Thursday, 18 August 2022

AM — Amer is out. Here’s what will happen next.

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning wonderful people, and welcome to a fantastic Thursday morning dominated by one big story: Who will be the next governor of the Central Bank of Egypt?

Whoever it is, the odds are good we’re going to be in safe hands: Egypt has a very deep bench of talented bankers and economists who are well known to the global financial community and to international financial institutions. Investors, the IMF — you name it — are regular visitors to Egypt and have had extensive face time with every one of the leading candidates to be our next governor.

We have a full rundown on the leading candidates, how they might be appointed (given the House is in recess) and some of the issues they’ll be tackling in this morning’s news well, below.

The immediate question: What does this mean for today’s policy meeting? Before yesterday, the consensus was that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) would go for a rate hike. Six of eight analysts and economists we talked to were expecting rates to rise, with four forecasting a 100-bps increase. A Reuters poll similarly called a hike, with the median average prediction among 15 respondents being 50 bps.

But Amer’s departure could mean that all bets are off: Several analysts have torn up their predictions in the wake of Amer’s resignation and are now expecting the MPC to keep things on an even keel. EFG Hermes chief economist Mohamed Abu Basha and Naeem Brokerage’s head of research Allen Sandeep do not expect the central bank to make any policy changes in light of the developments, with Sandeep expecting rates to remain as they are until Amer’s successor is in place.

The MPC will likely stay on schedule with today’s interest rate meeting, Fakhry Elfiky, an economist and head of the House of Representatives’ Planning and Budget Committee, told Salet El Tahrir (watch, runtime: 3:50). “Any interest rate hike – such as a 100 bps hike — will impact the public debt ratio, adding about EGP 28 bn to the budget deficit,” Elfiky said.

Who sits on the MPC? The committee is chaired by the central bank governor. Other members, according to the CBE’s website, include deputy governors Gamal Negm (a candidate for the top job) and Rami Abulnaga, as well as Mohamed Omran (former head of the Financial Regulatory Authority), Ashraf Elaraby (an economist and former cabinet minister), and Naglaa El Ahwany (a former international cooperation minister).

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

Subscription for Expedition Investment’s bid for a chunk of Domty kicks off today. Shareholders in cheesemaker Domty have until Wednesday, 14 September to sell their shares to Expedition Investments, which has offered to acquire 34% of the company for EGP 5 per share. We have the details in this morning’s news well, below.

The Madbouly government will hold another round of consultations on its privatization strategy: Mining companies will voice their thoughts on the state ownership document in a meeting with government officials today. Every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday see workshops on how privatization plans will affect specific industries. You can find more details on the schedule of the meetings here.

FELLOW iSHEEP, WATCH THIS SPACE- Apple plans to unveil itsiPhone 14 at a launch event on 7 September, Bloomberg reports, citing people it says have knowledge of the matter.

Keep an eye out in September for key software updates coming to all your Apple gadgets. New updates are coming to iPhones, Apple watches and Macbooks in September. iPadOS 16, which is quite awesome after the most recent public beta, should be out in October alongside the latest iteration of macOS.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD-

That inflation positivity that’s stoking the markets? The Fed doesn’t see it: Federal Reserve policymakers agreed that there was “little evidence” that inflation is softening and it will likely remain “uncomfortably high for some time,” according to minutes (pdf) from last month’s policy meeting published yesterday. Recent signs of peaking inflation has fuelled a large market rally and raised expectations that the Fed could start slowing the pace of the tightening cycle.

But could it actually dial back the pace rate of hikes next month? The minutes do not explicitly signal the Fed will hike below 75 bps at its upcoming meetings, though officials agreed that slowing them down would be necessary “at some point.”

Market reax: US stocks rose after the minutes were published but ended the day in the red, weighed down by disappointing earnings (pdf) from Target. The Dow slipped 0.7% while the S&P 500 fell 0.5%. (Reuters | FT | Bloomberg | WSJ | CNBC)

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The 32 EGX-listed companies that failed to meet the 2Q earnings deadline this week have until the end of the month to submit their financials to the bourse, a statement by the EGX read. Authorities have given companies another 15 days from the original deadline on 15 August, putting the new date at 30 August.

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

enterprise

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MOVES

Tarek Amer is out — who will lead the CBE and what to watch for next

Tarek Amer has stepped down as governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), ending his almost-seven-year tenure at the bank more than a year early. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi accepted Amer’s resignation yesterday morning and appointed him one of his advisers, the State Information Service said in a statement. Amer gave no public explanation for his departure. The banker, who was appointed governor in November 2015, was set to see his second and final term expire in November 2023. As recently as last week, a senior central bank official denied Amer had any plans to step down, dismissing talk of it on social media as “fake news.”

WHO’S NEXT?

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has yet to name a successor for Amer. The rumor mill has, however, been in overdrive, with a handful of prominent names making the rounds. We’re running them in alphabetical order — at this point it’s anyone’s guess who (if any) among these is the leading candidate:

Gamal Negm: The deputy governor (bio, pdf) joined the central bank in 2004 and was heavily involved in the institution’s drive to clean up and better-regulate the sector in the wake of the debt crisis of the late 1990s. Negm is widely respected by senior private- and public-sector bankers and seen as a straight-shooter. He has been in his current role as deputy governor for banking stability since 2011, after serving as sub-governor of banking supervision from 2008-2011, and assistant sub-governor for on-site banking inspection from 2006-2008. Negm was (pdf) a non-executive board member at the Financial Regulatory Authority, chairman and board member at Arab International Bank, and deputy chairman of the Egyptian Banking Institute’s board of directors, among several other roles.

Hala El Said: The current planning minister and chairperson of our sovereign wealth fund (bio) spent years at the central bank before making the move into government. She sat on the CBE’s board until 2011 and ran its training arm, the Egyptian Banking Institute, from 2003 until 2011. El Said is widely respected for both her intelligence and decency and was previously a professor of economics and the former dean of the economics department at Cairo University. She was tapped as planning, monitoring, and administrative reform minister in February 2017. The ministry was rebranded as the planning and economic development ministry in 2019.

Hassan Abdalla: Abdalla (bio) is chairman of state-owned media giant United Media Services Company and the founder and chairman of advisory and private equity firm Panther Associates. Abdalla is a banking industry veteran: He joined Arab African International Bank (AAIB) in 1982 and became the multinational bank’s vice chairman and managing director in 2002 — a position he held until he left the bank in 2018, having positioned it as one of the nation’s top private-sector banks. He has also previously been a board member at the Central Bank of Egypt and EGX, the Institute of International Finance, the Communications Ministry’s ITIDA, and several private and public sector companies in Egypt.

Hisham Ezz Al Arab: A banking industry veteran, Ezz Al Arab (LinkedIn) spent nearly two decades as chairman and managing director of leading private sector bank CIB until October 2020, which became a market leader in everything from profitability to sustainability on his watch. Ezz Al Arab had previously spent a little under two years as managing director at Deutsche Bank, seven years as managing director at JPMorgan, and more than three years as assistant vice president at Merrill Lynch. Last year, he founded HE Advisory, where he continues to serve as managing partner.

Mohamed El Etreby: El Etreby (bio) has been chairman of Banque Misr since January 2015. Prior to being tapped to lead the state-owned bank, El Etreby was chairman and managing director of the Egyptian Gulf Bank, chairman of the Egyptian Arab Land Bank, and managing director of the Arab Investment Bank. Throughout his 35-year career in the banking industry, has served with institutions including AAIB, Crédit International d’Egypte Bank (a predecessor of Crédit Agricole in Egypt), and Misr International Bank (currently QNB Alahli).

Rania Al Mashat: The international cooperation minister (LinkedIn) is another candidate who could make a return to the central bank after a stint in government. She moved from the IMF — where she served as a senior economist from 2001 through 2005 — to become CBE sub-governor and head of monetary policy in 2005 and stayed in the role for over a decade, returning to the multilateral lender for two years before becoming tourism minister in 2018. Al Mashat was tapped as international cooperation minister in December 2019. She has also been a board member of the London Stock Exchange and of Arab Investment Bank (now aiBank).

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

We could get an acting governor — or see someone appointed to a full four-year term. Egypt’s constitution stipulates that the central bank governor must be approved by the House of Representatives after being nominated by the president. Seeing as the House is currently on its summer recess, there are three ways to move forward:

  • The House could be called in for an unscheduled session to vote on a new appointment for a four-year term. That’s what happened earlier this week when 13 new ministers were sworn in after a cabinet shuffle.
  • The position could be filled temporarily by the deputy governor who has been at the CBE for the longest period of time (currently Gamal Negm). In this scenario, Negm would hold the position until the House is back in session to approve the president’s nomination.
  • El Sisi could tap a temporary replacement to fill the position for up to one year until the House begins its new legislative season this fall, at which time it would need to approve a nominee for a full term.

SOUND SMART-

Watch for whether the incoming governor is a banker or an economist. Central bank governors are in the main trained economists (83%, in one study, pdf) and most tend not to have worked as bankers prior to entering office. We’ve seen the opposite here for most of the 2000s: The central bank brought on bankers to clean up the fallout from a bad debt crisis in the late 1990s that threatened the stability of the system. The CBE is widely credited for having cleaned up the industry, driving consolidation, the imposition of new capital adequacy rules and credit quality requirements, and more. Every central bank governor appointed in the past two decades, starting with Farouk El Okdah in 2003, has been a working banker, not an economist.

ALSO- Appointing a woman to the position would make the CBE the 17th central bank in the world currently led by a woman. As of February of this year, only 16 central banks (out of a total of 200 national central banks and monetary authorities) are governed by women.

THE WORLD REACTS-

The international reaction: Most international papers and research houses are characterizing the news as a fork-in-the-road moment that comes at a less-than-opportune time: a day before the rate meeting, in the middle of crucial talks with the IMF, and amid building pressure on the currency.

The bond market was shaken by Amer’s departure… Government bonds saw a sell-off in the international markets, falling up to 1.7 cents on the USD, while three-month contracts for non-deliverable forwards slipped to 21.1 to the USD from 20.4 the day before.

…but investors in the EGX cheered: The market went on a tear just after the news was announced, closing the day up 2.2%.

Need more? There’s no shortage of international coverage: AP | Reuters | AFP | Bloomberg | FT | Xinhua.

ECONOMY

Foreign exchange policy will be job #1 for Amer’s successor as calls for devaluation mount

Tarek Amer left the central bank at a crucial time for the economy: A perfect storm of heightened commodity prices, rising interest rates, and global volatility (including both an economic slowdown and volatility in global capital markets) is putting the Egyptian economy and the EGP in a tight spot. Speculation has grown in recent days that the EGP will need to slide more against the greenback to manage the growing external imbalances and attract foreign capital back to the country.

The EGP is going to be top of the priority list for whoever takes charge, according to analysts and economists we spoke with yesterday. Hany Geneina, a long-time market watcher who is now an adjunct professor of business administration at AUC, characterized Amer-era monetary policy as one of “excessive stability,” which sent the wrong messages to investors and the government, which was given an incentive to take on more foreign debt.

Where is the EGP headed? Prime Securities’ head of Research Amr El Alfy says the new governor should give up tight control of the EGP and instead allow the currency to float against the greenback. Allowing it to go to EGP 20 or more against the USD will have a negative impact on our import bill and will see us import inflation, but will be critical to increasing exports and bringing FX back into the country, he says.

Watch for an overshoot: If the new governor does allow the currency to slide, it will likely be timed to either a new IMF facility or to additional deposits or investment from our allies in the GCC to give the institution some flexibility to release liquidity into the market in the case of an overshoot, as we saw when the CBE floated the pound in November 2016. Market watchers including local and international investment banks and research houses are all suggesting a fair value for the EGP is something in the 21.00-24.00 range against the USD.

Policymakers need to gradually liberalize the exchange rate over the next few years until our foreign reserves reach USD 100 bn, after which the rate could be gently pegged again. “This could take 10 years and be implemented over two phases, with the first seeing a flexible exchange rate until the state can ramp up exports and attract foreign direct investment, both of which will bolster reserves,” Geneina said.

The IMF is watching: Market watchers believe that is that policymakers have been split on whether to accede to the IMF’s demands for a more flexible exchange rate or rely on other policy tools (see: raising capital from the Gulf, rationing electricity to export more natural gas, and import restrictions) to mitigate external pressures. These moves, as well as the c.21% depreciation of the currency in recent months, “have failed to convince investors and it’s increasingly clear that there are tensions among policymakers about the best way forward,” Capital Economics economist Jason Tuvey wrote in a note yesterday. Where the CBE’s new chief stands on exchange-rate policy and how they negotiate policy disagreements with other areas of government will be key.

Inflation will likely be less of a point of concern for the next CBE governor: El Alfy suggests that inflation will naturally fall back to single digits in 2023, partially thanks to the base effect. Inflation hit a new three-year high in July, accelerating to 13.6% on the back of higher food and fuel prices. The suggestion is that any imported inflation will effectively be transient.

The drumbeat on devaluation is loud: Bloomberg, for example, has run three stories (here, here + here) in the past week on the topic.

BANKING

Tarek Amer: Assessing a complicated legacy

Tarek Amer’s legacy will be in large part shaped by how his successor handles the challenges he has bequeathed them, including FX policy, whether foreign investors regain their appetite for our debt, and how inflation plays out, among others. This much is clear: however divisive he has been in some quarters, he will be remembered for the gutsy float of the EGP back in 2016 — and transforming decades of lip service about financial inclusion into a sea change in policy that has given birth to a new generation of startup and brick-and-mortar non-bank financial players.

Banking system cleanup: Amer joined the CBE in 2003 as a deputy governor to Farouk El Okdah, following a stint in the private sector. Okdah and Amer presided over a cleanup of the banking system made necessary when the lending bubble of the 1990s collided with the fallout from the November 1997 Luxor massacre, which sent tourism — and the economy — into a nosedive. That cleanup saw the CBE force consolidation, recapitalization, and a world-class regulatory framework (criticized in some quarters as excessively risk-averse) onto the industry. By the time it drew to an end, Egypt had 39 banks, down 17 from the height in 2003.

He was appointed as CBE governor in 2015 after a detour during which he led the National Bank of Egypt from 2008-2013, among other positions at a time when Egypt’s FX market was in disarray. Amer took over the central bank from Hisham Ramez, who held the position for two years from 2013-2015. The country had a shortage of greenbacks and a pegged exchange rate, which gave rise to a very robust parallel market for hard currency.

The OG devaluation: A year into his tenure, Amer made global headlines in November 2016 when the central bank took the bold step of liberalizing the exchange rate and allowing the EGP to devalue, part of a broader raft of economic reforms that revived Egypt’s FX trade and paved the way for us to unlock a USD 12 bn loan from the IMF. The 2016 EGP float and devaluation were “critical steps toward restoring confidence in the economy and eliminating foreign exchange shortages,” the IMF said at the time.

Cue the era of hot money and the emergence of a carry trade darling: During his time as governor, Amer oversaw a monetary tightening cycle that kicked off in 2017 amid soaring inflation. With one of the highest real interest rates among emerging markets, Egypt began attracting USD bns in portfolio investments as we solidified our position as a carry trade darling.

…followed by import restrictions and stemming USD demand: The EGP was coming under pressure earlier this year as commodity prices picked up (among other factors), but was particularly squeezed when Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine touched off what remains, for Egypt, a perfect economic storm: International investors are pulling back from emerging markets in a risk-off (at the same time as the Fed offers more attractive returns with interest rate hikes), our import bill is skyrocketing (particularly for fuel and food), and Russian and Ukrainian tourists are staying home. Drying up FX liquidity saw Amer impose import restrictions by another name, changing import rules to mandate that importers must get letters of credit, rather than documentary collection. The presidency (not Amer) later announced that production inputs and raw materials would be exempt from the rules; El Sisi also tapped Madbouly to meet regularly with the CBE to make sure that it was doing its best to make FX available to manufacturers. Still, importers of all forms — including folks bringing in manufacturing inputs — say they’re having a very tough time opening LCs.

Amer also guided the central bank as it responded to the outbreak of covid-19, moving swiftly to protect the economy from the effects of covid-19 with a 300 bps preemptive interest rate cut in March 2020, followed by another two unexpected rate cuts of 50 bps apiece in September and November of that year, bringing the grand total for 2020 to 400 bps. The CBE also rolled out debt relief initiatives and debt repayment holidays, alongside a EGP 20 bn stimulus package to directly purchase equities on the EGX. Other measures from the CBE simplified the flow of money, including scrapping fees on all EGP transfers between local banks and withdrawals from out-of-network ATMs — a continuation of his work to push forward the government’s digitization and financial inclusion drives.

On the industry regulation side, Amer was not without controversy. In 2016, he issued a decree imposing nine-year term limits for any Egyptian bank’s managing director — a move that resulted in backlash from the business community. The limits were blocked by the judiciary and were ultimately scrapped from an overhauled Banking and Central Banking Act that passed the House of Representatives in 2020.

AMER’S LASTING CONTRIBUTION- The ongoing financial inclusion drive that has helped turbocharge the growth of both startups (from Kashat to Khazna and beyond) and brick-and-mortar NBFI players. Amer and his team walked the walk on financial inclusion (bringing the unbanked masses into the formal economy) after generations of policymakers paid lip service to the idea. Participants in the formal banking system skyrocketed from somewhere in the low 30% range at the start of Amer’s term to more than 56% at the end of 2021, making talk of investment in businesses built on financial inclusion part of the mainstream.

DEBT WATCH

valU closes its second securitized bond issuance

valU just closed its second securitized bond issuance in less than a year: EFG Hermes’ consumer finance arm valU has issued EGP 532.6 mn of securitized bonds, according to a statement (pdf) by our friends at EFG Hermes.

About the issuance: The two 12-month tranches are backed by an EGP 609.1 mn receivables portfolio and hold a Prime-1 rating from Middle East Rating Services (MERIS), the statement said.

Almost halfway to the EGP 2 bn target: The issuance is the second in the consumer finance firm’s EGP 2 bn maiden securitization program, which it kicked off last year with an EGP 323 mn bond issuance.

Advisors: EFG Hermes acted as the sole financial advisor, sole transaction manager, book-runner, underwriter, and arranger on the issuance, according to the statement. Arab African International Bank (AAIB) was underwriter and custodian, while Dreny & Partners acted as counsel and KPMG as auditor.

BY OUR COUNT- This issuance takes Egypt’s securitization volume so far in 2022 to around EGP 17.1 bn, according to data tracked by Enterprise. That’s more than 8% ahead of the EGP 15.8 bn taken to market during the whole of 2021.

AND THERE’S MORE COMING: NUCA’s record-breaking issuance has the FRA’s blessing: The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) has given approval to the New Urban Communities Authority to go ahead with its EGP 20 bn in issuance, it said in a statement (pdf) yesterday. The issuance is double the size of the largest securitization in the history of the market, also issued by NUCA back in 2020. The authority hopes to take the issuance to market by late August or early September, Imane Raouf, partner at legal advisor Dreny & Partners, previously told Enterprise.

M&A WATCH

Domty shareholders have four weeks to sell stakes to Expedition

Subscription for Expedition Investment’s bid for a chunk of Domty kicks off today. Shareholders in cheesemaker Domty have until Wednesday, 14 September to sell their shares to Expedition Investments, as part of its mandatory tender offer (MTO) for 34% of the company, according to the timeline set by the EGX yesterday. The mandatory tender offer (MTO) will last for 20 working days, and shares will change hands within five working days of its expiry, the bourse said.

REFRESHER- The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) earlier this week greenlit the bid from a consortium led by Expedition to acquire a 34% stake in Domty. The consortium has offered to purchase up to 96.2 mn shares for EGP 5 a piece, giving the transaction a potential value of around EGP 481 mn.

Domty still hasn’t decided what to make of the offer: The board has not yet responded to the offer and has appointed BDO to conduct a fair value study which will be published before the end of the MTO, it said in an EGX disclosure (pdf) yesterday.

The acquisition would give the consortium ownership of 90% of Domty’s shares, as it counts the Damati family — which founded Domty and already control 56% of the EGX-listed company – among its members. The Damatis also own minority stakes in Expedition, which is an offshore special purpose vehicle domiciled in Mauritius and controlled by unknown investors in Egypt and the Gulf.

The market reaction: Domty’s shares rose a modest 0.2% during trading yesterday to close at EGP 4.82.

Advisors: EFG Hermes is quarterbacking the transaction and Matouk Bassiouny & Hennawy is acting as counsel to Expedition.

OTHER M&A NEWS- Madinet Nasr Housing and Development (MNHD) yesterday officially announced its rejection of SODIC’s takeover bid, which it said “did not reflect the real value of MNHD’s business,” in a disclosure to the EGX (pdf). The company cited its “highly attractive asset base, land bank, strategic capabilities, and growth prospects,” as some of the key indicators of its value. “Throughout this process our priority has been to deliver the best outcome for our shareholders,” said MNHD CEO Abdallah Sallam. “The shareholders’ decision today has demonstrated the long-term value that they see in MNHD.”

EARNINGS WATCH

Earnings Watch: EFG Hermes, Palm Hills, Swvl

EFG Hermes’ net income after tax and minority interest eased 15% y-o-y to EGP 344 mn in 2Q 2022 on higher taxes and minority interest after the consolidation of aiBank, according to its earnings release (pdf).The group’s operating revenues rose 28% y-o-y to EGP 2.1 bn during the quarter, boosted by the consolidation of revenues at recently acquired Arab Investment Bank (aiBank) and strong sell-side growth.

Higher tax + minority interest hit EFG’s bottomline: The group’s net operating profit and net profit before tax both rose 8% y-o-y in 2Q 2022 on the back of operational growth — but increased taxes and minority interest, largely from aiBank. Taxes were up 23% y-o-y to record EGP 165 mn for the quarter, with aiBank accounting for almost half of that.

REMEMBER- EFG Hermes acquired a stake in aiBank last year when it partnered with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt to purchase 51% of its shares. EFG and the SFE have pulled the bank, formerly owned by the National Investment Bank, out of the red and has reported profits for two consecutive quarters. The bank’s net income rose 6% to EGP 149 mn in 2Q.

EFG’s investment bank core operations registered solid performance across the board, with the company’s investment banking, brokerage, private equity, and asset management segments all posting revenue growth on higher fees and strong GCC business. That said, the investment bank reported an 11% y-o-y decline in overall revenues to EGP 989 mn on a 71% decline in holding and treasury activity.


Palm Hills Developments’ (PHD) revenues doubled to EGP 4.0 bn in 2Q 2022 on rising sales and deliveries, according to the real estate developer’s latest financial statements (pdf). Despite the strong revenue growth, the company booked only a slight increase in net income during the quarter which climbed 3% to EGP 263.5 mn. Revenues jumped 73% to EGP 6.9 bn during 1H 2022, fuelling a 21% increase in net income.

Driving growth: Revenue growth was driven by a rise in recognized sales and the number of units handed over during the period, the company said in its earnings release (pdf).

The number of residential and commercial units delivered during the six-month period rose 24% to 643.

New sales in 1H 2022 rose 38% y-o-y to EGP 10.7 bn, driven by a 33% y-o-y increase in sales volumes and a rise in average selling prices. Residential new sales were up 27% y-o-y to EGP 8.7 bn in the first half, led by PHD’s Badya, Palm Hills New Cairo, Hacienda West and Palm Hills Alexandria developments. Commercial sales jumped 130% y-o-y to EGP 1.9 bn, with the newly launched Crown Central and New Cairo’s Village Gate Mall accounting for more than half of sales.


Swvl’s revenues more than tripled in 2Q 2022 as the company’s entry into new markets drove a surge in bookings, according to its latest earnings release (pdf). The Cairo-born mass transit startup reported USD 23.3 mn in revenues during the April-June quarter, up 3.4x from the same period last year, thanks to bookings rising 250% y-o-y to 22.6 mn. This came as its operations in nine of its 20 markets generated a gross profit as of June, including Egypt, Turkey and Argentina, according to the company’s earnings presentation (pdf). You can read more about Swvl’s plans to shift to profitability on a contribution margin basis in our recent What’s Next story.

But losses widened significantly: The company’s losses doubled y-o-y to USD 161.6 mn in 1H 2022 due to rising expenses and costs relating to its SPAC merger on the Nasdaq in April. This came despite revenues jumping 215% to USD 40.7 mn during the period.

REMEMBER- Swvl is taking tough measures to rein in its losses: The company has slashed its headcount by a third, cut executive pay and is eliminating unprofitable routes in Egypt, Jordan and Kenya as it looks to ride out current market headwinds and become cashflow-positive next year.

MOVES

HSBC has a new head of MENA + Turkey banking

HSBC has appointed former head of global banking for UK and International Europe, Julian Wentzel (LinkedIn) as its new head of global banking for Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (MENAT), according to an internal memo seen by Reuters. Wentzel replaces Gareth Thomas, who will now be the bank’s chief risk officer for the MENAT region, according to Reuters. Wentzel, who has worked at HSBC for over six years, will be based out of Dubai.

Orascom Development Egypt has appointed Ahmed Abou El Ella (LinkedIn) as its head of investor relations, according to an EGX disclosure (pdf). Abou El Ella has worked at the company since 2015. Prior to working at ODE he was a senior investment analyst at Concord International Investments. He succeeds Sara Al Gawahergi (LinkedIn) who had worked in the company’s IR department since 2011.

enterprise

LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The departure of CBE governor Tarek Amer was the topic du jour on the airwaves last night: Former Central Bank of Egypt Tarek Amer’s exit from the bank got a fair amount of coverage from the talking heads last night, including from Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 8:06) Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 4:51) and Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 2:02). The talking heads all wished Amer the best of luck in his new role as presidential advisor and gave a rundown of the potential scenarios following Amer’s resignation — or “apology” as Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa insisted on calling it. We have all the details in the news well, above.

This clip has not aged well: Only a few nights ago, Ahmed Moussa was shutting down what he deemed “anti-Egyptian” and “fankoosh” rumors of Amer’s resignation (watch, runtime: 1:44).

The Higher Education Ministry's announcement of the minimum grades required for acceptance into public universities under the ministry’s first phase of the public university enrollment (tansik) system also got some attention on the airwaves last night, with Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 8:06) and Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 3:58) talking to ministry spokesperson Adel Abdel Ghaffar about the requirements.

Also on the airwaves last night:

  • New container terminals at the Alexandria Port will be unveiled before the end of the year, with some of the largest shipping companies lining up to operate and manage them. (Masaa DMC | watch, runtime: 2:02) + (Ala Mas’ouleety | watch, runtime: 9:04)
  • Private Arabic and language schools can only hike tuition fees within the range of 7-25%, in line with the Education Ministry’s price caps, chairman of the Private Schools Owners Association Badawy Allam said. (Salet El Tahrir | watch, runtime: 4:44)
  • Twenty-five pre-trial detainees were released yesterday by the Presidential Pardons Committee. (Al Hayah Al Youm | watch, runtime: 8:52)

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Type ‘Egypt’ into the global news site of your choice this morning and there’s a good chance you’re going to see Tarek Amer’s face: The CBE chief’s sudden departure yesterday is dominating the conversation this morning. For more, head to the news well, above.

Also making headlines:

  • Pope Tawadros II calls for change: In the wake of the Imbaba church fire, the patriarch of Egypt’s Coptic Church has criticized years of government policy that has restricted the number and size of churches. (The New York Times)
  • Oil spill in Dahab: Traces of crude oil were found across a number of beaches in the Red Sea near Dahab, prompting the Environment Ministry to send clean-up teams to the tourist town. (The National)
  • The real cost of mega-projects: The bns of USD poured into megaprojects from the new capital to Dabaa has added to the nation’s structural and economic problems, Council on Foreign Relations fellow Steven Cook argues. (Foreign Policy)

PLANET FINANCE

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Giant UAE firm wants to go long on EMs: Emirati firm International Holdings Co. (IHC) plans to invest bns of USDs into emerging markets like India, Colombia and Turkey as part of its plans to expand its exposure, IHC CEO Syed Basar Shueb told Bloomberg in an interview. The company, which has the country’s national security adviser, Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al Nahyan, as chairman, will target sectors such as food, infrastructure and health care across countries with which the UAE has trade agreements. Investment tickets will range between USD 1-5 bn depending on the country, Shueb said.

The company is looking for ultra fast-growing companies: “These new markets are more lucrative for us because they give decent returns and it gives us exposure to that country,” Shueb said. “Double-digit growth is the minimum of what we’re looking for.” IHC has invested in the likes of Elon Musk’s SpaceX and major Abu Dhabi developer Tamouh.


One of SODIC’s new owners just got a major new shareholder: Private equity giant Apollo has acquired an 11.1% stake in the investment arm of Aldar Properties, Aldar Investment Properties, in a USD 400 mn transaction, the Emirati developer said yesterday. This is part of a USD 1.4 bn investment announced earlier this year.

Also worth noting this morning:

  • The original Dr Doom stays true to his name: The perma-bear economist Henry Kaufman — who forecast the 1982 bull market — calls on the US Fed to take more drastic measures and “shock the market” to rein in inflation. (Financial Times)
  • World’s largest wealth fund suffers record loss: Norway’s USD 1.2 tn sovereign fund lost USD 174 bn in 1H 2022 on the market sell-off, marking its biggest ever USD loss. (Financial Times)
  • The SPAC market has hit a new low: July was the first SPAC-less month since 2017, further evidence that the pandemic-era craze is well and truly over. (WSJ)
  • Meme-stock bulls are short-squeezing like it’s 2021: Bullish market inflation expectations have Reddit traders piling back into meme stocks, sending share prices surging and squeezing short sellers to the tune of USD 2.1 bn this month alone. (Bloomberg)

Up

EGX30

10,058

+2.2% (YTD: -15.8%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 19.09

Sell 19.20

None

USD at CIB

Buy 19.12

Sell 19.18

None

Interest rates CBE

11.25% deposit

12.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

12,647

+0.8% (YTD: +12.1%)

Up

ADX

10,252

+0.7% (YTD: +20.8%)

Up

DFM

3,458

+1.3% (YTD: +8.2%)

Down

S&P 500

4,274

-0.7% (YTD: -10.3%)

Down

FTSE 100

7,516

-0.3% (YTD: +1.8%)

Down

Euro Stoxx 50

3,756

-1.3% (YTD: -12.6%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 93.05

+0.8%

Down

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 9.24

-0.9%

Down

Gold

USD 1,776.70

-0.7%

Down

BTC

USD 23,335

-2.5% (YTD: -49.6%)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 2.2% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 898.48 mn (10.9% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 15.8% YTD.

In the green: Madinet Nasr Housing (+7.5%), GB Auto (+5.6%) and Credit Agricole Egypt (+5.4%).

In the red: Juhayna (-2.2%), Oriental Weavers (-1.3%) and Mopco (-0.2%).

AROUND THE WORLD

Israel and Turkey agreed to resume full diplomatic ties in a phone call between the two nations’ leaders yesterday, according to Bloomberg. The two nations’ respective ambassadors will return to the two countries’ capital cities for the first time since 2018, a large step towards healing the rift that intensified in 2010 when Israeli commandos raided a Turkish fleet of ships headed to the Gaza Strip, killing 10 civilians.

Iran wants guarantees before rejoining the nuclear pact: Iran isn’t dropping its demands for the US to make guarantees that Western companies investing in the country would be protected if Washington pulls out of the pact again, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing statements from Iran’s negotiating team. Iran made the demands in a response on Monday to the EU’s final revised draft of the pact, which the EU is now “studying,” the Financial Times reported Tuesday. An EU official last week rejected the idea of reconvening talks between the two sides again, saying that Tehran and Washington need to make a final decision on the draft text.

MY MORNING ROUTINE

Gamal Salah, founder, CEO, and deputy chairman of POD Egypt: Each week, My Morning Routine looks at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Gamal Salah (LinkedIn), CEO of POD Egypt. Edited excerpts from our conversation:

My name is Gamal Salah and I’m the founder, CEO, and deputy chairman of POD Egypt, one of the leading PR agencies in Egypt and the Middle East. On the personal side, I’m a husband and a father to three children: Nour, who’s 13, and Aly and Omar, who are 5 years old.

POD in its current form has PR and communication as a large part of the business, but there are also other functions we serve, including an advertising agency. We’re the advertising agent for Hayah TV, CBC, OnTV, and DMC, as well as Nagham FM, and newspapers including Youm7, El Watan, and El Dostor. On the PR and communication side, we serve more than 50 retainer clients. Our goal is to ensure that, every day, we deliver to our clients a strategy and service that is appropriate for our size and the significance of our clients, as well as benefiting their brands. We’ve built a large team of over 300 professionals, including 130 specifically dedicated to the PR function. We try to bring in the most talented people we see in the market, many of whom are fresh or recent graduates who we bring in and train on the job. We teach them how to understand the industry and our clients’ needs.

We founded POD towards the end of 2015, originally to act as a PR firm. We only added our advertising agent function after we joined the umbrella of United Media Services. When we set up shop, the PR and communications field was reliant on traditional services such as conferences and writing press and news releases to be published in newspapers. The market was static for a long time. The digital boom and the shift to rely on alternative PR methods such as influencer marketing and social media platforms created a window for POD to tap these changing tides.

My main responsibilities are ensuring that the best strategies are in place for our clients, executing the calendar of deliverables we have for our clients, and constantly communicating with the c-suites among these clients. I speak with CEOs and managing directors on a weekly basis, whether on the phone or at meetings, and we agree on strategies that I then bring back to my team to implement.

I start my day by waking up at 8am, which is considered relatively early for most people in my field. I always have a cup of coffee and, before anything else, catch up on the news. I read Enterprise in the morning, along with different news outlets to be aware of what’s happening in the world, but also to keep an eye on developments that could have an impact on our clients, preempt a crisis that could come their way, or even find potential new partnerships for POD. I usually have morning meetings from 10-11am, which are often at clients’ offices, and then I make sure to be at the office from noon until 5pm. I sometimes take a few more meetings from 5-7pm.

One of the constants in my daily routine is spending time with my kids. I’m always home by 7pm to make sure I get a couple of hours with them before their 9pm bedtimes. Once they’re in bed, I sometimes go out again to attend business events until 11pm or midnight.

Once I’m home, I rarely go to sleep right away. I like to wind down by watching a movie or TV series. One of the movies I always come back to is The Terminal, which never fails to put me in a good mood. These days, I’ve been reading a lot of history books. My reading has made me realize that history consists of consecutive, but separate phases. There are things happening around us today that I can relate to previous historical times, whether near or far. These connections help me implement historical lessons on contemporary issues.

To stay organized, I write everything down. Earlier on in my career, I needed to write down my task list to be able to set my priorities. Now, I still write everything down, but my brain automatically organizes its priorities according to the urgency of each item.

The best piece of advice I can give to anyone is to find your talent and pursue it. It’s a gift from God to have a certain talent, but it’s your personal responsibility to cultivate that talent and be persistent in pursuing it. I would also say it’s important to never hold yourself back from pursuing something new because of time or age. Prior to entering the PR and communications field, I spent 14 years in banking at HSBC, but I realized my passion is communications. I left a stable job and field to enter a completely different area.

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.

AUGUST

August: Sharm El Sheikh will host the African Sumo Championship.

18 August (Thursday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with the mining sector.

18 August (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

21 August (Sunday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with firms in the electricity sector.

23 August (Tuesday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with firms in the construction sector.

25 August (Thursday): Second Egypt and UN-led regional climate roundtable ahead of COP27, Bangkok, Thailand.

25 August (Thursday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with firms in the water sector.

25-27 August (Thursday-Saturday): Jackson Hole Economic Symposium.

27 August (Saturday): The National Dialogue board of trustees holds its fifth meeting, which will set the agenda for the dialogue and choose rapporteurs for the involved committees.

28 August (Sunday): Retail portion of Ghazl El Mahalla IPO ends.

28 August (Sunday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with mining and petroleum refining players.

30 August (Tuesday): Deadline for companies to file 2Q financial statements.

30 August (Tuesday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with timber merchants.

31 August (Wednesday): Late tax payment deadline.

31 August (Wednesday): Deadline for qualifying companies to submit offers to manage and operate a soon-to-be-established state company for EV charging stations.

31 August (Wednesday): Submission deadline for fall 2022 cycle of EGBank’s Mint Incubator.

31 August (Wednesday): Beltone convenes its general assembly to restructure the board following the change of ownership.

SEPTEMBER

September: Naval Power, Egypt’s first naval defense expo

September: Central Bank of Egypt’s Innovation and Financial Technology Center to launch incubator for 25 fintech startups.

September: Egyptian-German Joint Economic Committee.

September: A delegation from Germany’s Aldi will visit Egypt to look at potential investments.

September: Government to launch an international promotional campaign for Egyptian tourism.

September: Egypt will host the second edition of the Egypt-International Cooperation Forum (ICF).

1 September (Thursday): Credit hikes for ration card holders will come into effect.

1 September: Madbouly government set to introduce new social protection measures.

1 September (Thursday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with experts and think tanks.

1-2 September (Thursday-Friday): Third Egypt and UN-led regional climate roundtable ahead of COP27, Santiago, Chile.

4 September (Sunday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with electricity players.

4 September (Sunday): Industrial Development Authority’s deadline for companies interested in providing various services in the industrial zones in Qena and Sohag to submit a document

5-8 September (Monday-Thursday): Gastech 2022, Milan, Italy.

6 September (Tuesday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with building and construction players.

6-9 September (Tuesday-Friday): Gate Travel Expo 2022, El Qubba Palace, Cairo.

7-9 September (Wednesday-Friday): African Finance Ministers to meet in Cairo to coordinate an African-led position during COP27.

8 September (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy meeting.

8 September (Thursday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with experts and think tanks.

11 September (Sunday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with accommodation and food services players.

13 September (Tuesday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with sports industry players.

11-13 September (Sunday-Tuesday): Environment and Development Forum (EDF), InterContinental City Stars, Cairo.

14 September (Wednesday): Expedition Investments’ MTO for Domty expires.

15 September (Thursday): The government hosts public consultations on its state ownership policy document with water and sewage utilities players.

15 September (Thursday): Fourth Egypt and UN-led regional climate roundtable ahead of COP27, Beirut, Lebanon.

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

19-22 September (Monday-Thursday): EFG Hermes One on One Conference, Dubai.

20 September (Tuesday): Fifth Egypt and UN-led regional climate roundtable ahead of COP27, Geneva, Switzerland.

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

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

22 September (Thursday): Deadline to submit prequalification applications for companies interested in submitting a proposal for sea water desalination projects

24 September (Saturday): Start of 2022-2023 school year.

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

27-29 September (Tuesday-Thursday): Africa Renewables Investment Summit (ARIS), Cape Town, South Africa.

OCTOBER

October: House of Representatives reconvenes after summer recess

October: Air Sphinx, EgyptAir’s low-cost subsidiary to commence operations.

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

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

1 October (Saturday): 2022- 2023 academic year begins for public universities.

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 chaired by CBE Governor Tarek Amer, Washington, DC.

16-19 October (Sunday-Wednesday): Cairo Water Week 2022, Nile Ritz Carlton, Cairo.

18-20 October (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria.

27 October (Thursday): European Central Bank monetary policy meeting.

Late October-14 November: 3Q2022 earnings season.

NOVEMBER

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): Autotech auto exhibition, Cairo International Exhibition and Convention Center.

6-18 November (Sunday-Friday): Egypt will host COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh.

7 November (Monday): The inauguration of the first line of the high-speed rail.

7-13 November (Mon-Sun): The International University Sports Federation (FISU) World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

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

DECEMBER

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

13-15 December (Tuesday-Thursday): US-Africa Leaders Summit.

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

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

December: The Sixth of October dry port will begin operations.

December: Egypt to expand Sudan electricity link capacity to 300 MW.

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.

1 January (Sunday): Residential electricity bills are set to rise as per the government’s six-year roadmap (pdf) to restructure electricity prices by 2025.

7 January (Saturday): Coptic Christmas.

25 January (Wednesday): 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

26 January (Thursday): National holiday in observance of 25 January revolution anniversary / Police Day.

FEBRUARY 2023

11 February (Saturday): Second semester of 2022-2023 academic year begins for public universities.

13-15 February (Monday-Wednesday): The Egypt Petroleum Show (Egyps), Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo.

MARCH 2023

March: 4Q2022 earnings season.

23 March (Wednesday) — First day of Ramadan (TBC). Maghreb will be at 6:08pm CLT.

APRIL 2023

17 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

22 April (Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

25 April (Tuesday): Sinai Liberation Day.

27 April (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day (TBC).

Late April – 15 May: 1Q2023 earnings season.

MAY 2023

1 May (Monday): Labor Day.

4 May (Thursday) National holiday in observance of Labor Day (TBC).

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

JUNE 2023

28 June-2 July (Wednesday-Sunday): Eid El Adha (TBC).

30 June (Friday): June 30 Revolution Day.

JULY 2023

18 July (Tuesday): Islamic New Year.

20 July (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Islamic New Year (TBC).

23 July (Sunday): Revolution Day.

27 July (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Revolution Day.

Late July-14 August: 2Q2023 earnings season.

SEPTEMBER 2023

26 September (Tuesday): Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (TBC).

28 September (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (TBC).

OCTOBER 2023

6 October (Friday): Armed Forces Day.

Late October-14 November: 3Q2023 earnings season.

EVENTS WITH NO SET DATE

2H 2022: The inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum.

2H 2022: IEF-IGU Ministerial Gas Forum, Egypt. Date + location TBA.

2H 2022: The government will have vaccinated 70% of the population.

3Q 2022: Ayady’s consumer financing arm, The Egyptian Company for Consumer Finance Services, to release its first financing product.

3Q 2022: Swvl to close acquisition of Urbvan Mobility.

4Q 2022: Infinity + Africa Finance Corporation to close acquisition of Lekela Power.

4Q2022: Raya Holding subsidiary Aman and Qalaa Holdings’ Taqa Arabia to launch their fintech company.

End of 2022: Decent Life first phase scheduled for completion.

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.

1Q 2023: Adnoc Distribution’s acquisition of 50% of TotalEnergies Egypt to close.

**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 HSBC Egypt (tax ID: 204-901-715), the leading corporate and retail lender in Egypt; 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; Mashreq (tax ID: 204-898-862), the MENA region’s leading homegrown personal and digital bank; and Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt.