Sunday, 8 May 2022

AM — Privatization, the green economy and interest rates set the tone for this first post-Eid workday

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome back to what’s shaping up to be a very busy workweek as we digest the Fed’s rate hike, look to hear what’s next with the state privatization program, and continue to grapple with the many-faceted fallout from the war in Ukraine.

Need a refresher on what the big issues of the day were before we all went on break? We’ve got you covered here.

THE BIG STORIES HERE AT HOME all center on containing fallout from the war in Ukraine, including expectations that the privatization program could restart in September (market conditions permitting), new measures to boost foreign investment and domestic industry, and speculation in the domestic press and on the airwaves about whether the Central Bank of Egypt could raise interest rates earlier than planned after the Fed’s 50 bps move last week.

^^ We have more on all of this below in this morning’s news well and in Last Night’s Talk Shows.

THE BIG STORIES ABROAD- There’s no single story dominating the global front pages this morning:

  • Putin reportedly plans to send a “doomsday” warning to the West at tomorrow’s World War II victory parade in Moscow.
  • Soaring oil and gas profits ≠ soaring investment: Bloomberg leads with a story reporting that oil majors are deploying their “historic” profits on share buybacks, rather than making productive investments.
  • The Kushner connection: Mns of USD of Saudi money is finding its way to Israel via Jared Kushner’s new private equity firm, according to the Wall Street Journal.

WATCH THIS SPACE- Folks on Planet Startup in the United States are getting really edgy about a “bloodbath” of layoffs, spending cutbacks, down rounds (and cram-downs) and a slowdown in fundraising by VCs — a trend that has gathered steam since we flagged it for you last Thursday:

Oh, and the NFT market? It has cratered. Sales of NFTs are down about 92% since their peak last September, the Wall Street Journal writes, and active wallets are down 88%. It’s not just the dude who bought Jack’s first tweet who’s underwater right now…

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

IT’S PMI DAY: We’ll find out how Egypt’s private sector performed in April today after the latest purchasing managers’ index lands just after we hit “send” on this morning’s issue (you should find it here by 6:15am CLT). Non-oil private sector activity has been in contraction for 16 consecutive months, and suffered its steepest decline since June 2020 in March as Russia’s war in Ukraine and rising inflation hit business.

Elsewhere in the region: PMI figures for Saudi Arabia and the UAE will be out tomorrow, while data from Qatar will land Tuesday.

PSA #1- We love you, Mom. Happy Mothers’ Day to all those celebrating the date in the United States and Canada today.

PSA #2- Today is the last chance to file corporate taxes. The Tax Authority pushed the original 30 April deadline to account for the weeklong Eid break.

PSA #3- Mosques are officially post-covid as of today: All mosques and shrines will fully reopen from today after more than two years of disruptions caused by covid-related restrictions on public gatherings, the Awqaf Ministry announced in a statement.

Speaking of covid- Egypt saw an average of eight new covid-19 cases per day last week, down from 46 the week before, according to Health Ministry figures released yesterday. We also saw a daily average of four deaths, down from five a week earlier. Around 34.5 mn people are now fully vaccinated and almost 2.7 mn have had their boosters, the statement added.

HAPPENING TOMORROW-

One step closer to our 2022-2023 budget: Finance Minister Mohamed Maait will present the draft FY 2022-2023 budget to the House of Representatives’ general assembly tomorrow. Last month the House voted to send the draft FY 2022-2023 budget to the budget and planning committee. Planning Minister Hala El Said will present the draft economic and social development plan to the House during the same session.

Brazil wants to buy more Egyptian fertilizer: Officials from Brazil’s agriculture ministry will arrive in Cairo tomorrow to discuss upping nitrogen fertilizer imports from Egypt, the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce said Thursday. The delegation will meet with Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy, Deputy Agriculture Minister Moustafa El Sayed, and private sector fertilizer and animal protein suppliers.

Why the “fertilizer diplomacy”? The South American country imports around 85% of its fertilizers and is in search of new suppliers as sanctions on Russia — the largest producer of nitrogen fertilizers last year (pdf) — raise concerns of a supply shortage.

LATER THIS WEEK-

We’re back from holiday with a ton of data points and news triggers in the pipeline. Here are the key events you’ll want to keep an eye on:

  • Privatization strategy announcement: We’re expecting the Madbouly government to announce the details of its strategy to privatize state-owned firms and boost private-sector participation in the economy. Cabinet said yesterday that the PM will hold a presser this week to announce new measures to improve private investment and FDI;
  • Foreign reserves: Figures for April should be announced sometime this week;
  • State statistics agency Capmas’ monthly bulletin covering the price of key building materials is due out tomorrow, 9 May;
  • Inflation figures for April are due out on Tuesday, 10 May. Between the global environment, knock-on effects from the devaluation of the EGP, and the traditional inflationary hit thanks to Ramadan, you can expect the number to be a bit on the ugly side.

PLUS- The PSA world squash championships get underway in Cairo this Friday, 13 May. The men’s and women’s finals will be played on 22 May. There is USD 550k at stake for each of the men’s and women’s championships, making this the biggest purse on record for a squash tourney.

FURTHER AFIELD-

A huge US “GreenTech business mission” is inbound next week. More than 40 US companies are heading to Egypt to kick the tires on green investment and potential business partnerships in sectors ranging from energy to healthcare, agriculture, aviation, construction and water resource management. The high-level delegation will meet with members of the business community and senior government officials. It’s being led by David Thorne (a top official in the office of the US special presidential envoy for climate) and Jake Levine (chief climate officer at the US International Development Finance Corporation).

ALSO-

  • The Central Bank of Egypt will meet to review interest rates on Thursday, 19 May.
  • The last of this season’s earnings releases will drop by 31 May after the Financial Regulatory Authority granted listed companies a two-week deadline extension.

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


FACT CHECK- The local gold market is operating as usual: Reports circulating on social media of a pause in gold trading are untrue, the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ precious metals division and the gold jewelry division of the Cairo Chambers of Commerce said in a joint statement. Egyptian gold prices are set transparently and fluctuate according to global prices and local supply and demand, the statement said.

MARKET WATCH- OPEC+ has agreed to another modest production increase of 432k barrels per day in June, as expected, despite continued pressure to raise production levels amid a planned EU embargo on Russian oil and weaker demand from China due to ongoing lockdowns, the group announced in a statement Thursday. The European Union proposed a six-month phase out of Russian crude imports last week. OPEC+ will hold its next meeting on June 2.

enterprise

*** 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 ask leading startup founders what they think of in-the-works regulatory changes designed to attract VC firms to invest directly in Egypt. They all share positivity over the move, which will see the General Authority for Investment and Freezones (GAFI), the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) and the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) work together to outline easier operation and access for both local and international VCs in invest in local startups. The protocol not only shows that policymakers are aware of obstacles in the country’s entrepreneurial scene, but also helps in increasing FDI and turbocharge entrepreneurism into the country, they tell us.

enterprise

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

PRIVATIZATION WATCH

Privatization program back in action this September, says Tawfik

Egypt plans to offer shares in state companies on the EGX starting in September, Public Enterprise Minister Hisham Tawfik told Reuters yesterday. The minister said the move had been delayed until after the summer, without providing further details on the companies to be listed.

Egypt had hoped to sell shares in as many as 10 state-owned companies on the EGX in 2022, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine upended the global economy. Officials were previously set to resume the revived privatization program in March as part of plans to list “as many state companies as possible” this year. The plans would have seen the government selling stakes in state-owned companies every month or two, according to statements by Planning Minister Hala El Said earlier this year.

Could this also include military-owned firms? The minister’s statements come days after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi directed the government to list military-owned firms on the EGX by the end of this year. Bets are on bottled-water maker Safi and filling station operator Wataniya, which are currently being prepared for public or private offerings before the summer, Sovereign Fund of Egypt chief Ayman Soliman said last month.

Also slated for IPOs / secondary offerings: Heliopolis Housing and Development | Mopco | Banque du Caire | Misr Life.

BACKGROUND: The Madbouly government has been looking for years now to sell state assets under its privatization program, but has run into obstacles including the global emerging-market selloff in 2018, and then covid over the past two years. Since its launch in 2018, the state has successfully taken fintech company e-Finance to market, and has sold secondary stakes in state tobacco monopoly Eastern Company and Abu Qir Fertilizers.

ECONOMY

More from El Sisi’s economy speech: Growing the EGX, support for local industry + cutting public debt

More on the Sisi administration’s plans to boost the economy: The state’s plan to attract USD 40 bn in fresh investment by opening the door to “private sector participation in state-owned assets” led coverage of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s televised speech at the “Egyptian family iftar” event (watch, runtime: 1:03:23) before the Eid break. El Sisi used the speech to announce several initiatives to help strengthen Egypt’s economy and industry, increase private sector investment, and reduce public debt.

Beyond plans to attract about USD 10 bn a year in fresh investment over the next four years, here’s what the administration is thinking:

#1- The state will provide fresh incentives to local manufacturers — including SMEs — to develop local industries and reduce imports, El Sisi said in his speech. The incentives include five-year tax breaks, usufruct contracts for land, and providing technical and material support for defaulters. El Sisi also said the state plans to “strengthen the role of the private sector” within local industries.

#2- The government will present a framework that will attempt to double the size of the EGX, the number of companies listed on it, and the number of local and foreign investors in the bourse, El Sisi said. The Madbouly government has previously signaled it will bring new assets to market, including fresh IPOs; sales of additional stakes in already-listed, state-controlled companies; and shares in military-owned companies, with the president using the speech to direct the Madbouly government to list military-owned firms on the EGX by the end of this year. (Smart money is on bottled-water maker Safi and filling station operator Wataniya, which are currently being prepared for public or private offerings before summer, according to Sovereign Fund of Egypt chief Ayman Soliman.)

#3- The government will announce a plan to reduce public debt and the state’s budget deficit over the next four years, the president said, without specifying when to expect the announcement. Egypt’s debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to come in at around 85% this year, and the government had been planning to bring down the debt-to-GDP ratio to below 90% in FY2022-2023 and 82.5% by June 2025. The government is also forecasting the deficit to narrow to 6.2% of GDP by the end of the current fiscal year from 7.4% last year, and 6.1% by the end of 2022-2023.

LOOK FOR MORE INFORMATION THIS WEEK: The Madbouly government is set to announce its strategy to privatize state-owned firms and boost private-sector participation in the economy when Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly holds a presser. The measures to boost private investment are a key part of the government’s response to the global economic fallout from by Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

COMMODITIES

Some good news on the wheat front

WATCH THIS SPACE- We could be getting Ukrainian wheat through Polish and Lithuanian seaports: Polish President Andrzej Duda will visit Egypt next month to coordinate ways to ship Ukrainian wheat to Egypt amid the war, potentially through Polish seaports, Duda said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Friday. Both Poland and Lithuania are reportedly in talks with Ukraine about exporting its summer grain harvest through their ports in a bid to circumvent Russia’s blockade of the country’s Black Sea ports, which has resulted in some 25 mn tons being currently stuck in the country. The same offer could also be made for exports of sunflower oil, Duda said. Egypt imports around 80% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine, and more than half of its sunflower oil from Ukraine in 2020, according to the most recent data.

MEANWHILE- India moves to calm fears of a coming grain export ban: India “doesn’t see a clear case” for restricting exports of wheat, despite severe heat waves hitting the country’s harvest and threatening further inflation, Bloomberg reports, citing a statement from the country’s food and public distribution ministry. India, the world’s second-largest wheat producer, is looking to sell wheat to Egypt for the first time, but there are fears that crop yields were hit by a sudden spike in temperatures in mid-March.

AN UPDATE ON THE LOCAL HARVEST Over 700k feddans of local wheat have been harvested since the start of the harvest season on April 1, agriculture ministry official Abbas Al-Shennawi told Reuters yesterday. Egypt is looking into increasing its wheat procurement target for local wheat to 6 mn tonnes— nearly double the 3.5 mn tonnes purchased from farmers last harvest season.

INVESTMENT WATCH

Abu Dhabi Ports to build and run Safaga terminal, cruise ship infrastructure

Abu Dhabi Ports to develop and run Safaga terminal in JV with state authorities: Abu Dhabi Ports (ADP) has signed a contract to develop, operate and manage a multi-purpose terminal in Safaga Port as part of a joint venture with the Red Sea Ports Authority and the Transport Ministry’s commercial arm, the ministry and ADP said in separate statements Thursday. The parties did not disclose the share each will hold in the JV, which is set to be decided in the final contracts, Enterprise has learned.

About the Safaga terminal: The ministry in November signed an initial MoU with ADP to manage the terminal, which is expected to be completed in 2024. Construction of the terminal’s infrastructure — which is set to be financed by the government and cost up to EGP 3 bn — will conclude by the end of next year, the source we spoke to told us. It will include berths of up to 1km and handle all types of cargo, according to the statement. The terminal was one of nine proposed PPP infrastructure projects given preliminary approval by the cabinet in June, though we still haven’t heard of a final go-ahead from the ministers.

ADP previously said it would invest USD 500 mn into Egypt if it won the Safaga Port contract and another contract to construct the Tenth of Ramadan dry port. As of mid-October, the government had received technical bids from six consortia competing for the PPP contract to construct the 250-feddan dry port. The conditions booklet for the tender should be released sometime this month.

ADP is also entering our cruise industry: ADP also signed a second agreement with the Red Sea Ports Authority to develop, operate and manage cruise ship berths and terminals in the Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada and Safaga ports. The Emirati firm will also develop plans for cruise ship lines linking Abu Dhabi, Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh and the Jordanian port of Aqaba.

What they said: The latest agreements are part of plans to make Egypt a “global trade and logistics hub” by developing its Red Sea and Mediterranean ports, Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir was quoted as saying by ADP.

This isn’t ADP’s first venture in Egypt: The company recently signed agreements with the Transport Ministry to manage and operate a multi-purpose terminal in Ain Sokhna port and a river port in Minya Governorate.

This is another ADQ tie-in: ADP is majority owned by Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ, which bought 32% of Alexandria Container & Cargo Handling as part of its blockbuster USD 1.8 bn investment in five local state-owned and private firms last month.

This comes a few months after ADP completed its IPO in Abu Dhabi, where it raised some USD 1.1 bn. Shares in the ports operator closed at AED 5.56 on Friday, up 74% from the offer price of AED 3.20 on its debut in February.

GREEN ECONOMY

Oil Ministry announces launch of Egypt’s first pilot carbon capture project with Eni + raft of other green energy initiatives

The Oil Ministry and Eni are implementing a pilot carbon capture project at the Italian energy firm’s Meleiha concessions in the Western Desert, according to a ministry statement. The pilot project — which marks Egypt’s first carbon capture initiative — is being implemented at a cost of USD 25 mn and aims to store some 25-30k tons of carbon dioxide each year. If successful, similar schemes will be rolled out in other locations, the statement read.

Stay tuned at COP: The Italian firm is set to announce more details on the initiative at the COP 27 climate summit in Sharm El Sheikh in November, where carbon capture and storage (CCUS) is set to be a major theme.

Eni is increasing its carbon capture footprint and is developing projects in a number of countries. Its HyNet North West project in the UK has ambitions to capture and store 10 mn tons of industrial CO2 every year by 2030, while an initiative off the Italian coast aims to use a depleted natural gas field to store CO2. Outside of Europe, the company is working on CCUS projects at gas fields in the UAE and Libya.

It isn’t the only international firm eyeing CCUS projects in Egypt: The Oil Ministry signed 11 MoUs with international firms on CCUS projects at the Egypt Petroleum Show in February, according to the statement, and is now working to prepare studies on the potential projects. US conglomerate Honeywell is among the international firms looking to provide CCUS technology and contribute to climate-friendly initiatives ahead of COP27. EGAS, the Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding Company, and Japan’s Toyota Tshusho in September signed an MoU on joint blue hydrogen projects using Japanese carbon capture technology. Mitsubishi has also expressed interest in working with the Oil Ministry on carbon capture.

ALSO FROM THE MINISTRY –

The Oil Ministry is planning some USD 1.25 bn worth of green petrochemical projects. They include:

  • A USD 600 mn biofuel production plant, which is expected to produce 350k tons of biofuels from algae oil per year and cut CO2 emissions by up to 1.2 mn tons annually;
  • A USD 600 mn biodegradable plastics factory, which will produce 75k tons of plastics annually and reduce emissions by around 45k tons per year;
  • A USD 50 mn plastic waste recycling project, which would see old plastics converted to 30k tons of oil annually to make new plastics, reducing CO2 emissions by some 63k tons per year.

ALSO IN THE PIPELINE- Another green MDF factory: A USD 300 mn factory will produce wood panels from rice straw, reducing air pollution caused by the burning of the straw at the end of the harvest season. The ministry says this will prevent the release of around 360k tons of CO2 emissions each year.

DEBT WATCH

CIB could get USD 20 mn from EBRD for SME lending

CIB could soon receive a USD 20 mn loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for on-lending to local women-led SMEs, according to the EBRD’s website. The loan has passed a final review and is now pending approval from the European lender, which is expected to make a decision by 9 June.

This is not the first loan of its kind CIB has received from the EBRD: The lender responded to the covid-19 pandemic by providing the bank a USD 100 mn loan for emergency on-lending to SMEs. It issued similar loans to the National Bank of Egypt and the National Bank of Kuwait Egypt.

CAPITAL MARKETS

CI Capital dethrones EFG Hermes to top the EGX brokerage league table

CI Capital topped the EGX’s brokerage league table in April, with a market share of 43.9%, according to figures from the EGX (pdf), marking the first time in months that EFG Hermes has been pipped to the top spot. Rounding out the top five were Al Ahly Pharos (29.4%), EFG Hermes (7.1%), Arqaam (2.3%) and Beltone (1.2%).

EARNINGS WATCH

Rising revenues helped Qalaa Holdings to narrow its losses to EGP 2.3 bn in 2021 from EGP 2.6 bn the year before, according to the company’s full year earnings release (pdf). Revenues rose 27% y-o-y to EGP 45.8 bn during the 12-month period on higher commodity prices and improved refining margins at its flagship greenfield project, the Egyptian Refining Company (ERC). Taqa Arabia, the company’s energy platform, booked y-o-y revenue growth of 15% to EGP 9.1 bn, reflecting improved market conditions, according to the release. Taqa Gas expanded its network of gas stations, Taqa Power saw higher power distribution volumes, and Taqa Marketing recorded higher revenues from fuel and lubes.

The figures demonstrate Qalaa’s “resilience and agility” in adapting to changing business conditions, said founder and chairman Ahmed Heikal, who attributed the results to the company’s “robust investment and growth strategies.”

Looking ahead: In 2022, Qalaa will look to make steady investments in its existing operations while being on the lookout for potential acquisitions, Heikal said. Renewable energy is an area of “particular interest” to the company, he said, adding that Taqa is “ideally positioned” to capitalize on the transition towards natural gas and solar and wind energy.

enterprise

LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Are we going to get another snap CBE meeting à la 21 March? That was the question posed by Lamees El Hadidi last night (watch, runtime: 9:31), who noted reports in the domestic press that the central bank could bring forward its 19 May policy meeting in light of the Federal Reserve’s decision to hike rates last week.

State-owned Akhbar Elyom reported yesterday that the Monetary Policy Committee could hold an exceptional meeting as soon as today, citing an anonymous central bank source. But last night, the Kelma Akhira host cited a CBE source of her own who told her that there aren’t currently plans to hold an early meeting this month.

That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to feel the pinch from rising US interest rates here in Egypt. As El Hadidi and Nabil Zaki, professor of international economics and finance at New York University, noted last night, the Fed’s decision is going to raise the USD, push up the cost of borrowing, increase our import bill, and cause further portfolio outflows. Speaking to Salet Al Tahrir’s Azza Mostafa (watch, runtime: 5:34), Zaki said that the move will mean that Egypt, a major importer of wheat and commodities, will see its balance of payments and trade deficits widen and face higher inflation. El Hekaya’s Adib (watch, runtime: 4:46) also covered the topic.

Another rate rise here at home when the CBE meets later this month? Some analysts and economists are expecting the CBE to hike interest rates by another 100-200 bps this month, El Hadidi noted. The central bank increased rates by 100 bps when it last met in March — the first time rates have risen in five years.

Egypt’s airwaves were dominated by yesterday’s attack in Sinai which killed 11 troops and injured five others in what is seen as the deadliest attack on the armed forces in recent years. Condemnations by the presidency and state institutions led the airwaves, with the news picked up by Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime: 18:00), El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 1:39) , and Kelma Akhira’s Lamis El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 9:41), among others.

El Hekaya also shed light on the implementation of the amended Real Estate Registry Act which came into effect yesterday (watch, runtime: 3:21). The amendments, which received the greenlight from the House of Representatives in February, simplify the property registration process by reducing the volume of documentation needed, digitizing parts of the procedures, and putting a time limit on the process. Justice Minister Omar Marawan said registering property would provide guarantees against encroachment. The law would also allow the registration of any property, including vacant land, according to real estate registry official Ayman Awad (watch, runtime: 2:31).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Leading the conversation on Egypt in the international press this morning: Eleven troops were killed “foiling a terror attack” on a water-lifting station east of the Suez Canal, a statement by the Egyptian armed forces read. Five others were injured in the attack, it said, in what was one of the deadliest against the armed forces in recent years. The militants were currently being “pursued and besieged” in Sinai, according to the statement. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, the Cabinet, Al Azhar, and the Copitc Orthodox Church have all condemned the attack. The story made headlines in the Associated Press, Reuters, and The National.

Human rights is also topping headlines: The government’s recent decision to release prisoners to mark Sinai Liberation Day inspires different takes from Mirette Mabrouk, founding director of the Egypt program at the Middle East Institute, who speaks to NPR about the possibility of more political openness in Egypt, and Human Rights Watch, which warns that the move likely does not mark a “fundamental policy shift.” Meanwhile, Reuters covers the US State Department’s call for a “thorough, transparent and credible” investigation into the death of Egyptian economic researcher Ayman Hadhoud.

Also making headlines:

  • When the Ramadan spirit turns EGP 10 into USD 1 mn in donations: Healthcare charity the Mersal Foundation raised around USD 1 mn in one day, after Vodafone Egypt promised to match donations when the charity’s auction of an EGP 10 unused top-up card went viral on social media. (BBC)
  • President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s recent speech on the state’s response to the economic repercussions of war in Ukraine is still getting international attention. (The Africa Report)
  • El Ikhtiyar gets ink in the Economist, having earlier gotten a longer take in the New York Times.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

A new spinning mill in El Mahalla that is set to be the largest in the world will begin operations next year, Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik told Dostor. The state has already launched the distributing company that will sell its products, NIT, which is currently in talks with retailers and shopping malls on opening branches to sell its wares. The spinning mill, which comes as part of the government’s EGP 21 bn plan to overhaul the spinning and weaving industry, was originally slated to begin trial operations in April of this year.

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

  • Egypt Kuwait Holding subsidiary Kahraba has awarded Finnish company Wartsila a contract to deliver equipment that will add 20 MW of capacity to the 40 MW Borg El Arab power plant and upgrade its control system. (Statement)
  • An Egyptian archaeological mission has unearthed 85 tombs in southern Sohag dating from the Old Kingdom of Egypt to the Ptolemaic dynasty. (Statement)

PLANET FINANCE

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EFG Hermes - https://efghermes.com/

Expectations of IMF support are driving gains in some of the riskiest EM debt markets: Emerging-market debt has been battered by a tightening monetary environment as central banks crack down on inflation, losing 6% last month alone. But investors are flocking to buy high-risk bonds in the belief that the IMF will step in with financial support, Bloomberg writes. Debt from nations including Pakistan, Zambia and Tunisia offered returns as high as 6.6% in April, as investors predict the IMF will offer more lenient terms than usual on assistance packages amid high global inflation.

Global food prices fell slightly in April after hitting another record high in March, despite difficult market conditions and continued global food security concerns, according to UN data released Friday. The FAO Food Price Index fell 0.8% m-o-m in April — its second-highest level on record and up nearly 30% on April 2021.

Cereal and vegetable prices dropped from their record highs last month, while international wheat prices (key for Egypt) rose marginally again last month even as big shipments from India and Russia helped to ease pressure on supply caused by the war in Ukraine. But the FAO’s Meat Price Index (which includes poultry) hit its own all-time record in April as disruptions to Ukrainian exports and a bird flu outbreak in the Northern Hemisphere squeezed supply.

Up

EGX30

11,048

+3.1% (YTD: -7.5%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 18.44

Sell 18.53

None

USD at CIB

Buy 18.43

Sell 18.53

None

Interest rates CBE

9.25% deposit

10.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

13,734

+0.7% (YTD: +21.7%)

Down

ADX

10,073

-0.1% (YTD: +18.7%)

Down

DFM

3,695

-1.0% (YTD: +15.6%)

Down

S&P 500

4,123

-0.6% (YTD: -13.5%)

Down

FTSE 100

7,388

-1.5% (YTD: +0.1%)

Down

Euro Stoxx 50

3,629

-1.8% (YTD: -15.6%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 112.39

+1.3%

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Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 8.04

-8.4%

Up

Gold

USD 1,882.80

+0.4%

Down

BTC

USD 35,198

-2.1% (YTD-25.5%)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 3.1% at last Thursday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.21 bn (27.4% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 7.5% YTD.

In the green: GB Auto (+10.1%), Heliopolis Housing (+9.3%) and Madinet Nasr Housing (+9.1%).

In the red: Eastern Company (-3.6%), Rameda (-2.2%) and Housing and Development Bank (-0.1%).

DIPLOMACY

El Sisi congratulates Macron on election victory, talks food security: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi on Thursday made a call to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to congratulate him on his recent reelection for a second five-year term, according to an Ittihadiya statement. The pair also discussed the latest developments in the war in Ukraine and its effect on global food security, with the French side again pledging to “work in solidarity with Egypt” on tight food markets, an Élysée statement read. The two also discussed the COP27 climate summit scheduled to take place in Sharm El Sheikh this November.

The Foreign Ministry has expressed “deep concern” over Israel’s intention to demolish a number of Palestinian villages in the Masafer Yatta region in the occupied West Bank, according to an official statement. Some 1k Palestinians are facing eviction from their homes after an Israeli court last week gave the military permission to raze villages in the area and forcibly relocate the population, bringing to an end a two-decade legal battle over the land.

AROUND THE WORLD

Some good news for stalled Iran nuclear talks? The EU’s Iran nuclear talks coordinator is set to visit Tehran on Tuesday in a bid to break the impasse in negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear pact, Iranian state-run Nour News reported. Talks have been stalled since March after Iran added a last-minute demand that the US remove the Revolutionary Guards from its terror list. The EU is now seeking a “middle way” to end the deadlock, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told the Financial Times.

More missile tests from North Korea: Pyongyang fired a short-range ballistic missile from a submarine into the sea off North Korea’s east coast yesterday morning, South Korea said. The test comes days before Seoul is set to inaugurate its new president — who is expected to take a tough stance against any North Korean provocation. (Reuters)

whatsNext

Never underestimate how important “boring-but-important stuff” can be if you’re trying to raise money to get a new business off the ground. You can have the best pitch deck. The coolest business idea. The most committed founders. An MVP that checks all the right boxes. Every sign you might — just might — have “product-market fit” in sight. You may even … like your co-founder.

None of it means anything when it comes to fundraising if an arcane legal requirement means that VC itching to write a check simply … can’t. If you’ve contemplated raising funds for a business in Egypt for more than five minutes, you’ve noticed that startups and venture capital firms alike almost invariably transact through offshore structures — even though they’re headquartered in Egypt. Serving Egyptian clients. Employing Egyptian staff. Banking with Egyptian banks.

They’re not dodging Mohamed Maait’s push to end tax evasion. They’re transacting offshore — for the most part — because Egyptian regulations (and common practice) do not permit contract structures that are entirely normal in markets from the US to France, the UAE to South Africa. (Tax efficiency is part of it, sure. Properly structured, investing via a third country lets each party pay taxes in their own jurisdictions.)

ENTER STAGE RIGHT: Three Egyptian regulators. Just about a month ago, the General Authority for Investment and Freezones (GAFI), the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA), and the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) inked a pact that outlines how they’ll work together to make it easier for venture capital firms to invest directly in Egypt.

What problem are they solving? GAFI has been tapped to prepare a “standard shareholder agreement” for startups, with minority rights being at the center of that contract.

What are these minority rights of which you speak? They’re provisions demanded by VC and PE investors alike that enshrine things like their rights to invest in future rounds, the right to ride along on any future transaction (a “tag along” option), guaranteed board seats, etc. And company founders will often want rights including, for example, the ability to control a company long after they stop owning 50% plus one share. All of this sets the stage for the potential rollout in Egypt of founder claw-back clauses, preferred shares, reserved matters, and employee stock options, as well as looking at valuation methods (and funding instruments) that are common globally, but not yet covered in Egyptian law.

In parallel, the FRA is working on regulations that would allow the use of convertible notes to invest in startups.

WE ASKED FOUR HIGH-PROFILE STARTUP FOUNDERS WHAT THEY THINK, including co-founder and CEO of Mozare3 Hussein Abo Bakr (LinkedIn), co-founder and CEO of NowPay Mostafa Ashour (LinkedIn), founder and managing director of SolarizEgypt Yaseen Abdel Ghaffar (LinkedIn), co-founder and CEO of Yalla Fel Sekka Yasmine Abdel Karim (LinkedIn).

The short answer? They’re brimming with positivity. The protocol is structured in a way that illustrates the regulators’ awareness of the problems in Egypt’s entrepreneurial scene, the founders suggest. It also underscores the Madbouly government’s growing interest in helping entrepreneurs become engines of economic growth on a national scale, our sources agree.

The general consensus is that the protocol will do the spadework to increase foreign direct investment (FDI) and turbocharge entrepreneurism, they say. The major bottlenecks for Egypt startups are access to capital — and barriers that make it hard for FDI to enter the country, according to SolarizEgypt’s Abdel-Ghaffar and NowPay’s Ashour. The regulators, by signing this protocol, are recognizing the tremendous contribution of startups with regard to the inflow of FDIs into the country, Yalla Fel Sekka’s Abdel Karim explains. “International VCs need laws and regulations to spur their interest to invest in foreign jurisdictions. The protocol, and the laws and mechanisms that will follow, will increase confidence and will ultimately encourage foreign investors to enter the Egyptian market.” YCombinator, the highly visible American startup accelerator, for instance, exclusively invests in just four jurisdictions: The US, Canada, Caymans and Singapore. The task now is to convince other VCs that Egypt’s legal and investment mechanics are solid, Ashour says.

If the regulators are successful, they’ll help attract a different caliber of investors — and prompt local VCs to step it up a notch. “When foreign investors start to readily enter the market, we will be noticing a change in the investment style of local angel investors and local VCs,” Abdel Ghaffar tells us. “I’m excited to see how they will adapt to that. Beyond capital, they’ll have to step up their game in terms of their value-added services and their overall relationship with the startups they invest in, he adds.

Success would see Egyptian founders incorporate here Egypt instead of going abroad, according to Abdel Ghaffar and Abdel Karim. Usually, most Egyptian startup founders incorporate their businesses abroad because of the simplicity of establishing their companies in places like Dubai and Delaware. The government is currently trying to simplify and standardize the process of establishing startups in Egypt, Abdel Karim explains.

The aim is clear: Homegrown companies should have an easier time setting up shop in Egypt. If the protocol ultimately delivers minority rights protection, employee stock options, preferred shares and more, the Egyptian market will become much more scalable and mature, Abo Bakr explains. These foundations will ultimately help simplify the process of establishing startups in the country and entice Egyptian companies not to incorporate their startups abroad, according to Abdel Ghaffar. “Swvl is a huge success story, but it’s unfortunate that they had to incorporate their business in Dubai,” he says. “I think the protocol, the instruments the regulators aim to utilize, and the steps that will come next, will shape the future in a way that ensures the next Swvl won’t leave the country.”

NEXT WEEK- We’ll hear from leading venture capital firms on what they hope to see happen and how they expect the reforms — if we get them right — could change how they do business here.


Your top stories on future trends for the week:

  • Khazna Card gets final approval from the Central Bank of Egypt: The Meeza prepaid card launched in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) will provide unbanked users access to the fintech startup’s financial services.
  • Saudi food startup closes blockbuster series C round: Saudi restaurant management platform Foodics has raised USD 170 mn in the biggest software-as-a-service (SaaS) series C funding round in the MENA region.
  • UAE-based fintech platform FlexxPay to make Egypt its third market: The company, which provides flexible salary payment services, is already active in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

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.

MAY

8 May (Sunday): Deadline for submitting corporate tax returns for companies whose financial year ends 31 December.

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

12 May (Thursday): Financing sustainable development in Egypt virtual roundtable, Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum.

13-22 May (Friday-Sunday): PSA World Championships, Cairo.

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

Mid-May: The trial period to extend the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system to air freight.

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.

30-31 May (Monday-Tuesday): Egypt Can with Industry, Cairo, Egypt.

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

31 May (Tuesday): Extended deadline for EGX-listed companies to disclose 1Q 2021 earnings.

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.

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.

June: Polish President Andrzej Duda will visit Egypt to coordinate ways to ship Ukrainian wheat to Egypt amid the war in Ukraine.

JULY

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

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

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

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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