Wednesday, 3 November 2021

AM — Egypt not on board with yesterday’s methane + deforestation COP26 pledges

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

It’s a brisk news day here in Omm El Donia, where the big story is that we have not signed onto two landmark agreements coming out of COP26 in Glasgow.

More than 100 countries have signed methane reduction, deforestation pledges — but Egypt isn’t one of them as COP26 continues to dominate the global conversation this morning. Some 100 world leaders yesterday committed to both end deforestation by 2030 and improve land use while also reducing methane emissions by at least 30% by the end of the decade.

Egypt hasn’t signed onto either of the initiatives, nor have Saudi Arabia, Oman or Qatar. The United Arab Emirates, however, has joined both, as has China.

SIGN OF THE TIMES #1- Big Finance has figured out there is money (and headlines) to be made in Glasgow: “The global finance industry, its regulators and investors pledge tns in funding to reduce carbon emissions,” the Wall Street Journal notes. You can expect ESG to be all the more important going forward: “The funding can take the form of bank loans and investments by venture capitalists, private-equity firms, mutual funds, endowments and other big investors that buy stocks and bonds. These would all be used to shift funds toward investments that help lower carbon emissions, while still earning a profit.”

Also on the international front pages this morning:

  • State of emergency in Ethiopia: Ethiopia has declared a six-month state of emergency amid growing fears that Tigray rebels were advancing closer to Addis Ababa. The government is urging people living in the capital to arm themselves and protect their neighborhoods after rebel fighters captured two towns on a main route in the city. (Reuters | Bloomberg | FT)
  • Facebook is trying to repair its reputational damage, pledging to shut down its facial recognition system and wipe the facial data of more than 1 bn people. (AP | Reuters | WSJ)

SIGN OF THE TIMES #2- Heading to the US of A for Christmas? You may want to start practicing meditation or consider opting for a more chemical form of stress-management therapy. A series of US flight cancellations in the run-up to the holiday season has the Financial Times asking on its front page whether a “holiday meltdown” is in the cards for US airlines. Among the concerns: Staff shortages thanks to a very tight labor market.

enterprise

Things that make us go 🤮: Microsoft is taking on Facebook Meta by launching the “metaverse” on Teams. Coming in the next six to eight months, Microsoft Mesh will allow you to appear in your Teams calls as a cartoon avatar and to “visit virtual workspaces” that could include literal replicas of your physical office. Dear God could we please not? Microsoft’s homepage for the technology is here and the FT is giving the story plenty of ink.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

It’s PMI day: Purchasing managers’ indexes for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will land today, just a few minutes after we hit “send” on this morning’s issue (tap or click here to see the page). Activity in Egypt’s non-oil private sector hit a four-month low in September as output and new orders continued to contract. On the upside, firms reported a record level of confidence in upcoming business activity, while employment rose for the third consecutive month.

The Africa Early Stage Investors Summit kicks off tonight, starting with an investor meetup sponsored by the Cairo Angels at Consoleya in Downtown Cairo. The summit will continue on Thursday and Friday with virtual sessions featuring speakers from angel networks, VC funds, accelerators, and the public sector, among others.

It’s the final day of the Egypt Energy exhibition: The three-day event will include speeches and discussions on the global energy outlook, the future of clean energy, financing green economy projects, and the future of connectivity with network management capabilities.

FURTHER AFIELD- It’s decision day at the Fed: The US Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee will announce later today the outcome of its two-day meeting. The emerging consensus is that the Fed will announce it is winding down its USD 120 bn a month asset purchase program instituted at the start of the pandemic to cushion the economy. The central bank is facing somewhat of a catch-22 in coping with stagflation: Keeping rates low would allow the recovery to continue, but prices could spiral — while tightening would quell inflation but stifle demand and provoke market volatility.

Emerging markets including Egypt will be watching the Fed’s meeting closely — rising US rates will put pressure on inflows into EM debt.

HAPPENING TOMORROW Oil markets brace for a rocky ride ahead of OPEC+ meet: Crude futures for December are down this morning ahead of the meeting of OPEC+ producers, who are coming under pressure from the US, Japan and other global buyers to boost output and stifle the recent rally that has seen prices reach new three-year highs. Brent was down 1.5% and US crude 1.8% ahead of dispatch this morning after US President Joe Biden reiterated calls to increase production beyond the 400k bbl/d that producers have agreed to add next month.

POUR ONE OUT- Lebanon’s Daily Star has closed its doors: Lebanon’s oldest English-language daily newspaper has been forced to shut its doors, following years of financial struggle, the Associated Press reports. The Daily Star joins a string of landmark Lebanese publications forced to shut in recent years, as economic turmoil and the rise of digital media take their toll on traditional newspapers that in decades past had led the region. Other Lebanese media organizations, including As-Safir and the Hariri family-owned Al-Mustaqbal, have seen cuts to salaries and staff numbers or shut down altogether.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Other key news triggers in November:

  • Foreign reserves: October’s foreign reserves figures will be out sometime this week;
  • Inflation: Inflation figures for October will be released next Wednesday, 10 November;
  • There’s no MPC meeting this month — the central bank will next meet on 16 December to review interest rates for the final time this year. The CBE has yet to issue its MPC calendar for 2022.

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

enterprise

*** It’s Hardhat day — your weekly briefing of all things infrastructure in Egypt: Enterprise’s industry vertical focuses each Wednesday on infrastructure, covering everything from energy, water, transportation, urban development and social infrastructure such as health and education.

In today’s issue: Natural gas price hikes announced at the start of the week will see heavy industrial users pay 28% more for the fuel, bringing prices back to where they were before the government enacted industry-wide price cuts to help factories weather the covid crisis. The price decision has had a disparate impact on different heavy-use industries, with some reporting marginal increases in expected production costs and others appearing to be more worried. We look at how each industry views the impact of the decision.

enterprise

CAPITAL MARKETS

Let’s skip the formalities and just SPAC

Two companies are already eyeing setting up SPACs in Egypt to acquire and list fintech players, Zulficar & Partners founding partner Anwar Zeidan told Enterprise, confirming a story that was originally published in Al Mal. The companies are both non-banking financial services (NBFS) players, one of which is Egyptian, while the other is international with stakes in several Egyptian companies, according to Zeidan, who declined to name them. These companies are currently in talks with the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) about the steps they would need to take once SPACs are formally allowed.

That was fast: The news comes one day after the FRA greenlit a plan spearheaded by EGX boss Mohamed Farid to allow SPACs in Egypt. The blank-check companies would be subject to the same regulations as venture capital firms under the Capital Markets Act, with listing and delisting rules still to be decided by the market regulator.

There has been interest since at least 2Q: The international firm reached out to Zulficar to inquire about listing SPACs in Egypt around five months ago, Zeidan told us. Since then, the law firm has been discussing the potential introduction of SPACs with officials at the FRA and EGX, he said.

It all began with Swvl deciding to go public: Swvl’s announcement that it will list on the Nasdaq via a SPAC merger earlier this year seemed to have triggered interest among policymakers here. The idea was first publicly disclosed after Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly met with the Egyptian transport app and a number of other startups a few days after the merger with US Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital was finalized.

How would Egyptian SPACs work, again? SPACs would be set up with an initial capital of EGP 5 mn, similar to a VC firm in Egypt, says Zeidan. SPACS would work to get institutional investors to buy in before floating on a stock exchange and placing the funds raised into an interest-bearing trust account for a maximum of two years while it looks for a company to acquire or merge with.

And what happens next? The proposed acquisition goes to a general assembly meeting, where shareholders weigh in and are given the option of exiting the SPAC and getting a drawback on their funds. The remaining shareholders then give the acquisition their blessing and the process moves forward. In the event that the SPAC fails to close an acquisition within the two-year window, it is liquidated and the funds are given back to investors along with returns from the fixed-income investments.

Still need a refresher? We have a full primer on why — and how — SPACs work in Western markets.

INVESTMENT WATCH

Egypt is up for a slice of BlackRock’s new climate-focused EM infrastructure fund

Egypt is among the “attractive” emerging markets in which BlackRock could be investing through its new USD 673 mn climate-focused infrastructure fund, BlackRock Alternative Investments’ global head of renewable powers David Giordano tells Reuters. The new Climate Finance Partnership fund — backed by the French, German, and Japanese governments — will invest in renewable energy and other climate-focused projects across emerging markets.

Who’s in, how much will it invest per transaction: The fund’s average equity investment — or “ticket size” to the cognoscenti — will likely be in the USD 25-75 mn range, according to Giordano. The 22 LPs include TotalEnergies, Axa and Dai-Ichi Life. Their commitments saw the fund close well ahead of its USD 500 mn fundraising target. The fund is designed to “show how to mobilize private capital in developing countries to tackle climate change,” which are among those most affected by the impacts of climate change, the newswire says.

Egypt’s green push is what got us noticed, with Giordano telling the newswire that Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Peru, and Vietnam are showing commitment to the clean energy transition. Egypt — which was recently ranked by E&Y (pdf) as one of the top 20 countries in the world for renewable energy attractiveness — recently set a goal of generating 42% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2035. By as soon as next year, authorities are intending to authorize 2.4 GW worth of renewable energy projects that would cost a combined USD 1.5 bn. Several projects will also be funded through our maiden USD 750 bn green bond issuance, which made Egypt the first country in the region to sell climate-related debt.

The announcement of the fund coincided with the COP26 summit, where representatives of more than 100 countries are meeting to find consensus on how to reach net-zero emissions over the coming decades. Developing nations, including President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, are calling on wealthy nations to follow up on their pledge to provide USD 100 bn a year in funding to help developing countries tackle climate change.

The UK has also announced a green investment fund for emerging markets: The UK will invest more than USD 3 bn in green infrastructure projects and technologies in emerging markets over the coming five years, British PM Boris Johnson announced at the conference. This is double the amount invested by the UK’s development finance arm CDC between 2017 and 2021. The 'Clean Green Initiative' will include USD 200 mn for a new facility that will see CDC work with private sector investors in developing countries to upscale technologies to combat the effects of climate change and mitigate environmental damage.

IPO WATCH

Benya Capital studies dual listing

IT infrastructure contractor Benya Capital is considering a dual listing on the EGX and a foreign bourse, CEO Ahmed Mekky said, according to Hapi Journal. The company will soon complete studies on a potential IPO in Egypt, after which it will decide on the second market and the timing of the offering.

There has been a lot of IPO talk after e-Finance’s successful debut on the EGX last month: The state-owned fintech firm raised some EGP 5.8 bn when it listed a 26% stake on the bourse, making it the biggest IPO in Egypt in six years. In the days that followed, e-Finance suggested it could follow up the sale by listing two of its subsidies, while Ghazl El Mahalla announced its intention to become the first listed sports club in Egypt with a share sale in November.

But so far, we’ve heard zip from the private sector players most likely list: The parent company of health foods brand Abu Auf said earlier this fall it will list in the first half of 2022, with EFG Hermes in the driver’s seat. Macro Pharma also has plans to list, having made a last-minute u-turn on its IPO in April and later hired EFG Hermes to quarterback the sale. And non-bank financial services player Ebtikar has also said it plans to go public.

Benya is a digital solutions and IT infrastructure provider focused on Egypt and the Middle East and Africa region. The company owns Fiber Misr Systems, Fiber Misr Engineering, Benya Cables and Benya Raqmeya.

STARTUP WATCH

Delivery startup Appetito raises USD 2 mn pre-seed funding

Cairo-based grocery delivery startup Appetito has raised USD 2 mn in pre-series A funding, the company said in a statement (pdf) last night. The round was led by US VC firm Jedar Capital and featured participation from Ghanaian investment company Golden Palm Investments, Africa-focused VC DFS Lab and a number of angel investors. Jedar contributed to the company’s funding round earlier this year, which saw it raise USD 450k from a number of angel and venture investors.

About Appetito: Established in March 2020, Appetito is an online platform offering next-day or pre-scheduled grocery and home supply deliveries in Cairo, Alexandria, and Giza. The Egypt-focused startup relies on dark stores — miniature warehouse-adjacent spaces, whose sole purpose is to pack online orders for delivery to households. Appetito currently operates seven dark stores and has ambitions to expand to 150 by 2024. Over the past 12 months, the company has grown revenues and the number of orders 10x.

COVID WATCH

Gov’t facilities to close to the unjabbed by next month + kids 15-18 can line up for Pfizer

The unjabbed won’t have access to gov’t facilities starting next month: Starting from 1 December, members of the public will need to show proof that they’ve received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine in order to enter government facilities, cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad told Salat Al Tahrir (watch, runtime: 17:10), elaborating on a statement out following the weekly cabinet meeting yesterday.

The lives of unvaccinated public sector employees are going to get harder in less than two weeks: Starting 15 November, unvaccinated state employees won’t be allowed into their workplaces unless they test negative on a PCR test each week, the statement said. Uni students will also be prevented from accessing campus unless they show proof of vaccination.

Children aged 15-18 will be offered Pfizer vaccines in Egypt, acting Health Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar said in a cabinet meeting today, according to a statement. Details of the rollout for the age group will be announced within hours, the minister said, adding that unvaccinated university students will not be allowed on campuses as of 15 November.

Some 38 mn doses have now been administered, presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag El Din told Al Hayah Al Youm in a phone call (watch, runtime: 2:23) last night, without disclosing how many people are now fully vaccinated.

The Health Ministry reported 921 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 951 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 332,889 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 58 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 18,769.

IN GLOBAL COVID NEWS-

Pfizer has more than doubled its 2021 covid vaccine sales forecast to USD 36 bn, according to its 3Q earnings release (pdf), which showed sales easily beating estimates. The company is also expecting to rake in USD 29 bn in 2022 from its vaccine. One analyst told the FT that the figures demonstrate that the pharm giant is “dominating” the global covid vaccine market.

CABINET WATCH

Gov’t really wants us to cut down on imports

Import substitution is back on the Cabinet’s priority list: The government is setting up a new committee on import substitution and growing domestic manufacturing, according to a statement following the weekly cabinet meeting. The committee is mandated with laying out proposed steps to encourage industrial investments in the sectors specified by the Trade and Industry Ministry where domestic manufacturing is the most lacking, the statement says. The strategy will be prepared with input from the private sector to avoid overcrowding or duplicates in certain industries. The committee, headed by the Trade and Industry minister, will prepare quarterly reports on its progress and report these findings to the prime minister.

This might ring a bell for longtime Enterprise readers: Back in 2018, Cabinet — which was then headed by Sherif Ismail — had ordered a study of the total import of goods and services over the previous three years to help the government set policy priorities for which goods can be manufactured by the private sector domestically. The move was meant to reduce unemployment and help narrow the current account deficit.

It’s as good a time as any to prioritize cutting back on imports: Egypt’s current account deficit widened by USD 7.2 bn in FY2020-2021, as a “noticeable drop” in tourism revenues meant there was less to offset expenditures on imports, according to Central Bank of Egypt figures released last month. Egypt’s spending on non-oil imports rose 11% y-o-y during the first half of the current calendar year, rising to USD 36.6 bn, Trade and Industry Ministry figures previously showed.

DEBT WATCH

NBE wants to borrow USD 1.5 bn from int’l lenders in 2022

The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) is in the market to borrow USD 1.5 bn from international institutions next year, Deputy Chairman Yehia Aboul Fotouh told Hapi Journal. This would match the amount it borrowed this year, he said. Media reports earlier this year suggested that the bank was close to an agreement for a USD 1 bn loan, part of which would be used to refinance existing debts. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the French Development Agency (AFD) lent the bank USD 100 mn loan to on-lend to green projects, and last week the AIIB and the OPEC Fund signed off on a USD 200 mn loan for infrastructure projects.

EARNINGS WATCH

Edita is recovering from covid just fine: Edita Food Industries’ net income rose almost 5% in 3Q2021, reaching EGP 112.4 mn from EGP 107.5 mn in the same period last year, according to the company’s latest earnings release (pdf). Revenues increased by a third to EGP 1.39 bn on higher volumes and better pricing, the company said.

Better pricing = higher revenues: The company has focused on shifting consumers to higher priced products and has raised the average price per package to EGP 1.79, up from EGP 1.63 in 3Q2020. Most recently, the company raised the price of Molto by EGP 1 and is now selling two ranges of the packaged croissants at EGP 3 and EGP 4, in a bid to improve its bottom line amid rising inflation. Sales volumes rose 20% during the quarter from a year earlier, driven by its cakes and wafers segments, Edita said.

Looking ahead: “The company will continue to expand production capacity and rolling out new, higher-value propositions, while shifting consumers increasingly towards higher price points,” it said in the release. It’s new factory in Morocco will start operations this month, marking a “key milestone” in its expansion overseas, it said. The production line will produce 2.7k tons of HoHos cakes each year before another three lines come online at a later date.

enterprise

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

COP26 dominated the talk shows for the second night running: With President Abdel Fattah El Sisi arriving back to Egypt after attending the summit’s opening ceremony on Monday, day two was all about Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad, who met several ministers and business leaders on the sidelines, including Australia’s industry minister and HSBC’s MENAT CEO, Stephen Moss. Meanwhile, Al Hayah Al Youm had an environmental expert give his two cents on the issue of climate change (watch, runtime: 7:33). Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 2:32) also covered the summit, recapping day one.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Getting attention in the international press this morning: Gunfire wounded 10 Egyptian police officers serving as peacekeepers with a UN mission in the Central African Republic. The UN said the attack by the presidential guard in Bangui was “deliberate and unspeakable.” (DW | AFP)

Human rights are also in the press: AFP notes that journalist Hossam Bahgat will learn his fate on 29 November when a court hands down a verdict in a case regarding a tweet in which he allegedly criticized the National Elections Authority. Elsewhere, Jacobin reviews jailed activist Alaa Abdel Fattah’s latest book, You Have Not Yet Been Defeated, which gives a historical run-down of pre and post-January 2011 events.

Also getting attention:

  • Hawawshi hits the streets of NYC: The New York Times reviews Foda Egyptian Sandwiches, a Queens restaurant specializing in Egyptian staples kebda, hawawshi and koshary.
  • New prison complex: Egypt’s “state-of-the art” prison complex in Wadi Natrun valley “puts Egyptian housing to shame,” with its farm, library and education center which will host a large variety of workshops. (The Times)

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

NTRA slaps telecom companies with EGP 25 mn in fines for subpar quality: The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) has handed out EGP 25 mn in fines to telecom companies after their voice call services failed to meet the required quality standards, the regulator said in its quarterly quality of service (QoS) survey (pdf). In terms of call quality, Etisalat Misr had the most issues, while We’s network fared the worst with starting calls and Orange Egypt scored low on voice quality, the report says. Mobile internet speeds were stable throughout the three months of the third quarter of the year, with We and Vodafone boasting the fastest average speeds. Etisalat and Orange’s data speeds were also stable throughout the quarter.

Assets belonging to the sons of former president Hosni Mubarak will be unfrozen after an economic court yesterday issued a final ruling that sets aside a 2012 decision in a case in which the two were accused of market manipulation. Gamal and Alaa Mubarak were last year cleared of charges of insider trading and manipulation related to the 2007 sale of Al Watany Bank of Egypt to the National Bank of Kuwait. Yesterday’s decision cannot be appealed.

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

  • Flights between London and Luxor are back: The first flight between the two cities landed in Luxor yesterday, kicking off a new schedule that will see EgyptAir operate one weekly flight carrying 140 passengers.
  • Misr Italia Properties signed an agreement with Valu, which will give their clients access to home improvement financing provided by the consumer lender.
  • MIDBank has contracted banking software company Temenos to revamp and launch digital services for the bank, including mobile and online banking.
  • Dana Gas received USD 133 mn from its operations in Egypt in 10M2021, up 95% y-o-y thanks to the sharp rise in global oil prices, the company said in a bourse disclosure (pdf) in Abu Dhabi.
  • Authorities arrested a man suspected of decapitating and killing a man in Ismailia, after footage of the attack made the rounds on social media. The suspect’s motives are unclear.

PLANET FINANCE

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Volatility is spiking in US bond markets, but equities are turning a blind eye to risk: The uncertain outlook on inflation has jolted US government bonds, as fixed-income investors fret over the impact of the prospective Fed taper. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 stock index chased fresh peaks all through October to record its best month so far this year, the Financial Times reports.

US stocks again notched fresh record highs yesterday, leading the Dow to close above 36,000 for the first time ever, a day before the Fed announces its decision on whether to start curtailing stimulus. Strong earnings in the face of rising commodity prices and supply chain disruptions led one analyst to conclude that the fundamentals are “very, very strong.”

Is a “balanced bear” on the horizon? The divergence between the two asset classes is leading some analysts to warn that the stock market isn’t taking note of the risk for a combined equity and bond market sell-off, aka a “balanced bear.” “Equities — and equity volatility — should not miss the forest for the trees, as they’ve never been more dependent on the Fed and the Fed has never been more dependent on economic data, which itself has never been more volatile,” one Bank of America analyst told the FT.

Dubai vies for a piece of the Gulf IPO rush with state listings: Dubai will IPO 10 state-owned companies to raise trading volumes on its bourse to AED 3 tn, the emirate said. There was no indication of which companies are set to see their public debut or the timeline for the listings, but candidates could include Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and Emirates Airline, according to Bloomberg. The announcement comes as the DFM tries to close the gap with neighboring UAE and Saudi markets, which have soared this year on the back of an IPO boom that has seen bumper listings from Adnoc Drilling and Fertiglobe in Abu Dhabi to ACWA Power in Riyadh.

Amazon-backed EV startup Rivian is targeting a USD 60 bn valuation in its IPO next week: Rivian — which is also backed by Ford, and Cox Enterprises — is planning to sell shares between USD 57-62 apiece, giving the electric vehicle startup a valuation of USD 60 bn at the high end of the range, writes the Wall Street Journal.

Up

EGX30

11676

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USD (CBE)

Buy 15.66

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Interest rates CBE

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11,752

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+3.0% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 0.9% yesterday on turnover of EGP 1.39 bn (9.2% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net sellers. The index is up 7.7% YTD.

In the green: GB Auto (+9.0%), Palm Hills Development (+3.5%) and TMG Holding (+3.1%).

In the red: Ibnsina Pharma (-2.8%), Egypt Kuwait Holding-EGP (-2.3%) and Abou Kir Fertilizers (-2.2%).

Asian markets are down slightly in early trading this morning and US and European futures are mixed ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy decision later today.

DIPLOMACY

The US sees an “urgent” need for Egypt and Ethiopia to come to an agreement regarding the filling and operating of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, US special envoy to the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman said during a speech at the US Institute of Peace (watch, runtime: 1:01:29). African Union-led negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have been on hiatus for months, with the three countries still unable to agree on who should mediate a new round of talks.

hardhat

The global gas squeeze has arrived in Egypt: Operating margins at industrial firms will likely come under pressure in the coming months after the government this week raised natural gas prices by up to 28% — a move that will likely put further upward pressure on inflation, which in September hit a 20-month high.

Fertilizer, iron and steel, petrochemical, and cement producers will see their gas bills rise the most: Factories in these sectors are now paying USD 5.75 / mmBtu of natural gas, up from USD 4.50 / mmBtu. Other industries got off comparatively lightly, and are only seeing a 5.6% increase in their gas bills, paying USD 4.75 / mmBtu.

A return to the status quo: The hikes more or less reverse industry-wide price cuts enacted last year to help factories withstand the covid-19 crisis.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t cause discomfort, particularly for companies operating in the fertilizers and metals sectors. How much discomfort depends on the industry, and how central tgas is to the production process. Natgas is a feedstock or main fuel source for some fertilizer and metals producers, some of whom expect production costs to rise by 5-10%. Meanwhile, petrochem firms, who largely use other gases in their production, are expecting no more than a 1% hike to costs on the back of the decision, while most cement makers currently rely mainly on coal and so won’t be impacted.

“Hiking natural gas prices for industries, especially those that are considered energy-intensive, will surely pressure operating margins,” Prime analyst Mohamed Saad wrote in a note on Sunday. Lower cashflows will squeeze margins and hit valuations, the extent to which will depend on the sector and the company, he wrote. “The big question is whether natural gas prices will be revised in the future when the current global energy crisis is behind and if so, when?”

Fertilizer makers could see costs rise by as much as 10%: Fertilizer producers including Ferchem Masr (pdf) and EFIC (pdf) said the price hikes put them on track for a 9-10% increase in production costs, according to separate bourse disclosures. EFIC writes that the impact could weaken the company’s ability to compete in the global export market.

As for steel, the decision could raise production costs to the tune of 5-7% for companies that use natural gas as feedstock, while those that only use natgas as a fuel will be less impacted, one analyst told us. Misr National Steel (Ataqa) falls into the latter category: its costs are set to increase by a minimal EGP 26 per tonne, according to a disclosure (pdf). The first group of steelmakers in particular will see a negative impact, as fixed prices mean there is no possibility to pass on cost increases onto consumers, the analyst said.

Petrochem firms will see only marginal impacts: EGX-listed petroleum player Alexandria Mineral Oils Company expects just an 0.8% increase in its annual production costs on the back of the decision, according to the company’s EGX disclosure (pdf). Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals expects a similarly minimal 1% annual increase in production costs, it said in a regulatory filing (pdf), adding that natural gas is not a central component for the company.

The price hike will have a negligible impact on cement producers, most of which largely rely on coal, Arabian Cement Company noted in a disclosure (pdf). An outlier is South Valley Cement Company, which is predicting (pdf) a whopping 30-50% increase in its production costs due to its continued use of gas.

EGX investors punished heavy industries across the board on Sunday, with Ezz Steel down 11.8%, Abou Kir Fertilizers losing 6.1%, and Sidi Kerir down 5.5%.

Prepare for costs to be passed on and inflation to rise: Prices of fertilizers and chemical products will rise at least 20% in the coming months, Export Council for Chemical Industries and Fertilizers Chairman Khaled Abu Al Makarem told Masrawy, adding that the decision will likely have a negative impact on the economy for the coming three months.

Rising fertilizer prices means higher food prices: Fertilizers have been a key driver of the global surge in food prices this year. Spiking oil and natural gas prices have put pressure on fertilizer producers, which have passed on the costs to the agricultural sector resulting in food price inflation. Food has been one of the key components underpinning the recent rise in headline inflation, a trend that will likely increase should fertilizer prices rise further.

Exports retain a competitive edge: The price of Egypt’s natural gas remains internationally competitive, Medhat Stefanos, head of the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ cement division, told CNN Arabia. He said that it was inevitable that the global energy crunch would at some point impact Egyptian prices, adding that the FEI had previously called for gas prices to be linked to changes in international markets.

But exporters would have appreciated some prior notice: Al Makarem said exporting firms should have been given three months’ warning to account for the increase when arranging futures contracts with international companies. But given the global price squeeze, the government would now find it difficult to grant requests to postpone the decision, he added.

Gas could rise and fall in line with global prices in future: Following the gas price hikes, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla over the weekend said factories could see the prices they pay for natural gas change every 3-4 months if the gas market is liberalized. Last year, a task force made up of the Egyptian Federation of Investors Associations (EFIA) and state-owned EGAS was set up to look at aligning local and international prices.

A silver lining: The government plans to keep electricity prices fixed for another few years. Factories were spared the most recent hikes in electricity prices.


Your top infrastructure stories for the week:

  • NBE to get USD 200 mn to on-lend to infrastructure projects: The AIIB and the OPEC Fund have lent USD 200 mn to the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) to channel into infrastructure projects.
  • Car sales dip in September: Passenger car sales dropped 2% y-o-y in September as the global chip shortage bites, according to industry figures.
  • Natgas vehicles are getting pricier: Some dual-fuel vehicles delivered through the government’s natgas transition scheme will be EGP 3-5k more expensive after the Finance Ministry approved three manufacturers’ requests to raise their prices.
  • Taqa plans 6x increase in solar capacity: Taqa Arabia is looking to increase its solar energy capacity to 400-500 MW within five years from 70 MW currently.

CALENDAR

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

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.

31 October – 12 November (Sunday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

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

3-5 November (Wednesday-Friday): Africa Early Stage Investor Summit.

6 November (Saturday): Deadline to apply to Nahdet El Mahrousa’s Rabeha, a women entrepreneurship accelerator program.

7-10 November (Sunday-Wednesday): Cairo ICT 2021, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo.

8 November (Monday): Egypt CSR Forum, International Citystars, Cairo.

11 November (Thursday): Deadline for Anghami SPAC acquisition.

15 November (Monday): Unvaccinated public sector workers employees won’t be allowed into their workplaces from this date.

15-21 November (Monday-Sunday): Intra-African Trade Fair 2021, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

16-17 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Africa fintech summit, Cairo.

18-19 November (Thursday-Friday) British royal family members Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visit Cairo.

25-27 November (Thursday-Saturday): RiseUp Summit, Cairo, Egypt.

26 November-5 December (Friday-Sunday): The 43rd Cairo International Film Festival.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Centre.

30 November (Tuesday): Launch of open call by GIZ and KfW for green project proposals in Egypt as part of their Investing for Employment facility (pdf).

1 December (Wednesday): Unvaccinated members of the public will be banned from government buildings from this date; unvaccinated students will be prevented from accessing university campuses.

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

8-10 December (Wednesday-Thursday): Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research (GFHS), Cairo, Egypt.

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.

15 December (Wednesday): Deadline for joint stock companies and investment companies in Cairo to join e-invoicing platform.

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

1Q2022: Launch of the Egyptian Commodities Exchange.

7 January 2022 (Friday): Coptic Christmas.

27 January 2022 (Tuesday): National holiday in observance of 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

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

19 February 2022 (Saturday): Public universities begin the second term of the 2021-2022 academic year.

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

2 April 2022 (Saturday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

22-24 April 2022 (Friday-Sunday): World Bank-IMF spring meeting, Washington D.C.

24 April 2022 (Sunday): Coptic Easter Sunday (holiday for Coptic Christians).

25 April 2022 (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

25 April 2022 (Monday): Sinai Liberation Day.

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

2 May 2022 (Monday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

16 June 2022 (Thursday): End of 2021-2022 academic year for public schools.

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

30 June 2022 (Thursday): June 30 Revolution Day, national holiday.

2H2022: IEF-IGU Ministerial Gas Forum, Egypt. Date + location TBA.

8 July (Friday): Arafat Day.

9-13 July (Saturday-Wednesday): Eid Al Adha, national holiday.

30 July (Saturday): Islamic New Year.

6 October (Thursday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

8 October (Saturday): Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.

18-20 October 2022 (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

**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. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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