Sunday, 17 April 2022

AM — FAB drops its bid for a majority stake in EFG Hermes



Good morning, friends, and welcome to the last full workweek of Ramadan. We’ll be off at least two days next week, though Cabinet has yet to confirm which holidays will be observed on which days. Coptic Easter is a week from today, while Sinai Liberation Day and Sham El Nessim are both the following Monday.

Refresher: Last year, we observed Coptic Easter and Sham El Nessim on Sunday and Monday.

Happy holidays to everyone who is celebrating something this morning. Today is Western Easter, Passover, and day 16 of Ramadan. US, UK and Canadian markets were closed on Friday in observance of Good Friday. The New York and Toronto stock exchanges are back to work tomorrow, while the London Stock Exchange will remain closed in observance of Easter.

PSA #1- It’s going to be hot and dusty today. Look for a daytime high anywhere from 39°C (according the the national weather service) to 42°C (says our favourite weather app) along with some nasty, dusty winds. The mercury will ease to 33°C in the capital city tomorrow before settling in at a more seasonable 27-28°C for the rest of the week.

COVID WATCH- Egypt saw an average of 124 new covid-19 cases per day last week, down from 400 per day the week before. We also saw a daily average of six deaths, down from an average of seven the week before, according to Health Ministry figures released yesterday. Around 33.6 mn people are now fully vaccinated and nearly 2.3 mn have had their boosters, the statement added.

Hats off the the Health Ministry folks working at vaccination centers. The resident 14-year-old got her jab yesterday in the People’s Democratic Republic of Maadi. Clinic staff were friendly, kind and super efficient. Maybe the Health Ministry could be prevailed upon to teach a customer service course to the folks at the morour?

No more PCR swabs rammed up your nose? Covid breathalyzer tests could soon be a thing in the US. The US Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization for a covid test that relies on breath samples. Positive results would still need to be confirmed with a traditional PCR test.

How much longer will 18% CDs be available? More than half a tn EGP have poured into 18% CDs that the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr launched last month (EGP 543 bn as of last week — check the numbers here and here).


The IMF + World Bank Spring Meetings start tomorrow in Washington: Global finance chiefs will descend on Washington tomorrow for the IMF and World Bank annual Spring Meetings. Expect the global economic impact of the war in Ukraine and fears of food security to dominate the agenda. International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat yesterday met with Marina Weiss, WB regional director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti, to finalize preparations ahead of Al Mashat’s participation in the event, according to a statement.

Our ongoing talks with the IMF for a new program will be a topic of discussion, according to fund chief Kristalina Georgieva, who told Bloomberg that the IMF would sit down with Egyptian officials to discuss the country’s rising debt level. The fund “will sit with Sri Lanka, we will sit with Egypt, we will sit with Tunisia, and we will discuss what realistically needs to be done,” she said.

Smart money has the IMF downgrading its global growth forecast when it releases its World Economic Outlook on Tuesday.

The World Bank is forecasting “insufficient and uneven” growth in MENA this year on the back of the crisis. In its latest monthly economic update (pdf) for our neck of the woods, the bank forecasts average GDP growth of 5.2% — which would be the fastest rate since 2016 — but cautions this will be uneven, with oil exporters seeing 5.4% growth and importers 4.0%. Rising food and oil prices will hit the region, especially countries with high net imports (like Egypt). Eleven out of 17 of MENA’s economies are not expected to exceed their pre-pandemic GDP in 2022, it said.

Egypt’s growth will dip slightly next year, according to the bank, which has penciled in a 5% rate for the fiscal year starting this coming July, down from a projected 5.5% in the current FY.

PSA #3- You only have four days left to file your ESG report: EGX-listed companies and all non-bank financial services outfits regardless of listing status need to submit their first quarterly ESG questionnaire by this Wednesday, 20 April. The regulator is making it mandatory for corporates to publicly disclose their performance on key environmental, social and governance metrics each year when they submit their annual financial statements, starting 2023. Reach out to Moustafa Taalab at InkankIR, our parent company, if you need some help.


The House of Representatives is reconvening today and will be in session through at least Thursday. MPs are set to sign off on bilateral and multilateral funding agreements including an EUR 250 mn loan from the European Bank for Development and Reconstruction to to transform Alexandria’s Abu Qir railway into an electrified metro line. The House will also discuss final budget accounts for the current fiscal year.

Consoleya is hosting an investor talk and sohour with Cairo Angels today at 9pm CLT. The event will begin with a fireside chat on e-commerce, featuring former Jumia CCO François D’hautefort, with Cairo Angels’ Hossam Allam as moderator. A sohour and networking session for investors will follow the talk. You can register here.

PSA #2- Enterprise doesn’t do sohours. By which we mean that while some of us have sohour, those of us who toil on the night or pre-dawn shifts don’t. We’re either working when you folks break bread or are asleep so we can wake while it’s still very dark to close out your morning read. So please, friends, forgive us for declining your firm’s sohour invitations. We hope you all have a great time.

SO, WHEN DO WE EAT? You’ll be breaking your fast at 6:23pm CLT this evening in the capital city, and fajr prayers are at 3:55am.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- It’s the war in Ukraine. Here’s what you need to know this morning:

  • Your unlikely peacemaker of the day is Roman Abramovich: The Russian b’naire and Chelsea FC owner is in Kyiv trying to restart stalled peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. (Bloomberg)
  • Russian forces claim to be on the brink of capturing the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, site of the war’s “worst humanitarian catastrophe.” (Reuters)
  • Kyiv and other parts of western Ukraine were hit by fresh missile attacks on Saturday despite Russian troops’ withdrawal from the area. (Associated Press)
  • Moscow is threatening deploying nuclear weapons in the Baltic Sea if Sweden and Finland join NATO — but Lithuania’s president says they should do it anyway. (Reuters | Financial Times)

THE BIG BUSINESS STORY- Twitter fights Elon Musk’s hostile takeover with a “poison pill”: After Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk announced an offer to buy Twitter (yes, all of it) for USD 43 bn, the social media giant’s board adopted the poison pill strategy to prevent the richest man in the world from taking sole ownership of the company. Musk suggested in interviews that he wasn’t about to back down from the fight despite saying in a letter to the board (see Exhibit B) that “my offer is my best and final offer and if it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder.”

SOUND SMART- What’s a “poison pill”? Conceived in the early 1980s as the OG corporate raiders really got down to business, a poison pill is when a board decides it will flood the market with shares priced far below market value if a certain (hostile) investor reaches a predetermined shareholding threshold. The catch: The hostile isn’t allowed to buy shares at the new, lower price — making it super-expensive for them not to be diluted.

Fun fact: Elon launched his hostile takeover bid on Twitter CFO Ned Segal’s birthday.

Keeping up with Elon: The story and its logistics are everywhere, including from Reuters and the New York Times to Bloomberg and the Financial Times.


Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar will address AmCham’s pre-annual general meeting and iftar this coming Tuesday, 19 April from 6-8pm at the Nile Ritz Carlton. Abdel Ghaffar will give a talk titled speak on investment in the nation’s healthcare and pharma sectors.

Next steps in Tenth of Ramadan dry port tender: The General Authority for Land and Dry Ports will issue the conditions booklet to bidders in its tender to establish and operate the Tenth of Ramadan dry port next month, Al Borsa reported citing Amr Ismail authority head.

Further afield, Egypt will host the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s annual meeting of the board of governors in 2023, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait and execs at the bank agreed during a meeting, according to a cabinet statement. The move comes as Egypt aims to bolster multilateral cooperation between Asia and Africa and become a regional logistics hub for transport and energy.

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


*** It’s What’s Next day: We have our weekly deep-dive into what makes and shapes pre-listed companies and startups in Egypt, the UAE and KSA, touching on investment trends, future sector insights and growth journeys.

In today’s issue: We continue our roundtable discussion with Egyptian private sector fintech players. Last week, we explored the untapped potential of fintech and which industries are most primed for change. This week, we’re looking at the prospects for growth within the sector and how to get there, whether it’s through increased investments, consolidation, or expansion across Africa. You can choose to read or listen to the founders of hot startups Khazna and Kashat and two of the VCs that have backed them (our friends at Cairo Angels and Accion) about what they see is next for the local fintech sector.

Listen to part 2 of our discussion on: our website (listen, runtime: 33:45) or Apple Podcasts. Or read all about it below..


The Spring Edition of Somabay Endurance Festival takes place from May 26-28, featuring a host of different races suitable for all ages and abilities. Join this family-friendly sports event by signing up at and get ready to #ExperienceEndurance. Book now:


FAB drops its bid for EFG Hermes. Plus: Incolease, Mondi in transactions.

Emirati lender First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) has dropped its bid for a majority stake in leading financial services corporation EFG Hermes, it said in a statement Thursday, citing “ongoing global market uncertainty and volatile macro-economic conditions.”

FAB first made its offer for EFG Hermes in February, when it proposed buying a controlling stake for EGP 19.00 a share, valuing the bank at EGP 18.5 bn (c. USD 1.2 bn). FAB said at the time that the transaction would help strengthen its offering and regional presence. The Emirati bank purchased Bank Audi Egypt last year, making it one of Egypt’s largest foreign banks in terms of assets.

Are regulatory delays really to blame? That’s the question raised by Bloomberg, which claims Egypt’s financial market regulator was “slow and imposed new demands” on FAB, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter. The lender would have been unable to finalize the acquisition within a planned timeframe, Bloomberg writes.

“Egypt remains a strategically important market for FAB,” the bank said, adding that it “will continue to “invest in the growth of its well-established partners and operations in Egypt.”

EFG Hermes’ shares fell 20% to EGP 15.46 during trading on Thursday. The EGX briefly suspended trading of the bank’s shares twice after the stock price fell 10% following news of FAB’s withdrawal. FAB shares fell 3.2% on Thursday, and closed down 6.7% for the week at AED 22.30 on Friday, according to data from the ADX.

This came the same week as Abu Dhabi wealth fund ADQ invested USD 1.8 bn in several EGX-listed companies. The fund purchased government-held stakes in five companies including lender CIB and fintech player Fawry under an agreement with the Egyptian government to help us cope with fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


Four state-owned institutions exit 38.7% stake in Incolease: A consortium made up of Banque Misr, Misr Ins. Holding (MIH) and its subsidiary Misr Life Ins., and the National Investment Bank (NIB) has sold its 38.7% stake in the International Company for Leasing (Incolease) for a total of EGP 316.9 mn, the consortium announced in a statement (pdf), without disclosing who bought the shares. The transaction values the company at around EGP 819 mn, by our calculations. Bank officials did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Incolease shares have seen a lot of activity lately: Palm Hills Developments in March bought another 13.7% in Incolease in two separate transactions, upping the developer’s stake in the leasing firm to some 15.4%. El Tarek Automotive also acquired a 23% stake in Incolease in March. PHD, El Tarek, and the Banque Misr consortium all paid the same price of EGP 41 per share in the transactions.

Packaging group Mondi has acquired two of Lafarge Cement Egypt’s paper production assets, National Bag and Egypt Sack, for an undisclosed sum, it said in a press release on Wednesday. The acquisition would raise Mondi’s paper bag capacity by around 150-180 mn bags annually and boost the group’s position in the industry in Egypt. Per a long-term supply agreement, Mondi will also become “a key supplier” of paper bags to Lafarge Cement Egypt.

Mondi already operates two plants in Egypt, and has made a series of acquisitions to consolidate its market position in recent years, including the purchase of two paper bag lines from Helwan Cement Company and InterCement Sacs in 2020.


We’re paying more at the pumps

The government raised fuel prices by c. 3% over the weekend amid a rise in global oil prices on the back of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In its latest quarterly meeting, the fuel pricing committee decided to raise prices at the pumps by another EGP 0.25 per liter for 95, 92 and 80 octane fuel for 2Q 2022, the Oil Ministry said in a statement.

As of Friday:

  • 95-octane is EGP 9.75 per liter, up 2.6% from EGP 9.50;
  • 92-octane is EGP 8.75, up 2.9% from EGP 8.50;
  • 80-octane is EGP 7.50, up 3.4% from EGP 7.25
  • Diesel is unchanged at EGP 6.75.

Mazut fuel oil prices rose 9.5% to EGP 4.6k per tonne for all industries except food and electricity producers, which will continue to purchase a tonne of the fuel for EGP 4.2k.

This is the fifth consecutive price hike: Fuel prices have now risen by 15-20% since April last year, when the government first hiked prices in response to an upswing in commodity prices. Additional EGP 0.25 increases came into effect in July, October, and February.

These rates will remain fixed through to the end of 2Q 2022, when the committee next meets to set prices.

Limited impact on inflation? “We do not expect much of an impact on headline inflation from the implemented increase in prices given that the price of diesel, which is the main fuel used in the transportation of commodities, remains unchanged,” Alia Mamdouh, Beltone Financial’s head of macro research, wrote in a note Thursday.

Global oil prices have been climbing this year: The price of Brent surged almost 40% during 1Q 2022 as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shocked global markets. Analysts are expecting Brent to remain above USD 100 a barrel for the remainder of this calendar year as the spillover effects from the Ukraine conflict continue to weigh on an already tight market. In its latest forecast, Goldman Sachs lowered its Brent projections by USD 15 to USD 120 per barrel through 2H 2022 and currently expects prices to average USD 110 in 2023.

And oil markets could soon be heading towards a major supply crisis, says IEA: Sanctions imposed on Russia over the past several weeks could trigger the “biggest supply crisis in decades” for global energy markets, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) March oil market report. Russia is the largest oil and products exporter in the world, and sanctions are expected to push down Russia’s oil output by some 3 mn barrels per day this month as buyers shy away from the oil Moscow produces, the IEA said.

The news is getting some international ink\: Associated Press.


Alternative fuels could soon need to account for at least 15% of cement factories’ energy consumption under a proposal being studied by the Environment Ministry, Waste Management Regulatory Authority Deputy Head Yasser Mahgoub told Enterprise. The government currently requires (pdf) cement factories to use refuse-derived fuel (RDF, or energy made from waste) for at least 10% of their total energy consumption. The new rule would be enforced by the Environmental Affairs Agency on all cement factories that use coal as a primary fuel, Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad told Al Mal last week.

Coal is the main source of fuel used by cement companies in Egypt. As one of the most-polluting industries, cement manufacturing has been under pressure to decarbonize by phasing out coal-based heating processes for alternative fuels.

And it’s getting more expensive: Though most cement companies have reverted to coal in response to the lifting of fuel subsidies since 2016, surging global coal prices caused by the Ukraine war are making it an increasingly unaffordable source of energy.


Current account deficit narrows in 2Q 2021-2022

Egypt’s current account deficit narrowed to USD 3.8 bn in 2Q 2021-2022, from USD 4.8 bn in the same period last year, calculating on the basis of central bank figures (pdf) released Thursday. The deficit also narrowed 5% on a quarterly basis from USD 4 bn in 1Q.

Thank tourism revenues and solid Suez Canal receipts: “Positive factors” contributing to the narrowing of the deficit included:

  • Tourism revenues more than tripled to USD 3 bn, rising 7.1% on a quarterly basis;
  • Suez Canal receipts rose almost 13% y-o-y to USD 1.7 bn, remaining stable on a quarterly basis.

The trade deficit remained unchanged from a year ago at around USD 10.7 bn and narrowed slightly on a quarterly basis from USD 11.1 bn. This came as exports and imports both rose, thanks in large part to the global spike in fuel and food prices:

  • Exports rose almost 80% y-o-y to USD 11.8 bn, up 34.1% on a quarterly basis.
  • Imports rose 30% y-o-y to USD 22.5 bn, up 13% on 1Q.

FDI declined on an annual and a quarterly basis: Inflows amounted to USD 1.6 bn during 2Q, down from USD 1.75 bn in the same quarter last year and USD 1.7 bn in 1Q. Portfolio flows saw a sharp reversal during the final quarter, registering USD 6.1 bn in net outflows compared to USD 3.5 bn in net inflows in 2Q 2021, and USD 3.6 bn in net inflows the previous quarter.

Remittances came in at USD 7.4 bn, down marginally y-o-y and falling some 8.7% on a quarterly basis.


Egypt adds India to its what suppliers list — and Pakistan, Mexico could follow

We can now source wheat from India: The Agriculture Ministry on Thursday added India as a new wheat import origin ahead of a possible purchase, it said in a statement, after a ministry delegation to the country wrapped up its inspections.

Egypt is also in talks with Pakistan and Mexico to import wheat, Ahmed Al Attar, head of the Agriculture Ministry's Quarantine Authority, was quoted as saying by Al Mal. The government has also held talks with Argentina and the US and sourced wheat from France in last week’s tender.

The government has been working on diversifying wheat imports amid a squeeze on prices in recent months and has stepped up its efforts since Russia’s war in Ukraine sent prices soaring yet higher and cut off Ukrainian shipments. We usually source north of 80% of our imported grain from the two Black Sea countries.

The diversification drive comes as the state grains purchaser concluded last week its first successful wheat tender since Russia invaded Ukraine. GASC purchased 350k tons of wheat from France, Russia, and Bulgaria at an average price of USD 490 per ton, accounting for freight — the highest in nearly six years. The limited tender for European suppliers — which marked GASC’s first limited bid round in years — came after the authority called off two tenders at the war’s outset in February.


Nafeza will be rolled out to the nation’s airports in October

Authorities will begin trials of the ACI digital customs tracker for air freight in mid-May ahead of a full rollout in October, the Finance Ministry said in a statement Friday.

Time to register, importers: FinMin called on all those who import goods via air freight to register on the Nafeza platform before it becomes mandatory, adding that some 800 companies working in air freight had already been trained on how to use the system.

What is all this again? ACI is a World Customs Organization (WCO) protocol that provides real-time information on shipments of incoming goods to shipping lines, port operators and governments. It’s a key part of the Finance Ministry’s digital customs system known as Nafeza, which went live in October. All maritime importers must be registered with Nafeza, through which they file shipping paperwork and cargo data.

Nafeza update: More than 30k importers have so far joined the ACI system and some 80k foreign exporters have registered with blockchain document platform CargoX since it went live at the nation’s seaports in October, according to the statement.

For more on ACI and Nafeza, head to our in-depth explainer here. The Customs Authority had previously planned to start the trial of the Advanced Cargo Information (ACI) system for air freight in January ahead of a full launch in April.


Philip Morris strikes an agreement on local tobacco manufacturing with Eastern

Eastern agrees to let Philip Morris make smokes in Egypt: The Egyptian arm of tobacco giant Philip Morris is on course to manufacture cigarettes in Egypt after reaching an agreement with Eastern Company, according to a disclosure to the EGX (pdf) filed by the state tobacco monopoly on Thursday. United Tobacco Company was the only company to bid in last year’s tender to establish a second cigarette manufacturer, paving the way for it to acquire a license and enter the Egyptian market.

Eastern will acquire a quarter of United Tobacco: Under the terms of the tender, Eastern Company will take a 24% stake in United Tobacco, according to the statement. It is unclear whether United Tobacco would sell existing shares or go ahead with a capital increase.

United will only manufacture products owned by Philip Morris, a condition designed to protect Eastern’s market share by avoiding the newcomer producing cigarettes in the same price category as the popular Cleopatra brand. After it has acquired the license, Eastern will lease the production lines to the company for three years. In the meantime, Eastern will continue to produce Philip Morris products until the beginning of the next fiscal year in July.

There’s no word on pricing: The initial terms of the tender had stated that the new company would be required to price its cigarettes 50% above Eastern’s. The disclosure did not mention pricing.

The process of finding a new cigarette manufacturer has been a long one: Originally launched over a year ago, the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) was forced to pull the tender and relaunch it after tobacco companies complained that the conditions gave unfair advantages to Eastern Company. The IDA has not yet released any statement on the results of the tender, and it’s not clear when United Tobacco can expect to receive its license.


Cairo cloud kitchen startup raises USD 4.5 mn funding round

Cloud kitchen operator The Food Lab raised USD 4.5 mn in a pre-seed round co-led by Nuwa Capital, Shorooq Partners and 4DX Ventures and with participation from Saudi’s Al Faisaliah Group, Japan’s Samurai Incubate, KSA investor Abdul Majeed Al Hokair, and a number of other angel investors, the company said in a statement (pdf).

About The Food Lab: Founded in 2020 by Kareem El Daly (LinkedIn), Ahmed Osman (LinkedIn) and Wesam Masoud (LinkedIn), the startup handles end-to-end operations, from sourcing ingredients to food preparation and delivery, on behalf of Cairo restaurants. “Our mission is to bridge the gap between kitchens and consumers, and by building technology infrastructure, we are enabling the transformation of Egypt’s restaurant industry,” El Daly said.

Looking ahead: The startup will continue to focus on job creation and developing its technology and is working towards stepping foot in new markets in the Middle East and Africa.


EGX heavyweight CIB reported a 48% y-o-y increase in net income to EGP 4.2 bn in 1Q 2022 despite “challenging” conditions caused by the war in Ukraine, the bank said in its earnings release (pdf). The bank saw standalone revenues rise 22% y-o-y to EGP 7.6 bn on the back of a 16% increase in net interest income.

What drove growth? The bank’s solid performance was fuelled by strong deposit growth, “proactive treasury management” and 33% growth in local-currency loans, which increased fee and commission income.

The company has set aside EGP 1 bn in loan loss provisions in response to deteriorating economic conditions caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This covers 11% of the bank’s gross loan portfolio. CIB’s loan book has remained “safely unscathed” by the crisis, with its capital adequacy ratio a “comfortable” 31%.

Looking ahead: “Management remains confident in the bank’s ability to uphold its market-leading performance, on both profitability and solvency fronts, supported by its flexible balance sheet structure and prudent risk management, which would cement the bank’s position against any unforeseen market dynamics,” the bank said.

Private sector education outfit CIRA reported EGP 943.9 mn in revenues during the first half of its fiscal year, rising 24% y-o-y, according to the company’s earnings release (pdf). CIRA’s fiscal year runs from September-August. The company’s adjusted bottomline rose 20% y-o-y to EGP 298.8 mn, with adjusted EBITDA rising 28% y-o-y to EGP 534.2 mn during the six-month period.

CIRA faced higher direct operating costs during 1H 2021-2022, including higher wages, maintenance costs, “and other expenses related to its newly developed schools.” The group’s launch of three new faculties at Badr University (BUC), along with work on the Assiut branch of its Badr University, which has yet to open its doors to students, and the establishment of three new schools in its K-12 segment, saw “similar start-up expenses” in direct operating costs. CIRA has “been diligent in implementing an effective cost control model across all of our business

units to mitigate the effect of current global and local economic conditions on our operations, and ensure that our model is prepared to absorb further potential headwinds,” said CEO Mohamed El Kalla.

Looking ahead, CIRA expects to kick off the enrollment process at Badr University Assiut in the upcoming 2022-2023 academic year. The company has received licenses for two of the eight faculties it has constructed, and expects to land the remaining six licenses ahead of AY2022-2023, El Kalla said. CIRA is also on track to launch its new nursery in Suez in May, and plans to “expand our presence throughout Egypt within each of our platforms.”

Education outfit Taaleem saw an 8% y-o-y increase in its bottomline in 1H 2021-2022 to EGP 139.5 mn, the company said in an earnings release (pdf). Revenues also rose more than 5% y-o-y to EGP 334.1 mn for the six-month period ending 28 February, despite a slight fall in enrolment, the company said. The strong performance came on the back of higher operating revenues as Taaleem continues to optimize its cost base with an eye to enhancing its margins.

The figures come despite a dip in enrolment: Total students enrolled at Nahda University in Beni Suef (NUB) declined 2.2% y-o-y on the back of a 48% drop in new admissions. The company said this came as a result of the changes to the Thanaweya Amma examination system, which reduced the number of eligible students. NUB raised its average tuition revenue per student by more than 7% y-o-y to EGP 52.3k, reflecting an increase in the number of revenue days compared to the same period last year.

Looking forward: Taaleem expects further growth during the rest of the academic year, despite challenging conditions given the global situation and the recent devaluation of the EGP, said Managing Director Mohamed El Rashidi in the release. NUB will launch two new faculties — a faculty of arts and a faculty of architecture — after getting approval through the required presidential decree. The new faculties will begin operating in September 2022, bringing the total number of faculties at the university to 10, while progress continues on the company’s second higher education institution, Badya University in West Cairo.



Hear that? It’s the rare sound of the nation’s talking heads not talking. The absence of anything to report from last night’s talkshows must mean we’ve reached peak Ramadan. Watch some ads, instead.


The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) could launch a sub-fund responsible for managing the sale of state-owned companies on the EGX under the government’s privatization program, a cabinet statement said Thursday, without providing further details. This came during a meeting between SFE head Ayman Soliman, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and a number of other officials last week.

Have a number of international companies been temporarily suspended from the Trade Ministry’s green list of companies approved to export to Egypt? That’s the contention of stories out overnight in Al Shorouk and El Watan, neither of which we could confirm on deadline. A number of household names are among those the newspapers claim are impacted. The Trade Ministry’s General Organization for Export and Import Control (better known by its acronym, GOEIC) has reportedly pulled permissions for just over 250 exporters since January 2021 for having failed to register factories exporting to Egypt or to prove they are brand owners or authorized licensees.


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Standard Chartered plans major exit in MEA markets — but still wants to enter Egypt: Standard Chartered is completely shutting its business in seven countries in Africa and the Middle East in efforts to redirect resources to countries “where it can have the greatest scale and growth potential,” it said in a press release. The bank will fully exit Angola, Cameroon, Gambia, Jordan, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe, and reduce its operations in Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire. The bank is still planning to enter Egypt, having had its license application approved on a preliminary basis by the central bank earlier this year — and it has opened its first branch in KSA.

Is the era of negative-yielding debt at an end? Central bank moves to raise interest rates have seen global bond prices plummet while yields soar — a shift that could put paid to the phenomenon of negative yields in the debt markets, the Financial Times reports. Negative yields — where prices are so high and yields so low that investors would lose money if they held their bonds to term — have been a firm feature of European and Japanese bond markets in recent years. But with central banks almost everywhere turning hawkish amid sustained price pressures, the value of bonds with yields below zero has plunged from more than USD 14 tn in December to under USD 3 tn, the salmon-colored paper reports citing Bloomberg data.




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The EGX30 fell 1.6% at Thursday’s close on turnover of EGP 996 mn (4.6% above the 90-day average). Regional investors were net buyers. The index is down 10.6% YTD.

In the green: CIRA (+10.3%), Fawry (+2.7%) and Cleopatra Hospital (+2.4%).

In the red: EFG Hermes (-20.0%), AMOC (-9.1%) and Sidi Kerir Petrochem (-6.5%).


What’s in store for fintech in Egypt Part 2 — a growth story: In part 1 of our virtual roundtable discussion on the future of fintech in Egypt, key industry players discussed the untapped potential of fintech and which industries are most primed for change. They got to pick the mind of the regulator, as they were joined by assistant sub-governor of the central bank Dr. Rasha Negm. She revealed much of what’s in store in the legislative pipeline, including a new all encompassing fintech law that would regulate crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending.

Missed Part 1? You can listen to it on our website (listen, runtime: 44:59) or on: Apple Podcasts | Omny | Anghami | Google Podcasts | Spotify.

This week, our private sector guests stuck around for an in-depth conversation on where the sector goes from here in terms of funding and consolidation — at home and abroad. The general consensus appears to be that while valuations in Egypt are still primed to go up, growth is expected to slow down in light of the current macro climate and historic pitfalls like the brain drain. The solution: More integration with Africa.

But first, a refresher on our guests:

  • Karim Nour, the co-founder of Kashat — the first nano-finance company in MENA providing financial services to the un- and under-banked.
  • Omar Saleh, the CEO and co-founder of Khazna, which now offers general purpose credit; buy now, pay later (BNPL); and bill payment services.
  • Aly El Shalakany, a corporate lawyer and longtime angel investor turned venture capitalist who is now the CEO of the Cairo Angels Syndicate Fund and an investor in Kashat.
  • Ashley Lewis is a partner focused on Africa with Accion Venture Lab and has been investing in financial services and social ventures across sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia for over a decade. Lewis was one of the first investors at Khazna.

Listen to part 2 of our discussion on: our website (listen, runtime: 33:45) | Apple Podcasts | Omny | Anghami | Google Podcasts | Spotify. Or you can read edited excerpts of our conversation below:

Could Egyptian startups raise over USD 1 bn this year? Our guests seem to think so: “Egyptian startups will attract north of USD 1 bn this year and it could be a multiple of that over the next few years,” Saleh predicts. There are a few headwinds that could act as obstacles along the way, but we can definitely get there, El Shalakany agreed, adding that he’s “bullish” on the prospect. While Lewis sees the Planet Startup hitting the USD 1 bn mark this year, she posits that even if we fall short of the figure this year, Egypt is still moving in the right direction and has the right players at the table.

For Egypt, the adoption of fintech is a ‘supply problem, not a demand problem’ and there’s plenty of room for growth, Nour added.

This comes as Africa’s potential is on the rise: Historically, Africa hasn’t gotten its fair share in investments, but this is changing as the continent emerges as the new frontier, El Shalakany said. The region has also proved its resilience, both El Shalakany and Nour agree. “I think that there is a recognition for the people that are serving these underserved places that there's a lot of low-hanging fruit there,” Nour believes.

And investors are ready: LPs poured into the African market in 2020 and are now wrapping either first or second closes which means they now have “a lot of dry powder” to invest in the region, Lewis notes. There are also markets that have a lot of depth of capital coming in and both of these together “make a scenario where we can get the capital into the region,” she added.

But high valuations could tip the scales not in our favor: Valuations across Egyptian startups have seen a rapid ascent in 2021 but the trend may not continue at the same clip this year given the macro challenges that Egypt faces, Lewis noted. Despite this, international investors will still have a seat at the table and high quality teams are still going to get access to funding, she believes. This year may also see more local VC players competing to put down more capital and support companies through the funding cycles, she added.

And that old brain drain problem? It’s still an issue: In Egypt, brain drain is often cited as one of the biggest challenges facing varying industries, from medicine to engineering. “Our main asset is people,” notes Saleh, and it’s important to convince highly-skilled employees to remain in the country. If you’re competing on pay alone, you’ll never come out on top, especially as major companies such as Facebook and Google hire more remote positions post-covid, he added. Talent was also a concern when the Cairo Angels Syndicate Fund reached its first close late last year, El Shalakany noted. Questions arose, such as “Is there really enough talent for the space we're looking at? Can we compete?” but in the end, the fund banked on the country’s resilience, he explained.

Offer more than money: Companies should leverage their story and underline the impact they’re creating on people’s lives to be able to attract the needed talent, Saleh believes.

Consolidation across Africa is also part of the outlook for fintech in the coming period: More consolidation is on the horizon, predicts Lewis. “You have, kind of, centers of power across the Africa region and I think people are just trying to bolster their war chest as much as possible,” she elaborated. As of today, Africa is lagging behind when it comes to intra-trade and intra-investment, said El Shalakany. The coming period will change that as companies across the continent realize the potential of consolidation to expand into new markets, whether it’s Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, or South Africa, he added. The potential trend is already being experienced as Cairo Angels Syndicate Fund is now working with at least three of their portfolio companies to assess consolidation possibilities, El Shalakany told us.

And this could be mirrored on the funding side as well, believes Lewis. In four or five years, PE and VC players are going to want to scale their investment platforms to be able to bring more resources to the table and this could happen through consolidation, she explained.

Choosing to get into business with someone is a long-term commitment, one that El Shalakany likens to a marriage. It’s important to choose the right investors, Nour and Saleh stress. ‘In the good times and the bad,’ is a vow that should also be present in a startup-VC relationship, our guests agree. “We’re never going to be the biggest check in the room, so as a VC you need to differentiate yourself. Our thing was always ‘we’re here’,” El Shalakany said. It’s a people’s business and being accessible goes a long way, he added.

So what should you look for in a partner? People who think long-term but still know when they need to be decisive, believes Nour. Meanwhile, Saleh sees it as defining what each party will bring to the table and which VC has the experience and vision to push you to the next phase, he told us.

Your top stories on future trends for the week:



  • Events with specific dates or months are right here up top
  • Events happening in a quarter or other range of time with no specific date / month appear at the bottom of the calendar.


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

April: A delegation from a major Belgian shipping company will arrive for talks on building an international shipping supply center in Egypt.

18-24 April (Monday-Sunday): World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings, Washington D.C.

20 April (Wednesday): Deadline for listed companies and NBFIs to submit quarterly ESG reports.

Mid-April: Trading on the Egyptian Commodity Exchange to start.

21 April (Thursday): EGX-listed Taaleem will hold an extraordinary general assembly to discuss the mechanism to build and own nonprofit and private universities.

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.

30 April (Saturday): Fixed customs exchange rate lifted.

Late April through 15 May: 1Q2022 earnings season


May: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

May: General Authority for Land and Dry Ports to issue the conditions booklet for the tender to establish and operate the Tenth of Ramadan dry port.

1 May (Sunday): Labor Day.

1 May (Sunday): Suez Canal Authority raises tolls for different vessels.

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).

15 May (Sunday): Last day for EGX-listed companies to file 1Q2022 earnings

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


5-7 June (Sunday-Tuesday): Africa Health ExCon, Al Manara International Conference Center, Egypt International Exhibitions Center, and the St. Regis Almasa Hotel, New Administrative Capital.

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.

21-22 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development, Cairo.

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.

30 June (Thursday): Deadline for bids for National Democratic Party HQ redevelopment contract.


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

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

Early July: Polish President to visit Egypt.

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

1 July (Friday): Official rollout of e-receipt system 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.


August: Work to extend the capacity of the Egypt-Sudan electricity interconnection to 600 MW to be completed.

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.

18 September (Sunday): Deadline for brokerage firms, asset managers and financial advisors to register with the Egyptian Securities Federation.

20-21 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest 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.

1 October (Saturday): Use of Nafeza becomes compulsory for air freight.

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.

4-6 November: The Autotech auto exhibition kicks off at the Cairo International Exhibition and Convention Center.

7-18 November (Monday-Friday): Egypt will host COP 27 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.


January 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.


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.

14 March-30 June: The “Escape to Egypt” exhibition at the Coptic Museum, in celebration of its 112th anniversary.

2Q2022: The Sovereign Fund of Egypt will invest in two companies in the financial inclusion and non-banking financial services sectors.

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

End of 2Q2022: Door for bidding for the contract to redevelop the site of the former National Democratic Party HQ to close.

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.

3Q2022: Ayady’s consumer financing arm, The Egyptian Company for Consumer Finance Services, to release first financing product.

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

2023: Egypt will host the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors in 2023.

**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.

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