Sunday, 9 May 2021

It’s a three-day workweek

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to another abridged workweek. We now have three days of work and, for those who observe, four days of fasting ahead of us and then we can unplug before a madcap six-week dash to the start of summer. The nation is getting a five-day holiday in observance of Eid El Fitr from Wednesday, 12 May to Sunday, 16 May.

Before we get underway this morning:

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WE’RE DELIGHTED to welcome EFG Hermes to Enterprise today as our newest sponsor. Longtime readers know we’ve counted the team at EFG among our very close friends for years — and it’s a relationship that, at our parent company, goes back 13 years now. It’s been incredible fun to watch the firm transform from the nation’s leading investment bank into an Arab-world champion and, today, into the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets. The story of how Group CEO Karim Awad and his team made that transformation happen was the most popular episode in season one of our podcast Making It, which tells the story of how business leaders are building great businesses here in Egypt.

The team at EFG will also help power Planet Finance in EnterpriseAM, our daily look at markets in Egypt and around the world — look for more insights from their top-ranked research team (pdf) there in the weeks and months to come.

Please join us in thanking the good folks at EFG Hermes and all of our other advertisers, including CIB, SODIC, Infinity, Somabay, Orascom Construction, CIRA, Act Financial and USAID. Their generous support has helped us build a sustainable business — and ensures that more than 150k of you are able to read Enterprise without charge each morning.
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PSA #1- If you’re booked into a hotel, you can still go on vacation (or get married or whatever) this week. Cafes, restaurants and beaches at hotels are exempt from new covid restrictions that came into effect on Thursday. That means beaches are open and hotel restaurants and shops can stay open past the 9pm curfew imposed on other establishments, Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El Enany said in a statement on Friday. Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly last week announced temporary measures to curb the recent rise in covid cases during the Eid holiday. All stores, malls, cafes and restaurants and public spaces outside of hotels will close early at 9pm daily through 21 May.

One thing that isn’t going to be going ahead is the 2021 Egypt Petroleum Show, which has been canceled due to covid-19. The organizers announced over the weekend that the event — already pushed from February this year to 7-9 June — will not go ahead. The gathering will next be held on 14-16 February 2022.

PSA #2- EGX-listed companies have another month to file their 1Q2021 financial statements after the Financial Regulatory Authority extended (pdf) the deadline to 15 June.

Need a hand preparing your earnings or board deck? Drop a note to mtaalab@inktankir.com at our parent company, Inktank, and he’ll hook you up.

PSA #3- We love you, Mom. It’s Mother’s Day in Canada and the US of A. Happy Mother’s Day to Deedee and all of the other Moms of Enterprise.

** So, when do we eat? We sit down to eat at 6:38pm, and we’ll have until 3:27am to eat and hydrate.

THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY #1- Israeli forces attacked Palestinian worshippers gathered in Al Aqsa Mosque for prayers over the weekend, leaving at least 269 Palestinian civilians injured over the course of two days. The clashes coincided with the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the attack on worshippers and said the eviction attempt violates international humanitarian law. The Associated Press and Reuters have the story

THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY #2- A cyberattack on Friday forced the closure of a major US pipeline as a preemptive measure, before the pipeline’s operator found the attack involved ransomware. The Colonial Pipeline transports around 45% of the fuel consumed on the US’ East Coast. The story is front-page news on the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

Is a Chinese rocket gonna fall on our collective heads today? The odds of it landing on our heads at Enterprise World Headquarters in the People’s Democratic Republic of Maadi are low, but: A huge chunk of a Chinese rocket is going to plunge back to Earth some time this morning. You can check out this live stream keeping track of the rocket’s path.

HAPPENING THIS WEEK-

The House of Representatives has a few bills on its plate as it kicks off its pre-Eid sessions. Among the bills on the agenda: A newly proposed law would see government employees automatically dismissed if they flunk a drug test, and an amendment to the criminal code that would give authorities the right to confiscate electronic devices used to carry out cybercrimes.

** CATCH UP QUICK with the top stories from Thursday’s edition of EnterprisePM:

  • The private sector slump continues: Activity in Egypt’s non-oil private sector contracted for the fifth month running in April as output, new orders and employment continued to deteriorate, according to PMI figures.
  • It was only a matter of time: The global shortage of semiconductors is beginning to hurt Egypt’s auto sector as companies struggle to obtain vital electrical components.
  • The latest from Planet VC: Algebra Ventures wants to raise USD 50 mn in 3Q2021 for the first close of its recently-announced USD 90 mn tech fund.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The short week shouldn’t get in the way of Capmas and the CBE releasing inflation figures for April this week. Expect last month’s numbers to land tomorrow.

Africa-based startups have until 26 May to sign up for the French government-sponsored AFD Digital Challenge, an annual startup competition (pdf) by the French Development Agency (AFD). This year, the competition involves startups finding solutions to curb the carbon impact of economic activities or promote sustainable economic activity and the use of natural resources. The 10 startups chosen will receive an “acceleration pack,” a package of technical and financial support worth EUR 20k.

The IMF will conduct on 1 June a second review of targets set under Egypt’s USD 5.2 bn standby loan. The loan was approved in June 2020.

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

enterprise

IPO WATCH

IDH shares to go live this month

Integrated Diagnostics Holding (IDH) shares are expected to begin trading on the EGX on 20 May after the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) gave the all-clear last week for the London-listed company’s dual listing, IDH said in a statement on Thursday. The company is planning to list a 5% stake (some 30 mn shares) on the Egyptian bourse in a technical listing.

No new shares will be offered in the technical listing — notably a first of its kind here in Egypt. Instead, IDH and its bankers have convinced enough investors holding London-listed shares to transfer their stakes to the EGX. Additional information as to how shares will be transferred will be announced prior to trading, IDH said.

IDH’s shares will trade under the ticker IDHC.CA. At Friday’s closing price in London, the company had a market cap of nearly USD 685 mn. It became the first Egyptian company to directly IPO on the main market in London when it sold 43.5% of its shares in 2015, raising USD 290 mn in an offering that was 11x oversubscribed.

IDH’s roadshow for the transaction “garnered strong interest from local investors looking to capitalize on our Group's growth story. The listing will help improve liquidity and increase IDH's visibility in our home market of Egypt,” CEO Hend El Sherbini said.

The company can now issue a public disclosure to list, after last week receiving approval from the EGX’s securities registration committee. The company’s shares will debut on the exchange five days after this disclosure is made.

IDH will be the second company to debut on the EGX this year, following in the footsteps of higher education outfit Taaleem, which ended nearly two-year-long IPO drought. Cosmeceuticals player Macro Group is also in the market with an IPO that could be executed as early as this fall, after pushing back from the spring IPO window.

Advisors: EFG Hermes and Renaissance Capital are quarterbacking the transaction for IDH, while Clifford Chance, Ogier and White & Case are serving as counsel. Inktank is IDH’s investor relations advisor.

ECONOMY

S&P gives Egypt a thumbs-up

S&P Global Ratings has affirmed Egypt’s sovereign credit rating at B with a stable outlook despite the disruptive impact of covid-19 on the country’s tourism and exports as well as “elevated” external debt, the ratings agency said on Friday, maintaining its rating since April 2020. Although external debt is rising on the back of lower foreign inflows, S&P expects Egypt to meet upcoming payments thanks to its foreign reserves stockpile and access to international debt markets. Debt pressure will begin to dissipate next year when the economic recovery begins to pick up steam, it said.

Debt metrics will get worse before they get better: S&P expects external and government debt metrics to deteriorate during the current fiscal year, mainly as a result of pressures on the country’s key sources of hard currency, “followed by gradual improvement.” The pain will continue for tourism and Suez Canal receipts — two of the country’s biggest sources of hard currency, S&P said, forecasting tourism revenues to recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2023.

FDI inflows continue to be weak, coming in at 1.4% of GDP this fiscal year, slipping from 2.0% the previous fiscal year. The ratings agency sees the FDI-to-GDP ratio recovering again to 2.0% in FY2021-2022, before slipping 0.1 percentage points over each of the following two fiscal years. The report does not elaborate on this forecast.

But remittances will continue being a bright spot: Remittance flows, which have held up surprisingly well through the pandemic, will remain high in the coming months, the ratings agency said. Remittances grew more than 10% in 2020 despite the twin shocks of the pandemic and the collapse of oil prices, two crises that threatened to heavily impact inflows from Egyptian expats — most of which are based in the oil-dependent Gulf states.

Portfolio investment has “recovered strongly,” rising to USD 28 bn in the middle of March, a year after experiencing a large sell-off during the initial wave of covid-19 that saw foreign holdings fall to USD 9.4 bn.

Foreign reserves are “relatively strong” and will help the central bank manage debt-related risks in the coming months, the agency said. Net foreign reserves stood at USD 40.3 bn at the end of April, which the agency sees as an “adequate” amount and enough to cover more than five months of current account payments.

Economic growth rate to pick up to 5.3% over coming two years: Egypt’s economic growth rate will slow slightly to 2.5% this fiscal year from 3.6% in FY2019-2020 due to the pandemic’s effect on major sectors such as tourism, manufacturing, oil and gas and construction. But growth is expected to rebound to 5.3% during the period from FY2021-2022 to FY2023-2024 on the back of higher public and private investments, S&P said.

Current account deficit to ease by the middle of the decade: Although the current account deficit will widen to 3.6% of GDP this fiscal year, the figure will narrow to 2.3% by FY2023-2024 driven by better global economic conditions and government measures to boost non-oil exports, S&P said. Debt-to-GDP will also start to decline as lower rates encourage the government to issue bonds with longer maturities and bring down risks of rolling over debt.

COVID WATCH

New testing requirement for visitors to Egypt + Sinopharm gets WHO approval

Travelers arriving in Egypt from countries where covid-19 variants have been identified will be administered rapid covid tests, Health Minister Hala Zayed said in a meeting Friday, according to a Health Ministry statement. The ID NOW rapid molecular tests should produce results within 15 minutes, the minister said. Travelers must still also show a negative PCR test before boarding their flight to Egypt.

The Health Ministry reported 1,132 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 1,125 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 236,272 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 66 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 13,845.

As of the end of last week, 70.6% of the country’s ICU beds were occupied and some 42% of ventilators in isolation facilities were in use, Health Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 17:17). The ministry is keeping a close eye on oxygen supplies and consumption levels to ensure that hospitals do not face any shortages, Megahed said.

The vaccination center at the international exhibition center is currently operating on a trial basis and will be open to the public tomorrow, Megahed told Lamees. The center is expected to be able to vaccinate 10k people per day.

WHO has given emergency approval to the use of China’s Sinopharm jab in a major boost to the vaccine’s credibility, potentially paving the way for mns of doses to reach needy countries through the Gavi / Covax program, according to a statement. The move to OK emergency use of the first Chinese vaccine comes after the World Health Organization had already greenlit jabs being made by Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, and Oxford / AstraZeneca.

Meanwhile, Sinovac could get the green light from the WHO as early as next week, according to the Guardian.

Egypt is expected to get its hands on 1 mn doses of Sinopharm and 500k of Sinovac this month over several shipments. The country will begin locally manufacturing Sinovac next month, with plans to manufacture 40-60 mn doses of the vaccine each year. The Sinovac vaccine, which has an efficacy rate of 50.4% in preventing symptomatic infections — well below the 79% efficacy rate Sinopharm has claimed — is now cleared for emergency use in Egypt.

Egypt co-sponsors proposal to waive covid vaccine IP rights: Egypt is among 60 countries co-sponsoring a proposal to waive intellectual property rights on covid-19 vaccines in order to allow more countries to produce the jabs and speed up vaccination in developing countries. The proposal, originally pushed (pdf) by South Africa and India back in October, is still being considered by the World Trade Organization. More than 100 of the WTO’s 164 members are said to be in favor, and the Biden administration’s decision last week to back the proposal may be accelerating the process, but changes to WTO rules require a consensus of all members.

The World Health Organization heralded it as a "monumental moment" in the battle against the pandemic and Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on governments to work together to ensure low- and middle-income countries are able to access vaccines.

But not everyone is on board: Novavax and Pfizer argue that allowing more companies to produce their vaccines would lead to a shortage of raw materials and render existing manufacturers unable to sustain current production levels. Germany — home of BioNTech, which supplied the technology for the Pfizer vaccine — has also come out against the proposal, making the chances of a united European position slimmer.

Egypt’s Eva Pharma will supply India with 300k doses of antiviral Remdesivir to help combat the country’s surge in COVID-19 infections, the Indian embassy in Cairo said in a press release (pdf) Thursday. India may be heading towards a nationwide shutdown as two more states in the country declared lockdowns amid a surge in covid-19 infections and a shortage in oxygen and medical supplies, the Associated Press reports. The country has now over 21 mn confirmed infections.

POLICY

Proposals for a private sector minimum wage are moving forward

Proposals to mandate a minimum wage for private-sector employees will be drafted this month, the Planning Ministry said in a statement over the weekend following a meeting with the National Council for Wages (NCW).

This would be the first time that private sector employers are required to pay their employees a minimum monthly wage, impacting at least 12.6 mn workers.

How much are we talking about? The NCW will make its official policy known later this month, though a source at the council claimed earlier this year that the minimum wage could be set at EGP 2k per month.

New bonuses for the private sector? The NCW is also looking at introducing bonuses for private-sector employees this year, and will finalize proposals before the end of May, according to El Watan.

A refresher: The move to set finally private-sector minimum wage rates comes following years of running hither and yon in vain. NCW had met back in 2019 to discuss implementing a minimum wage for those employed in the private sector, with an eye to set a minimum salary of EGP 2k at the time. The proposal to impose a binding minimum wage was put on the back burner because of the pandemic.

Civil servants are also getting a wage bump: The minimum wage for civil servants will increase to EGP 2.4k from EGP 2k at the start of the next fiscal year in July. Other public sector employees will see their basic salaries rise 13%.

TOURISM

Ka-ching

Tourists’ average spending in Egypt this year is expected to come in at USD 95 per night, Deputy Tourism Minister Ghada Shalaby told the local press. This is nearly on par with the USD 100 tourists spent per night on average in 2018. Shalaby sees the newly set minimum rate of USD 40 per night for five star hotels and USD 28 for four star hotels helping to boost tourist spending and the country’s total income from tourism. The deputy minister had previously said that Egypt was targeting tourism revenues of USD 6-7 bn this year as tourist volumes recover to around 60% of their pre-pandemic levels, while Tourism Minister Khaled El Enany said tourism could return to pre-pandemic levels as early as fall 2022.

Meanwhile, domestic tourism is getting a leg up until the end of the month with the extension of a government initiative to mark down airfare and hotel rates in a bid to support local tourism, according to a Tourism Ministry statement. The initiative, launched last January, offers marked down plane tickets from Cairo and Alexandria to Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh, Taba, and Marsa Alam. It was originally scheduled to run through 28 February before being extended until 15 May.

CAPITAL MARKETS

EGX rolls out new platform for trading government bonds

The EGX has put the final touches on a new platform designed to facilitate the trading of government bonds and increase liquidity in the market, it said in a statement (pdf) on Thursday.

Why do we need it? The platform is designed to make it easier to trade government bonds, thus increasing trading volumes in the secondary market. It is also expected to help the EGX to develop a yield curve, fixed-income indices, and new financial products.

What is it, exactly? The platform will provide traders with more detailed information on prices, bids, and orders. The main feature is that it opens up requests for quotations (RFQs), which allows licensed primary-dealers of sovereign debt (who, at the moment, are a handful of local banks) to ask for quotes from sellers when buying, and use quotation screens to set prices when selling.

How is this different? The RFQ-based system replaces the old “trade reporting system,” a previous mechanism which only kept track of bond trades that were pre-agreed upon between banks, EGX boss Mohamed Farid said. It contains a feature which will allow bond investors to engage in “continuous trading,” which automatically and anonymously matches buy and sell orders, Farid told Enterprise. Continuous trading won’t be available from the get-go though, and will be rolled out at a later date depending on “how open” regulators will be, Farid added.

Could this be coming soon to corporate bonds? EGX officials have been holding meetings with companies, asset managers and brokers who want to know more about how the new platform works and whether it could be of interest to folks floating (or investing in) corporate paper. The FRA last month took a step toward that direction by requiring bond issuers tapping the secondary market to allocate at least 10% to retail investors.

CUSTOMS

More help for exporters

The Customs Authority will establish a new unit dedicated to investigating complaints from exporters about customs procedures, new customs boss El Shahat El Ghatwary said in a statement on Friday. The unit will be tasked with proposing solutions to improve customs clearance and remove obstacles faced by exporters.

This is the second export-focused decision in less than a week: The cabinet last week decided to bring back a long-dormant export council set up to administer a national export strategy. The body will be in charge of legislative and administrative policymaking aimed at driving export growth.

Efforts to speed up customs clearance will step up later this year when Nafeza goes live. Shippers will begin sending cargo data electronically to the Customs Authority’s new Nafeza platform in July, an electronic system designed to streamline the streamline customs procedures and improve border security.

Increasing non-oil exports is a pillar of the new structural reform program announced by the government last month. The government wants to increase exports from the manufacturing, telecoms and IT, and agriculture sectors.

DIPLOMACY

Everyone, everywhere is talking GERD

Ethiopia is currently aiming to reach an agreement with Egypt and Sudan on “just the second filling” of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) ahead of the upcoming rainy season in July or August, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti told reporters at a press briefing Saturday, Sky News Arabia reports. This would entail reaching an agreement within the next few weeks. Ethiopia had previously insisted that it would unilaterally move ahead with the second filling of GERD’s reservoir with or without a binding agreement, despite Egypt and Sudan’s objections.

Ethiopia still wants “African solutions to African problems,” and is committed to reaching an agreement through African Union-brokered negotiations, Mufti said in a statement, adding that “Sudan and Egypt are unnecessarily internationalizing the matter” by calling for mediation by a quartet of international observers. The latest round of four-days talks between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia in Kinshasa last month once again reached a dead end after the three countries were unable to agree on how to proceed with negotiations.

The new US envoy also made a stop in Sudan for GERD talks: Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman was in Sudan on Friday as part of a 10-day regional tour to resolve the GERD impasse, SUNA reports. The two-day visit wrapped up yesterday. Feltman will visit Ethiopia this week, having held talks in Egypt on Wednesday and Eritrea on Thursday. The Associated Press and Reuters also have the story.

The talking heads have diverging opinions on Feltman: US President Joe Biden appointing Feltman and the envoy’s tour of the region seem to indicate that a US-brokered agreement is coming, El Hekaya’s Amr Adib said (watch, runtime: 4:21). Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa, meanwhile, all but put on a MAGA hat to suggest that the Biden administration wants Ethiopia to go ahead with the second filling to “tighten the noose” around Egypt’s neck. Moussa pointed to former President Donald Trump’s statement that Egypt could blow up the dam as an indicator that we only had backing from the previous administration (watch, runtime: 3:04).

Congo — in its capacity as AU chairman — is keen to resolve the GERD dispute, Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi said in a meeting with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in Cairo yesterday as part of a regional tour to restart negotiations, according to an Ittihadiya statement. Tshisekedi said he would concentrate his coordination efforts during the AU-sponsored negotiations in order to facilitate a “fair and balanced” agreement. Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi took note of the meeting (watch, runtime: 2:24).

Egypt’s position has remained unchanged, with El Sisi reiterating that GERD is a matter of life or death for us and that Egypt remains committed to a political resolution.

The Congolese president also held meetings with head of the ruling sovereign council Abdel Fattah Burhan and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in Khartoum yesterday, during which Sudan expressed concern that its power-generating capacity could be affected by the dam, according to Sudan’s state news agency SUNA. Sudan rejects any “unilateral” moves to fill the dam, said Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam Al Sadiq said in a press statement, Sky News Arabia reports.

DIPLOMACY

We were on a break…

No breakthrough during Egypt-Turkey talks: Egypt and Turkey ended two days of talks in Cairo — their first since relations began deteriorating in 2013 — aimed at reducing tensions on Thursday with no signs of a breakthrough. The two sides held “frank and in-depth” discussions on Libya, Syria and the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, they said in a short joint statement on Thursday. Turkey’s relationship with the Ikhwan was also said to be discussed during the meeting.

The way forward is not yet clear: Egypt and Turkey will assess the discussions and agree on a path forward, the statement said. Turkey has invited a delegation from Cairo to visit Ankara to continue discussions, but a date hasn’t yet been announced.

Libya is an area in which we might see progress: Turkey is willing to have a meeting with Egypt and the newly-formed Libyan government to agree on stalled issues in Libya including the withdrawal of foreign troops, Reuters reports, citing two Egyptian intelligence sources. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu said earlier on Thursday that foreign fighters should leave Libya but said that Turkish troops were in the country under a bilateral agreement with the Libyan government, and rejected “intervention” by other countries to try to change this.

The Ikhwan may be the real sticking point: Ankara won’t hand over Ikhwani leaders wanted by Egypt on terror-related charges, sources noted, adding that most of them had proper residency in Turkey, which remains opposed to label Ikhwan as “terrorists.” This is one of Cairo’s key conditions to restoring ties.

The story so far: Turkey has signaled it wants to make a foreign policy about-turn in the region, reaching out to Egypt and Saudi Arabia in a bid to mend ties following years of friction. Last month, Çavuşoğlu boldly announced a “new era with Egypt'' and proposed that officials from both sides meet for reconciliation talks. It has also signaled it is willing to end tensions in the EastMed by negotiating new maritime boundaries.

The news is getting coverage in the foreign press: Associated Press | Reuters | ANSA.

OTHER DIPLOMACY NEWS- Egypt may be buying two Airbus-made multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft and a new satellite from France as part of the agreement between the two countries that will also see Cairo buy 30 fighter jets, French newspaper La Tribune reports. The Airbus would give the Egyptian Airforce important new midair refuelling capabilities.

REAL ESTATE

Deadline for compliance with North Coast land regs extended till years end

Real estate developers have until the end of the year to settle their reconciliation fees to regularize the status of their North Coast developments with the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) after a 30 June deadline was extended, Al Shorouk reports, citing unnamed sources in the know. Forty of the 90 companies a NUCA committee met with have paid the fee — equivalent to 5% of the initial value of the land — necessary to legalize their status, the sources said. Negotiations are expected to take place between the authority and the rest of the 400 real estate companies with developments along the Mediterranean coastline between Alexandria and Salloum — including top players such as Sodic, Emaar, and Palm Hills Developments. It remains unclear whether any of these companies have settled with NUCA. The payments follow a presidential directive last year to repurpose over 700 feddans in the West North Coast as part of the government’s strategy to spearhead development in the area.

SPEAKING OF THE WESTERN NORTH COAST- New Ras Al Hikma City along the North Coast is expected to span 50k feddans, Al Shorouk reports, citing unnamed Housing Ministry sources. The development of the city comes as part of the government’s shift from a decades-old policy of making land available for vacation home development to instead pushing a development strategy that pushes new, integrated cities.

MOVES

Amer Group has appointed Riad Refaat (Linkedin) as CEO and managing director of the holding group, replacing the very recently appointed Khaled Hassan, according to an EGX filing (pdf). Refaat was previously the group financial controller at Amer Group. The board also accepted the resignation of board members Mohammad Syed Khader and Ahmed Jalal Faiq. Joining the board are former Blom Bank Egypt CEO Alaa Al Din Samaha and former Banque du Caire chief Mounir El Zahid.

Ashraf Mohamed Negm has been appointed vice chairman and managing director of the National Investment Bank for a one-year term, Planning Minister Hala El Said announced on Friday. Negm has nearly 40 years of industry experience with institutions including HSBC and SAIB. He has also sat on the board of the Suez Canal Authority and served on its investment and audit committees.

enterprise

LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and updates on the country’s covid-19 situation led the conversation on the airwaves last night. We have both stories in detail in this morning’s news well, above.

Meanwhile, it looks like the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) just downgraded its Ever Given compensation demands by a third and is now asking for around USD 600 mn instead of the original USD 916 mn, SCA boss Osama Rabie told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib over the weekend. Rabie insists that the amount is not excessive, but the mega vessel’s owner Shoei Kisen has not been responsive, leading the SCA to continue pursuing the matter in Egyptian courts (watch, runtime: 5:25).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

It’s a mixed bag of nuts for Egypt in the foreign press this morning: The Africa Report notes how the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has strained relations between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, while the Associated Press reports on social campaigns seeking to provide food for the poor during another Ramadan under the coronavirus, which has seen iftar tables banned from the streets. Global Finance picks up the news of Egypt’s recently-inaugurated industrial zone, Gypto PharmaCity and The Times of Israel reports that an Israeli transgender couple were denied entry to Egypt at the Taba crossing. Elsewhere, Reem Alaa Hamed — the brains behind the Ramla shoe brand — talks to Forbes about her background in design, her influences and the Egyptian art scene.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Women are permitted under Islam to hold senior positions in the judiciary and Dar Al Iftaa, Al Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed El Tayeb said (watch, runtime 12:51). Any attempt to curtail that right, which he said is granted by Sharia, is a “grave sin.” Women are also allowed to travel without a guardian “when it is safe to do so,” he added. The statement caused controversy among scholars over the weekend.

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

  • GB Auto subsidiary Itamco has denied (pdf) reports in the press last week that GB Auto Chairman Raouf Ghabbour was sentenced to one year in prison, saying the case was closed last November.
  • Italian contractor Webuild has been awarded a contract to work on a 1.7k km highway in Libya that will connect Egypt and Tunisia through the north African country.
  • The National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) has granted UK telecom giant BT a license to provide transmission and connectivity services to companies that will connect their Egyptian branches to their overseas operations.
  • A new ins. company dedicated to providing travel cover to Egyptians traveling outside of the country has been green-lit by the Financial Regulatory Authority.
  • Rice farmers in violation of water conservation measures will be subject to immediate fines as part of a government strategy to moderate Egypt’s agricultural water consumption.

PLANET FINANCE

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SUPERCYCLE WATCH- Copper prices are at all-time highs off of optimism over an economic rebound that has fueled talk of a commodities supercycle amid soaring raw material prices, Bloomberg reports. The surge in prices is raising the prospect of imminent inflation — despite some analysts suggesting it will be transitory — meaning big buyers such as China could move to stabilize prices. Copper is typically considered a proxy or indicator of where markets are heading.

Rising commodity prices are good news for emerging markets and will likely help currencies shake off pressure from rising US interest rates and a stronger USD, according to a Reuters poll of strategists. Almost two-thirds of the 40 people polled said that currencies belonging to commodity exporters will outperform than high / low-yielding EM currencies. "Given our generally bullish outlook on commodity [sic] for 2021, we expect commodity exporters to remain supported, in both EM and DM (developed markets), even in the face of a stronger [USD]," said FX analysts at Citigroup.

Investors hope the hype over Dogecoin will send other crypto assets to the moon: Investors are turning to lesser-known cryptocurrencies such as DigiByte, VeChain and SafeMoon in search of the next Dogecoin, as meme-fueled buying sprees cause crypto assets to skyrocket, reports the Wall Street Journal. The price of the once-obscure Dogecoin has surged more than 26,000% in the past six months to reach a market cap of USD 92 bn to become one of the world’s largest crypto assets.

Up

EGX30

10,588

+0.7% (YTD: -2.4%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.62

Sell 15.72

Down

USD at CIB

Buy 15.61

Sell 15.71

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Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Down

Tadawul

10,228

-0.2% (YTD: +17.7%)

Up

ADX

6,152

+0.6% (YTD: +21.9%)

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DFM

2,664

+0.5% (YTD: +6.9%)

Up

S&P 500

4,233

+0.7% (YTD: +12.7%)

Up

FTSE 100

7,130

+0.8% (YTD: +10.4%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 68.28

+0.3%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 2.96

+1.0%

Up

Gold

USD 1,813.30

+0.9%

Up

BTC

USD 59,198.50

+2.5%

The EGX30 rose 0.7% on Thursday on turnover of EGP 1.02 bn (18.8% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 2.4% YTD.

In the green: Ezz Steel (+5.6%), AMOC (+3.7%) and Sidi Kerir (+3.2%).

In the red: Orascom Development (-2.8%), Orascom Financial (-2.3%) and Abu Qir Fertilizers (-1.2%).

ON YOUR WAY OUT

Egyptian musician and composer Gamal Salama passed away on Friday at age 75 of complications linked to covid-19, Youm7 reports. His last public appearance was this past November at the Arab Music Festival, at which the Culture Ministry honor Salama for his for his contribution to the music industry. Salama, whose father Hafez Ahmed Salama was a symphony composer, composed dozens of soundtracks for the cinema, TV, and on-stage productions, as well as a number of renowned patriotic songs for iconic Arab artists.

CALENDAR

12-16 May (Wednesday-Sunday): Eid El Fitr.

16-19 May (Sunday-Wednesday): The Arabian Travel Market (ATM) takes place in Dubai.

26 May (Wednesday): Final day for Africa-based startups to apply for the French government-sponsored AFD Digital Challenge (pdf).

27-29 May (Thursday-Saturday): Informa Markets’ Nextmove real estate exhibition, Cairo International Convention Center, Nasr City.

30 May (Sunday): Al Mal GTM is organizing the fifth edition of the Portfolio Egypt conference under the theme ‘Growth under the weight of the pandemic.’

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.

17-20 June (Thursday-Sunday) : The International Exhibition of Materials and Technologies for Finishing and Construction (Turnkey Expo), Cairo International Conference Center.

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, Cairo, Egypt.

30 June (Wednesday): 30 June Revolution Day.

30 June- 15 July: National Book Fair.

July + August: Thanaweya Amma exams take place.

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

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.

15 June (Saturday): EGX-listed will have to complete filing their financial disclosures for the period ended 31 March.

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.

12 August (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Islamic New Year.

17-20 August (Tuesday-Friday): The World Economic Forum annual meeting, Singapore.

12-15 September (Sunday-Wednesday): Sahara Expo: the 33rd International Agricultural Exhibition for Africa and the Middle East.

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

30 September-2 October (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Projects 2021 expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The 54th session of the Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

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

12-14 October (Tuesday-Thursday) Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday.

21 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.

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

1-3 November (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Energy exhibition on power and renewable energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo

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.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

27 June-3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

**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.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2021 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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