Thursday, 20 May 2021

EFG gets nod to take majority stake in AIB + IDH starts trading today on the EGX

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and welcome to a pleasantly busy news morning to start this last business day of the week.

THE BIG STORY HERE AT HOME is that EGX-listed EFG Hermes has just taken a major step toward becoming a universal bank after cabinet approved yesterday the firm’s acquisition of a controlling stake in Arab Investment Bank in partnership with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt. The acquisition, when concluded, would be a most welcome landmark for the SFE, establishing it as a broker of meaningful options for public-private partnership. We have the rundown in this morning’s news well, below, and expect to have more details on the multi-bn transaction in this afternoon’s edition of EnterprisePM.

It’s also a big day for the EGX as shares of LSE-listed Integrated Diagnostics Holding (IDH) begin trading under the ticker IDHC. The consumer healthcare giant’s technical listing is the first of its kind in Egypt and makes it the second company to debut on the Egyptian bourse this year, after higher education outfit Taaleem, which ended nearly two-year-long IPO drought.

Also worth knowing about: Most of the government’s covid-19 restriction measures have been extended until the end of the month — and the decision will require all schools to go back online at the beginning of June. The announcement comes as daily infections have been inching down slightly over the past three days, but remain above 1k. We have chapter and verse in this morning’s news well, below.

Flights from Riyadh are back on: The first two commercial Saudi Airways flights from Riyadh and Jeddah to Egypt since Saudi lifted its covid-19 travel ban landed in Sharm El Sheikh yesterday.

MARKET WATCH-

Global markets are looking a bit choppy this morning after US shares extended losses to a third straight day on Wednesday. The tech-fueled selloff followed slumps in Asia and Europe earlier in the day and was accelerated as “the latest minutes from the Federal Reserve reinforced fears of a potential pullback of crisis-era support measures should the economic recovery continue,” the Financial Times reports. Futures suggest the Nasdaq, Dow and S&P will all open in the red this afternoon, and major Asian indices are solidly in the red right now, from the Kospi and Hang Seng to Shanghai and the Nikkei. Look for a mixed open in Europe. The Wall Street Journal has more.

BTC has taken traders on a “wild ride” over the past 24 hours: The cryptocurrency rallied 33% yesterday afternoon after plummeting 31% earlier in the day, only to fall again this morning in an extension of the turbulence since China’s clampdown on crypto and Elon Musk’s tweet on BTC triggered a sell-off, Bloomberg reports. Although crypto is known for being volatile, it’s rare for this level of volatility to be seen “in a single session,” the business information service says. BTC was trading at just under USD 38k at dispatch time, and CNBC has a look at what’s fuelling the rollercoaster — and what could be next.

It’s the final day of Renaissance Capital’s annual MENA Investor Conference and HC Securities’ virtual event on Egyptian equities (pdf).

HAPPENING TODAY-

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias is in Cairo today for talks with FM Sameh Shoukry. This is the last step of a regional tour that has seen Dendias visit Israel, Palestine and Jordan in the past two days. The talks come as Egypt continues to lead an international effort to broker a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.

Second Egypt-France-Jordan meeting on Gaza coming up: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, French President Emmanuel Macron and Jordan’s King Abdullah will hold a second meeting “in the coming days” to discuss events in Gaza, according to a joint statement. The three leaders met yesterday to focus on bringing Israel and Hamas to the negotiating table and end the current conflict, the statement said. El Sisi pledged on Tuesday USD 500 mn in reconstruction aid to the residents of Gaza during his visit to Paris.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

An updated version of the government’s Egypt sustainable development strategy, Egypt Vision 2030, will be published next month, Planning Minister Hala El Said said. The strategy will be updated to account for the effects of covid-19, the minister said, without providing further details.

The IMF will complete by the end of June a second review of targets set under Egypt’s USD 5.2 bn standby facility. The facility 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.


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

  • Push for Gaza ceasefire: Egypt’s efforts to bring about a ceasefire in Gaza have received support from the US and EU, sources told Al Arabiya.
  • Raya looks to the Gulf: Raya Contact Center is on course to acquire 100% of an unnamed call center company based in the Gulf after its USD 14.2 mn offer was accepted by the firm.
  • More help for the tourism industry: Subsidized loans designed to help tourism companies fund capex can now cover up to 90% of a project’s renovation costs, up from 75% under the ongoing EGP 50 bn tourism support program.

enterprise

M&A WATCH

EFG Hermes set to transform into universal bank as SFE proves it’s serious about public-private partnership

EFG + SFE’s acquisition of AIB gets Cabinet nod: EFG Hermes and the Sovereign Fund of Egypt’s (SFE) acquisition of a combined 76% stake in the Arab Investment Bank (AIB) earned Cabinet approval yesterday, according to a Cabinet statement, bringing us one step closer to Egypt’s first bank privatization in over a decade. The acquisition — which will see the SFE and EFG purchase AIB through a capital increase — will raise AIB’s capital to EGP 5 bn, the statement says.

Who’s getting what: Once the sale closes, EFG will become AIB’s controlling shareholder with a 51% stake, while the SFE will take 25% through its financial services and digital transformation sub-fund. The state-owned National Investment Bank will retain a 24% stake of AIB post-transaction, having previously held a 91.4% stake.

What still needs to be done: The transaction requires approval from regulatory bodies — chief among them the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) — before being finalized, the statement notes. EFG Hermes’ board of directors approved the acquisition and a fair value assessment last month.

The progress on the acquisition is getting good press, with Goldman Sachs economist Farouk Soussa telling Reuters that it “signals an improved capacity by the government to follow through on privatisation plans after a patchy track record, which is largely down to the establishment of the [SFE].”

For context, the last full bank privatization in Egypt was the sale of Bank of Alexandria to Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo in 2006. Earlier that same year, the Egyptian American Bank — which was partially owned by Bank of Alexandria — was sold to Credit Agricole and El Mansour & El Maghraby Investment and Development Co. The CBE has also been working to sell United Bank to a strategic investor, but that process appears to have been put on hold due to covid-19.

Background: EFG and the SFE began due diligence on AIB last June, after receiving clearance from the CBE. The National Investment Bank — AIB’s parent company — had announced earlier last year a plan to take several of its portfolio companies to market with the help of the SFE.

OTHER M&A NEWS- Melinda French Gates now holds a direct 5.6% stake in Orascom Construction, after acquiring Cascade Investment Group’s entire stake, according to a regulatory disclosure (pdf). Cascade Investment is owned by Bill Gates. French Gates separately holds an 0.2% indirect stake in OC through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust.

COVID WATCH

The semi-lockdown is on till the end of May — but we can go to the beach as the kids go back to online learning

We’re (mostly) staying in semi-lockdown mode until at least the end of the month after the government’s covid-19 crisis management committee announced yesterday that stores, malls, cafes, and restaurants will continue to close by 9pm. The measures were initially set to expire tomorrow, but unconfirmed press reports had previously suggested that an extension was likely.

The committee decided to reopen public beaches, parks, and gardens, which had initially been shut as part of the lockdown measures rolled out earlier this month ahead of the long Eid El Fitr holiday. Reuters also has the story.

Schools are being forced back online: Classes will be required to shift online at the beginning of June. Students at international schools will only allowed to attend in-person classes until the end of May, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, Thanaweya Amma and university exam proctors will begin receiving vaccines, Health Minister Hala Zayed said at yesterday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, without specifying a date. Prisoners, pensioners and factory workers are also in line for the next phase of the vaccination program.

VACCINE SUPPLY UPDATE- Egypt is getting 20 mn doses of the Sputnik V vaccine before the year is out, Head of the Egyptian Authority for Unified Procurement Bahaa El-Din Zidan said. The vaccines will be delivered in batches over the next several months, according to Zidan. The Health Ministry had already signed an agreement with Russia earlier this month to get 10 mn doses of the jab. It is unclear whether the 20 mn doses include or are in addition to the initial 10 mn. Local manufacturer Minapharm is also set to manufacture 40 mn doses of the vaccine per year, starting later this year.

Johnson & Johnson is sending us 20 mn doses of its jab, according to Zidan. We’ve already placed an order that should see 4 mn doses of J&J delivered in 4Q2021, Health Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed previously said. Presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag Eldin said last month that these jabs will be received through the African Union, suggesting they could be separate from the 20 mn doses Zidan announced yesterday, which will be supplied directly from the company.

And another 3.4 mn covid vaccines could be in Egypt by the first week of June, according to Zayed. A new 1.9 mn-jab batch of Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccines will be delivered through the Gavi / Covax program during the first week of June, while a shipment of 1 mn doses of China's Sinovac vaccine will arrive by the end of May or during the first week of June, she said. This is in addition to another 500k-dose shipment of Sinopharm, which will be here in the coming days, she added.

One step closer to a homemade Sinovac: Raw materials used to produce the Sinovac vaccine have been shipped and are likely to arrive in Egypt soon, Zayed said. The shipment, which was expected to arrive on 18 May, is enough to locally manufacture 2 mn doses of the vaccine by the end of June, as part of a planned 80 mn to be produced annually under an agreement signed with the company earlier this year.

We now have 376 vaccination centers available cross-country, the Health Minister said, compared to the 208 reported in late April. This includes a vaccination facility at Cairo International Fair that has capacity to inoculate 10k citizens per day.

More than 3.5 mn people have registered for a vaccine in Egypt so far, advisor to the health minister Noha Assem told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal. The ministry has also been working to develop its automated registration system to speed up the process of allocation vaccination appointments, Assem said (watch, runtime: 8:19).

The Health Ministry reported 1,160 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 1,169 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 249,238 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 57 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 14,498.

Everyone traveling from Egypt to Sudan will be tested on arrival under new measures announced by the Sudanese government designed to curb the spread of the virus, Sudanese state news agency SUNA reports. The government has also banned all flights from India and closed schools and universities for a month.

Oxford / AstraZeneca’s covid-19 vaccine could show promise as a booster shot that helps maintain immunity to the virus and its variants over time, unnamed sources familiar with a soon to be released Oxford University study told the FT. A third dose of the vaccine has been described as “unbelievable” and capable of triggering a “very high antibody response” by people familiar with the study.

Your covid results could soon be in your hands by the time you count to one: A rapid covid-19 testing method that claims to be able to detect positive signs of infection in just one second has been developed in a study conducted by US and Taiwan-based scientists, writes Healthline. The tech is still in the research stage but could potentially be sold by a private company in the future, they said.

CABINET WATCH

New civil servants minimum wage gets nod from cabinet, still no word on private sector floor

Cabinet greenlit bringing the minimum wage increase to EGP 2.4k from EGP 2k for civil servants into effect at the start of the next fiscal year on 1 July during its weekly meeting yesterday, according to a statement. The minimum salary of the highest-grade civil servant will also increase to EGP 8.4k from EGP 7k last fiscal year. Civil servants falling somewhere between will also see their minimum wage increase by an average of some EGP 650. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait recently gave the full breakdown of the increases. Public sector wage increases need to be ratified by the House of Representatives before taking effect.

Public sector salaries and bonuses are up across the board: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi had in March instructed the government to raise the minimum pay for its employees, as well as implement a pension hike of 13%, and an annual raise of 7% for public sector employees covered by the Civil Service Act. Cabinet also approved last month 13% raises in basic salaries for employees not covered by the Civil Service Act as of the next fiscal year, as well as an increase in monthly bonuses. The minimum wage increase is expected to cost EGP 37 bn and the pensions hike an additional EGP 31 bn in FY2021-2022.

Private sector to follow suit soon? Proposals for a private sector minimum wage should be drafted by the end of the month, the planning ministry said, with previous reports putting the likely sum at EGP 2k. The proposed implementation of a minimum wage for the private sector has been under discussion since at least 2019, but its implementation had been delayed by covid-19.

ALSO FROM THE CABINET MEETING- Ministers approved a decision to set up a new private university in Tenth of Ramadan city that will offer degrees in engineering, business management, economics, computer science, and nursing, among other specialties. A separate decision to contract two new waste and recycling companies that will operate on the outskirts of Cairo was also approved.

REMITTANCES

NBE partners with UAE’s LuLu on remittance transfer service

Remittance transfers from the UAE to Egypt through the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) are set to become more reliable and potentially cost less under a new partnership with UAE-based financial services company LuLu International Exchange, according to a statement from Ripple. The remittance transfers will use Ripple’s blockchain payments network RippleNet to provide a “quicker and more reliable” experience for Egyptian expats, who can transfer their cross-border remittances from LuLu to NBE via the platform.

Egypt was one of the top five remittance destinations in 2020, according to the statement, with Central Bank of Egypt data putting the value of remittances last year at USD 29.6 bn, a 10% y-o-y growth despite worries that a covid-19 hit to the global economy and the oil price crash would affect remittances from Gulf states, where many Egyptians are employed. S&P Global Ratings expects remittances to remain high levels in upcoming months.

TOURISM

Visa waiver initiative for foreign tourists ends

A waiver of entry visa fees for tourists arriving on charter flights is over: Tourists entering the Red Sea, South Sinai, Luxor and Aswan governorates will now pay visa fees of USD 25 per person as of 1 May, after a Tourism Ministry initiative waiving entry fees expired, an advisor to the ministry told Enterprise yesterday on condition they not be named. The initiative had been extended late last year to 30 April 2021 to encourage inbound travel after a covid-19 induced slump in tourism.

Tourism players are lobbying for an extension, with Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Tourism Hossam Hazza telling Masrawy that the waiver should be extended till at least 31 October to account for the summer tourist season. Widespread vaccination rollouts in Egypt and elsewhere must be effective before fees are reinstated so that tourists are not discouraged from travel, Hazza said. The delayed resumption of flights between Russia and red sea tourists destinations could also weigh on tourist volumes this season.

But the Tourism Ministry says it is not planning to renew the initiative, the ministerial advisor told us, though some tourism players are still keeping their fingers crossed, saying they had received no official notice of the initiative’s expiry.

The visa waiver came as part of a raft of measures to support the tourism industry, including a campaign to promote domestic winter tourism slashing fares on flights and hotel rates that was extended to this month.

Tourism revenues are still down, but a recovery is underway: Revenues have improved on a q-o-q basis in 1Q2021, netting around USD 1.1 bn by our calculations, according to figures given by Tourism Minister Khaled El Enany earlier this week. This is a slight improvement on the USD 987 mn posted during 4Q2020, though revenues are still 60% down y-o-y compared to pre-covid 1Q2019 figures. El Enany said Egypt is targeting revenues of USD 8 bn this year.

DIPLOMACY

We’re getting serious about conserving water as GERD’s 2nd filling looms

The government will apply tighter water-saving measures to mitigate the impact of the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told Ten TV (watch, runtime: 15:22). The Aswan High Dam reservoir should temporarily compensate for the shortage caused by the GERD’s filling, Shoukry said, and Egypt is “confident” the filling will not affect its water security. Egypt will not spare any effort in defending its water rights if Ethiopia takes unilateral action that harms its share of the Nile’s waters, the FM said, though escalations would be dependent on whether the filling materially negatively affects our water supply.

The government had announced a USD 50 bn water saving plan in 2019 focusing on promoting modern irrigation methods and the cultivation of non-water intensive crops. In the coming year, the government plans to expand irrigation networks, make better use of rainwater, and install utilities in unserved areas in its bid to reduce water waste, Water Resources Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ghanem told us last year. The government is also spending EGP 134.2 bn on building new desalination plants to address our water needs. We took a deep dive into Egypt’s water network in a 3 part series of Hardhat here, here and here.

Egypt is hoping for an expanded role for international observers once negotiations resume, Shoukry said, without specifying when that might be. Egypt is waiting on an invitation from the chair of the African Union for another trilateral meeting, Shoukry said, expressing the hope that the participation of other bodies will pave the way for more effective negotiations. The meeting could happen “in the next few days,” Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa suggested (watch, runtime: 2:55). As one of the proposed observers, the US said earlier this week that it supports the resumption of negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, but isn’t on board with Cairo and Khartoum’s proposition that it plays a mediating role.

The FM reiterated Egypt’s desire to reach a binding agreement with Sudan and Ethiopia on the filling and operation of the dam, though Addis Ababa has insisted it will proceed with the dam’s second filling during the rainy season this summer, with or without an agreement.

OTHER DIPLOMACY NEWS-

President Abdel Fatah El Sisi discussed potential investments in Egypt with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire during a meeting in Paris yesterday, according to an Ittihadiya statement. The two discussed possible cooperation on transportation, energy, water management and healthcare projects. Creating an attractive foreign investment climate in Egypt and continuing to support private sector participation were also on the agenda during President Sisi’s visit.

Separately, El Sisi also stressed the need to reach a binding resolution on GERD during a meeting with Sengalese president Macky Sall in Paris, according to an Ittihadiya statement. El Sisi and Sall also discussed diplomatic cooperation and infrastructure investment in Senegal.

KUDOS

Financial Regulatory Authority boss Mohamed Omran was elected as chairperson of the growth and emerging markets committee of the International Organization of Securities Commissions’ (IOSCO), according to a statement (pdf). By being elected to chair the committee, Omran has also become an IOSCO board vice chairperson.

Sally Buzbee, who some readers may remember as the Cairo-based Middle East editor of the Associated Press, has been named as the new executive editor at the Washington Post, making her the first woman to hold the position since the newspaper was established 144 years ago, the Associated Press reports. Buzbee worked out of Cairo from 2004 until 2010 during her MidEast editor gig.

Website domain platform GoDaddy is joining GIZ’s ProGirls campaign to provide virtual summer internships Egyptian girls aged 14-17, it said in a press release (pdf). Students will shadow one of GoDaddy’s women executives and gain hands-on experience in a number of company projects. The company did not say how many places would be made available.

enterprise

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Last night’s (limited) talk shows were largely focused on diplomacy, including negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and Egypt’s mediation efforts in Palestine. We have chapter and verse on both stories in the news well, above.

Elsewhere, the Education Ministry is looking to give middle school students the option of studying Chinese as a foreign language as of the next academic year, with an eye to offering more foreign languages down the road, Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal said (watch, runtime: 2:13). (While Assal said students will be able to study “the Chinese language,” our assumption is that this is Mandarin.)

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

It’s a quiet morning for Egypt in the foreign press, with the only story of note being the Canada Border Services Agency facing criticism for an “unfair” decision to deport an Egyptian asylum seeker for having ties to the Ikhwan, the Canadian Press reports.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

The Transport Ministry is in talks with Orascom Construction, Samcrete and the Arab Contractors to overhaul and upgrade some 820 km of rail lines, a project that will cost around EGP 7.5 bn to complete, the local press reported, citing unnamed sources. The work will start in the next fiscal year, which begins on 1 July.

Paris-based education group Open Sky International (OSI) is opening the doors to its first school in Cairo this September, with plans to set up another 10 of its schools in Egypt by 2025, according to a statement (pdf). OSI’s school will teach students in French and English, in addition to “teaching Arabic to a high standard.”

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

  • The Egyptian Countryside Development Company and Spanish water management Aqualia Egypt signed an MoU to work together on water desalination plants and smart irrigation systems within the development company’s 1.5 mn feddan project.
  • The Federation of Egyptian Industries is lobbying the Trade and Industry Ministry to reverse its decision to impose additional import duties on aluminum products for three years, saying the decision is negatively impacting Egyptian producers and driving up local prices.

PLANET FINANCE

Powered by
EFG Hermes - https://efghermes.com/

Silicon Valley veteran is worried about the proliferation of “junk” SPACs: The meteoric growth in the number of blank check companies going public over the past year has drawn concern that acquired companies and SPAC investors will be harmed as the period of manic speculation comes to an end. The 50-year private equity veteran Sandy Robertson tells the Financial Times “time is running out” for SPACs, as the fundamentals catch up with the over inflated valuations. The SPAC market has already lost a lot of air, with April being the slowest month for new blank-check IPOs since June 2020. Shares in some companies are down 80% and two-thirds are now trading under the standard USD 10 a share IPO price. Need a refresher on SPACs? We’ve got you covered.

Up

EGX30

10,806

+0.2% (YTD: -0.4%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.63

Sell 15.73

None

USD at CIB

Buy 15.62

Sell 15.72

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Down

Tadawul

10,373

-0.5% (YTD: +19.4%)

Down

ADX

6,519

-0.2% (YTD: +29.2%)

Up

DFM

2,711

+0.2% (YTD: +8.8%)

Down

S&P 500

4,116

-0.3% (YTD: +9.6%)

Down

FTSE 100

6,950

-1.2% (YTD: +7.6%)

Down

Brent crude

USD 66.61

-0.1%

Down

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 2.96

-0.2%

Down

Gold

USD 1,870.80

-0.6%

Down

BTC

USD 38,105.08

-6.74%

The EGX30 rose 0.2% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.82 bn (31.5% above the 90-day average). Regional investors were net buyers. The index is down -0.4% YTD.

In the green: Qalaa Holdings (+3.4%), MM Group (+3.1%) and Edita (+3.1%).

In the red: Orascom Development Egypt (-2.7%), GB Auto (-2.2%) and Heliopolis Housing (-1.6%).

AROUND THE WORLD

US President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday that he “expected a significant de-escalation” in the violence with Gaza as a step towards a ceasefire, according to a White House statement detailing a call between the two leaders. Biden again stopped short of demanding that Israel agree to a ceasefire, and Netanyahu later said that he is “determined to continue this operation until its objective is achieved.”

In a “symbolic” move, US House Democrats proposed a resolution to block the USD 735 mn arms sale to Israel that Biden approved earlier this week, although the resolution is unlikely to progress and the sale will likely receive lawmakers’ approval, Reuters says.

Also worth knowing this morning:

  • Moscow and Washington could smooth over their tensions, after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said they would work on developing their relationship following a meeting in Iceland yesterday, according to the Financial Times.
  • Lebanese foreign minister steps down: Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe has resigned after Gulf states expressed anger at his comments accusing them of supporting Daesh, Reuters reports.

MY MORNING ROUTINE

Menna Shams El Din, senior director of investor relations and business development at Edita: My Morning Routine looks each week at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week Menna Shams El Din, senior director of investor relations and business development at Edita (LinkedIn).

I’m Menna Shams El Din, senior director of investor relations and business development at Edita and the board of directors’ secretary of corporate affairs. Over the past 17 years, I've worked in research, banking and corporate strategy at several domestic and global investment banks between Egypt and Dubai.

Leading the IR program for an EGX-listed company means managing lots of communication: It involves communicating our investment case and investment strategy to deliver long term shareholder value. Part of my mandate is also managing media, corporate communications and regulatory affairs.

I usually wake up by 7am and ease into the day at home before heading into the office. I start my morning routine with a cup of coffee and Enterprise to stay up to date with everything going on. I typically take it slow in the morning so I might watch something for a bit before spending 15-20 minutes doing my transcendental meditation practice, which helps keep me aligned and grounded. It’s one of the best things I’ve learned in my life, it puts me on the right track for the day ahead and has great benefits in the long term.

I like to write down a list of five key things I want to get done during the day so when I get to the office, the most important things are accomplished. This method allows my schedule — rather than being mostly driven by interruptions — to guide the day. On my short commute to the office I typically have a quick five-minute conversation on the phone with a childhood friend, which helps maintain relationships and keep in touch, especially with our busy lives.

By the time I make it into the office at 9am, I've already been awake for a long enough time that I’m well in the mood for work. I start my day at the office by reading daily news. My favorite is Pharos’ pre-trading thoughts — which is great because it links fundamentals to actionable ideas — then I meet with the investor relations teams. Some days are focused on IR, sometimes on corporate affairs, sometimes on regulatory stuff. I wrap up my day around 6pm, but sometimes I take late meetings or investor calls later in the evening, which is just the nature of IR.

The lR lifestyle has dramatically changed since the start of the pandemic. Between roadshows and conferences, we used to move a lot more than we do now. I remember we used to travel at least once a month between London, Cape Town, New York, and Dubai to meet face-to-face with global investors and funds. Now, most of our conferences and meetings take place virtually.

In my downtime, I usually like to schedule some form of exercise or yoga and I regularly see friends and family. Every two weeks or so I try to get out of the city to a weekend destination such as Ain El Sokhna or for some kind of retreat. Sinai is one of my favorite places to go in Egypt — it has great energy, and I loved Siwa as well. Al Tarfa Eco-lodge at Al Dakhla is lovely too.

When the pandemic first broke out, we quickly developed new norms to respond to the new dynamics of our changing environment. Initially, Edita took the proactive step of establishing a committee to implement and monitor the company’s guidelines for safety and business continuity. We have specific policies and procedures in place and these are regularly reviewed and updated in accordance with on-the-ground developments. Of course, it’s a huge responsibility for management and it is more difficult when you have thousands of industrial production workers.

We have a rotation system in place now for our office staff, which splits every department in half and runs every other day. We had this system in place at the start of the pandemic and we just recently reintroduced it as this third wave started picking up. Unlike some multinational companies, who were testing out flexible work models and had the right infrastructure to shift online, we didn't have a WFH culture in place at Edita before the pandemic. I prefer working from the office though — it makes a difference with engagement.

Covid has drastically changed the investment landscape. Foreign flows into the equity market is very limited now and the market is mostly dominated by retail investors. The landscape has dramatically changed from what it was before the pandemic and so has our IR strategy. In terms of mobility, you now have restricted exposure to investors, so communications have to change along with the circumstances. On a positive note, we are seeing foreign investors in particular taking a growing interest in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance of the companies they invest in, and Edita issues an annual sustainability report on these measures.

Diversity of experience and balance are crucial for getting through a crisis. Being good at what you do isn't enough, the things that personally add value to my life and have helped me adapt to challenges are the diversity of my experiences. Working in different industries, beyond investment, and my interest in alternative medicine and spirituality, I have a lot of interest in alternative medicine and holistic healing in general, helped me a lot in having a relatively resilient attitude. I also like reading about different disciplines that are unrelated to my career and frequently go on yoga retreats, silent retreats, and water fasts.

I've been into nutrition recently so I’ve been reading books by Isabella Wentz, who’s a nutritionist and a pharmacist by training. Another good read is a tiny book called Freedom from the Known by Jiddu Krishnamurti.

CALENDAR

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

17-20 May (Monday-Thursday): Avior-HC Egypt Virtual Conference.

18-20 May (Tuesday-Thursday): Renaissance Capital’s annual MENA Investor Conference.

20 May (Thursday): Integrated Diagnostics Holding shares begin trading on the EGX.

20 May (Thursday): Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will be in Cairo for talks with FM Sameh Shoukry as part of a three-day regional tour amid the ongoing escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

20-28 May (Thursday-Friday): Gouna International Squash Open 2021.

24-26 May (Monday-Wednesday): British Egyptian Business Association virtual healthcare week.

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 Portfolio Egypt conference under the theme ‘Growth under the weight of the pandemic.’

31 May (Monday): Egypt is hosting Trescon Global’s World AI Show with the support of ITIDA.

7 June (Monday): British Egyptian Business Association hosts event featuring Oil Minister Tarek El Molla.

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.

22-27 June (Tuesday-Sunday): The CIB PSA World Tour Finals for 2020-2021 will take place in Cairo.

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): The IMF will complete a second review of targets set under the USD 5.2 bn standby loan approved in June 2020 (proposed date).

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.

1 July (Thursday): Businesses importing goods at seaports will need to file shipping documents and cargo data digitally to the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system.

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.

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 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.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

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.

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