Sunday, 15 May 2022

AM — Amazon invests in EFG Hermes, could swap for shares in valU

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and welcome to what is shaping up to be an exceptionally busy week. But first:

UAE President and Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan died this weekend at age 73, after nearly two decades leading his country. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was elected yesterday as the country’s third president. The story was everywhere over the weekend, including: BBC | The Guardian | CNN | Bloomberg | NPR.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi headed to the UAE yesterday to offer his condolences to MBZ, according to an Ittihadiya statement. Egypt has declared a three-day mourning period for Sheikh Khalifa starting Friday. Our condolences to all of our readers in the Emirates.


WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

The PM could deliver a major policy announcement as early as today: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly is set to announce new measures to increase private investment and tackle the economic crisis caused by the war in Ukraine this week. A cabinet statement said last week that the prime minister would give a press conference “early” this week to unveil his government’s plans, which are expected to include new incentives for attracting foreign direct investment and increasing the role of the private sector in the economy. The announcement was initially expected early last week.

A huge US “GreenTech business mission” arrives in Cairo today: More than 40 US companies arrive for three days of meetings today 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, including Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and other members of cabinet. The mission is being organized by AmCham and the US Chamber of Commerce.

Senior reps of US financial institutions will hold a special briefing on financing tools for green projects in Egypt available from US agencies. The briefing takes place tomorrow at the Nile Ritz-Carlton and is open to both members and non-members of AmCham provided you have registered here.

ALSO IN TOWN THIS WEEK: Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, according to an unconfirmed report on the talk shows last week.

IT’S INTEREST RATE WEEK- Expect the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to raise rates by up to 200 bps when the Monetary Policy Committee meets on Thursday.

Six of seven analysts and economists featured in our customary poll expect policymakers to hike rates in response to rising inflation and volatility in emerging-market assets, with five telling us that the central bank could raise them by up to 200 bps. The survey came in the wake of fresh inflation figures that showed consumer prices accelerated beyond expectations in April, hitting a near-three-year high of 13.1%.


EGP WATCH- The EGP continued to strengthen against the greenback on Thursday, jumping to USD 18.38 to the greenback from EGP 18.44 on Wednesday, according to central bank data. The EGP gained almost 1% on the USD in the last two days of the week, after having slipped 17.5% since the devaluation of the currency in the middle of March.

What’s driving the moves? Recent announcements on remittances, higher Suez Canal revenues, and a lower trading of the USD could be responsible for recent gains, economist Hany Genena told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi last night (watch, runtime: 8:23). Speculation that the government may be nearing a new financing agreement with the IMF could also be helping the currency, he said, suggesting that this could have given the banks “courage” to provide further access to FX to the public.


ALSO COMING UP- Egypt will sign contracts for the second and third phases of our high-speed railway with Siemens by the end of May, Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir said yesterday. The German conglomerate signed a USD 4.5 bn contract with the government last September for the first phase of the line, which will run 660 km between Ain Sokhna and Marsa Matrouh. The later phases will link Cairo, Aswan, the North Coast and the Red Sea running 1.8k km across the country.

COVID WATCH- Egypt saw an average of five new covid cases per day last week, down from eight a week earlier, according to Health Ministry figures released yesterday. Egypt also saw daily average fatalities fall to three, down from four the week before. Around 34.7 mn people are now fully vaccinated and almost 2.9 mn have received their booster shots, according to the statement.

MORNING MUST-READ- Mahmoud Mohieldin is ringing the alarm on climate change — very, very loudly. In his role as the high-level UN climate change champion, Mohieldin and colleague Nigel Topping are out with a short, hard-hitting op-ed that calls for clear action on four points:

  • New finance to help emerging markets adapt to (and mitigate) climate change;
  • Less reliance on debt to make those investments;
  • Expansion of ins. coverage, “the absence of which makes climate impacts more expensive for the most vulnerable countries”;
  • “Projectising everything” to turn climate commitments into real action.

READ- We are at a crossroads: This is a moment of massive decision and consequence, whether we choose to see that or not.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD-

The global business press is losing its mind over the crypto apocalypse with the Wall Street Journal running with a long take headlined How more than USD 1 tn of crypto vanished in just six months. The FT, meanwhile, asks in The week that shook crypto whether “The failure of a once-hyped stablecoin has sparked serious questions over the functioning of the entire crypto market.”

When the tide goes out, it’s clear who wasn’t wearing a swimsuit, ladies and gents.

A mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, is all over the front pages this morning. Ten people lost their lives in the attack, which the police have said may have been racially-motivated. Everyone from the AP and Reuters to the New York Times and the Washington Post has the news.

A plot twist in the Musk-Twitter saga: Elon Musk announced that his USD 44 bn Twitter takeover is “on hold” in a tweet on Friday, saying that he is waiting for the company to clarify the volume of fake accounts on the platform. Twitter shares plunged as much as 25% in pre-market trading on the tweet before paring losses after Musk clarified that he is “still committed” to the acquisition, Bloomberg reports. Shares closed down 9.7% at USD 40.72 on Friday, well below Musk’s USD 54.20 per share offer.

Is the guy in Ankara trying to play spoiler on Finland and Sweden joining NATO? Hot on the heels of Finland suggesting it will apply to join the military alliance “in days,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government is “not favorable” to Finland and Sweden joining NATO due to alleged past support for Kurdish militants, the Associated Press reported. Joining NATO requires unanimous approval by existing members.

MARKET WATCH-

Global stocks are now on their longest losing streak since the 2008 financial crisis after falling for the sixth consecutive week amid more concerns over inflation, a potential US recession triggered by tightening policy, covid-19 lockdowns in China, and the Russia-Ukraine war, the Financial Times reports. The FTSE All-World index fell another 2.2% last week, equalling the six-week losing streak that coincided with the mortgage crisis that came close to collapsing the US financial system in 2008.

It was mostly downhill on the EGX, which despite seeing slight gains on Sunday and Wednesday, lost 3.3% during the week. The benchmark EGX30 index fell 1.6% during trading on Thursday, leaving it down 10.6% year-to-date.

Things were no better stateside: US shares also recorded their sixth-straight week of losses despite a relief rally on Friday that was unable to recover losses suffered during a sharp sell-off earlier in the week. The S&P 500 index fell 2.4% last week — narrowly avoiding falling into a bear market — and the tech-heavy Nasdaq (already in bear territory) slid a further 2.8%.

From the department of FFS: “There is only one way out of this inflationary period we are currently experiencing — and that is a slowdown in economic activity,” one portfolio manager told the FT.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES-

The infant formula shortage in Egypt has nothing to do with a parallel shortage making headlines in the United States. Egyptian parents are grappling with a shortage of baby formula and a concurrent 15-20% price hike, Ala’a Masouleety’s Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime: 4:26) said last night. Pharmacists Moussa interviewed said the shortage is due to the segment’s reliance on imports.

SOUND SMART- The US shortage is a case study of what happens when localization groes wrong, Wall Street Journal writes. High import tariffs and exclusive government contracts to supply formula to welfare programs have limited the US baby formula market to a handful of major domestic players. That means that when local manufacturer Abbott — which accounts for more than 40% of the US formula market — was forced to make recalls and shut down a plant over a health and safety scare, it triggered nationwide shortages.

MEANWHILE- The cooking oil crunch continues: Axios breaks down what the global shortage of cooking oils means for countries from the UK to India after the war in Ukraine coupled with Indonesia’s palm oil export ban threw global supply chains into turmoil.

“Does anyone have an iPhone charger?” That plaintive refrain of iSheep everywhere could go the way of the dinosaurs, as Apple tests iPhones that ditch the current Lightning port for the industry-standard USB-C, Bloomberg reports, citing sources it says are in the know.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Need to get your head around the new e-receipt system? Lynx Strategic Business Advisors are following up their recent webinar on e-invoicing with a session introducing the Finance Ministry’s new e-receipt system, which is set to officially roll out on 1 July. The webinar will feature FinMin tax development advisor Yasser Taymour, as well as reps from Talabat, Jumia, Yoco, and the World Bank. It takes place on 18 May at 12:00-1:30pm CLT. Register here.

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

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: Leading local VCs tell us what they think of the in-the-works regulatory changes designed to lure venture capital to directly invest in the country. All in all, the sentiment is positive: the new rules could help attract FDI into the country and encourage local startup owners to incorporate their businesses at home instead of going abroad. Yet implementation is a concern, with some voicing skepticism about whether the kind of transformational change targeted by policymakers is feasible.

enterprise

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M&A WATCH

Amazon invests in EFG Hermes; could swap for >4% stake in valU at current USD 235 mn valuation

Amazon snaps up EFG GDRs, with option to swap for valU shares: Amazon has agreed to purchase USD 10 mn worth of EFG Hermes’ London-listed global depositary receipts (GDRs) with an option to convert the investment into an equity stake in EFG’s consumer finance arm valU, the bank said in a statement (pdf) Thursday. The transaction represents about 1% of EFG’s GDRs, which have a current market cap of USD 976 mn.

The transaction values pioneering BNPL player valU at USD 235 mn: The GDRs would translate into a 4.255% stake in valU’s issued share capital, based on valU’s current post-money USD 235 mn valuation. Amazon can decide to swap its GDRs for the valU stake if a third-party investor invests in valU, or if valU is sold, IPOed, or otherwise listed, the statement says.

valU will now offer its financing services to customers of Amazon Egypt under a separate agreement struck by the two companies, the statement says. valU will make some of its consumer financing products available to eligible customers on amazon.eg, providing these customers the option to split the total cost of purchases into multiple payments by using valU,” the statement reads.

This is an endorsement for EFG, which launched valU in late 2017 (pdf) as part of Group CEO Karim Awad’s drive to transform the firm from a leading investment bank into a financial services powerhouse operating across frontier emerging markets. A pioneer in a BNPL sector that at the time didn’t really have a name, valU has since become ubiquitous in Egypt and is eyeing regional expansion, with Saudi Arabia likely to be its first new market. We spoke with Awad about valU and the firm’s transformation in Making It, our seasonal podcast about how to build a great business here in Egypt (listen, runtime: 34:07).

The investment is also a boost for Egypt, signaling that the world’s highest-profile retailer sees lots of room to grow in the Arab world’s largest consumer market.

ADVISORS- Sharkawy Law Firm advised Amazon on the transaction, according to an emailed statement.

CORRECTION: This story was corrected at 8:02am on Sunday, 15 May 2022 to reflect that Amazon’s purchase represents 1% of EFG Hermes’ GDRs, not 10% of market cap as we incorrectly noted in the email edition of EnterpriseAM thanks to a combination of poor writing and bad math. We apologize to our readers. 

CAPITAL MARKETS

MSCI adds EFG Hermes to global standard index, e-Finance enters small-cap index

MSCI tweaks Egyptian firms included in its global indices: EFG Hermes has been added to MSCI’s standard equities index from its small cap index following its semi-annual review. E-payments giant Fawry has been moved from the standard index to the small-cap index, and is joined by state-owned fintech player E-finance, which makes its index debut. Meanwhile, real estate firms Palm Hills Developments (PHD) and Heliopolis Housing were removed from the small-cap index. See the revised index lists, which come into effect on 31 May, here (pdf) and here (pdf).

DEBT WATCH

Canal Sugar Company gets EGP 12.5 bn syndicated loan for sugar beet factory

Canal Sugar Company has secured loans worth EGP 12.5 bn from a consortium of 10 banks led by the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) to help finance its USD 1 bn sugar beet processing facility in West Minya, according to a press release (pdf) from the NBE. A portion of the funds will go towards refinancing an EGP 2.9 bn facility Canal Sugar received in 2019.

Who are the lenders? QNB Al Ahli, Afreximbank, Banque du Caire, Suez Canal Bank, the United Bank, Arab Investment Bank, Agricultural Bank of Egypt, Industrial Development Bank, and Housing and Development Bank all joined the NBE in contributing to the facility.

What’s Canal Sugar building? The 181k-feddan West Minya sugar factory is set to be the largest beet sugar factory in the world once complete and will produce around 900k tons of sugar a year, allowing Egypt to start exporting the food staple. The facility is a joint venture between the UAE’s Al Ghurair Group, which holds a 37% stake in the project; the UAE’s Murban Energy (part of Alpha Dhabi), which holds 33%; and Al Ahly Capital, which holds the remaining 30%. The Emirati investors have invested some USD 220 mn in the project, while Al Ahly Capital has stumped up some EGP 1.6 bn, according to the NBE statement. So far, 18k feddans of beet have been planted since operations began, and 90% of the factory’s construction has been completed.

What they said: “The construction of the project in Egypt reflects investors’ confidence in its economy and resources,” said Canal Sugar Chairman Jamal Al Ghurair, who is also the managing director of Al Ghurair Group subsidiary Al Khaleej Sugar.

ADVISORS- ​​Helmy, Hamza and Partners (Baker McKenzie’s Cairo office) acted as legal counsel to the lenders, according to a press release (pdf).

AUTOMOTIVE

It’s going to cost a lot more to get a dual-fuel vehicle under the govt’s swap scheme

Companies participating in the government’s natgas vehicle swap program will hike prices by up to 45% in response to rising inflation, according to figures published yesterday, Al Masry Al Youm reports. Under the rules of the scheme — introduced last year to increase the number of dual-fuel vehicles on the nation’s roads — companies can request to raise their prices by up to 10%, but according to the price list published by the newspaper the government has permitted companies to raise prices far above this threshold.

Sticker prices on all participating brands will now rise 19-45% from where they were when the scheme launched in March last year. Participating brands include Hyundai’s Accent and Elantra, Nissan’s Sentra and Sunny, Chevrolet’s Optra as well as offerings from BYD and Lada. Depending on the model, applicants will be paying up to EGP 75k more for their vehicles. See the original price list here (pdf).

When do the new prices go into effect? The new prices will be charged on applications submitted after 24 April, the initiative’s spokesman, Tarek Awad, told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi last night (watch, runtime: 6:38).

GREEN ECONOMY

Egypt to announce national emissions targets “within weeks” -Shoukry

Egypt will announce its revised national targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions within weeks, Foreign Minister and COP27 President Sameh Shoukry said during a press conference (watch, runtime: 28:32) following a two-day meeting of climate leaders in Copenhagen. This could make Egypt among the first to declare its revised nationally determined contribution (NDC) after countries agreed during COP26 last year to strengthen their climate targets ahead of this year’s edition of the UN’s landmark climate conference, which will take place in November in Sharm El Sheikh.

Shoukry called on countries to follow Egypt’s lead and announce their climate targets. The vast majority of countries have yet to submit an enhanced target since COP26, David Waskow, a director of the non-profit World Resources Institute, told Reuters.

Will we get hard figures? The last NDC we submitted was in 2017 and it did not include binding targets for specific emissions reductions. While we have signed onto the original Paris Agreement and the updated COP26 pledge, Egypt did not meet a deadline to submit its updated NDC last year for COP26 and has in the past lagged other countries in submitting climate targets, Waskow said.

The target we do have: The government has set an ambitious goal of seeing 42% of the country’s electricity generated from renewable sources by 2035. Despite efforts made to reduce emissions, we still rely on fossil fuels for 91% of our electricity production (some estimates put the percentage even higher). Egypt contributed 0.67% of the planet’s annual carbon dioxide emissions, or 329.4 mn tons, in 2018.

ALSO FROM THE MEETING- Egypt signed an MoU with Denmark to boost bilateral relations, in a meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers that also touched on cooperation for COP27, according to a cabinet statement. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry was in Copenhagen for climate talks ahead of the Sharm El Sheikh conference in November (more on that in this morning’s newswell, above.)

Investments worth USD 10 bn lined up for green energy

DATA POINT- Lots of green energy agreements: The Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) has in the past three months signed six MoUs worth a total of USD 10 bn for green ammonia + hydrogen projects in Ain Sokhna, as part of Egypt’s plans to make the local port a green energy hub, according to an SCZone statement. The SCZone has so far signed MoUs with renewables firms including Total Eren and Africa-focused SME investor Enara Capital, AlNowais’ AMEA Power, Danish shipping giant Maersk, French energy firm EDF, Norwegian firm Scatec, Emirati renewable energy company Masdar, and Hassan Allam Utilities.

SEPARATELY- We’re getting (unspecified) support from the UN for structural reforms. The Planning Ministry has signed a declaration of intent with the UN to support the implementation of the country’s structural reform program, according to separate statements from the ministry and the UN.

COMMODITIES

India bans wheat exports to all except “vulnerable countries”

India has joined the growing wave of food protectionism and banned wheat exports amid surging local prices and a severe heatwave that is threatening to hit production. The government announced (pdf) on Friday that it is prohibiting the export of wheat to “manage the overall food security of the country” though will still permit shipments under existing letters of credit and allow countries who need wheat “to meet their food security needs” to apply to the government for an exemption.

That sounds a lot like us: As the world’s largest importer of wheat, Egypt has been hit hard by the grain shortage triggered by the Russia-Ukraine war. We usually source north of 80% of our wheat imports from the two countries, and are facing at least an additional EGP 15 bn burden on this year’s fiscal budget as a result of spiraling grain prices. Since the war broke out, the government has been in talks with a number of other wheat producers including India, which was added to the official suppliers list last month.

Sure enough, we’re trying to get our name on that exemption list: “There are talks between India and Egypt on the highest levels to be part of the exemptions of this decision,” head of the Agriculture Ministry’s Quarantine Authority Ahmed El Attar told Reuters. “There’s constant communication with our ambassador in New Delhi.”

New Delhi says it will help those who need it most: As the world’s second-largest wheat producer, India is “committed to providing for the food security requirements of India, neighboring and other vulnerable developing countries which are adversely affected by the sudden changes in the global market for wheat and are unable to access adequate wheat supplies,” the government said.

Our first cargo of Indian wheat could soon be on its way to Egypt, according to the Agriculture Ministry, which said yesterday that the 55k-ton shipment had passed inspection by ministry officials sent out to India.

We’re still trying to find new suppliers: The government has held talks with the US, Argentina and France, and is also considering purchasing supplies from Mexico and Pakistan.

Regardless of whether Egypt is allowed to continue purchasing wheat, India’s ban will heap further pressure on the world’s food supply, which is already under stress due to the conflict in Ukraine and severe weather in key producing countries.

Making matters worse: Global wheat production is likely to fall for the first time in four years during the current marketing year, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s platest forecast (pdf) published. Production is expected to fall by 4.5 mn tons this year to 774.8 mn tons due to weaker harvests in Ukraine, Australia and Morocco, it said. Ukraine’s wheat production could fall by 35% to 21.5 mn tonnes from the year before.

The G7 is looking for ways to get Ukrainian wheat out of the country and ease the escalating global food crisis, German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said yesterday, according to the Financial Times. Speaking following a three-day meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Germany, Baerbock said that Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports is preventing the export of some 25 mn tons of wheat. In its final communique (pdf), the group said it would “address the causes and the consequences” of the global food crisis at the meeting of G7 development ministers, which is taking place on 18-19 May.

BANKING

WATCH THIS SPACE- The CBE is getting ready to hand out its first digital banking licenses, according to bank sub-governor Rami Aboulnaga, who said Thursday that licenses would be handed out “during the next few weeks,” the state-run MENA agency reported him as saying.

Five banks have so far submitted bids to get in on Egypt’s nascent digital banking space: The National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, Emirates NBD, QNB Al Ahli, and Bank ABC have all reportedly applied for licenses from the CBE. E-Finance, Baraka Bank and the Suez Canal Bank are also interested in entering the sector.

We’ve been waiting for this since 2020: Plans for the issuance of specialized banks’ licenses have been in the works since the Banking Act was signed into law in September 2020. The law exempts such banks from meeting the same capital requirements as standard brick-and-mortar commercial banks, with the amount of required capital to be set on a case-by-case basis.

EARNINGS WATCH

Tenth of Ramadan for Pharma Industries and Diagnostic Reagents (Rameda) reported a 138% y-o-y jump in its net income in 1Q2022 to EGP 71.8 mn, according to its earnings release (pdf). Rameda’s topline for the quarter rose 27% y-o-y to EGP 343.1 mn.

Private sales continue to underpin strong performance: Private sales grew 37.5% y-o-y during the first quarter of the year and continue to account for the bulk of the company’s sales. Rameda’s exports also registered strong growth, rising 153% y-o-y during the quarter, the release says.

What they said: “We are pleased to report yet another strong quarter for Rameda, which saw us record stellar top line growth and strengthen our margins significantly on both the operational level and bottom-line,” CEO Amr Morsy said. The results “underscore Rameda’s ability to consistently outperform against a challenging and often unpredictable economic environment.”

Acquisitions in the pipeline: Rameda is currently evaluating “a number of” unspecified potential acquisitions as the company focuses on “our portfolio expansion and optimization strategy” to continue driving growth, CFO Mohamed Fayek said.

enterprise

LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Leading the airwaves last night: The death of UAE President and Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan dominated airwaves at home, with news on President El Sisi traveling to the Gulf nation to offer his condolences after announcing a three-day period of mourning in Egypt. The story got coverage from Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 5:41), Ala’ Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 1:59), Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 3:41) and others.

The formal election of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed as the UAE’s president also got a lot of attention, with El Hekaya’s Amr Adib describing it as a “smooth transfer of power” (watch, runtime 2:40) and Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi picking up news on El Sisi congratulating MBZ on his election (watch, runtime: 1:47). Lamees also discussed Egypt and UAE’s relationship over the last half-century (watch, runtime: 2:44).

The killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli forces and subsequent beating and teargassing of mourners at her funeral got special mention from El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 2:05), who denounced “double standards” by the West for remaining tight-lipped over crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians. El Hadidi also spoke with Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative Movement, Mustafa Al Barghouti, who said that investigations by the Palestinian side have been nearly finalized, with it being “crystal-clear” that Israeli forces were behind the killing (watch, runtime: 6:25).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Leading international coverage on Egypt this morning: Daesh has claimed responsibility for an attack against a military checkpoint in Sinai that killed five troops last week, less than a week after a deadly ambush east of the Suez Canal that killed 11 troops. The news is getting attention from the Associated Press and Reuters.

Human rights is also back in the pages of the global press: Reuters reports that Abdel Fattah’s mother, activist Laila Soueif, fears for the health of her son, activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, as he enters the sixth week of a hunger strike in protest at his imprisonment. This comes as some 500 Egyptian women submitted a petition to the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) urging the council “to exert all possible efforts” to release Abdel Fattah, Ahram Online reported. Meanwhile, the Atlantic reviews Abdel Fattah’s book “You Have Not Yet Been Defeated.” Meanwhile, Israel wants Washington to “stop pressuring Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi on human rights,” Axios reports.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Egyptian startups raised USD 37 mn in April, marking a 57% drop from March, Wamda reported Thursday. Egyptian startups raised the third biggest total in the region last month, after Saudi Arabia (USD 137 mn) and the UAE (USD 61.5 mn). Infrastructure management platform Pylon was Egypt’s biggest fundraiser, raising USD 19 mn in its seed funding round. Egypt-based startups received the highest concentration of investments from foreign investors. SaaS and e-commerce startups contributed 85% to the total amount raised by MENA startups last month, while fintech startups accounted for the most transactions.

ALSO- An Alexandria court has begun the trial of a man charged with the murder of a Coptic priest, weeks after after he stabbed the clergyman to death in the seaside city, according to the Associated Press.

PLANET FINANCE

Powered by
EFG Hermes - https://efghermes.com/

Etisalat acquires 9.8% stake in Vodafone: Our friends at the UAE telecoms giant Etisalat Group (e&) have acquired a 9.8% stake in UK’s Vodafone Global in a transaction valued at approximately USD 4.4 bn, a disclosure (pdf) to the Abu Dhabi bourse read. The acquisition comes under its plan to be a “global player in telecom and technology and increase its exposure to international markets,” the statement said. The Emirati operator said it plans to be a “long-term and supportive shareholder” in Vodafone, with no plans to make an offer for the British operator.

Other headlines worth knowing about this morning:

  • The UAE is introducing an unemployment ins. scheme: Public and private sector employees in the UAE of all nationalities who lose their jobs will receive 60% of their salaries (up to AED 20k) for a limited period of time while they look for another job, Emirates news agency WAM reported. The program will come into effect next year the National reports.
  • Western sanctions don’t seem to be doing much to halt Russia’s trade traffic which the New York Times has remained “relatively strong” over the past few months as countries preempt harsher sanctions and rush to fulfill contracts.

Down

EGX30

10,679

-1.6% (YTD: -10.6%)

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USD (CBE)

Buy 18.27

Sell 18.36

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USD at CIB

Buy 18.29

Sell 18.36

None

Interest rates CBE

9.25% deposit

10.25% lending

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Tadawul

12,835

-4.1% (YTD: +13.8%)

Up

ADX

9,493

+2.9% (YTD: +11.8%)

Up

DFM

3,419

+2.8% (YTD: +7.0%)

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S&P 500

4,024

+2.4% (YTD: -15.6%)

Up

FTSE 100

7,418

+2.6% (YTD: +0.5%)

Up

Euro Stoxx 50

3,703

+2.5% (YTD: -13.8%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 111.55

+3.8%

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Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 7.66

-1.0%

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Gold

USD 1,808.20

-0.9%

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BTC

USD 29,724.50

-1.0% (YTD: -36.5%)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 1.6% at Thursday’s close on turnover of EGP 957.76 mn (9.2% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 10.6% YTD.

In the green: Orascom Construction (+2.6%), Fawry (+0.6%).

In the red: Palm Hills (-5.0%), Qalaa Holdings (-4.0%) and Ezz Steel (-3.9%).

DIPLOMACY

Egypt + Tunisia to strengthen economic ties: Egypt and Tunisia signed a number of agreements to boost economic cooperation during meetings in Tunis last week, the cabinet said in a statement. The visit ⁠— which saw Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly, International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat and other senior officials travel to the Tunisian capital — produced bilateral MoUs spanning trade, transport, logistics, education, technology, agriculture, youth, culture and women’s affairs. The two countries also plan to launch a shipping line to facilitate bilateral trade, encourage private sector investment, and increase cooperation on entrepreneurship and SME finance, according to a separate statement.

MEANWHILE- Egypt has strongly condemned the Israeli security forces’ attack on mourners at the funeral of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on Friday, a statement by the Foreign Ministry read.

whatsNext

VCs react to Egypt’s up-and-coming venture capital regulations: Last week, we spoke with four high-profile startup founders about the agreement signed by three local regulators to make Egypt a more attractive landscape for VC investment. The reaction was positive, with our sources telling us that the rules could potentially be a boon to the country’s entrepreneurial scene and catalyze further investment into the country. Now, we turn the mic over to those making the investment decisions: the VCs.

A quick refresher: Last month, the General Authority for Investment and Freezones (GAFI), the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA), and the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) agreed to work together to make it easier for both local and international VCs to invest in Egyptian startups. GAFI has been tapped to prepare a “standard shareholder agreement” for startups, with minority rights being at the center of the contract. That sets the stage for the regulators to explore ideas including founder claw-back clauses, preferred shares, reserved matters, 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 will allow the use of convertible notes to invest in startups.

But what do the VCs think? We spoke with partner at Shorooq Ventures Tamer Azer (LinkedIn), chairman of Sequence Ventures Karim Helal (LinkedIn), managing partner at Disruptech Ventures Mohamed Okasha (LinkedIn), managing director of Openner Ahmed Elsherif (LinkedIn), and CEO of the Cairo Angels Syndicate Fund Aly El Shalakany (LinkedIn) for their thoughts on the government’s plans.

The plans will help expedite the evolution of the local VC and startup industries and stimulate foreign direct investment into the country. Everyone agrees that, if realized, the agreement’s goals will lay the groundwork to propel foreign investors to enter the Egyptian market. Introducing concepts like minority rights protection and clawback clauses into the culture should help to instill confidence in more international investors to enter the market, they say.

Egyptian laws haven’t yet provided the level of protection and comfort needed to attract foreign investors who usually enter the market as minority shareholders, El Shalakany tells us. International investors don’t have the luxury nor the inclination to spend years in court. Instead, they opt to invest in jurisdictions that have appropriate mechanisms in place to safeguard their rights. The agreement’s goals , if successful, will set the stage for the development of the correct mechanisms to make Egypt a fertile market for foreign investments, El Shalakany says.

The regulation of convertible notes also piqued the interest of most of the sources we reached out to. Convertible notes are internationally recognized funding instruments that make early stage investments easier. Giving local and foreign investors the ability to invest using the same instruments that are utilized globally will further encourage and facilitate investments in the local startup scene, Helal explained.

The agreement, if successful, will galvanize local founders to incorporate their startups in Egypt instead of going abroad, our sources tell us. Whenever Egyptian startup founders are confident of their business models and want to expand and raise funds in major financing rounds, they inevitably change their jurisdiction and establish their business abroad, Elsherif says. This could be for tax purposes (investing via a third country lets each party pay taxes in their own jurisdictions), but the main driver is the complications embedded in the Egyptian system, El Shalakany explains.

The obstacles local startups face include, among other things, the hurdle of trying to partner with foreign investors that operate exclusively in specific jurisdictions. Egyptian startups have to set up shop abroad to be able to partner with these particular investors, Okasha tells us. If local startups can establish their companies in Egypt and are assured that the aforementioned VCs will be interested in operating in the Egyptian jurisdiction, they will continue to set up shop in Egypt, Okasha explains. The agreement’s goals, if successful, will ultimately make it safer and easier for VCs to partner with local startups, and will also make it simpler for founders to set up shop locally, our sources explain. This will render Egypt a fertile market for foreign investments, Elsherif says.

Not all of the sources we reached out to are entirely optimistic, however. Helal thinks the agreement is a well-intentioned first step, but is skeptical when it comes to implementation. He believes the regulators should not attempt to “reinvent the wheel.” Instead, they should study the model of countries like the UAE, who have simplified the process for the incorporation of startups within their jurisdiction. He also thinks the government should consult startups that have established their businesses abroad to better understand the underlying complications that compel founders to set up shop abroad.

What’s next? Well, our sources’ overall sentiment is that this is a great first step, but there obviously is a lot of work to be done. Most think the government needs to work more with stakeholders including VC, PE firms, DFIs, and startup founders to better understand the concerns of Egyptian entrepreneurs as well those of local and foreign investors — and then come out with a roadmap for the implementation of specific changes.


Your top stories on future trends for the week:

  • Paymob closes Egypt’s largest ever fintech series B round: Fintech startup Paymob raised USD 50 mn in a series B round, calling it the largest round of its type for an Egyptian fintech firm.
  • Logistics startup Mylerz plans Egypt + Africa expansion: Cairo-based logistics startup Mylerz has raised USD 9.6 mn in equity funding from private equity outfit Lorax Capital Partners.
  • European consortium acquires GlobalCorp: The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, SPE Capital, and Amethis have acquired a 90% stake in non-banking financial services firm GlobalCorp in a transaction valued at EGP 914.7 mn.
  • Emirati buy-now-pay-later startup Cashew to tap Egyptian market: Cashew will enter the Egyptian market with the help of Mashreqbank.
  • Allianz and South Africa’s Sanlam are merging their operations in Africa: Allianz and Sanlam are merging operations to create the “largest pan-African non-banking financial services entity on the continent” with the joint venture is expected to have an estimated value of SAR 33 bn.

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

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

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.

23 May (Monday): Lynx Strategic Business Advisors are hosting a webinar titled “Introducing Egypt’s New E-Receipt System.”

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): Last day for EGX-listed companies to file 1Q2022 earnings

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.

May: Egypt to sign contracts for second and third high-speed rail lines with Siemens by the end of the month.

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.

5 June (Sunday): GB Auto is hosting an extraordinary general assembly meeting (pdf).

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.

26–27 September (Monday-Tuesday): The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) at the Cairo Marriott Hotel.

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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