeds have been scrapped due to late payment but are still in possession of the property are also eligible for the waiver, but must agree to forego any legal action against NUCA.

MEANWHILE- A syndicate of five domestic banks signed off on an EGP 1.3 bn loan to Talaat Moustafa subsidiary the Arab Company for Projects and Urban Development to fund the development of its Celia residential project in the new administrative capital, Al Mal reports. The National Bank of Egypt, Arab African International Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Arab Bank, and Suez Canal Bank are all participating, with NBE and AAIB serving as lead arrangers.

ALSO- Concrete Plus Engineering and Construction (CPEC) has upped its stake in Sodic to 5% from 4.93%, it said in a regualtory filing (pdf). A group including CPEC, Act Financial and Hassan Allam Properties now owns a combined 14.98% in the upmarket real estate developer.

enterprise

EARNINGS WATCH

Earnings Watch: CIRA, QNB Al Ahli

Net profit at private sector education outfit CIRA grew 12% y-o-y to EGP 122.5 mn in the first quarter of their 2020-2021 fiscal year, which begins in September, according to the company’s earnings release (pdf). Revenues rose 18% y-o-y to EGP 370 mn, the bulk of which came from tuition fees which increased 25% y-o-y. Top line growth was driven by an uptick in enrollment and the inauguration of four new faculties at its Badr University Cairo, which helped CIRA grow its student capacity 46% y-o-y during the quarter and grew the university’s enrollment 26% y-o-y.

During the quarter, CIRA also successfully issued its first EGP 600 mn sukuk, the proceeds of which will be used to finance a number of current and future projects. EFG Hermes acted as the sole financial advisor, global coordinator, and bookrunner on the issuance.

Looking ahead: CIRA will begin constructing a Futures language school by the end of January on a land plot it purchased in Sohag last August, and expects to begin campus activities by the end of September 2021 as construction is moving ahead. The admissions process has also kicked off for two upcoming K-12 schools: British Columbia Canadian International School West and the Saxony International School in Orascom Construction’s O West.

QNB Al Ahli’s net profit fell 12% y-o-y in 2020 to EGP 7.49 bn compared to EGP 8.52 bn in 2019, according to a bourse filing (pdf). The bank’s net interest income grew 6% y-o-y to EGP 14.64 bn.

MOVES

Bulgaria’s Elena Panova has been appointed as the United Nations’ Resident Coordinator in Egypt, the UN information center in Cairo announced on its website. Panova previously served as resident coordinator in Turkmenistan, and has specific experience in government and private sector funding.

Egypt’s ambassador to France Alaa Youssef is now the nation’s permanent representative at UNESCO after submitting his credentials to UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay in Paris earlier this week, the Foreign Ministry announced at the end of last week.

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The Public Enterprises Ministry’s decision last week to liquidate Egypt Iron & Steel dominated proceedings on the airwaves last night: Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa made his opinions on the proposed liquidation of Egypt Iron & Steel clear last night, criticizing Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik’s decision to finally call it a day on loss-making company. Among those invited to the party was MP Mostafa Bakry, who accused the minister of failing to modernize the company on purpose and called on the president to intervene (watch, runtime: 14:03).

SMART POLICY- Speaking to Moussa later in the show, Tawfik denied that he intentionally liquidated the company and said that its outdated technology meant it was no longer commercially viable. The decision, he said, was a pragmatic one and urged detractors not to get emotional (watch, runtime: 31:55). Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi also devoted a segment of her show to the topic (watch, runtime: 27:25).

Siemens’ participation in the national electric rail project and the US designation of Hasm as a terrorist group also got a lot of attention from the nation’s talking heads last night. We have the details on both of these stories, above.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Coverage of the 10-year anniversary of the Arab Spring is still going strong, with the Financial Times profiling activists in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Libya and Syria a decade after the uprisings, taking stock of what has been gained and lost.

Also making headlines: The latest in the TikTok saga (two influencers whose sentences were overturned last week remain in jail, now on charges of human trafficking), the 50-year anniversary of the Aswan Dam, and National Geographic’s latest on Egyptology as a field.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Some 25k stores and cafes have been temporarily shut down for not complying with new seasonal opening hours that went into effect on 1 December 2020, according to a Local Development Ministry statement. Winter hours require shops to close at 10pm and restaurants and cafes at midnight. Summer hours start on the last Thursday of April (mid-Ramadan this year) and winter hours on the last Thursday of September. We have more on the hours here.

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

  • Arabia Investment Holdings sold all of its treasury stock last week, reeling in EGP 45.5 mn for the 67.5 mn shares it had originally purchased for EGP 19.4 mn.
  • Steel rolling mills again demanding the government reverse its decision to impose import tariffs on iron billet, saying the fees are causing raw material shortages that could cause the closure of plants.
  • The Red Sea Water company inaugurated a new wastewater treatment plant in Marsa Alam with a daily capacity of 700 cbm to be used for irrigation.
  • The Social Solidarity Ministry is considering adding 500k beneficiaries to the Takaful and Karama welfare programs in FY2021-2022.

PLANET FINANCE

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GLOBAL M&A WATCH- Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot complete mega-merger: Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot’s PSA Group are now Stellantis, a USD 51 bn+ company with a huge brand portfolio that ranges from from Jeep, Ram, Peugeot, and Opel to Maserati and Alfa Romeo in the luxury segment, according to the Wall Street Journal. The multi-bn USD merger has created the world’s third-largest auto company, which executives think will eventually save them USD 6 bn a year.

Couche-Tard’s Carrefour bid blocked: Canadian convenience store brand Couche-Tard has scrapped a EUR 16.2 bn offer to acquire global grocer Carrefour after the French government raised objections, Reuters reported, citing two sources with knowledge of the talks. The French government opposed the sale on food security concerns.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund will spend at least USD 40 bn annually in the country over the next five years to finance mega-projects such as the futuristic, zero-carbon city Neom, reports the Financial Times.

Up

EGX30

11,453

+0.6% (YTD: +5.6%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.62

Sell 15.72

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USD at CIB

Buy 15.62

Sell 15.72

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Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Down

Tadawul

8,898

-0.2% (YTD: +2.4%)

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ADX

5,266

-0.5% (YTD: +4.4%)

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DFM

2,702

-0.7% (YTD: +8.4%)

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S&P 500

3,768

-0.7% (YTD: +0.3%)

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FTSE 100

6,735

-1.0% (YTD: +4.3%)

Down

Brent crude

USD 55.10

-2.3%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 2.74

+2.7%

Down

Gold

USD 1,829

-1.2%

Up

BTC

USD 36,572

+3.1%

The EGX30 rose 0.6% on Thursday on turnover of EGP 1.6 bn (16.6% above the 90-day average). Local investors were net sellers. The index is up 5.6% YTD.

In the green: Eastern Company (+3.9%), Dice (+3.3%) and Edita (+3.1%).

In the red: Egyptian Iron & Steel (-9.8%), Qalaa Holdings (-1.5%) and Sodic (-1.3%).

AROUND THE WORLD

Political rivals in Libya have made progress toward a transitional government that will oversee national parliamentary and presidential elections later this year, according to Reuters. Members of the transitional government could be chosen “in several weeks” after the UN negotiated the “best possible compromise” between the two sides, Acting U.N. Libya envoy Stephanie Williams said yesterday following talks in Geneva. The Turkey-supported Government of National Accord and the Egypt-backed Libyan National Army agreed to a formal ceasefire in October, and in November agreed to set up a new, unified government and hold elections in December.

Saudi will reopen its embassy in Qatar in a few days and restore full diplomatic ties, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said yesterday, according to Reuters. The Al Ula declaration signed earlier this month paved the way for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain to end their 3.5-year blockade of Qatar and restore diplomatic ties.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi declined an invitation to join talks on Israeli-Palestinian peace between the Egyptian, French, Germanand Jordanian foreign ministers in Cairo last week. Ashkenazi cited the country’s lockdown as the reason he didn’t attend, Al Monitor reports.

ON YOUR WAY OUT

Aswan’s Isis Temple is open to the public again following the completion of restoration works on the site, according to a Tourism & Antiquities Ministry statement. The restoration works included renovating the floors and columns, restoring and cleaning the inscriptions at the entrance to the sanctum, and maintenance of the offering tables in the Hypostyle Hall.

Can’t visit the temple yourself? Take an online tour of the temple or other popular archaeological sites with the Google Arts & Culture organization’s newly launched ‘Preserving Egypt’s Layered History’ digital platform. The organization partnered with the American Research Center in Cairo to tell the stories behind Egyptian monuments such as pharaonic tombs, Mamluk mosques, Coptic monasteries, and Roman villas, as well as ancient practices and beliefs. The platform was covered by The Art Newspaper and Archinect.

CALENDAR

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.

19 January (Tuesday) Financial Regulatory Authority’s (FRA) annual conference on non-banking financial services.

19-22 January (Tuesday-Friday) Global Energy Forum, Abu Dhabi, UAE. The Atlantic Council-organized event will focus on the post-pandemic energy system.

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

25-29 January (Monday-Friday): The World Economic Forum’s “Davos Dialogues” (virtual)

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

28 January (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

31 January (Sunday): The deadline for businesses to electronically submit their annual tax return to the Egyptian Tax Authority.

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

6-18 February (Saturday-Thursday): Mid-year school break (public schools — enjoy the break from bumper-to-bumper traffic)

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

13 April (Monday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

25 April (Sunday): Sinai Liberation Day.

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

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

1 May (Saturday): Labour Day (national holiday)

3 May (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

13-15 May (Thursday-Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

18-21 May (Tuesday-Friday): The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting “The Great Reset”

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

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

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

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

26-29 June (Saturday-Tuesday): The Big 5 Construct Egypt, Cairo International Convention Center

30 June (Wednesday): June 30 Revolution Day

1 July: (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 30 June Revolution

30 June- 15 July: National Book Fair.

1 July (Thursday): Large taxpayers that have not yet signed on on to the e-invoicing platform will suffer a host of penalties, including removal from large taxpayer classification, losing access to government services and business, and losing subsidies.

19 July (Monday): Arafat Day (national holiday)

20-23 July (Tuesday-Friday): Eid Al Adha (national holiday)

23 July (Friday): Revolution Day (national holiday)

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

9 August (Monday): Islamic New Year

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

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday

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

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

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

Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

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