Tuesday, 7 June 2022

AM — From cabinet to the SFE, it’s Privatization Nation

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and happy hump day. We’re counting the hours until we can enjoy Semsema and Stavolta this afternoon with the whole team on the roof of Enterprise Global Headquarters here in the People’s Democratic Republic of Maadi. What are you doing today to break the midweek blues?

THE BIG STORY here at home this fine morning: It’s still all about the state’s privatization push, as Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly handed out jobs to his cabinet ministers to get stake sales and private sector investment rolling in key sectors. Meanwhile, the Sovereign Fund of Egypt is moving forward on a sub-fund to sell stakes in state-owned assets — and it’s helping line up the Saudi wealth fund’s imminent USD 10 bn in investments here. It’s all very welcome news, though it’s not going down well with a small handful of MPs who, before they sleep each night, likely gaze longingly at fading portraits of Gamal Abdel Nasser propped on their bedside tables.

It’s another mixed bag on the front pages of the international press this morning, with no one big story setting the tone of the day.

The business papers are focusing on Elon Musk’s latest threat to walk away from his USD 44 bn acquisition of Twitter over the number of fake accounts on the site.

Elsewhere, most are featuring UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s latest scrape with political death, after he just managed to cling on to the top job in a confidence vote from his own MPs (see: Reuters | The Financial Times | CNN | BBC.)

DATA POINT-

Foreign reserves down on external debt obligations. Egypt’s foreign reserves declined to USD 35.5 bn at the end of May, down from USD 37.1 bn a month earlier, according to central bank figures (pdf) released yesterday. The CBE used around USD 2 bn from the reserves in May to pay Eurobond coupons and service our debt to the International Monetary Fund among other foreign debt obligations, it said. Reserves “remain within all adequacy measures covering around five months of merchandise imports,” the central bank added. Reserves at the end of April eased to USD 37.1 bn from USD 41.0 bn, with the CBE saying at the time that “the CBE decided to temporarily mobilize its excess foreign currency reserves to calm the markets during periods of exceptional stress caused by exogenous factors, similar to the actions that were taken during the emergence of the COVID pandemic.”

FOR THE iSHEEP AMONG US-

Apple gave us a sneak peek last night at a future that sees the iPad becoming more Mac-like — and unveiled a gorgeous new MacBook Air powered by M2, the next generation of its fast, cool-running homebrewed system on a chip. Tighter integration between your iPhone, iPad and Mac was the big theme of a night that gave tech nerds plenty to digest.

Start here for an overview of the 16 announcements or watch the keynote for yourself (watch, runtime: 1:48:51).

  • The new, more colorful MacBook Air will launch next month and is impressing reviewers who’ve had a few minutes to play with it.
  • iPadOS 16 is going to make it possible to do more Mac-like multitasking, including through a new windows interface that will be coming to the Mac in macOS Ventura. It also includes a new piece of collaboration software that you can think of as an endless whiteboard on which you can also store files and links. Color us excited.
  • iOS 16 will radically change how you use your iPhone’s lockscreen — and offer a host of “quality of life” improvements. Plus, you’ll be able to use it as a webcam on top of your Mac.
  • macOS Ventura offers a “welcome upgrade,” the Verge writes — including Stage Manager, that endless whiteboard we’re so excited about (above).

The new MacBook Air will be in stores next month, the company says.

MORNING MUST READ- Is ESG dead? That’s what the Financial Times is asking this morning. ESG is the fastest growing sector in asset management — but it’s also facing increasing allegations of greenwashing, ambiguity, and misuse by companies looking to drum up investment. War in Ukraine may now have spurred something of an existential crisis for ESG, as some banks u-turn on pledges not to invest in the defense sector on the grounds that backing Ukrainian forces against Russia is the right thing to do. Now everyone seems confused about just what ESG is — and who gets to decide what ‘ethical’ investing looks like.

HAPPENING TODAY-

Technology conference Tech Invest 4 takes place today at the Grand Nile Hotel in Cairo. Organized by the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC) and supported by ITIDA, the event will bring more than 300 tech companies together with investors and incubators, and feature panel discussions on financial inclusion, tech investment and the challenges of running a startup.

Today is the second and final day of an EGX conference in Qena and Luxor aimed at improving access to the financial market for companies in the governorates, according to a press release (pdf) by the bourse.

Africa Health ExCon wraps up today.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Lekela M&A could go through next month: Private equity firm Actis is set to sell its majority stake in renewables company Lekela Power as early as July, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Actis is currently in exclusive negotiations with Infinity Power, a joint venture between Egypt’s renewable energy player Infinity and Emirati firm Masdar, to acquire the 60% stake, the sources said. Lekela (which operates the 250 MW wind farm in West Bakr) is valued at c. USD 1.8 bn, according to one of the people.

NEWS TRIGGERS you’ll want to keep an eye on this month:

  • Inflation figures for May are due out on Saturday, 9 June (from state statistics agency Capmas) and Sunday, 12 June (central bank figures);
  • The Central Bank of Egypt holds its policy meeting on Thursday, 23 June.

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

MARKET WATCH-

Ukraine is wary about the diplomatic bid to get some 20 mn tonnes of wheat out of the country’s blockaded ports, Bloomberg reports, citing sources it says are familiar with the discussions. Russia and Turkey have reached a “tentative” agreement on the plan, which would see the Turkish navy escort ships carrying grain out of Ukrainian ports and through the Black Sea, and a UN-run center set up in Istanbul to monitor the shipments. But Ukraine is worried the pact would leave its key Odessa port open to a potential Russian attack — and has reportedly not been involved in any discussions on the agreements. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to visit Turkey tomorrow to continue negotiations.

MEANWHILE- Russia is still looking for buyers for what the US has branded as “stolen Ukrainian wheat,” the New York Times reports. Egypt had reportedly turned away a Russian ship in May that was loaded with allegedly stolen Ukrainian wheat after it failed to present the proper paperwork.

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*** It’s Going Green day — your weekly briefing of all things green in Egypt: Enterprise’s green economy vertical focuses each Tuesday on the business of renewable energy and sustainable practices in Egypt, everything from solar and wind energy through to water, waste management, sustainable building practices and how you can make your business greener, whatever the sector.

In today’s issue: Last week, we took a look at why “green hydrogen” are the two words on everyone’s lips right now, as the government gears up to sign USD bns in final agreements to launch the nascent sector at COP27. Today, we look at why Egypt in particular is a good location for green hydrogen projects and where the bottlenecks lie in getting them off the ground.

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Miss Elite will be kicking off its second edition at Somabay from 3-11 June. The international beauty pageant helps contestants showcase and present their nation’s identity, beauty, culture, tradition and ethnicity.

For more information, visit: https://misseliteworld.com/

PRIVATIZATION WATCH

FinMin, SFE get the ball rolling on stake sale program + interest from Saudi’s PIF looks serious

Madbouly calls on FinMin to get the ball rolling on state privatization program: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly has directed the Finance Ministry to update its plan for the state privatization program. Madbouly’s instructions came in a meeting on Sunday with members of his cabinet meant to move forward President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s new economic agenda, according to a statement.

On FinMin’s to-do list: Madbouly asked the Finance Ministry to prepare a timeline for stake sales in state-owned firms, including how much of each company could be on offer. He also requested that companies owned by the military-affiliated National Service Products Organization (NSPO) be included on the list (most likely including bottled water brand Safi and Wataniya Petroleum, both of which have been in the pipeline for stake sales for some time.)

Refresher: The Madbouly government has said that it wants to sell stakes in as many as 10 state-owned and two military-owned companies this year. It signaled that it is open to both stake sales and IPOs, depending on market conditions and individual investor interest. The new state-owned hotel company and Egypt Aluminum (EgyptAlum) have both been earmarked in recent weeks for sale to strategic investors.

But right now, private > public: The government will likely look to line up strategic investors in private sales rather than turning to public offerings on the bourse, Ayman Soliman, head of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE), said Sunday, citing the volatility that has roiled global capital markets this year. A combination of spiraling commodities prices and rising interest rates have resulted in Egyptian equities entering a correction this year, with the benchmark EGX30 index down more than 17% since its peak in January. (The index was up 9.9% in total for 2021.)

To exit or to sort-of exit: Madbouly directed the Planning Ministry to produce a list of assets from which the government will fully exit, and another of assets in which it could offer stakes to private investors.

We were expecting these details to surface at the end of May, when Madbouly said the government would release its official privatization strategy. An early copy of the document obtained by the press last month suggested that the government could look to fully exit 79 industries over the next three years.

Ministers, assemble: Madbouly used the meeting to give specific instructions about how ministers should start to work on the economic targets El Sisi has outlined, including upping private sector participation in the economy.

  • Education + healthcare investments: The health, education and higher education ministries will come up with a list of state-owned schools, universities and hospitals that could be offered to private investors;
  • Desalination + green hydro investments: The Planning Ministry will finalize procedures to allow for private sector involvement in desalination and green hydrogen projects;
  • Petchem complexes: The Oil Ministry will offer stakes in petrochemical complexes to private investors, the statement said, without disclosing which ones could be up for grabs. The ministry will also be work on launching new exploration tenders, and attracting foreign investments into the sector;
  • Data centers also up for grabs: The Communications Ministry will offer up stakes in data centers to private investors and sovereign funds.

SFE TO FUND TO MANAGE SALES-

Cabinet will announce in the coming days a new sub-fund owned by the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) that will be responsible for managing the sale of state-owned companies, Soliman told Al Arabiya yesterday (watch, runtime: 3:02). The fund is set to initially include assets worth USD 3-4 bn, which could eventually rise to more than USD 5-6 bn, he said.

The SFE has already come up with a list of some of the assets that will be offered up to investors after gauging appetite, Soliman said, without naming names. The SFE is now in talks with stakeholders on the legal framework for transferring their stakes, he said, without giving further details.

It does not include Safi and Wataniya: The fund’s portfolio will not include military-owned firms like bottled water company Safi and Wataniya Petroleum, both of which are being restructured for privatization.

THE SAUDIS ARE COMING-

PIF investment will soon be official: A Saudi delegation including representatives from the Public Investment Fund (PIF) will soon visit Egypt to sign an MoU with the SFE for the USD 10 bn investment pledged by the Saudi wealth fund in March, Soliman said. The two funds have already identified the companies — both private and state-owned — that the Saudi sovereign wealth fund will invest in, pending final contracts, he added.

Background: The PIF has been looking to invest USD 10 bn in Egypt’s healthcare, education, agriculture and financial services sectors, part of a Saudi package to support the economy that also saw the KSA deposit USD 5 bn at the Central Bank of Egypt.

PARLIAMENT WATCH

Surprising exactly no one, a handful of MPs quail at the notion of privatization

A handful of MPs are less than thrilled with the government’s plan to offer a stake in the company it will create through a merger of seven or eight state-owned hotels, which have yet to be determined. A group of representatives in yesterday’s plenary session at the House of Representatives flagged the plan, which Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik had announced last month, and complained that its details are unclear.

REFRESHER- The plan would see the government merge up to eight hotels owned by the Holding Company for Tourism and Hotels (HOTAC), whose portfolio includes high-profile properties such as the Cairo Marriott Hotel, Marriott Mena House, Luxor’s Sofitel Winter Palace, and Aswan’s Sofitel Legend Old Cataract. The state would then offer a stake, potentially as large as 25%, in the merged company to one or more strategic investors. Tawfik had previously suggested the company could also be listed on the EGX at some juncture. Sovereign Fund of Egypt head Ayman Soliman said earlier this week that stake sales — as opposed to IPOs — should be the focus of the government’s privatization strategy, given the current volatility in global markets.

“Parliament is kept in the dark about the minister’s privatization and liquidation policies, and we need to know more about the state-owned hotels he intends to privatize,” Rep. Mahmoud Qassem said in the session. The ministry should share with parliament whether the hotels are in the black or incurring losses, what their budgets look like, and how privatization will affect their employees, he said, ticking the usual litany of issues MPs hit: Why would we sell something that is ostensibly “profitable” and God forbid that a new owner have flexibility when it comes to a bloated staff base.

Also (still) rubbing MPs the wrong way: Plans to liquidate financially-stricken El Nasr for Coke and Chemicals, which Tawfik had announced back in January — and which the House has tried to push back on before. “Three months ago, I asked to summon the company’s manager to parliament for questioning on the company’s financial and administrative state, but the government has so far declined to respond,” said Rep. Mostafa Bakry. The company’s net income in the past year reportedly came in at EGP 114 mn, Bakry claimed, suggesting that its financials do not warrant liquidation. El Nasr has not published its financials on its website since 2011, giving us exactly zero insight into the health of its balance sheet, let alone how much it did / did not make last year.

WHAT’S NEXT- Parliamentary Affairs Minister Alaa Fouad promised to send a detailed report on the Helwan-based company’s financial and administrative situation to the House “very soon” for their review.

REMEMBER- MPs like to make noise, particularly when it comes to the sale of state assets or the word “privatization,” which many in the Madbouly government go to lengths to avoid using lest it trigger our elected representatives. A great many of them will not see a stake sale (via IPO or to a strategic) as a positive thing at all.

Our take: The political impetus here is coming from Ittihadiya. Senior government officials we’ve spoken with in recent weeks have been uniformly clear that “this time is different” — there won’t be any backing down on stake sales. MPs will be allowed to make noise, but ultimately the administration is looking for USD 10 bn per year in each of the coming four years…

ALSO FROM THE HOUSE-

Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad briefed MPs yesterday about the government’s efforts to reduce air pollution and improve solid waste management. The ministry has reportedly improved air quality by 25% “in Cairo alone in a few months,” partially thanks to new regulations requiring factories to install industrial air filters to reduce emissions, Fouad said. The government also plans to roll out 200 electric buses in the capital city as part of its 2050 climate change strategy, which will also help reduce pollution, she added. Separately, Fouad said that the government has set up 35 waste management stations across several governorates.

FINTECH

From Cairo to Riyadh: ValU moves into Saudi in partnership with Alhokair family

valU enters Saudi Arabia: EFG Hermes’ buy-now-pay-later platform valU is set to enter Saudi Arabia by acquiring a stake in new Saudi consumer finance player Fas Finance, the companies said in a joint statement (pdf) yesterday. Under the partnership, valU will purchase a 35% stake in the Shariah-compliant lender from Fas Labs, a joint venture owned by leading Saudi retailer Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Company (Alhokair) and mall developer Arabian Centres Company (ACC).

The details: valU has signed a sale and purchase agreement to buy 35% of Fas Finance’s SAR 55 mn paid-up capital from Fas Labs, Alhokair and ACC said in separate filings with the Saudi stock exchange (here and here). The transaction, valued at around SAR 19.3 mn (EGP 95.75 mn) by our math, will trim Alhokair and ACC’s indirect stakes in Fas Finance to 32.5% each.

The partnership marks valU’s first cross-border expansion. Its BNPL services will be available at Alhokair’s network of more than 1k retail outlets as well as online at Vogacloset, in which Alhokair owns a minority stake, and other brand webstores under the Alhokair umbrella.

Another first: valU will also start issuing cash loans for the first time alongside its BNPL service through the agreement, said valU CEO Walid Hassouna, without going into details.

The expansion to Saudi has been part of valU’s plans for some time now: Hassouna had previously flagged that valU would tap Saudi in 1H 2022. The fintech platform is also looking at the Moroccan and Tunisian markets in cooperation with EFG Hermes’ e-payments subsidiary PayTabs.

What’s next? Fas Labs in January received preliminary approval to set up Fas Finance from the Saudi central bank and is now waiting for the authorities to give final approval, and sign off on the acquisition.

ANOTHER EGYPTIAN FIRM IS EXPANDING IN THE GULF-

Raya Customer Experience will set up a new company in Dubai under the name Raya Gulf Customer Experience, the company announced yesterday in a bourse disclosure (pdf). The board of directors unanimously approved the decision to establish the new company, which will be funded entirely by Raya CX.

How will the new firm impact Raya CX’s existing Gulf business? It’s not yet clear what the relationship of the new firm will be to Gulf CX, in which Raya CX acquired an 85% stake for USD 12 mn last year. Gulf CX operates in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, where it’s expanding operations with a new 400-seat facility set to be launched this quarter, according to its parent company’s latest earnings release. Raya CX also operates in the UAE. Gulf operations provided 12% of the company’s revenues in 1Q 2022.

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PRIVATE EQUITY

Elevate PE launches leasing arm, becomes Elevate Capital

Elevate takes a leap into leasing: Our friends at Elevate Private Equity have landed approval in principle from the Financial Regulatory Authority’s (FRA) to set up a financial leasing arm as the healthcare management company looks to branch out into non-banking financial services (NBFS), according to a press release (pdf).

Meet Elevate Capital: Elevate PE has been restructured and will now be known as Elevate Capital, the release added. Elevate started life last year as a PE firm managing Nile Scan & Labs, has since grown in the healthcare space, and is now looking to expand further. “The latest addition of NBFS lending activity will add tremendous value to our core mission and allow us to elevate MSMEs both in the healthcare sector and beyond,” said Elevate Group CEO Tarek Moharram.

What will the leasing arm finance? The new business will engage in “CAPEX-type lending” and leasing for “buildings, vehicles, machinery, production lines, real estate, industrialization, and agri-tech businessesm as well as export-oriented MSMEs,” Moharram said.

Elevate has already tapped a leasing head: Mohamed Hassaan (Linkedin) will lead the leasing business.

ALSO- Elevate will now solely manage its Elevate Healthcare Fund, which the company launched last year in partnership with Banque Misr’s investment arm Misr Capital. Banque Misr is now the biggest limited partner investor in the fund, which will be managed solely by Elevate’s in-house investment team and independent board members. The fund, which has a target size of USD 380 mn, aims to invest in healthcare in Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa and has been billed as the biggest specialist fund of its kind on the continent.

M&A WATCH

Beltone gives its suitors the nod to conduct due diligence ahead of potential acquisition

Beltone Financial has given the go-ahead to a consortium of investors to conduct due diligence after it submitted an offer to acquire between 51% and 90% of the company this week, Beltone said in an EGX disclosure (pdf). The investors, led by WM Consultancy, have offered to buy the shares at EGP 1.35 apiece, a near 30% premium to the company’s closing share price on Thursday and valuing the company at around EGP 601.6 mn. The consortium will need approval from the Financial Regulatory Authority before it can start due diligence, Beltone said. WM Consultancy is led by former Beltone exec Wael Mahgary.

ADVISORS: Beltone’s board agreed to hire a legal advisor to review the offer, it said. Zaki Hashem & Partners is acting as legal advisor to the WM alliance, while Deloitte-Saleh, Barsoum and Abdel Aziz is ًWM’s financial auditor.

STARTUP WATCH

Insurtech player Nice Deer raises USD 1 mn + Naqla launches automotive maintenance store

Insurtech startup Nice Deer has raised USD 1 mn in a pre-seed round led by Disruptech Ventures, the company said in a press release (pdf) yesterday. An angel investor also participated in the round, cofounder Engy Shalash (LinkedIn) told us.

About Nice Deer: Founded earlier this year by Shalash and Mostafa Medhat (LinkedIn), who is also the founder of Nice Deer’s sister company IT Fusion. Nice Deer operates a platform that acts as a go-between for healthcare providers, health ins. companies and third-party administrators for medical claims. It says it uses artificial intelligence to analyze medical data to detect fraud and help doctors prescribe medication.

The company also works to provide health ins. for SMEs, which because of their low headcount are usually victim to high premiums, Shalash said. There are few ins. companies that cater specifically to small firms, and none that cover the full scope of health ins., she told us.

Why “Nice Deer?” The name stems from the ability of deer to grow new antlers every year (representing adaptability) and their wide field of vision, Shalash says.

ALSO FROM PLANET STARTUP-

Naqla is opening an online store: Trucking startup Naqla will launch this week an online store selling truck tires, batteries and other components, the startup said in a press release (pdf) yesterday. Customers will be able to purchase parts using buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) plans.

This comes on the back of a solid funding round for the B2B logistics platform. Naqla earlier this year raised USD 10.5 mn in a pre-series A round.

About Naqla: Founded in 2017 by Taher and Samer Sallam, Naqla connects individual truck drivers with cargo companies and offers road assistance, finance, ins., healthcare and maintenance services to the drivers in its network.

A MESSAGE FROM

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ENERGY

More Israeli natural gas in the pipeline

Egypt could soon be receiving more gas as Israel prepares to start production at disputed field: Israel could increase gas exports to Egypt and Jordan in the coming months as it moves to start production at the disputed Karish gas field in the eastern Mediterranean. Karish owner Energean said yesterday that it had moved a floating production, storage and offloading ship to the area, a move which Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar said would position the country as a “natural gas power” and allow it to increase exports to Egypt.

The gas will start flowing within four months: Energean said that gas will start flowing by the end of 3Q after the ship has been installed and the pipeline tested. This will make Karish Israel’s third gas field, joining Tamar and Leviathan, which both export gas to Egypt.

Lebanon isn’t happy: Lebanon yesterday issued a warning to Israel against drilling at the field, part of which Beirut claims is within its maritime territory. President Michel Aoun said that the ship had crossed into disputed territory and any activity would be interpreted as a “hostile act.” Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said he would invite a US mediator to Beirut to talk about “completing negotiations” that began in 2020 over the territory to prevent any “escalation,” adding that Lebanon is seeking to marshal UN support for its stance, Reuters reports.

Israel denies that the ship is operating in disputed territory, with Harrar saying that the move “unequivocally” does not encroach on Lebanese waters and dismissing the likelihood of the dispute escalating.

Israel + Egypt are looking sell into Europe’s energy crisis: The two countries are expected to sign an agreement with the EU later this month to increase gas exports across the Mediterranean as the bloc looks for new suppliers to replace Russia. The EU has pledged to ban most imports of Russian oil by the end of the year and says it will fully phase out use of Russian gas by the end of the decade. Russia currently provides some 40% of the EU’s annual gas consumption.

We need more capacity: Egypt is looking to build new LNG terminals and pipelines to up export volumes to Europe. We should break ground on a gas pipeline to Cyprus this year and we’ve held talks with Greece about laying pipelines between the two countries. We have only two liquefaction plants and there are currently no pipelines linking us to Europe. In a plan released earlier this month, the EU said it will invest EUR 12 bn in pipelines and LNG facilities to increase gas supplies from other producers such as Egypt and Israel.

Refresher: Israel currently ships gas to Egypt via the Eastern Mediterranean Gas pipeline that runs between Ashkelon and Arish, which has an approximate annual capacity of 7 bcm. It recently began exporting gas to Egypt via the Arab Gas Pipeline for the first time, with exports targeted at 2.5-3 bcm this year, potentially increasing to 4 bcm in the future.

MOVES

GSK Egypt appoints new CEO, chairman

GlaxoSmithKline Egypt has appointed former general manager Mohamed Eldababy (LinkedIn) as its new CEO and managing director, and former vice president of performance markets Dylan Jackson (LinkedIn) as its new chairman, replacing Ashraf Mansour, Al Borsa reports.

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LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Leading the airwaves yesterday was the bumper Madbouly privatization meeting: Topping the economy / business news on the airwaves last night was Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly’s briefing to cabinet ministers, where he assigned out tasks to help push forward the administration’s privatization plan. Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 4:19) had the details — as do we, in our Privatization Watch section, above.

A tug of war over extension of anti-dumping duties: It was metallurgical industries vs real estate developers on Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 12:26), which discussed a recent decision (pdf) by the Trade and Industry Ministry to extend anti-dumping duties on Chinese, Ukrainian and Turkish steel imports for another year. Steel manufacturers backed the decision, which would bolster the industry amid the fallout of war in Ukraine, said Mohamed Hanafy, the head of the metallurgical division of the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI). But Tarek Shoukry, head of the FEI’s real estate division, said “accessibility to other markets where steel prices are cheaper or more balanced would create fair competition,” adding that high prices would harm his sector.

ALSO- Citizens can pay their electricity bills online by scanning a barcode on the traditional energy bill slip, Electricity Ministry spokesman Ayman Hamza told Salet El Tahrir (watch, runtime: 5:43).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

It’s an agonizingly slow day for Egypt in the international press unless Holy Family tourism is your thing (courtesy of CBS). Otherwise, move along folks, there’s nothing to see here.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

WB, Madbouly talk financing: Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly told a delegation of visiting World Bank execs that it was important to continue Egypt’s development policy financing program with the lender as soon as possible given the economic repercussions of war in Ukraine, according to a cabinet statement. We have completed all the requirements to advance the loan program and are waiting on the WB for updates.

What loan program? The World Bank last October approved a USD 360 mn facility to support the Egyptian economy as it recovers from the covid pandemic. It’s not clear if Madbouly was referring to disbursals within that program or a fresh round of financing.

REMEMBER- The WB is here for meetings with Egyptian officials on the potential support the bank could offer (including a possible USD 500 mn for food security) to help us get through the volatility caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

CBE tourism soft loans scheme extended to telecom costs: Tourism companies are now able to access the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) soft loans scheme to fund telecom maintenance and upgrade costs, according to a central bank circular (pdf) out yesterday. The program allows businesses to access finance at a reduced 8% interest rate and was introduced in 2020 to support the tourism sector.

The CBE’s loan program for middle-income homeowners is also being extended to cover maintenance deposits, it said in a separate circular (pdf).

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

  • Galina Holding inked an MoU with the Islamic Development Bank’s private sector development arm which could see it provide finance to help the agrifood player expand its production capacity. (Statement, pdf)
  • GlobalCorp has signed a EGP 450 mn leasing contract with real estate player Mountain View to finance its operations and working capital. (Al Mal)
  • Rusatom Healthcare — the medical arm of Russian state nuclear company Rosatom — signed an MoU with Pharco Pharma to partner on several projects, including the development and production of radiopharmaceuticals. (Statement)

Correction: 7th June, 2022

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that telecoms companies would have access to the Central Bank of Egypt’s soft loans scheme for tourism companies.

PLANET FINANCE

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EFG Hermes wraps up advisory on Boursa Kuwait IPO: EFG Hermes’ investment banking division acted as joint bookrunner on a USD 323m private placement for Ali Alghanim and Sons Automotive Company ahead of its IPO on the Kuwaiti stock exchange, EFG announced in a statement (pdf). The transaction is EFG’s first in Kuwait as joint bookrunner.

The sale marks the Kuwaiti bourse’s first IPO in two years: “The fact that our first listing in Kuwait will also be the first IPO to come out of the market since 2020 is proof positive of the traction we’ve built in the GCC,” said Mohamed Abou Samra, managing director at EFG Hermes’ investment banking division.

Kuwait has largely sat out the Gulf IPO boom that has put the region on course for a record first half of the year, having already raised more than USD 11.4 bn so far. Surging oil prices and foreign inflows have protected the energy-rich region from the turbulence that has threatened listings in other parts of the world.

Down

EGX30

9,985

-0.1% (YTD: -16.4%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 18.60

Sell 18.68

None

USD at CIB

Buy 18.62

Sell 18.68

None

Interest rates CBE

11.25% deposit

12.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

12,822

+1.3% (YTD: +13.7%)

Down

ADX

9,769

-0.7% (YTD: +15.1%)

Up

DFM

3,389

+0.1% (YTD: +6.0%)

Up

S&P 500

4,121

+0.3% (YTD: -13.5%)

Up

FTSE 100

7,608

+1.0% (YTD: +3.0%)

Up

Euro Stoxx 50

3,838

+1.5% (YTD: -10.7%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 120.06

+0.5%

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Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 9.36

+0.4%

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Gold

USD 1,839.50

-0.2%

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BTC

USD 29,820

-2.5% (YTD: -34.9%)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell less than 0.1% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 540 mn (35.5% below the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 16.4% YTD.

In the green: Madinet Nasr Housing and Development (+5.1%), Mopco (+2.3%) and Palm Hills Development (+1.8%).

In the red: Ibnsina Pharma (-2.8%), MM Group (-1.5%) and Cleopatra Hospitals (-1.3%).

Asian markets are largely in the red in early trading this morning, and futures suggest a similar fate for Wall Street when it opens later today. The picture is looking a little more mixed over in Europe, though the Euro Stoxx 500 and FTSE 100 both look set to open down.

greenEconomy

Why Egypt could lead the region on green hydrogen — and what we need to do to make it happen: Last week, we laid out how green hydrogen has burst onto the scene as the hottest new sector in our regional energy hub ambitions — with more than USD 10 bn of preliminary agreements for projects signed with international partners, further announcements expected at this year’s COP27, and a national green hydrogen strategy in the works. Today, we look at what makes Egypt well-suited to grow a green hydrogen industry — and where the bottlenecks are in getting these projects off the ground.

First up: Why all the green hydrogen buzz in our market?

#1- The tech is new and developing quickly… In the last 8-12 months, the global push to use renewable energy to power electrolysis has really started in earnest as electrolyzers (the key hardware in making green hydrogen) see huge technical improvements, says Lekela Power General Manager Faisal Eissa. he says. “The idea of combining electrolyzers with green energy has changed everything. This was what everyone had dreamed of: to generate energy from water,” Eissa tells Enterprise.

…And so no one has the edge on us: At the moment, Egypt is effectively neck-and-neck with other countries in terms of preparing to launch green hydrogen projects, note several sources. “We’re all starting at a similar time,” says EBRD managing director for the SEMED region Heike Harmgart.

#2- Egypt’s cost-competitive and abundant renewable energy stocks make us an appealing host, say several sources including Harmgart. “Egypt, like Morocco, has many advantages because of its cheap renewables,” Harmgart tells Enterprise.

Green hydrogen projects could be key offtakers for our renewables: We don’t need more energy for the grid — and so the government has directed private sector renewables firms that all the power they generate should be fed straight into green hydrogen and desalination projects, Mohamed Mansour, co-founder and CEO of Infinity, tells Enterprise. This could be a strategic way of tackling Egypt’s overcapacity issues, independent energy analyst Ahmed Abbas tells Enterprise.

#3- And gov’t is on the ball: New incentives on offer to the private sector are designed to spur renewable energy production, Vice President of the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) Ehab Ismail tells Enterprise. The government recently widened the scope of the 2017 Investment Law so companies working on green hydrogen and green ammonia production, storage and export can deduct 30-50% of their investment costs from their tax bills, pay a flat 2% customs rate on imported machinery, and benefit from a five-year exemption from stamp duty and notary fees on certain expenses.

#4- We’re already a top global fertilizer supplier — so switching our existing customers onto ammonia made with green hydrogen should be relatively straightforward: European countries — as one example — have ambitious emissions reductions targets to meet, and we’re already a key supplier of fertilizer. If Egyptian companies can switch to “greenify” their fertilizers, they could boost their exports even further, Eissa says. (Green hydrogen is the crucial ingredient that puts the “green” in “green ammonia” — and our first green hydrogen plant is set to produce feedstock for an export-focused green ammonia facility).

So, what’s holding things up? Cost is key: Green hydrogen currently costs some USD 5-6/KG to produce, while gray hydrogen costs less than USD 2/KG, says Abbas. “The whole industry is focused on reaching the threshold where green hydrogen production falls below USD 2/KG,” he says. “This is linked to the price of electricity, along with the development of green hydrogen technology — like electrolyzers — and the scale-up of production capacity, which is currently very low.”

But costs could come down fast: The cost of green hydrogen production should decrease rapidly — as we saw with solar — to become commercially viable as the tech advances, Harmgart predicts. “Given all the research behind this new technology, I think costs will come down quickly and steeply,” agrees Mansour. Still, while costs remain a barrier to entry, some concessional financing and grants will need to be mobilized “in the initial stage,” Harmgart notes. The EBRD is in “very active discussions” with two or three consortia of developers on financing green hydrogen projects, Harmgart previously told Enterprise.

What we really need now is regulation: Regulation will be essential for competitively pricing the electricity generated by green hydrogen projects — which the government is expected to set, says Abbas. That means key questions will need to be resolved on how state-owned and private firms will partner in these projects, and how land is allocated to them.

And more incentives to get things off the ground: Equipment for local green hydrogen facilities is currently limited, says Abbas, and scaling up its production would have to be done in collaboration with major producers — making more regulatory incentives essential, Abbas adds.

Putting regs in place will take time: The EBRD is aiming at a five-year timeline to put a legal framework in place as it helps the government develop its green hydrogen strategy, Harmgart told us previously. Putting regs in place to allow green hydrogen to be used locally is a “medium to long-term” project, says Eissa — hence why pilot projects all focus on producing for export.

Though less can be more: Simple guidelines issued now and updated regularly could be better than detailed regulation that takes a long time to put together, Eissa adds.

Even producing for export comes with its challenges: We’ll need to prove the green credentials of hydrogen headed to Europe by securing Guarantees-of-Origin (GoOs), energy certificates that label sources of energy for customers, says Harmgart. That also means we need to be able to trace back all the energy that goes into a green hydrogen plant to a renewable source — meaning we might have to count out renewables projects that are already connected to Egypt’s grid, says Eissa, as there’s no way of proving that the electricity came from a renewable source. “My understanding is that electricity used for green hydrogen production will need to be dedicated to this,” he says.

We might try and address barriers to export at COP27: Egypt could call for an easing of EU green content certification during COP27 to open up pathways for export to Europe, Eissa predicts.

The good news: Gov’t is engaging with stakeholders transparently, says Mansour: “Everyone that wants information has access to it,” he adds.

And for once, renewable energy companies and oil and gas companies share a common goal, says Eissa. “It’s an exciting and challenging prospect. We’re merging two technologies, two industries, together — and the backgrounds are completely different.”

But we shouldn’t sit on this and let momentum fade. “With decisive leadership, Egypt can get projects set up quickly,” Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) CEO Andrew Forrest tells Enterprise. “But time is of the essence, because a number of other countries are doing the same thing.”


Your top green economy stories for the week:

  • Qatari investors eye our green projects: The head of the Qatar Investment Authority said Qatari investors want to invest in local new and renewable energy projects, especially solar and wind.
  • USD 7 mn to transform Sharm El Sheikh into a green city: The United Nations Development Program and the government signed a USD 7 mn agreement to transform Sharm El Sheikh into a green city.

CALENDAR

OUR CALENDAR 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.

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.

7 June (Tuesday): Technology conference Tech Invest 4, Grand Nile Hotel, in Cairo.

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

9 June (Thursday): Digital Transformation Summit, The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo

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): EU-Egypt Sustainable Food Value Chain conference, Grand Nile Tower Hotel, Cairo.

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.

21-23 June (Tuesday-Thursday): Commonwealth Business Forum, Kigali, Rwanda.

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

26 June (Sunday): 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.

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: Egypt and Israel will sign an agreement with the EU to increase LNG exports.

JULY

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

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

July: Actis’ expected sale of its majority stake in Lekela to Infinity and Masdar’s Infinity Power.

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: 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.

10-16 October (Monday-Sunday): World Bank and IMF annual meetings, Washington, DC, chaired by CBE Governor Tarek Amer

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.

3-5 November (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Fashion Week.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

MAY 2023

22-26 May (Monday-Friday): Egypt will host the African Development Bank (AfDB) annual meetings in Sharm El Sheikh.

EVENTS WITH NO SET DATE

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.

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.

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.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Etisalat Misr (tax ID: 235-071-579), the leading telecoms provider in Egypt; and Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt.