Thursday, 10 February 2022

AM — First Abu Dhabi Bank makes offer for majority stake in EFG Hermes



Good morning, wonderful people. We’ve made it through another workweek together, and our reward is what can only be called one hell of a news day — a news day that reinforces what we think is fast becoming one of the dominant themes of 2022.

With just a bit more than 10% of the year behind us, it’s clear that we have very good friends in the Emirates. FAB is making a play for our friends at EFG Hermes not even two months after real estate giant Aldar and Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ acquired our friends at SODIC. And just as FAB made its announcement yesterday, Aldar — a high-metabolism outfit — made clear it intends to continue growing in Egypt through acquisition.

This is bns of EGP worth of foreign investment pouring into the country from well-managed, well-governed, high-quality strategic investors who can literally choose to invest anywhere in the world. Their choice to come here is not just a ringing endorsement of what the teams at EFG Hermes and SODIC have built — it emphasizes Egypt’s position as an exceptionally promising place to build and grow a business. For all of the things (in the business world and outside) that we need to fix or improve, our macro, business and other fundamentals are very compelling — and the opportunities to grow are immense.

EFG’s own growth story underscores that: A flagship Egyptian multinational, EFG was born as a two-person consultancy back in the 1980s and has grown into a universal bank that encompasses the top emerging markets investment bank, a fast-growing non-bank financial services house, a commercial bank, and fintech properties all under the same roof. The offer is a ringing endorsement of the vision and hard work that Karim Awad and his team have put in over a sustained (and challenging) period.

Karim spoke with us about how he and his team have built out the institution in the first season of Making It, our seasonal podcast on how to build a great business here in Egypt (listen, runtime: 34:07).

And the icing on the cake: EFG Hermes’ investment bankers and brokerage team could be in for a really busy year (provided global investor sentiment holds).

Consider this:

IT’S A BIG DAY FOR CAPITAL MARKETS- Macro Group’s shares will begin trading on the EGX today under the ticker MCRO.CA. Macro raised EGP 1.3 bn in its IPO, which saw it sell 264.5 mn shares at EGP 4.85 apiece, valuing the cosmeceutical company at around EGP 2.8 bn. The institutional offering — which was allocated 95% of the shares — was 1.8x oversubscribed, while the retail component saw stronger demand, closing on Monday 102x oversubscribed. The crew at EFG Hermes quarterbacked the transaction.

Speaking of IPOs: NI Capital CEO Mohamed Metwally expects “a minimum of two, but up to four government-related public offerings this year," he told Reuters, saying that those are the transactions in which NI Capital is involved. “There are other entities that are involved in other transactions,” he added.

Officials have been talking a lot about the state’s listing pipeline lately. Last week, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said the government plans to sell shares in up to 10 state-owned companies on the EGX this year. Maait also pledged to restart the privatization program in March, a few days after Minister Hala El Said said that the government could sell stakes every month or two. Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly, meanwhile, said the government is looking to list “as many state companies as possible” on the EGX in 2022.

First up: Ghazl El Mahalla FC is set to offer a 67.5% stake in its IPO around about now, which is expected to raise a total of EGP 135 mn after attracting EGP 37 mn from institutional investors during the private placement. Further out, Heliopolis Housing and Development is eyeing a secondary offering, and state fertilizer producer Mopco also wants to tap the EGX. Misr Ins. Holding subsidiary Misr Life Ins. is looking at an IPO, while perennial candidate Banque du Caire could also make its EGX debut.


Inflation figures are due out today: Annual urban inflation rose to 5.9% in December from 5.6% in November. Prices are expected to continue to rise in the short term due to an unfavorable base effect along with a global increase in consumer prices — but look set to stay within the central bank’s target range of 7% (±2%) by 4Q2022. The Central Bank of Egypt expects price stability in the medium term, it said last week following its monetary policy committee meeting. The government’s fuel pricing committee’s decision to raise fuel prices over the weekend is expected to have only a limited impact on inflation, analysts said.

Keep an eye on the US, which will release its own CPI data just a few hours later. The data, which will be released at 3:30pm CLT (8:30am EET), is expected to show another jump in inflation figures last month, with the consumer price index expected to rise 7.2% in January after rising to a 40-year record 7% in December. Any reading above the projected 7.2% could push the US Federal Reserve to tighten policy faster by implementing its first half-percentage-point rate hike in over two decades when it meets in March, where it is expected to kick-off a series of interest rate rises to bring inflation under control, Bloomberg reports. The Fed more customarily moves rate a quarter point at a time.

Budget consultations resume today: The Finance Ministry will begin the next round of public consultations on the draft FY 2022-2023 budget today.

PSA- Expect cooler weather today and tomorrow with the mercury peaking at 17°C both days and falling into the single digits overnight. That’s probably the last gasp of winter as the mercury looks set to return to the 21-24°C range for the following 10 days, our favourite weather app suggests.

The national weather service forecasts a chance of rain along the North Coast, in Cairo and other parts of the country today.


The crisis in Ukraine is on a slow simmer as it drops further down the front pages of the international press. US officials continue to brief that Russia has not stopped building up its military presence on its border with Ukraine, the Financial Times reports, while the US is sending troop reinforcements to Romania in case of “potential spillover” from the crisis, according to Reuters. All in all, while it's still too soon to call “storm-in-a-teacup” on this latest geopolitical kerfuffle, there is at least no new significant escalation to report.

The US papers, meanwhile, are squarely focused on — dare we say it? — the end of the pandemic. Several states including New York dropped blanket mask mandates on Wednesday, citing lower daily case numbers and hospitalizations, while covid-19 oracle and US chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci spurred further optimism when he said that the country was firmly “on the road to approaching normality.” The Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal all have coverage.


There are two conferences taking place in Cairo next week:

  • The Arab Sustainable Development Week will kick off on Sunday, 13 February and run through to Tuesday at the Arab League headquarters and the Nile Ritz Carlton.
  • The three-day Egypt Petroleum Show (EGYPS) begins at the Egypt International Exhibition Center on Monday, 14 February, and runs until Wednesday.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will be in town this Friday, 11 February for a two-day visit that will see her meet with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and other officials for bilateral talks, the German Embassy in Cairo said in a statement. Baerbock is also expected to discuss potential collaboration between the two countries on the COP27 climate summit in Sharm El Sheikh this November.

Keen on a trip to Kinshasa? EgyptAir will launch three direct weekly flights to the Congolese capital of Kinshasa starting 27 March, Al Mal reported yesterday. This marks the first direct air link between the two capitals. All Cairo-Kinshasa flights until 1 July will be 35% off, provided tickets are bought before the new line’s launch.

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



First Abu Dhabi Bank makes play for EFG Hermes

First Abu Dhabi Bank wants EFG Hermes: First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) has offered to buy a majority stake in leading financial services corporation EFG Hermes in an all-cash acquisition that values it at EGP 18.5 bn (c. USD 1.2 bn), the Emirati bank announced in a disclosure (pdf) to the ADX yesterday. FAB said it submitted a non-binding offer for a minimum 51% stake in the financial institution for EGP 19.00 a share. Bloomberg and Reuters both have the story, which is getting a lot of buzz in the international business press.

The offer is priced at a 21% premium to EFG’s closing share price on Tuesday, representing “an attractive liquidity event and a compelling value proposition” for the bank’s shareholders, which include French bank Natixis and Emirati investment firm RA MENA Holdings, FAB said.

EFG’s share price surged on the news, gaining 9.3% on the EGX yesterday to close at EGP 17.20. The bank’s LSE-listed global depository receipts climbed 17.3%.

FAB’s offer reflects a growing interest in the Egyptian market among Gulf companies, Radwa El Swaify, head of research at Al Ahly Pharos, told Hapi Journal. This includes FAB, which purchased Bank Audi Egypt last year, making it one of Egypt’s largest foreign banks in terms of assets. Bahrain’s Bank ABC acquired Blom Bank’s Egypt arm last August.

EFG’s one-time suitor Naguib Sawiris also praised the move: The offer will likely have a positive impact on the EGX’s performance and could be a boon for the country’s investment climate, Naguib Sawiris told Hapi Journal.

What’s next? “The completion of the transaction and the final purchase price is conditional upon the completion of a satisfactory comprehensive due diligence on the company, and the receipt of the required regulatory approvals,” EFG said in a disclosure to the EGX (pdf) and the London Stock Exchange. FAB has formally notified the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) of its offer, the regulator said yesterday in a disclosure (pdf).

Following due diligence, a mandatory tender offer will be made to EFG shareholders, in line with EGX regulations, the FRA statement said.

EFG to continue operating independently, say sources: FAB wants to keep the bank independent, Reuters quoted sources it says has knowledge of the matter as saying. FAB’s statement stressed “the outstanding reputation of EFG Hermes in regional and international markets and recognizes its strong management team, high standards of corporate governance, and strong brand equity. The offer also views the employees of the company as a vital component of the organization’s ability to compete and succeed,” EFG said in its statement.

FAB wants to expand regional presence: The bank has “long term strategic ambitions to become the reference institution for investment banking in the region,” FAB said in its statement, adding that the potential transaction “provides enhanced scale, specialization, growth levers and revenue synergies, strengthening FAB’s offering and regional presence.”

The offer comes on the back of solid earnings and operational achievements by EFG: The group’s net income rose 26% y-o-y to EGP 1.1 bn in during the first nine months of 2021, and revenues were up 8% y-o-y to EGP 4.0 bn, while growth of group operating expenses was controlled, inching down 1% y-o-y to EGP 2.5 bn in 9M2021. The leading financial institution also acquired a 51% stake in Arab Investment Bank in November, officially becoming a universal bank.

Advisors: Rothschild & Co is advising FAB on the transaction, Reuters quoted unidentified sources as saying. Matouk Bassiouny & Hennawy are local legal advisors to FAB, the Emirati bank’s FRA’s filing said.


Aldar could target retail + education acquisitions in Egypt

Egyptian retail + education assets could be in Aldar’s crosshairs: Aldar Properties will spend at least AED 5 bn (c. USD 1.4 bn) on acquiring retail and education assets in Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, CFO Greg Fewer said during a call following the company’s latest earnings release yesterday, according to Reuters. He didn’t mention specific acquisition targets but said that the company is focused on these three markets.

Aldar now = SODIC: Aldar joined up with Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ to acquire a 85.5% stake in leading Egyptian real estate developer SODIC last year for EGP 6.1 bn. “The consortium will now pursue its objective to advance SODIC’s position as a leading national developer by scale and reputation, growing its portfolio of mixed-use residential communities in Greater Cairo, the North Coast and other major markets,” Aldar said in its earnings release (pdf).

Earnings watch: Aldar reported 21% growth in net income in 2021 to AED 2.33 bn.The figures exclude SODIC because of its acquisition late last year. The full audited and consolidated financials, including the impact of the SODIC acquisition, will be published in March.


Selling your house could soon become cheaper

Another potential boon for homeowners: The House of Representatives’ Planning and Budget Committee yesterday greenlit amendments to the Income Tax Act that would overhaul the property disposal tax to reduce selling costs for home owners, according to Al Mal. The bill would see property owners pay a lump sum tax ranging from EGP 1.5k-4k when they register real estate assets that were sold before the original law came into effect on 19 May, 2013. Properties sold after that date would continue being subject to the current 2.5% tax paid by sellers on properties’ disposition or quick sale value.

How is the new tax calculated? Sellers of properties worth up to EGP 250k will be taxed a lump sum of EGP 1.5k, while properties sold for between EGP 250k- 500k will be taxed EGP 2k. Property sales of EGP 500k-1 mn will be taxed EGP 3k, while properties costing more than EGP 1 mn will be taxed EGP 4k. This would put the disposal tax at less than 1% of the value of the property in all cases.

This comes as part of a package of changes geared at encouraging more people to register their ownership contracts with the national property registry. The committee’s approval comes a day after amendments to the Real Estate Registry Act that aim to simplify property registration procedures received preliminary approval from the House.

What’s next for the bill: The bill will be up for further discussion by the wider House of Representatives. If it gets the final nod, it will be sent to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to be signed into law. The amendments to the Real Estate Registry Act, meanwhile, will be discussed further in a few weeks’ time before receiving final approval, Planning and Budget Committee head Fakhry Elfiky told Yahduth Fi Masr (watch, runtime: 5:51).

OTHER LEGISLATION NEWS: The House of Representatives approved in principle a draft law establishing the Egyptian Health Council to regulate medical training and licensing, which got preliminary approval last week, Youm7 reports.

EDITOR’S NOTE- This story was updated on 10 February, 2022 to correct the tax on properties sold before the law’s original issuance.


New clearing company’s board formed in another step to joining Euroclear

Inching closer to “Euroclearable” status: The board of directors has been formed for our new central clearing and depository company, Egyptian Central Securities Depository (ECSD) in another step toward making local debt “Euroclearable,” Al Borsa reports, picking up a story from state-owned Middle East News Agency.

What’s this new company? ECSD — which is 70% owned by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) and 30% owned by the Finance Ministry — will manage registration, deposit and settlement procedures for government debt instruments. It will use a different system than the one used by Misr for Central Clearing and Depository (MCDR), though the two are currently working together, CEO and Managing Director Yasser Zaazaa was quoted as telling Al Borsa. ECSD has issued and paid-up capital of EGP 100 mn and authorized capital of EGP 1 bn.

Why do we care? ECSD’s establishment — which got the final sign-off at the end of 2020 — is a key step for Egyptian debt to be cleared in Europe under Euroclear. Having local debt cleared in Europe will make EGP bonds more accessible to foreign investors, who can currently only access the market through a small number of local banks. Making it easier for foreign funds to invest should translate into greater inflows into Egyptian debt.

The board: The nine-member-strong board includes five central bank representatives, two Finance Ministry representatives, and two independent members. Zaazaa was appointed managing director last year, when CBE Deputy Governor Rami Aboul Naga was also named non-executive chairman. Joining them are:

  • From the CBE: Central bank board member Tamer Eldakak, and Assistant Sub-Governors Zakeya Ibrahim and Ehab Nasr.
  • From FinMin: Vice Minister of Finance Ahmed Kouchouk and advisor Nevine Mansour.
  • Independents: Mohamed Youssef, and a final independent board member who has yet to be appointed.

Next steps: The company will begin operations in the third quarter of this year, Al Borsa quoted Zaazaa as saying (after the government irons out the final wrinkles — related to an unresolved “technical point” — in its discussions with Euroclear). The latest indications from the Finance Ministry are that we should expect our debt to become “Euroclearable” in the second half of 2022.


Capital Med gets EGP 800 mn loan from NBE

The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) has approved a long-term EGP 800 mn loan to Capital Med to cover part of the financing for its EGP 21 bn medical center in Badr City, Al Mal quotes Egypt Care Chairman Hassan Al Qalla as saying.

Cairo Investment and Real Estate (CIRA) holds 14% of Capital Med, while Egypt Care holds 10%, Al Mal reported, adding that the rest of the project is divided among local and foreign investors. Some 70% of the financing for the medical city is dependent on loans, Al Qalla reportedly said.

NBE’s loan will go toward financing the first phase of the medical center, which will include clinics and a 350-bed hospital. Construction of the first phase is expected to be completed by the end of the year, according to Al Qalla. The entire four-phase project is expected to take seven years to implement.


Thndr lands USD 20 mn series A investment

Stock trading app Thndr has closed a USD 20 mn series A round, the company announced in a statement (pdf) yesterday. The round was co-led by Tiger Global, BECO Capital and Prosus Ventures, and featured additional participation from Base Capital, firstminute, and existing investors Endure Capital, 4DX Ventures, Raba Partnership and JIMCO. The company will use the funding to invest in product development and expand to other markets in the MENA region, the statement said.

About the company: Thndr is a zero-commission trading platform that allows investors to buy and sell equities, bonds and mutual funds. The app offers two zero-commission plans, one unpaid scheme, and one priced at EGP 55 per month which gives users access to real-time market data. Thndr became the first company to be awarded a brokerage license since 2008 when it launched in late 2020.

Growth trajectory: Thndr has expanded its assets under custody and monthly trading values almost thirty-fold since its launch.

SOUND SMART-: Thndr was responsible for 36% of all new brokerage accounts opened in Egypt last year.

This is the company’s first funding round since December 2019, when it secured an undisclosed amount of pre-seed investment from Y-Combinator, 4DX Ventures, Endure Capital, the Raba Partnership, and MSA Capital.


Mystery Egyptian investor looks to acquire Nesma Airlines

An “Egyptian investor” is looking to acquire 100% of Saudi airline Nesma within weeks, CEO Ashraf Lamloum told Enterprise, confirming a report published by Amwal Al Ghad earlier this week. Lamloum expects the acquisition to be finalized this month, adding that negotiations are still ongoing. He did not disclose the identity of the investor, the value of the transaction, or its financial advisors.

Saudi’s Nesma Group is the majority shareholder of Nesma Airlines, which operates international flights between Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It was founded in 2007, according to its website.

The aviation industry was hit hard by the pandemic, and Nesma Airlines was no exception. The transaction could help the airline resume operations, which were halted “recently” due to high costs and covid-related travel restrictions, Lamloum said.


Elsewedy Electric booked EGP 3.5 bn in net income in 2021, up 16.7% y-o-y, while revenues for the full year rose 30.5% y-o-y to EGP 60.5 bn, according to the company’s earnings release (pdf). For the fourth quarter of 2021, net income fell 4.3% y-o-y to EGP 1.2 bn. Revenues for the quarter came in at EGP 19.7 bn, up 31.6% y-o-y.

Wires + cables segment underpinning growth: The company’s quarterly and full-year performance was buoyed largely by its wires and cables segment. Revenues from turnkey projects also rose in the final quarter and for the full year.

Looking ahead: Elsewedy Electric expects to continue taking on projects as part of the government’s infrastructure development strategy, management said. “We are well positioned for growth in the years ahead and possess all the necessary resources” to capitalize on the potential from government expansion plans, CEO Ahmed El Sewedy said.

SEPARATELY- El Sewedy is also pushing ahead with Africa-wide expansion plans:

  • The company’s board signed off yesterday on setting up a new company branch in Burkina Faso, according to a disclosure (pdf). No further details were provided.
  • The company is also reportedly in talks with Afreximbank over a EUR 50 mn hotel project in Comoros, for which Afreximbank would provide finance to the Comoros government, Hapi Journal quoted Regional Intra-African Trade Finance Manager Ayman El Zoghby as saying. Contracts could be signed next month.

ALSO REPORTING RESULTS- Dana Gas’ oil production in Egypt fell 7% to 28.3k barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2021 due to natural field depletion, the company said in its earnings release (pdf) yesterday. The company said last month that its collections from Egypt more than doubled to USD 184 mn last year, reducing our arrears to their lowest level since the company started operating here in 2007.



Lessons on proposed property laws dominated the airwaves last night: Real Estate Registry Head Gamal Yacout laid out amendments to the Real Estate Registry Act meant to simplify property registration in an interview on Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 42:23). The amendments received the greenlight from the House of Representatives yesterday. A related overhaul of the property disposal tax, which was greenlit by the House of Representatives’ Planning and Budget Committee yesterday, was discussed in a phone-in from committee head Fakhry Elfiky to Yahduth Fi Masr’s Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 5:51). The bill would see property owners pay a lump sum tax when selling their real estate assets, replacing the current 2.5% tax. We have more on the bills that were up in the House yesterday in our Legislation Watch section, above.

Also getting coverage: The swearing in of Judge Boulos Fahmy as the first Coptic Christian to head the Supreme Constitutional Court. Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 7:27), Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 3:08), Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 5:25), and Yahduth Fi Masr (watch, runtime: 1:28) took note of the milestone.


Omani investment firm eyes BRT: Omani investment group Bin Omeir Holding has expressed interest in operating the Cairo Ring Road bus rapid transit (BRT) system, the Transport Ministry said yesterday. This came during talks between Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir and the chairman of the company, which operates public transport in Abu Dhabi and Tanzania. The BRT system will provide an alternative means of transportation on the Ring Road, and is aimed at reducing traffic on the congested freeway.

Another EV player? Raya Auto is in advanced talks with two international companies to import electric vehicles into Egypt this year, before locally assembling the cars in a second phase.

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

  • Chinese building manufacturer Jushi is planning to set up a new fiberglass production facility in Egypt, with an expected production capacity of 120k tons annually.
  • Some 125k Russian tourists visited Egypt in the first two weeks of 2022, while last year saw more than 700k Russians visit, Russian ambassador to Egypt Georgy Borisenko said.
  • NBK Egypt has been officially removed from the EGX as of today. The bank decided to voluntarily delist its shares from the bourse last year.
  • A consortium made up of Hassan Allam Holding and Abdul Latif Jameel has proposed a project to produce 1 mn cubic meters of desalinated seawater a year.


Daily covid tallies decline for third consecutive day

The Health Ministry reported 2,191 new covid-19 infections yesterday, on par with the 2,194 it noted the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 446,308 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 57 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 23,110.

Has our omicron wave peaked? Daily cases have been in decline for three consecutive days after steadily rising since the start of the year to reach a record 2,301 new cases on Sunday. Officials previously said not to expect the peak of this omicron-induced wave before mid-month

The vaccine tally: 28,673,560 people are now fully vaccinated against the virus, while some 9.6 mn people have received only their first shots and 672,266 people have received booster shots.


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Hedge funds and private equity firms are going the have to make a lot more information public if the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) gets its way. The SEC gave preliminary approval to proposals that would force both types of firms to disclose more information in a bid to improve their transparency, the Wall Street Journal reports. If passed, the proposals would require annual audits of private funds, quarterly performance and fee disclosures, and written policies to mitigate cybersecurity risks. The watchdog also called for rules cutting the time required for stock and bond trades to be finalized.

With IPOs on the out, private investors are set to see more scrutiny: Volatility in the US markets that has seen the S&P 500 lose nearly 4% since the start of the year means fewer companies are looking to go public — and more are turning to private sources to raise capital instead, the Financial Times reports. Private equity buyouts surged 133% to USD 818 bn in the first three quarters of 2021, on the back of a record year for M&As, according to Reuters.

That said, US markets could be staging a comeback: The S&P500 extended Tuesday’s rally yesterday, buoyed by the comeback in tech stocks that saw them recover about half of this year’s losses, Bloomberg reports. The Nasdaq also posted its biggest daily gains so far this month, with stronger-than-expected earnings reports from Uber and Walt Disney (pdf) pushing the index higher, as well as dip-buying on Meta shares. Last week, Meta and Spotify saw their shares fall sharply after posting disappointing forecasts.

Also worth knowing about this morning:

  • Danish container shipping group Maersk expects freight rates to fall and the global supply chain crunch to ease by the second half of this year, it said in its earnings release (pdf) yesterday.
  • Saudi Aramco has restarted talks to build a huge refining and petrochemicals complex in China, Bloomberg reports, citing anonymous sources.




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+0.5% (as of midnight)


The EGX30 rose 0.6% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.24 bn (14.8% above the 90-day average). Local investors were net buyers. The index is down 2.95% YTD.

In the green: EFG Hermes (+9.3%), GB Auto (+5.1%) and TMG Holding (+5.0%).

In the red: Fawry (-3.9%), MM Group (-2.8%) and Credit Agricole Egypt (-1.4%).


Top US general makes first visit to Egypt since aid cut: Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US Central Command and the top US military commander in the Middle East, landed in Egypt yesterday as part of a Middle East tour. McKenzie met with Defense Minister Mohamed Zaki, according to a statement from the military spokesperson. The two agreed to strengthen joint military cooperation and increase joint exercises between the countries.

The US wants us to know we’re still firm friends on security: McKenzie’s visit marks the first for a top US official since the Biden administration announced plans to cut USD 130 mn in aid to Egypt over human rights concerns. That’s not to say we’re not still receiving US arms, though: The State Department green-lit the sale of up to USD 2.5 bn-worth of American fighter jets and radar systems to Egypt just a few weeks back. “The US is committed to helping Egypt build its capabilities to face threats to its security,” McKenzie told Ahram Online in an interview, while emphasizing to reporters shortly before landing that human rights would be on the agenda in talks, according to Reuters.

With caveats: “My message will be the inherent superiority of US [weapons] systems and our desire to maintain a close partnership with Egypt, which would necessarily be affected if they executed large weapons sales with Russia,” Reuters quoted McKenzie as saying to reporters. Egypt's imports of arms from Russia, France, Germany and Italy have surged in recent years.


  • Climate cooperation with the US: Foreign minister and COP27 president Sameh Shoukry discussed with US climate envoy John Kerry establishing a joint climate action group to coordinate efforts ahead of this year’s climate conference in Sharm El Sheikh, according to a foreign ministry statement.
  • President Abdel Fattah El Sisi discussed boosting trade and mutual investments with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune in a phone call yesterday, according to an Ittihadiya statement.


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Hossam Taher, co-founder, CEO and head of product, Orcas: Each week, My Morning Routine looks 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 is Hossam Taher (LinkedIn), co-founder, CEO and head of product at edtech platform Orcas, which offers online and in-person courses for K-12 students. The company recently raised USD 2.1 mn in a pre-series A round and last month started operating in Pakistan, its first market outside of Egypt. Edited excerpts from our conversation follow:

My name is Hossam Taher and I’m currently CEO and head of product at Orcas, the edtech company that I co-founded with Amira El Gharib. I’m 31 years old and I graduated from the German school and studied medicine at Cairo University. I love tech, I love products, I love solving problems and I love math.

I wake up at 6-6:30 am and I have my morning coffee while watching the NBA highlights from the day before. I’m a huge basketball fan and play 2-3 times a week, so in the morning I usually go to the club, run a bit, shoot some hoops before going home and taking a shower. Afterwards, I check out Enterprise or read something that I’ve saved from the day before. Sometimes I read a book instead or spend time chatting with my wife. By 9 am, I start doing my own work, answering emails and messages. At 11, I walk to the office and that’s when the insanity begins.

I do two main activities at Orcas, I’m the CEO and head of product. As CEO, I’m responsible for hiring and building teams, fundraising, making sure that there is a company runway and making sure that our plans make sense on the strategic level. I have to make sure that I align with team leaders, investors, team members, and the board. I do a lot of firefighting and problem-solving and decision-making everyday.

Everyday, I’m bombarded with questions and decisions. For me, feeling comfortable with being assertive and decisive are things that come with being a CEO. You have to perfect it and learn from the mistakes. And by perfecting it, I don’t mean being right all the time: I mean learning to live with the wrong decisions that you make and understanding that decision-making quality does not reflect the quality of the outcome and that worrying about the outcome distracts from the decision making process.

My work as head of product allows me to outsource decisions to the user. When I was in med school, we would document the personal and medical history of a patient using a set methodology. I love applying this methodology to products. Our users are students, moms, teachers and schools, and so I ask them questions about the product and try to validate their answers through investigations or data by comparing what they say to what they do. Then I can figure out what the actual problem is and turn that into product features. This is something that I really enjoy working on.

We recently raised USD 2.1 mn in a pre-series A round. That money will go towards two things. Expanding our reach by opening Pakistan and looking to Saudi Arabia. And the second thing that we’re focused on is making sure that our product is the best that we can offer. We want to invest in the quality of teachers, classrooms, assessments, etc. We want to provide more monitoring and more control for the parents. We want to be present and monetizing in three markets, so product investment is very important.

We started our Pakistan operations in early January. We’re applying all the lessons learned from Egypt to Pakistan. We don't cross borders, so we match Pakistani teachers with Pakistani students. It’s currently the best way to provide the best results for our students, but working across borders is definitely something that we want to explore in the future.

Online is becoming part of how we learn but it’s not the only way. We still have more demand for offline tutoring, but our data shows that online tutoring was less than 1% of our offerings in 2020, and 30% did it in 2021 and today, 70% do hybrid.

When work is done, I like to sit with my wife. We talk about life and things, we watch Netflix or documentaries, or go to the club and have lunch. I also love to play board games with my friends. Traveling is also very important to me, so I try to do weekend getaways to Sokhna and I go to Fayoum a lot.

One of my favorite books is called Thinking in [redacted] by Annie Duke. She’s a poker player and it’s built on the idea that life is like a poker game, not a game of chess. She talks a lot about decision-making and she basically concludes that you should never let the outcome of a decision determine if your decision was right. I also like How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg.

[Editor’s note: Annie Duke’s book is great. It also uses in its title a word we can’t use in Enterprise — not because it’s crude and we’re prudes, but because it enrages the algorithms that determine whether we make it into your inboxes or disappear into a bad folder.]

I don’t remember who told me this, but the best piece of advice that I’ve been given is the ability to unlearn. We live in an age that is full of updates and events that are changing everything that we know, and we have to unlearn and relearn things. It also frees up your brain capacity; it’s like upgrading your brain with new apps and removing cached material.


1Q2022: Launch of the Egyptian Commodities Exchange.

1Q2022: Swvl acquisition of Viapool expected to close.

1Q2022: Waste collection startup Bekia plans to expand to the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

1Q2022: Rameda Pharma will begin selling its generic version of Merck’s oral antiviral covid-19 med.

1Q2022: Pharos Energy’s sale of a 55% stake in El Fayum, Beni Suef concessions to IPR Energy Group subsidiary IPR Lake Qarun expected to close.

Early 2022: Results to be announced for the second round of the state’s gold and precious metals auction.

1H2022: Target date for IDH to close its acquisition of 50% of Islamabad Diagnostic Center.

1H2022: e-Finance’s digital healthcare service platform, eHealth, will launch its services.

1H2022: The government will respond to private companies’ bids to build desalination plants.

1H2022: Egypt’s second corporate green bond issuance expected to be announced.

1H2022: The Transport Ministry to sign a memorandum of understanding with Abu Dhabi Ports to set up a transport route across the Nile to transport products from Al Canal’s Minya sugar factory.

January-February 2022: Construction work on the Abu Qir metro upgrade will begin.

February: Hassan Allam Construction’s new construction firm established with Russia’s Titan-2 to handle construction work on the Dabaa nuclear power plant begins its operations.

February: Ghazl El Mahalla shares will begin trading on the EGX.

Mid-February: End of grace period to comply with new minimum wage for firms who sent in exemption requests.

Mid-February: A Hungarian delegation will arrive in Egypt for talks over a potential investment in an industrial area in the SCZone.

4-20 February (Friday-Sunday): 2022 Winter Olympics, Beijing.

10 February (Thursday): Macro Group’s shares set to begin trading on the EGX.

11-12 February (Friday-Saturday): German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will be in Cairo for a two-day visit.

11-13 February (Friday-Sunday) FIBA Intercontinental Cup, Cairo.

13-15 February (Sunday-Tuesday): Arab Sustainable Development Week. Arab League headquarters, Nile Ritz Carlton.

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

14-19 February (Monday- Saturday): An art exhibition created by marginalized children will be held at Townhouse Gallery. The event is organized by the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, AlexBank, Townhouse Gallery, Al Ismaelia for Real Estate Investment, and Ubuntu Art Gallery.

15 February (Tuesday): The Industrial Development Authority’s deadline for receiving offers from companies for licenses to manufacture steel products.

15 February (Tuesday): Orange Ventures’ deadline to receive applications from seed-stage fintech startups.

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

19-21 February (Saturday-Monday): Nebu Expo for Gold and Jewelry 2022.

21 February (Monday): Hearing at Cairo Economic Court (pdf) on FRA lawsuits filed against Speed Medical.

22 February (Tuesday): The Egyptian National Railway is holding a forum to gauge public interest in its plans to delegate the management and operations of freight transport to the private sector.

22-24 February (Tuesday-Thursday): Investment Forum, General Authority For Investments (GAFI) Main Office, Nasr City.

26 February (Saturday): Speed Medical will elect a new board during ordinary general assembly (pdf).

27 February (Sunday): British-Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) green finance event with Finance Minister Mohamed Maait, Semiramis Intercontinental, Cairo

28 February- 1 March (Monday-Tuesday): The Future of Data Centers Summit.

End of February: Lebanon to receive gas from Egypt via a pipeline crossing Jordan and Syria.

March: Rollout of the government financial management information system (GFMIS), a suite of electronic tools to automate the government’s financial management processes (pdf) that will replace the existing “closed” financial management system.

March: 4Q2021 earnings season.

March: Deadline for the World Health Organization’s intergovernmental negotiating body to meet to discuss binding treaty on future pandemic cooperation.

March: World Cup playoffs.

March: The government hopes to sign a final contract between El Nasr Automotive and a new partner for the local production of electric cars.

March: Target date for Saudi tech firm Brmaja to IPO on the EGX.

March: Egypt to host World Tourirsm Organization Middle East committee meeting.

March: The Salam – new administrative capital – 10th of Ramadan Light Rail Train (LRT) line will start operating.

3 March (Thursday): Fawry’s extraordinary general assembly (pdf) to vote on EGP 800 mn capital increase.

9-18 March (Wednesday-Friday): The 55th edition of the Cairo International Fair.

15-16 March (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

24 March (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

24 March (Thursday): Egypt will host Senegal in the first leg of their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers’ playoff.

26 March (Saturday): Egypt-EU World Trade Organization dispute settlement consultations end.

28-29 March (Monday-Tuesday): The Egypt International Mining Show (EIMS 2022) will take place virtually.

29 March (Tuesday): The second leg of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers’ playoff between Egypt and Senegal.

31 March (Thursday): Deadline for submitting tax returns for individual taxpayers.

31 March (Thursday): Vodacom purchase of Vodafone Group’s stake in Vodafone Egypt expected to be completed by this date.

31 March (Thursday): Supply Ministry expected to take final decision on bread subsidies by this date.

April: Fuel pricing committee meets to decide quarterly fuel prices.

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

3 April (Sunday): Bidding begins on the Industrial Development Authority’s license to manufacture tobacco products.

4 April (Monday): CDC Group will formally change its name to British International Investment.

14 April (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy meeting.

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

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

25 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

25 April (Monday): Sinai Liberation Day.

28 April (Thursday): National Holiday in observance of Sham El Nessim.

30 April (Saturday): Deadline for submitting corporate tax returns for companies whose financial year ends 31 December.

Late April – 15 May: 1Q2022 earnings season

May: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

1 May (Sunday): Labor Day.

3-4 May (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

4 May (Wednesday): 3 February (Thursday): Deadline to send in applications for Cultural Property Agreement Implementation projects to the US Embassy in Cairo.

5 May (Thursday): National Holiday in observance of Labor Day.

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

19 May (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

9 June (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy meeting.

14-15 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

15-18 June (Wednesday-Saturday): St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), St. Petersburg.

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

23 June (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

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

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

End of 2Q2022: The Financial Regulatory Authority’s new Ins. Act should be approved.

End of 1H2022: Emirati industrial company M Glory Holding and the Military Production Ministry will begin the mass production of dual fuel pickup trucks that can run on natural gas.

2H2022: The inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum.

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

2H2022: The government will have vaccinated 70% of the population.

July: A law governing ins. for seasonal contractors will come into effect.

July: Fuel pricing committee meets to decide quarterly fuel prices.

1 July (Friday): FY 2022-2023 begins.

8 July (Friday): Arafat Day.

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

21 July (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy meeting.

26-27 July (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

30 July (Saturday): Islamic New Year.

Late July – 14 August: 2Q2022 earnings season.

18 August (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

September: Egypt will display its first naval exhibition with the title Naval Power.

September: Central Bank of Egypt’s Innovation and Financial Technology Center to launch incubator for 25 fintech startups.

8 September (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy meeting.

20-21 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve Finterest rate meeting.

22 September (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

October: World Bank and IMF annual meetings in Washington, DC

October: Fuel pricing committee meets to decide quarterly fuel prices.

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

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

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

27 October (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy meeting.

Late October – 14 November: 3Q2022 earnings season.

November: Cairo Water Week 2022.

1-2 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

3 November (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

7-18 November (Monday-Friday): Egypt will host COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh.

21 November-18 December (Monday-Sunday): 2022 Fifa World Cup, Qatar.

13-14 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

15 December (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy meeting.

22 December (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

End of 2022: e-Aswaaq’s tourism platform will complete the roll out of its ticketing and online booking portal across Egypt.

January 2023: EGX-listed companies and non-bank lenders will submit ESG reports for the first time.

January: Fuel pricing committee meets to decide quarterly fuel prices.

**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 above 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.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of HSBC Egypt (tax ID: 204-901-715), the leading corporate and retail lender in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Mashreq (tax ID: 204-898-862), the MENA region’s leading homegrown personal and digital bank; Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt; Hassan Allam Properties (tax ID:  553-096-567), one of Egypt’s most prominent and leading builders; and Saleh, Barsoum & Abdel Aziz (tax ID: 220-002-827), the leading audit, tax and accounting firm in Egypt.