Thursday, 28 April 2022

AM — Talks with the IMF reach “technical stage” as lender outlines key reforms to unlock assistance

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and welcome to your final Ramadan workday of 2022. We hope the holy month has been good to you all — and that you’re looking forward to some time off as much as we are.

The whole of next week will be a bank holiday in observance of Eid al Fitr. The country’s banks will be closed from Sunday, 1 May through Thursday, 5 May. Shortened Ramadan hours will end when banks reopen for business as usual on Sunday, 8 May. With banks closing for the week, you can expect an announcement any moment now from the EGX that it’s following suit — the exchange can’t run if the banking system is closed.

REMINDER- The private sector won’t be taking the entire week off for Eid, unlike the public sector. Folks at private (non-bank) businesses will officially get Labor Day (that’s Sunday, 1 May) and the first two days of Eid (Monday and Tuesday) as paid vacation days, the Manpower Ministry has said. But as CEO, you’re going to let your people bridge, right?

You’re gonna bridge, right? We are. All of us here at Enterprise will be off next week to recharge our batteries. After today’s issue of EnterprisePM, we’ll next be in your inbox on Sunday, 8 May at our customary hour.

SO, WHEN DO WE EAT? You’ll be breaking your fast at 6:30pm CLT this evening in the capital city, and fajr prayers are at 3:41am.

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THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Are we staring down the barrel of World War III? That’s the suggestion in the New York Times, which writes that fear is growing in Washington and in European capitals that Russia’s war in Ukraine “may soon escalate into a wider war — spreading to neighboring states, to cyberspace and to NATO countries suddenly facing a Russian cutoff of gas.”

SPEAKING OF GAS- The global business press is still laser focused on gas markets this morning after Russia started to make good on its promise to turn off the tap to “unfriendly” clients unless they pay in RUB.

European gas futures jumped as much as 20% yesterday on the news that Moscow had cut off supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, the Financial Times writes

A warning from the EU to importers of Russian gas: Don’t even think about cracking out the RUBs. European companies who switch their payments to RUB are in breach of sanctions against Russia, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in a presser (watch, runtime: 6:32), adding that around 97% of contracts strictly stipulate payment in either EUR or USD.

“It comes as no surprise that the Kremlin uses fossil fuels to try to blackmail us,” von der Leyen said, adding that the EU was prepared with an “immediate, united, and coordinated” response. This comes following news that four European gas buyers have already complied with Russia’s demand for RUB payments, while another 10 firms are gearing up to follow suit.

And the UK took things a step further: Foreign Minister Liz Truss raised eyebrows yesterday suggesting that NATO should protect Taiwan, too, Politico reports.

ON THE SUBJECT OF ALTERNATIVES TO RUSSIAN GAS- We’re sending LNG to Argentina for the first time in nearly a decade: Two Egyptian LNG cargoes have set sail for Argentina from the ports of Damietta and Idku, marking the country’s first Egyptian LNG purchase since 2013, Reuters reports, citing Refinitiv trade data. Scores of nations are looking to non-traditional energy sources as the fallout of war in Ukraine threatens continued supply from Russia, squeezing the global market. While it’s not known how much Argentina paid for the Egyptian gas, the South American country — like most others — has been paying over the odds in recent tenders, Reuters notes.

A VERY THOUGHTFUL GIFT- It’s been 100 years since the start of diplomatic relations between Egypt and the US of A. To honor the occasion, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gifted Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry the original telegrams sent from then-US President Warren Harding and Secretary of State Charles Evan Hughes congratulating Egypt on its independence as a sovereign state.

LOOKING AHEAD-

The long-awaited Ghazl El Mahalla FC micro-IPO could go ahead in May: The prospectus for the football club’s EGP 98 mn public offering to retail investors will be released after the Eid break, Mohamed Maher, head of bookrunner Prime Holding, confirmed to Enterprise. The shares’ EGX debut is slated to follow shortly after, but could take more than a month as Ghazl El Mahalla will need to get approval for its capital increase first, Maher said, adding that the process for listing newly issued shares takes longer than when offering existing shares.

We’ve been expecting Ghazl El Mahalla to wrap up its IPO for some months now, after the state-owned club attracted EGP 37 mn from institutional investors during the private placement back in November. The company is offering a 67.5% stake overall and is expected to raise EGP 135 mn. While diminutive in IPO terms, the transaction is significant as it marks the first time a football club is taken public in the Arab world. Insiders expect it could pave the way for Al Ahly to follow suit.

BUT BEFORE THAT-

PSA- Businesses have just three days left to file their corporate tax returns. Companies with financial years ending 31 December have to file their returns by Saturday, 30 April.

ALSO THIS SATURDAY- The fixed customs exchange rate introduced last month following the EGP devaluation will be lifted. Greenbacks used for importing essential items such as basic commodities and materials used for manufacturing are currently changing hands at a fixed rate of EGP 16, a move introduced to minimize exchange rate volatility in the wake of the devaluation.

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Let’s Footgolf and go on an adventure. Explore a floodlit nine-hole footgolf course at Somabay Golf, the first of its kind in Egypt. Open: Friday-Monday, 6:00pm-10:00pm. For more information, visit: https://somabay.com/golf/

ECONOMY

Support talks with IMF reach technical stage as lender pinpoints key reforms + The Fund expects uneven recovery in the Middle East

Talks between Egypt and the IMF on a fresh support package have reached the “technical stage,” Jihad Azour, the multilateral lender’s head of Middle East and Central Asia, told reporters at a press briefing on the release of the IMF’s latest regional outlook yesterday, Ahram Online reports. Azour did not go as far as to say when the talks are expected to wrap up.

As ever, there will be strings attached: The IMF “has identified three fundamental sectors that need quick reform,” Bloomberg Asharq reports, citing Azour. They include:

  • Monetary policy reform to return inflation to 7-8% this year. Inflation recorded a three-year high last month to sit at 10.5%, above the central bank’s 7% (±2%) target range. It will likely spike higher before tapering off (see the next story, below).
  • Greater flexibility in the exchange rate.
  • Stepping up structural reforms aimed at job creation and boosting growth. That sounds to us like a nod of support for the state’s redoubled efforts to increase private sector participation in the economy, as well as the ongoing digital transformation push.

What would a support package look like? Something along the lines of a “precautionary and liquidity line” loan amounting to as much as USD 3.5 bn, according to an earlier note by BNP Paribas. We’ve been in talks with the IMF for over a month now on support to mitigate fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine — including spiraling inflation and a tightening global monetary environment — on Egypt’s economy.

BACKGROUND- This marks the third time in recent memory we’ve turned to the lender for emergency assistance, having secured USD 12 bn over three years to stabilize our economy following the 2016 devaluation, and a further USD 8 b in covid-era financing in 2020.

A ROCKY ROAD AHEAD FOR THE MENA REGION

The Russia-Ukraine conflict and rising inflation will likely dampen the Middle East’s economic recovery in 2022, the IMF said in its latest Regional Economic Outlook, which forecasts uneven regional growth caused by volatile commodity prices, higher inflation, a lingering pandemic, and more hawkish monetary policy in advanced economies. You can download the full report here (pdf).

Key takeaways:

  • Inflation in the region is expected to stay red-hot at 13.9% in 2022, which is slightly lower than the 14.8% recorded in 2021, the IMF said, attributing the high rate to the rising cost of food and energy, exchange rate depreciations in some cases (as in Egypt), as well as lax monetary policies.
  • Real GDP will grow 5% in 2022 in MENA — slower than 5.8% in 2021, but an upward revision of 0.9 percentage points from the Fund’s estimate in October. The higher forecast reflects “the improved outlook for oil exporters and better-than-expected growth in the first half of 2022 for Egypt,” it said.
  • Output will be uneven across the region, with oil exporting countries projected to grow by 5.4%, emerging markets by 4.4%, and middle income countries by 1.1%.

ECONOMY

Inflation could hit 17% this year on the back of the devaluation, food prices –Goldman

Inflation could rise to 17% this year, “but most of it is transient,” says Goldman Sachs: Inflation could climb as high as 17% this year thanks largely to the depreciation of the EGP and rising food prices, Farouk Soussa, Goldman Sachs’ MENA economist, told Bloomberg TV yesterday (watch, runtime: 6:36). Soussa expects inflation to remain elevated over the next 18 months but “most of it is transient,” Soussa said, with the headline rate expected to fall back into the Central Bank of Egypt’s 7% (±2%) target range by the end of 2023.

This doesn’t necessarily mean a spate of rate hikes: Goldman doesn’t think the central bank will react to rising inflation with an aggressive tightening cycle — and expects interest rates to rise by only 100 bps over the summer. This will mean that Egypt’s inflation-adjusted policy rate will remain negative, though Soussa says that policymakers will be more concerned with yields on local debt remaining high enough to attract portfolio inflows. The central bank will next meet to review interest rates on 19 May.

The resumption of the state privatization program could catalyze more inflows: The news that the government wants to IPO military-owned firms on the EGX this year is a positive step that could help to increase private sector investment in the economy, Soussa said. The “over-extended role of the state in the economy” has been one of the key barriers to private investment and any moves made to change this will be “very positive” for investor sentiment, he said.

Longer war in Ukraine = more pressure on Egypt: The two major sectors impacted by the war in Ukraine are wheat (>80% of our imports come from Russia and Ukraine), and tourism (with the two countries accounting for some 30-40% of our tourist arrivals), Soussa said. The Madbouly government’s move to prioritize the local wheat harvest has allowed it to delay international purchases, but “the longer the war lasts, the more Egypt is going to need to import from abroad,” he said. Rising import prices will inevitably have an impact on the country’s balance of payments, he added.

Bread reform on hold? Measures to raise food prices domestically — presumably through a reform of the bread subsidy program, the details of which were scheduled to be announced by the end of March — are currently on hold, Soussa said, referring to a conversation he had with Finance Minister Mohamed Maait during the IMF / World Bank Spring Meetings.

SIGNPOST- Expect more details on the state asset sale program to come after the Eid holiday. Also, Sovereign Fund of Egypt head Ayman Soliman said earlier this week that stakes in military-owned bottled-water maker Safi and filling station operator Wataniya could be sold before the summer.

MANUFACTURING

Steel prices are starting to cool off + Elsewedy inks electric motors agreement

Ezz Steel has lowered steel rebar prices by 4%, marking the first drop in price since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent the cost of building materials soaring. The company will now sell a ton of steel rebar at EGP 19.17k, down from EGP 20k, the company announced in a disclosure to the EGX (pdf) yesterday, citing the need to maintain a balance between price stability and pricing dynamics.

Iron + scrap prices have fallen: Ezz said that the prices of the steel scrap had fallen sharply by USD 64.23 per ton over the past two days while the effective price of iron ore had decreased 65% by USD 33 per ton. Steel billet prices from Russia also continued to slide in the past eight days, dropping USD 60 per ton due to the Western sanctions and production difficulties, it added.

Other companies are also looking to bring down asking prices, Al Mal and Youm7 report, citing local industry officials.

The move comes a few weeks after Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly called on the industry to maintain “fair” prices. The government is eyeing more support for contractors as the war in Ukraine paired with the EGP devaluation sends materials prices soaring, squeezing developers’ margins and threatening project completion timelines.

EDITOR’S NOTE- This story was amended on 28 April, 2022 to reflect that the prices of steel scrap, iron ore, and steel billet fell by USD 64.23, USD 33, and USD 60 per ton. An earlier version of this story indicated that these were the product prices after the reductions. 

OTHER MANUFACTURING NEWS-

Elsewedy Electric partners with China’s Wolong Electric on electric motors + service center: The two manufacturers signed an agreement to distribute electric motors, establish one of the region’s biggest service centers, and explore ways to develop the local industry, Elsewedy announced in a press release (pdf). Wolong Electric will provide Elsewedy with several brands of motors to sell for use in products such as home appliances and electric vehicles. The service center will have a cranage capacity of 50 tons.

DEBT WATCH

Scatec to issue green bonds worth USD 335 mn

Norway’s Scatec will issue USD 335 mn worth of green bonds to refinance its six solar plants in Benban, according to two separate cabinet statements (here and here). An agreement was signed to allow Scatec to go ahead with the plan during a meeting between Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Scatec CEO Terje Pilskog, and other government and banking officials. Reuters also had the story.

EBRD is snapping up a chunk of the issuance: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) previously announced that it will subscribe to almost a third of Scatec’s green bond issuance. The lender take up about USD 100 mn worth of the issuance, in addition to providing a USD 30 mn standby liquidity facility for other investors participating in the sale.

Who else has appetite? The 19-year issuance is fully subscribed by institutional investors, most of them development finance organizations, according to the cabinet statement. Development finance institutions subscribing to the offering include the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO), the German Investment Corporation (DEG), and a number of global private investors.

This is the first renewable energy, corporate green bond issuance in Egypt. CIB issued the country’s first private sector green bond last year with a USD 100 mn issuance supported by the International Finance Corporation, the proceeds of which were earmarked to finance green buildings.

The project: Scatec is the majority owner of six solar plants in Benban, producing a combined 380 MW of electricity. The plants are 51% owned by the Norwegian renewables producer, 25% by African infrastructure investment bank Africa 50, and 24% by Norwegian development finance institution Norfund. Scatec has a 25-year power purchase agreement with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company for the projects, which had been partially financed by EBRD loans. The project’s other lenders included FMO, the Islamic Development Bank, Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, and the Green Climate Fund. Scatec’s Benban plants were completed and connected to the national grid back in 2019.

FINTECH

Khazna Card gets final approval from the Central Bank of Egypt

Khazna has received final approval from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) for its Khazna card, a Meeza prepaid card launched in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) that will provide unbanked users access to the fintech startup’s financial services, according to a statement (pdf) out yesterday.

Unbanked Khazna cardholders will be able to make withdrawals and deposits, online and instore purchases, and pay bills. It will also give users advance access to their wages, helping people to solve short-term cashflow issues between paychecks.

Khazna provides online financial services to Egyptians who don’t necessarily have a bank account through its salary advance app. Founded in April 2019, the Cairo-based startup landed an undisclosed amount of seed funding in early 2020 from a group of investors led by Algebra Ventures. Khazna raised some USD 38 mn in equity and debt in a Series A led by Quona Capital with participation from Nclude, the high-profile bank-backed fund run by the UAE’s Global Ventures.

LISTEN- Khazna CEO Omar Saleh joined us on The Enterprise Podcast with other fintech players and VCs to discuss the future of the industry. Listen to part one here and part two here.

HEALTHCARE

One of Cleopatra Hospital’s East Cairo projects falls through. Another lives on

Cleopatra Hospitals cancels plans for 400-bed medical facility: Cleopatra Hospitals Group (CHG) will not be moving forward with its brownfield project in East Cairo, the company announced in a regulatory filing (pdf) on Tuesday. The company called off the investment after conditions precedent were not met, Hassan Fikry, CHG’s executive director of strategy and business operations, told Enterprise, without disclosing further details.The EGX-listed healthcare group had signed an agreement to acquire the property from an undisclosed seller in October and planned to develop it into a 400-bed medical facility.

Cleopatra still has a major ongoing project in the same area of Cairo: The group will develop and operate Sky Hospital, a 200-bed brownfield general hospital in East Cairo’s Fifth Settlement area for a 27-year period, under a partnership agreement with three state-run petroleum companies that will continue to own the property. Operations are expected to start in late 2023, according to the company’s latest earnings release (pdf).

REMINDER- CLHO recently reported record quarterly revenues, posting an EGP 648.7 mn top line in the fourth quarter of last year.

CABINET WATCH

Cabinet approves sovereign sukuk exec regs

Sovereign Sukuk Act regs are finally ready: The Madbouly government has approved the executive regulations of the Sovereign Sukuk Act “after taking into account observations by some ministries,” according to a statement from the cabinet following its weekly meeting. The bill was signed into law last year.

The government was tight-lipped on the contents of the regs, which the Finance Ministry drafted with the help of the Financial Regulatory Authority and Al Azhar. The statement didn’t disclose when the regulations could be published, which needs to happen for the law to come into effect.

When the regs are released, the path will be clear for the country’s c. USD 2 bn maiden issuance. Before war in Europe threw plans everywhere up in the air, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait had hoped to take the issuance to market before the end of June 2022. The sharia-compliant bonds could be issued on both the local and international stock exchanges. The issuance is part of the ministry's strategy to reduce government debt and shift towards longer-term borrowing.

ALSO APPROVED BY CABINET:

  • EV charging station company: Steps related to establishing the state’s planned EV charging firm, which will manage EV charging stations around the country, including in Greater Cairo, Alexandria and Sharm El Sheikh.
  • Exemption of airport fees for foreign airliners extended: Extending foreign operators’ exemption from airport fees until the end of October. The exemption was set to expire at the end of April.
  • A draft EUR 777 mn funding agreement between the International Cooperation Ministry and the French government to finance 55 new trains and refurbish warehouse equipment for Cairo Metro Line 1.
  • A new authority to manage recovered funds: A draft bill establishing a new authority tasked with managing recovered and seized funds, replacing three governmental bodies carrying similar duties.

MOVES

Suez Cement has appointed commercial director Mohamed Hegazy (LinkedIn) as its new CEO, replacing our very good friend Jose Maria Magrina (LinkedIn), Suez Cement said in an emailed statement yesterday. Magrina has led Suez Cement for the past six years and leaves to take on a new position as CEO of HC Trading, the trading arm of Suez Cement’s parent company Heidelberg Cement. Hegazy has been with Suez Cement for 15 years and was appointed as its chief commercial director in 2017.

Jose Maria was one of our first My Morning Routine profiles back in 2019. Read about his day here. Egypt will miss you, buddy.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has appointed Cheick-Oumar Sylla (LinkedIn) as its new regional director for North Africa, according to a press release (pdf). Sylla has 30+ years of experience in global investment and development, and most recently served as IFC’s country manager for the Horn of Africa, covering Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan and South Sudan. His new role will see him leading from Cairo IFC’s investment and advisory teams in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya.

KUDOS

Two Egyptians among the World Economic Forum’s 2022 young global leaders

KUDOS- Two Egyptian women have made it to the World Economic Forum’s young global leaders class of 2022. Our friend Amal Enan (LinkedIn), chief investment officer at AUC, and Rep. Sahar Albazar (LinkedIn), the deputy chair of the House foreign affairs committee, are among the 109 people to have been selected by the WEF for this year’s YGL class.

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LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

So much news, and not a talking head in sight: It seems the country’s talking heads have already kicked off their Eid break, leaving us with nothing worth noting from last night’s talk shows.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

President El Sisi’s call to list military-owned firms on the EGX by the end of this year is the lead business story about Egypt in the international press, with the Financial Times taking note. Meanwhile, the Economist is out with a broadside and human rights still dominates the non-business conversation on Egypt (New York Times | Human Rights Watch).

Need more? The BBC has a story out on underground demand for botox and fillers.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Egypt’s budget deficit narrowed to 4.9% of GDP in the first nine months of FY 2021-2022, from 5.4% in the same period last year, according to figures released yesterday by Ittihadiya. The government is forecasting the deficit to fall to 6.2% of GDP by the end of the current fiscal year from 7.4% last year.

Egypt’s debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to come in at around 85% this year, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait is quoted as saying in the statement. That’s well within FinMin’s previous target of less than 90%, and below the IMF’s latest forecast of 94%.

MEANWHILE- Perishable goods with no L/Cs won’t be left to rot at ports: The Trade Ministry has agreed to release perishable goods from ports to importers who failed to secure the required letters of credit (L/Cs), according to a ministry letter seen by Al Mal. Importers must provide a letter of guarantee or cash deposit for the value of the goods in order to secure their release. The central bank has since March required importers to get L/Cs for their purchases instead of the common practice of documentary collection.

ALSO- Nicotine alternatives producer ANDS will invest USD 20-30 mn in Egypt to fuel its expansion in the country. (Al Mal)

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

  • The EU is set to strike a migration agreement with Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia to help European employers match with skilled foreign workers. (EUObserver)
  • The National Bank of Egypt will help Damietta Port Authority collect fees via digital payment under a cooperation agreement signed yesterday. (Statement, pdf).
  • Egypt-based Shatablee is eying a business volume of EGP 1 bn next fiscal year after opening its New Cairo HQ. (Ahram Gate)
  • Two people were killed and 44 injured when a bus overturned in South Sinai, around 25 km from Sharm El Sheikh. (Ahram Online)
  • The government has released 3,273 prisoners who received presidential pardons to mark Sinai Liberation Day. (Ahram Gate)

DIPLOMACY

Talking climate, Ukraine fallout and trade with Canada

Canada and Egypt talked yesterday about climate change, regional issues, and how to deepen their partnership as Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry held a call with Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly. A readout from MOFA picked up by the State Information Service emphasized the fact that Joly and Shoukry talked about how to deepen “economic and trade relations.” The impact of fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine was also on the agenda, Joly said.

PLANET FINANCE

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Archegos founder, CFO arrested on 11 criminal counts, including security fraud: Archegos Capital Management founder Bill Hwang and CFO Patrick Halligan were indicted yesterday on charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, and racketeering. Both pleaded not guilty to the charges. Hwang posted a staggering USD 100 mn in bail, while Halligan was offered bail of USD 1 mn. Archegos is accused of bumping its portfolio from USD 1.5 bn to USD 35 bn in one year by using borrowed money for deceptive trading tactics, according to a statement from Manhattan US attorney Damian Williams cited by Bloomberg. The meltdown saw banks — including Credit Suisse and Japan’s Nomura Holdings — lose more than USD 10 bn upon the fund’s collapse.

The story is everywhere in the foreign press, including Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

1Q 2022 earnings season continued yesterday:

  • Solid performance at SODIC boosted Aldar Properties’ bottom line, with the UAE-based developer posting net income of AED 688 mn, up almost 27% y-o-y. (Earnings release, pdf)
  • Deutsche Bank has reported its highest quarterly earnings since 2013, announcing yesterday post-tax earnings of EUR 1.2 bn, up 18% on the same period in 2021. (Earnings release)
  • Meta shares saw an 18% spike in after-hours trading after the group out-earned investor expectations in 1Q, while subsidiary Facebook managed to grow its user base. (Earnings release, pdf)

OTHER THINGS we’re keeping an eye on this morning:

  • Americana Group taps banks for IPO: Americana Group, which operates KFC and Pizza Hut in MENA, has tapped First Abu Dhabi Bank, Goldman Sachs and SNB Capital to work on its planned IPO. The dual listing in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi could take place this year. (Bloomberg)
  • Dubai has launched an AED 370 mn VC fund for local startups. Managed by Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), which will stump up 15%, the new fund aims to drive the emirate’s economic growth and secure its position as a global fintech, innovation, and VC hub. (Statement)

Up

EGX30

10,718

+0.3% (YTD: -10.3%)

Down

USD (CBE)

Buy 18.44

Sell 18.53

Down

USD at CIB

Buy 18.45

Sell 18.53

None

Interest rates CBE

9.25% deposit

10.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

13,644

+1.0% (YTD: +20.9%)

Down

ADX

10,025

-0.2% (YTD: +18.1%)

Up

DFM

3,688

+0.6% (YTD: +15.4%)

Up

S&P 500

4,184

+0.2% (YTD: -12.2%)

Up

FTSE 100

7,426

+0.5% (YTD: +0.6%)

Up

Euro Stoxx 50

3,735

+0.4% (YTD: -13.1%)

Down

Brent crude

USD 104.85

-0.5%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 7.27

+6.1%

Down

Gold

USD 1,886.60

-0.1%

Up

BTC

USD 39,261

+2.8% (YTD: -15.1%)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 0.3% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 767 mn (13.1% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 10.3% YTD.

In the green: Mopco (+7.0%), Rameda (+6.1%) and Cleopatra Hospitals (+3.8%).

In the red: MM Group (-2.5%), Madinet Nasr Housing (-1.8%) and EFG Hermes (-1.5%).

Asian markets are up in early trading this morning as investors await the latest monetary policy move from Japan’s central bank, set to be announced this morning. Futures suggest major European and US indices will also open in the green later on today as the markets look set to mount a rebound following April’s steep selloffs.

MY MORNING ROUTINE

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Moustafa Moharram, CEO and founder, Moharram & Partners + USEBC vice chairman: 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 Moustafa Moharram (LinkedIn), CEO and founder of Moharram & Partners, as well as a vice chairman of the US-Egypt Business Council. Edited excerpts from our conversation:

I’m Moustafa Moharram and I’m the founder and CEO of Moharram & Partners and vice chairman of the US-Egypt Business Council. Put simply, our job at Moharram & Partners is to represent businesses before governments and strive to create a better policy environment for our clients and partners, so they can focus on what they do best, including growing and running their operations, launching exciting IPOs — and, of course, generating earnings. Moharram & Partners was also recently tapped as one of three vice chairmen of the US-Egypt Business Council (USEBC). In our new role, we look forward to forging new collaborative policy initiatives across different industries, paving the way to closer and stronger trade and foreign direct investment relationships between the US and Egypt.

In this part of the world, there are policies and regulations for everything under the sun, so if you’re facing a crisis where a regulator is concerned, or there’s a new piece of legislation that you’ve seen in Enterprise’s Legislation Watch section that’s affecting your business and you’re wondering why you have to apply for a new license or pay new taxes, or if you need to sit with government officials to pitch a partnership proposition, we can help with all of that. We advise 50+ companies across 17+ sectors, including big names such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, GlaxoSmithKline and Coca-Cola.

Public policy engagement allows governments to become better governments and businesses to become better corporate citizens. Sustainable development will never be achieved without corporates having a voice in policymaking, especially in a country like Egypt. Many policies are developed in isolation, away from businesses, which creates big issues for the business and investment climate. I’m very proud of our team — over the past seven years, we’ve built a unique team of 60+ professionals who are specialized in public policy and government engagement.

As the CEO, I’m in charge of developing engagement strategies and overseeing our operations across the Middle East & Africa region.

One of our biggest success stories is what we did with the Data Protection Act. We were able to launch, for the first time, a private-public dialogue on this critical piece of legislation that’s important for the technology sector in Egypt but initially didn’t meet international standards. We got major global tech firms at the same table as the CIT Ministry and legislators, where they were able to express their concerns — which were mainly that regulations in Egypt weren’t the same as the ones applied elsewhere. These recommendations were picked up by the regulators and some amendments were introduced. Other than the benefits to the tech sector, this was an important step for the culture of participatory decision making in Egypt.

The return on investment from this shift can be seen in how the business environment has changed now. Many of these big companies have, since that constructive dialogue session, decided to expand their operations in Egypt or do new work here. Google began direct operations in Egypt shortly after, Amazon inaugurated a major fulfillment center, and Microsoft recently held a meeting with Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly to discuss new potential investments.

My morning routine is as crazy as my job. I wake up every day hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. My alarm goes off at 9am and I take my phone off airplane mode. The minute I do that, I’m flooded with messages, reminders for calls, and missed calls from clients, CEOs, corporate policy directors, our office manager, as well as my VPs. As much as I would like to take the time to gradually kickstart my morning, I always find myself diving in head-first. As I always like to say, I’m engaged from Port Said to Washington DC, and from Casablanca to Islamabad. It’s always morning somewhere [laughs].

Once I face that first wave of catching up, I’m able to take a few moments to clear my mind and think of how to approach different parts of the day. I enjoy my irreplaceable first coffee of the day — a double espresso — while reading (in this order) local, regional, and international news. I usually go for a light breakfast — think yogurt, fruits and granola. The only exception is when we have clients over in the morning, which is when we serve our signature breakfast: Fuul, taamia, and feteer.

I usually hit the gym later in the day, typically towards the end of my workday. I used to be very athletic in my previous life; now, things are becoming more challenging. But my two daughters and my wife sometimes try to talk me out of going to the gym so that I can spend more time with them.

My days end at different times, depending on what’s going on. The firm is called Moharram & Partners, so Moharram has to be around when there’s a crisis [laughs]. There are days when we finish at 4am. This job isn’t for everyone — it requires dedication, but it’s very rewarding in the end.

A big part of my day is centered on communication. It’s very important for us to ensure proper communication between our partners and policy makers. Some of this communication entails keeping our clients informed about what’s happening in the regulatory and policy landscape, but it also entails listening to their expectations on these matters and how they impact their businesses. Then, of course, there’s communication with bureaucrats, policy makers, and anyone that has influence in that realm to help us convey our viewpoints.

Our overarching goal throughout the day is always to get things done — with integrity. This industry is relatively new to Egypt, so we hold ourselves to the highest standards of integrity, because we hold it in high regard.

I need to give credit to my office manager, Salma, for keeping me organized. She’s very zen [laughs], but she also makes sure that all my reminders, goals, meetings, and to-do lists are always updated. We have a pipeline of our client work, complete with matrices that track their requests and the different things required toward a certain strategy. It’s part of my daily routine to check these matrices and follow up with the teams and ensure that things are progressing. We rely a lot on Excel sheets, but also on WhatsApp groups we have with our clients, which are the easiest way to communicate updates and get feedback in real-time. I’m on every single WhatsApp group we have with our clients.

I listen to a lot of music to unwind. In recent years, I’ve gotten into classical Arabic music, from the likes of Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Fairuz and Umm Kulthum. I also try to read more novels because I’m a heavy consumer of news.

The last great show my wife and I watched was Westworld — and we’re waiting for the next season. We also used to go to the cinema regularly before the pandemic. The last movie we watched in theaters was No Time to Die.

The best piece of advice I’ve gotten is from my late father, who was a medical doctor and a professor at Cairo University: No matter how serious your job is, enjoy life and don’t take yourself too seriously.

CALENDAR

OUR CALENDAR NOW APPEARS in two sections:

  • 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

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

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.

30 April – 5 May (Saturday-Thursday): National holiday in observance of Labor Day and Eid Al Fitr.

Late April through 15 May: 1Q2022 earnings season

MAY

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.

2 May (Monday): Eid Al Fitr.

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.

10-12 May (Tuesday-Thursday): EBRD Annual Meeting and Business Forum, Marrakesh, Morocco.

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.

19 May (Thursday): EFG Hermes’ general shareholders’ meeting to discuss, among several things, a capital increase of EGP 973 mn to finance the distribution of bonus shares to the company’s minority shareholders.

25 May (Wednesday): The deadline for private companies to pre-register ahead of bidding for the second phase of the PPP national project to establish and operate 1k language schools.

31 May (Tuesday): The application deadline for ITIDA’s annual Export IT program.

JUNE

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.

June: Egypt will launch a unified ticketing system for all means of transport at the Adly Mansour Interchange Station.

JULY

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

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

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

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

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.

DECEMBER

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

JANUARY 2023

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.

EVENTS WITH NO SET DATE

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 its 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.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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