Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Unvaccinated travelers can now ask for J&J + Health Ministry says delta isn’t here yet

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the final business day of the week. We’re heading into our last long weekend until October, so we hope you plan to enjoy every minute of it.

Startups are getting some very public love from cabinet, with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and International cooperation minister Rania El Mashat meeting yesterday with representatives of Swvl, PayNas, Fatura, Bypass, and Garment IO to express their full support for Egypt’s startup scene — and their commitment to removing red tape and improving Egypt’s business climate to encourage would-be entrepreneurs, according to a statement.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- US President Joe Biden’s USD 1 tn infrastructure package got the go ahead from the Senate yesterday in a rare display of bipartisan cooperation, the Financial Times reports. The bill will now head to the House of Representatives, though it won’t land on lawmakers’ desks till after the summer recess ends. Look for debate to heat up next month as the bill gets caught up in a wider USD 3.5 tn budget debate in September. The once-in-a-generation bill is also at the top of the Wall Street Journal.

Spending would ultimately start on “hard” rather than “human” infrastructure. Hard infrastructure (beloved of Republicans) covers roads, bridges, tunnels, power generation, clean drinking water and the like. Human infrastructure is what we’d call “social” infrastructure, but beefed up to include money for social programs. The Financial Times has solid explainer on how the program — which falls short of the USD 2.3 tn the Biden administration originally pushed for — would work.

ALSO- The foreign press is digging deep into the biggest US politician yet to fall in a [redacted] harassment scandal as the Cuomo political dynasty comes to an end (for the currently-serving generation, at least) following the resignation of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The story leads or is above the fold in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and FT.

AND- ‘Cause this ends well: Nobel peace prize laureate Abiy Ahmed is calling on “all capable Ethiopians” to go fight Tigrayan forces. The Ethiopian leader said he is calling on people to flock to a motley crew of “defence forces, regional special forces and militias.” The story made the front page of the FT and the Guardian.

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

  • City life is getting a little more expensive: Annual urban inflation accelerated to 5.4% in July — its fastest rate in 2021 — due to higher fuel and electricity prices.
  • Egypt, UAE join forces to create dual-fuel trucks: The Egyptian Emirates Automotive Company — a joint venture between UAE industrial firm M Glory Holding and the Egyptian military — will start assembling nat gas powered pickup trucks in 1H2022.
  • NBK Egypt a step closer to delisting: The board of directors of National Bank of Kuwait Egypt yesterday agreed to voluntarily delist from the EGX.

MORNING MUST READ- Get ready for the new iPhone 13: Exciting features are coming to the next iPhone lineup, Bloomberg reports in the latest piece from Apple watcher Mark Gurman. Tentpole figures will include a much-improved display, portrait mode for video, first-party filters and ProRes Raw (a higher quality video format beloved of professional editors). Battery capacity is also expected to increase by 15-20%, according to ZDNet. Industry observers will be watching closely for any signs that supply of this year’s models will be constrained. This year’s iPhones are likely to share the same design as the current models. As good iSheep, we’re particularly excited about Gurman’s assertion that a new iPad Mini could be in the works.

Apple typically unveils its new iPhone in September, but last year’s event was postponed to October thanks to covid-19.

enterprise

COVID WATCH

Travelers can now ask for J&J + the delta variant isn’t yet in Egypt

J&J jabs and QR code-bearing vaccination certificates are now available to still-unvaccinated citizens and residents who need to travel, Mohamed Abdel Fattah, head of the Health Ministry’s Central Administration for Preventive Affairs told Nagham FM (listen, runtime 34:33). Travelers who apply for the single-dose vaccine should receive a message within 72 hours. The country has 126 vaccination centers dedicated to issuing official vaccination certificates for those wishing to travel.

Egypt will receive a second 700k dose batch of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “in the coming period,” according to a statement by the Health Ministry, after we received the first batch of 260.6k Johnson & Johnson vaccines through the African Union on Monday.

So what about those of us who got Sinopharm, but want to travel to a country doesn’t recognize the jab? Could we someday have access to J&J boosters? Mohamed Al Nadi, a member of the Health Ministry’s covid-19 taskforce, told DMC last night that those vaccinated with non-EU-endorsed vaccines, including Chinese’s Sinopharm and Sinovac, will eventually be able to reapply for the Johnson & Johnson jab as a booster shot. The sticking point, however, is that the government is aiming to inoculate at least 40 mn of the Egyptian population before 2022, so such requests wouldn’t exactly top the Health Ministry’s priority list, he said.

Al Nadi added that no cases of the delta or delta-plus variants have been officially detected in Egypt (watch, runtime: 14:06) — and said the recent pick-up in Egypt’s daily new case count is in line with the ministry’s predictions for a rise in infections during the busy summer season.

We might receive the next shipment by September: The ministry’s statement did not specify the exact timeframe, however, the African Union — which is providing us with the J&J vaccines — is expected to increase its vaccine shipments by September. The African Union is providing us with 25 mn doses of the single-shot vaccine, while the government reportedly placed an order directly with the company earlier this year for 4 mn doses, which are expected to arrive in the fourth quarter.

What about Pfizer? We’re still waiting on our first 2.5 mn-dose shipment of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine, which health ministry officials said should land here at home within days. The shipment was originally scheduled to arrive in mid-July, but has been delayed since then.

Egypt received overnight 525k doses of the Oxford / AstraZeneca jab, delivered to us from Romania as a gift as part of a three-way agreement between the Health Ministry, the Romanian government and vaccinemaker AstraZeneca, according to a ministry statement. The shots will undergo a final analysis before being dispatched to vaccination centers nationwide, Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed said.

More AstraZeneca jabs are en route: Egypt is due to receive this week the final 1.9 mn-dose shipment of AstraZeneca Egypt has been allocated under the Gavi / Covax program. We’re also still waiting on the 250k doses of AstraZeneca, gifted to us by Slovenia, which were expected to be shipped as early as late last month.

Afreximbank wants to team up with Egypt on the manufacturing of jabs for distribution across Africa, President Benedict Oramah said yesterday during his meeting with Health Minister Hala Zayed in Cairo. The statement was otherwise scant on details, saying only that Afreximbank, who is also partner on the AU’s new online covid-19 vaccines marketplace Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), is looking to benefit from the production capacity of Egyptian pharma factories, given the Sinovac jabs being produced at the state’s Vacsera plants.

The Health Ministry reported 86 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 83 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 284,875 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 6 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 16,588.

The daily case count is still climbing steadily for day 15, with the exception of a brief drop on 5 August, according to our in-house covid tracker.

Concerns over the efficacy of Sinopharm and Sinovac against the Delta variant have arisen after outbreaks in Nanjing and Shanghai airports, highlighting the absence of studies on the vaccines’ resistance to the new strain, the Financial Times reports. Unlike other vaccines, there is no peer reviewed research on the WHO-approved Chinese vaccines effectiveness against Delta, and authorities have not revealed how many infections from the Nanjing outbreak are “breakthrough cases” — people who have already been vaccinated.

M&A WATCH

ADQ’s Agthia may finalize Atyab acquisition this month

ADQ Holding’s Agthia could close its Atyab takeover this month: Emirati state-owned investment firm ADQ Holding’s food subsidiary Agthia is in the final stages of acquiring 75% of Atyab brand owner Ismailia Agricultural and Industrial Investments. The Emirati sovereign wealth fund is on track to finalize the transaction before the end of August, Agthia CFO Ammar Al Ghoul told Al Arabiya. The takeover, which could be valued at up to EGP 3.2 bn, has been pending regulatory approval since April, when Agitha’s board had given the greenlight for the bid to takeover a majority stake in frozen meats and poultry company.

Expansion through acquisition: If completed, the Atyab acquisition would make Agthia one of the leading frozen meat and poultry players in the MENA region, the company previously said. Agitha has recently been on an acquisition spree, closing earlier this year the acquisition of Emirati dates producer Al Foah, as well as Kuwait’s Al Faysal Bakery and Sweets.

The company also acquired a majority stake in Jordan’s Nabil Food Industries, after obtaining regulatory approvals in May.

Advisors: Law firms Matouk Bassiouny & Hennawy and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer are acting as local counsel to Agthia, while EFG Hermes is the company’s financial advisor on the transaction. Adsero-Ragy Soliman & Partners, meanwhile, is advising Ismailia, and First Capital Financial Advisory is financial advisor to the Egypt-based target.

IN OTHER M&A NEWS- Mass transport app Swvl is mulling the acquisition of an unnamed company in Europe, as part of the company’s wider plans to expand locally and internationally, Swvl founder Moustafa Kandil said during a meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly, according to a cabinet statement. There were no details on the timeline or value of the potential transaction. Swvl announced its plans last month to go public on the Nasdaq through a merger with US blank check firm Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Egypt to build EGP 2.2 bn bulk grain terminal in East Port Said

Two commodity trading houses have signed a contract with the Egyptian government to build an EGP 2.2 bn bulk grain terminal in East Port Said, the Madbouly cabinet said in a statement on Monday. Emirati company Rosa Grain and local firm Roots Commodities were chosen from among four local and international companies. The two will build the facility in partnership with the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone). Up to 7.2 mn tonnes of grain are expected to be traded each year through the terminal, which is being constructed as part of a logistics hub in East Port Said.

INVESTMENT WATCH

SKY AD plans to invest over EGP 4 bn in 2 projects in Egypt by year’s end

UAE-based Diamond Group’s subsidiary Sky AD Developments will invest over EGP 4 bn in two projects in Egypt by the end of the year — one in the North Coast and one in New Cairo — Sky’s chief executive Abdulrahman Agami told Reuters. The Emirati real estate company — which has pledged EGP 15 bn in investments in Egypt’s real estate sector through 2023 — is in the final stage of negotiations on the two new projects, Agami said.

Sky is already constructing an EGP 4 bn project in the new capital: Residence Eight includes a mix of residential, commercial and administrative space with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2024, according to Agami. Sky has already sold houses worth more than EGP 1 bn in the under-construction project, and plans to put its commercial and office chunk up for sale next month.

DEBT WATCH

Edita borrows EGP 150 mn from Credit Agricole for new production line

Edita is taking out a seven-year EGP 150 mn facility from Credit Agricole to finance its new baked goods production line, the company said in a statement (pdf) yesterday. The new line is expected to come online in 1Q2022.

IN OTHER DEBT NEWS- EFG Hermes-owned microfinance player Tanmeyah could file for an FRA-regulated SME microfinancing license before year’s end. Tanmeyah is currently studying the prospect of requesting the microfinance license for SMEs and could move forward with plans later this year, CEO Amro Abouesh said at a presser yesterday, Hapi Journal reports. The license would allow Tanmeyah to provide its micro leasing products to SMEs under the Microfinancing Act.

ELSEWHERE- Tanmeyah has received Central Bank approval to offer Meeza cards to customers, making it the first non-banking company to do so, Abouesh told the press.

EARNINGS WATCH

EKH, Contact Financial report sharp rises in net income

Egypt Kuwait Holding’s (EKH) attributable net income rose 52% y-o-y to USD 45.2 mn in 2Q2021, up from USD 29.8 mn (pdf) a year before, according to a company earnings release (pdf). EKH’s 2Q2021 top line came in at USD 186.1 mn, a 24% y-o-y increase that was driven primarily by a 27% y-o-y increase in revenues at the fertilizer and petrochemicals segment, “which continued to reap the benefits of the rally in commodities prices and growing export sales as markets opened up,” EKH Chairman Moataz Al-Alfi said. The rally was underpinned by EKH’s energy and energy-related segment, which was buoyed by “growing contributions from NatEnergy’s electricity generation and distribution facility, Kahraba,” Al Alfi added.

Looking forward: EKH is “optimistic” in the long run about long-term growth prospects of its natural gas distribution business, especially in light of the government’s ‘Hayah Karima’ (Decent Life) initiative — which will revamp infrastructure across underprivileged villages and increase the number of households with supplies to natural gas, providing expansion prospects for the group going forward, Al Alfi said. The company has earmarked c. USD 300 mn in capex spending, aiming to expand its operations across the horizon and “maximize” value generated from its subsidiaries, said CEO Sherif El Zayat. EKH is also moving steadily towards bringing its sulphuric acid factory at Sprea Misr online by 1H2022, with plans to increase capacity of its electricity generation and distribution facility, Kahraba, by 20 MW to bring its total generation capacity to c. 135 MW by 2H2022, El Zayat added.

Contact Financial Holding’s consolidated net income jumped 72% y-o-y to EGP 218 mn in 1H2021, up from EGP 127 mn in the same period last year, according to a company press release (pdf). Net income from its financing business rose 64% y-o-y to EGP 215 mn, driven by an expansion in its product range after the company received its consumer financing license. Contact also added five new branches nationwide and grew its merchant network sixfold y-o-y. The company also saw its new ins. business in the black, adding EGP 3.4 mn to its bottom line, compared to losses of EGP 3.9 mn in 1H2020.

The company launched several financing products in 1H2021, including home finishing financial product Shattab, a new club fees financing product and ins. policies. It also rolled out a 10-year mortgage product in partnership with online real estate portal Sakneen, in which Contact has invested. Contact saw its new mortgage financing grow sixfold, while home equity loans (which the company had previously called home finishing loans) more than tripled over the first six months of the year.

Looking ahead: Contact plans to continue its geographical expansion and develop its client mobile application as it continues investing in tech following the relaunch of its contactcars.com platform. The company plans to launch “a dedicated app for the dealer network making it easier for dealers to source, value and remarket used cars using a digital auction tool.”

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ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The summer talk show slowdown was in full effect last night, with several channels transitioning to Sahel mode for a Thursday-Saturday long weekend. The big news of the night was talk of the nation’s rising covid-19 case count and the availability of J&J vaccines for would-be travelers; we cover that story in this morning’s news well, above.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Human rights is (yet again) the flavour of the morning in the foreign press: The Biden administration could move ahead with a waiver that would release USD 300 mn of the USD 1.3 bn in military aid annually given to Egypt, though the Senate is on edge about Egypt’s human rights record, the Hill reports. Biden officials called Egypt “an important security partner,” during a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing on the Middle East, and stressed the importance of the US continuing to provide security assistance.

Also making headlines:

  • Restoration of Assiut’s Virgin Mary Monastery stirs anger: The paving of the cave’s rock floor with ceramic tiles outraged critics, who objected to the alteration of the site that is believed to have sheltered the Holy Family. (Al Monitor)
  • A Republic of False Truths gains more international media attention: Set during and after the 2011 revolution, Alaa Al Aswany’s A Republic of False Truths has been getting reviews in the foreign press left and right: New York Times | the Guardian | Foreign Policy | Financial Times | Wall Street Journal | Los Angeles Times

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Jumia will hire more than 100 workers at its new Cairo tech hub as part of the Africa-focused e-commerce giant’s plans to increase its IT department staff by 40% by the end of the year.

The Egypt University of Informatics (EUI) will be established in the new capital’s Knowledge City and will open its doors in the coming 2021-2022 academic year in October, with plans to offer undergraduate degrees in information sciences, computer engineering, digital arts and design, and business informatics.

PLANET FINANCE

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Crypto criminals pull off USD 600 mn heist: The decentralized finance (DeFi) platform PolyNetwork may have been hit with the largest heist in crypto's tumultuous history in a cyberattack that drained more than USD 600 mn worth of cryptocurrency, Bloomberg reports. Details of the incident are still under investigation, but PolyNetwork says “tens of thousands” of users of its blockchain networks were affected by the hack.

This is the latest DeFi protocol to fall victim to hackers in less than a month following massive cyberattacks in DeFi darlings Popsicle Finance and ThorChain, who suffered two multi-mn USD exploits in one week. The series of alleged hacks could be a blow to the burgeoning finance space, which has recently come under the eye of financial watchdogs.

Need a refresher on DeFi? We’ve got you covered here and here.

Samsung could launch a spree of acquisitions and investments after vice chairman Lee Jae-Young is released from prison on parole later this week: Employees and investors expect him to ramp up the company’s investment plans in computer chips, 5G, and artificial intelligence, according to the Financial Times. Lee had served eight months of a two and a half year sentence for bribing the former South Korean President to help secure control of Samsung Electronics.

US-based mRNA vaccine manufacturer GreenLight Biosciences will go public in a USD 1.5 bn SPAC transaction, and plans to merge with special purpose acquisition vehicle Environmental Impact Acquisition Corp, the Wall Street Journal reports. GreenLight plans to begin clinical trials for its covid-19 vaccine in Africa in 1Q2022, and is also working on a vaccine for the seasonal flu, with hopes to develop a jab against sickle cell disease in the future.

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THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 0.5% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.91 bn (31.4% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net buyers. The index is up 0.1% YTD.

In the green: Egyptian Resorts Company (+3.4%), Heliopolis Housing (+2.7%) and TMG Holding (+1.8%).

In the red: Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals (-6.4%), Ezz Steel (-3.5%) and Orascom Development Egypt (-2.9%).

IN DIPLOMACY

Germany has a new ambassador to Egypt, with Frank Hartmann presenting his credentials to the foreign ministry Sunday, according to a statement by the German embassy. Hartmann was previously the commissioner for crisis management at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. He joined the diplomatic corps in 1993 and held positions in the German Foreign Affairs Ministry, Germany’s diplomatic missions in Beijing and Tokyo, and the UN office in Sarajevo. Hartmann succeeds Cyrill Nunn, who served as the German ambassador in Cairo from August 2019.

CALENDAR

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

26-28 August (Thursday-Saturday): Jackson Hole Economic Symposium.

September: Delegation of Russian companies to visit Russian Industrial Zone.

1-3 September (Wednesday-Friday): Digi Sign Africa, Cairo International Convention Centre, Cairo, Egypt.

2 September (Thursday): The new EGX mechanism for calculating closing share prices will come into effect.

3-5 September (Friday-Sunday): The World Karate Federation will hold the third competition of the 2021 Karate 1-Premier League in Cairo.

5-7 September (Sunday-Tuesday): The Arab Security Conference, The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo, Egypt.

7-8 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): Euromoney Conferences will host the GlobalCapital Sustainable and Responsible Capital Markets Forum 2021, featuring Vice Minister of Finance Minister Ahmed Kouchouk.

7-9 September (Tuesday-Thursday): Egy Health Expo, Al Manara International Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

9 September (Thursday): DevOpsDays Cairo 2021 is being organized by ITIDA and the Software Engineering Competence Center in cooperation with DXC Technology, IBM Egypt and Orange Labs.

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

15 September (Wednesday): The CFO Leadership & Strategy Summit is taking place in Egypt.

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

21-22 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

22-25 September (Wednesday-Saturday): Cityscape Egypt, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

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.

30 September: Closing of 2021’s first oil and gas tender in the Gulf of Suez, Western Desert, and the Mediterranean.

October: New legislative session begins.

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

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

1 October (Friday): State-owned companies and government service bodies selling goods and services to customers that have not yet signed 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.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

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

11-17 October (Monday-Sunday): IMF + World Bank Annual Meetings.

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.

24-28 October (Sunday-Thursday) Cairo Water Week, Cairo, Egypt.

27-28 October (Wednesday-Thursday) Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference, Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski, Cairo, Egypt.

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

30 October – 4 November (Saturday-Thursday): The first edition of Race The Legends, Egypt.

31 October – 12 November (Sunday-Friday): The 26th UN Climate Change Conference, Glasgow, UK.

November: The French-Egyptian Business Forum is set to take place in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

November: Egypt will host another round of talks to reach a potential Egyptian-Eurasian trade agreement, which can significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to the Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

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

2-3 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

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

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

7-8 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): North Africa Trade Finance Summit.

12-14 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Food Africa Cairo trade exhibition, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

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

14-19 December (Tuesday-Sunday): The Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater.

14-15 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

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.

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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