Monday, 22 August 2022

AM — Is Saudi’s PIF kicking the tires on EgyptAlum, United Bank, and Egyptian Media Production City?

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to the new-normal for August: A busy morning for news with lots of investment, FX policy, and M&A news to keep us busy, whether we’re reading in Cairo, on the coast or from foreign shores. All three topics have legs, we think, and we’re going to be adding more investment (and likely political) news to the mix later this morning:

Egypt will today host a five-party summit bringing together the leaders of UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, and Iraq in New Alamein, Extra News reports (watch, runtime: 0:37), citing what it says is an Egyptian source with first-hand knowledge of the plans. On the agenda are “various regional and international challenges,” the broadcaster said.

Four of the five countries involved are spearheading a new regional industrial partnership: Egypt, the UAE, Jordan and Bahrain are collaborating on a new regional industrial strategy that will see the four countries embark on joint industrial projects in strategic sectors to strengthen supply chains and increase production. Former Deputy Foreign Minister Mohamed Hegazy made the point in a televised interview last night, telling Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna El Assal that the gathering will lay the foundations for a closer alliance that will strengthen regional food and energy security, and unlock investment (watch, runtime: 7:02). The question on our minds: What are the odds of Iraq being announced as the fifth member later today?

UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the first to land in New Alamein, holding a meeting with El Sisi yesterday, according to an Ittihadiya statement. The pair discussed regional and international issues of common interest, with their bilateral talks focusing on cooperation to boost sustainable economic development, the statement read.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS are debating what to do after the Education Ministry said over the weekend that the opening date for international schools under its jurisdiction would be 18 September. Two high-profile schools we spoke with yesterday said they would likely push their official opening dates to 18 September from much earlier in the month (and would look at doing class work online before then) while a third said it was still mulling what to do in light of the ministry’s decision. Association-owned and embassy-affiliated schools seem to be continuing as scheduled. Cairo American College led the nation back into the classrooms when it opened last Wednesday.

GET CLIMATE FINANCE for your business from the UK government: As the clock ticks down to COP27, the Climate Finance Accelerator (CFA) is hosting a webinar today to introduce its plans to support low-carbon projects in Egypt. The CFA, backed by the UK government’s International Climate Finance (ICF), is a four-year technical assistance program designed to “develop a sustainable pipeline of bankable and investment-ready, low-carbon projects and identify suitable financing options.” The webinar is aimed at investors and developers involved in low-carbon projects in Egypt and will discuss climate finance, the CFA’s plans for Egypt, and the benefits of taking part in the program. The webinar takes place today starting at 11:30am CLT. Register here.

ALSO HAPPENING TODAY- The launch event for the global ClimaTech Run competition for tech entrepreneurs, hosted by USAID-backed Business Egypt, takes place at Le Lac du Caire at 5pm CLT.

PSA- Don’t follow the government’s new rules on electricity use? You could get fined: Businesses that do not abide by the recent measures to cut public electricity consumption will receive fines of around EGP 4k if they ignore initial warnings, Assistant Local Development Minister Khaled َQassem said on Masaa DMC last night (watch, runtime: 10:56).

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FOR READERS OF A CERTAIN AGE- After a 40-year absence, the DeLorean is making an electric comeback, according to CNN. With no details on specs or pricing, the DeLorean is mostly banking on name recognition from the 1980s movie franchise Back to the Future with its all-electric prototype Alpha5. All the newly-revived brand says it will do is put a version of the Alpha5 into production soon.

Speaking of Back to the Future: “Tom Wilson, who played Biff Tannen in ‘Back to the Future,’ wrote a song about answering the same fan questions for 30+ years and it’s one of the greatest things available on the internet.” (Twitter) (That last bit might be a little bit of hyperbole, but…)

FROM THE DEPT. OF GOOD NEWS- We could be paying less for wheat this fiscal year after all: The resumption of Ukrainian grain exports has pushed wheat prices down to less than what the government penciled into the FY 2022-2023 budget, potentially wiping bns of USD from Egypt’s import bill this year, CNBC Arabia reports. Prices per ton are now averaging USD 272, about 18% less than the USD 330 per ton assumed in the state budget, and closer to the USD 255 per ton penciled in last fiscal year’s budget, according to the broadcaster. Easing grain shortages and growing fears of recession in advanced economies have caused wheat futures to fall more than 40% from record highs in mid-May.

DATA POINT- Emirati investment in Egypt rose almost 170% y-o-y to USD 1.9 bn in 1H FY2021-2022, according to data (pdf) from statistics agency Capmas out yesterday.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD-

The war between Russia and Ukraine is back on all the front pages this morning after the daughter of Alexander Dugin — a prominent far-right political theorist and key Putin ally — was assassinated in a car bomb attack in Moscow on Saturday. Russia is yet to explicitly blame Ukraine for the killing. Kyiv has denied involvement. (AP | Reuters | NYT | Washington Post | WSJ)

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

A delegation of Turkish businessmen and manufacturers is scheduled to visit Cairo tomorrow to talk investment and cooperation, Al Mal reports. The delegation includes investors in sectors including agricultural equipment, automotive components, textiles and garments, food and beverage, consumer goods, and building materials.

The delegation’s visit comes as Egypt and Turkey are moving towards warming ties after the two countries had cut ties in 2013 due to strategic and ideological differences between Cairo and Ankara. The visit also comes days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he wants his country to take its ties with Egypt to the “highest level.”

The Union of Arab Banks is organizing a forum on money laundering and terrorism financing in Sharm El Sheikh from 1-3 September. Participating institutions include the Central Bank of Egypt and the Federation of Egyptian Banks, among others.

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

ICYMI-

Missed this week’s Inside Industry? In our weekly vertical exploring all things industry and manufacturing, we looked at what the textiles and garments industry thinks of the state’s ownership policy for the sector.

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*** It’s Blackboard day: We have our weekly look at the business of education in Egypt, from pre-K through the highest reaches of higher ed. Blackboard appears every Monday in Enterprise in the place of our traditional industry news roundups.

In today’s issue: Last week, stakeholders in the education sector took part in consultations with the government on its privatization strategy. We got in touch with some of the key players to find out more about the discussions.

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Solasi Wellbeing Festival at Somabay: Where wellbeing meets nature at this holistic yoga and healing festival set between mountains and sea. Solasi wellbeing festival is organized by Yes Yoga and Osana Family Wellness located in the beautiful Somabay. It is a place where yoga, movement, and holistic therapies meet play, relaxation, and music. Set in Somabay sunshine between the majestic mountains and the glittering sea, we are going to bring you sunrise yoga, sound healing, funky classes, morning runs, enlightening workshops, healing treatments, Tai Chi, meditation, kids’ treasure hunts, locally sourced food and lots of dancing. We have everything you need to run away with us for four days from 21-24 September at a magical destination. Book your one-day or three-day passes at solasifestival.com.

M&A WATCH

Saudi wealth fund is sizing up EgyptAlum — and potentially Egyptian Media Production City + United Bank

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is making headlines in Cairo with at least three possible high-profile acquisitions now appearing to be in its pipeline, including an aluminum maker, a bank and Egyptian Media Production City. The fund has not confirmed any of the three potential transactions.

A stake in EgyptAlum? The Public Investment Fund (PIF) is looking to take a position in EGX-listed Egypt Aluminum’s (EgyptAlum) capital increase, Al Shorouk reported yesterday, citing unnamed sources. The newspaper says the transaction could be finalized before the end of the year. Company representatives we reached out to did not reply by our dispatch time this morning.

This is the second local outlet to report PIF interest in EgyptAlum: Al Borsa earlier this month claimed the fund could invest in EgyptAlum “within weeks.”

We’ve known for months that an Arab sovereign fund has been eying the aluminum maker: Then-public enterprises minister Hisham Tawfik said in May that the state could sell a 20-25% stake in the company to an unnamed Arab sovereign fund.

Egyptalum is staying tight-lipped: The state-owned firm didn’t confirm or deny the news, reiterating in an EGX disclosure (pdf) that it is still studying plans for a capital increase and will offer shares to a “strategic investor” to help finance its development. The state-owned company is looking to raise as much as USD 300 mn in equity and finance to upgrade its operations. It has tapped engineering giant Bechtel to conduct a feasibility study for the upgrades.

Market reax: EgyptAlum shares closed up 1.4% yesterday at EGP 17.65.

UNITED BANK TRANSACTION ISN’T DONE … YET

The PIF has not acquired United Bank, a source close to the transaction told Enterprise yesterday, denying a report in Al Shorouk that claimed that the fund has already completed due diligence and acquired United from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE). The fund remains in early-stage negotiations with the CBE, which owns 99.9% of United, our source told us, without putting a timeframe on when PIF expects to pull the trigger on the transaction.

The Saudi sovereign wealth fund was first reported to be eyeing the bank in May. More recent reports have suggested that the PIF is close to wrapping due diligence and the acquisition could go through by the end of this year.

SOUND SMART- The CBE owns 99.9% of United Bank, which it created in 2006 through the merger of smaller entities near the end of a large-scale cleanup of the banking sector triggered by the bad-debt crisis of the late 1990s. The lending bubble of the 1990s collided with 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.

Advisors: Chatter in domestic media suggests PIF has appointed our friends at EFG Hermes as financial advisors and US law firm Akin Gump as legal counsel for the transaction. CI Capital is reportedly acting as United Bank’s advisor.

PIF EYEING MEDIA CITY?

Does PIF want to acquire Egyptian Media Production City? That’s according to Al Shorouk, which reported yesterday that the fund’s new Egypt investment arm is interested in snapping up 10-25% of the state-owned company’s shares, citing what it said are “informed sources.”

EMPC is none the wiser: “We have no information in regard to this news,” it said in an EGX disclosure (pdf). The company’s chairman, Abdel Fattah El Gebaly, said he had no knowledge of the news when we reached out yesterday, telling us that the company is not looking to attract investors at the moment.

Market reax: EMPC’s shares jumped 10.7% on the report, closing at EGP 5.61 yesterday.

BACKGROUND- Like our friends in Abu Dhabi, KSA is on a spending spree here in Egypt: The PIF earlier this month acquired minority stakes in four EGX-listed companies for USD 1.3 bn through its newly established arm for Egyptian investments. The buys are the first of USD 10 bn pledged by the fund earlier this year as part of Saudi efforts to support Egypt’s external position, which has been rocked by soaring commodity prices as well as outflows from our debt market and a weaker EGP. Abu Dhabi wealth fund ADQ led with similar moves, purchasing state-owned stakes in five companies for around USD 1.8 bn in April.

ECONOMY

Egypt could opt for soft EGP devaluation to stave off inflation -Moody’s

Moody’s is the latest to speculate on the fate of the EGP: Egyptian policymakers will likely choose to maintain a close watch on the EGP and allow it to ease gradually against the greenback to avoid exacerbating inflationary pressures, Moody’s says in a report picked up by the regional press.

The EGP is in a tight spot: Speculation has grown in recent weeks 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 has already fallen nearly 22% since March, when the central bank devalued the currency in response to rising external pressures fuelled by the war in Ukraine, and markets are pricing in another 22% decline over the next year as FX pressures grow. The sudden resignation of central bank governor Tarek Amer has only added to the feeling of uncertainty in the markets.

Gradualism could work, on one condition: The continuation of GCC investment will provide crucial support if the government decides against floating the currency, Moody’s says. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar have pledged to invest as much as USD 22 bn in Egypt this year, providing a vital source of foreign currency amid a large exit of portfolio flows, a rising import bill, and increasing borrowing costs.

Abdalla’s GCC connections are good for us: The CBE’s new acting governor, Hassan Abdalla, has good regional ties that could pay off, the rating agency said. His leadership of the Arab African International Bank (AAIB) left him with regional connections that “complement” Egypt’s increasing reliance on GCC investments, it wrote.

But a stable EGP could put our IMF loan at risk: “An inflexible exchange rate policy could further delay agreement on a new IMF program and restore access to global debt markets,” Moody’s said. Adopting a flexible exchange rate policy is likely one of the IMF’s key demands before it agrees to extend another multi-bn USD loan to Egypt, for which the two sides have been in talks since March. The Fund called on the government to make “decisive” fiscal and structural reforms to reduce its exposure to external shocks last month.

Negotiating terms with the IMF is mission critical: The series of policy tools deployed so far ⁠— allowing a limited fall in the currency, restricting imports, and attracting Gulf investment ⁠— have done little to ease the external pressures. A fresh program could provide bns of USD in additional funding and give extra assurances to investors by way of a structural reform program endorsed by the IMF.

REMEMBER- Moody’s is threatening to downgrade Egypt’s credit rating: The rating agency cut its outlook on Egypt’s sovereign debt to negative in May and warned that a further slip in foreign reserves could force it to downgrade its rating for the first time since 2013.

M&A WATCH

As a bidding war heats up, Pachin’s biggest shareholder is doing its own FV and seeking investment bankers

Pachin’s biggest shareholder to hire advisors for fair value study: Chemical Industries Holding Company (CIHC) will appoint an independent financial advisor to value Paint and Chemical Industries’ (Pachin) amid a bidding war for the EGX-listed paint company, CIHC Chairman Emad El Din Mostafa told Enterprise. CIHC — Pachin’s largest shareholder — has chosen to do its own fair value study because the offers received by Saybad Industrial Investment and Universal Building Materials and Chemicals (Sipes) have not been acceptable and “do not reflect the fair value” of Pachin, Mostafa said.

Who’s offering what: Saybad’s latest bid offered to pay EGP 16.50-18.75 per share for 100% of the company, valuing it as much as EGP 450 mn. This was a revised offer in response to a rival bid from Sipes which said it would purchase all of the company’s shares at EGP 17.50-18.50.

Expect advisors to be named by week’s end: CIHC has received offers from potential advisors and expects to make a choice by the end of the week, Mostafa told us. The company is also looking to bring on board investment bankers to advise it, though Mostafa did not specify a deadline for their appointment.

CIHC could offload its entire stake — for the right price: CIHC currently holds 44.6% of Pachin, while Banque Misr holds another c.11% of the company. Together, these two shareholders can offload their positions and give the acquiring company a majority position in Pachin, Mostafa said. “The bidders are looking to get a controlling stake. We [CIHC and Banque Misr] are willing to give that controlling stake if we get an offer that matches the company’s fair value,” he said.

Market reaction was muted: Pachin’s shares inched up 0.1% in trading yesterday to close at EGP 18.00 per share, after hitting an intraday high of EGP 18.17.

REMEMBER- The play on Pachin comes amid the government’s privatization push, which should see it reduce its involvement in or exit certain industries to make way for the private sector. Pachin is currently approximately 54% owned by state-owned companies and banks.

ADVISORS- Catalyst Partners is acting as Pachin's financial advisor. Adsero–Raji Soliman & Associates is the firm’s legal advisor.

NON-BANK FINANCIAL SERVICES

OFH is setting up a fund for tech startups

OFH swaps Beltone for fintech: Orascom Financial Holding (OFH) is using the sale of its shares in Beltone Financial to expand its footprint in the tech space. The company is planning to establish a EGP 300-500 mn tech fund and invest in its fintech venture Klivvr using some of the proceeds from the Beltone sale, the company said in a disclosure (pdf) yesterday after Al Mal published an interview with its CEO Nils Bachtler. The sale will give OFH “more flexibility to search and employ new investment opportunities that are consistent with the company’s long-term vision and goals,” it said.

Not exactly a VC fund: “The tech-focused fund differs from a venture capital fund in that its business model differs from the ‘traditional’ VC players, but it will be active in the same space,” CEO Nils Bachtler told us yesterday.

The fund will focus on tech and is expected to launch by the end of the year, Bachtler added. “We are in the process of exploring regulations and setups, and we’re expecting to have everything up and running by the end of this year,” he said. The fund’s ticket sizes are still TBD, he added.

OFH’s fintech subsidiary Klivvr is preparing to launch its app and payment cards, having obtained an initial license from the central bank earlier this year. The company has signed agreements with Visa and AAIB to manage payment and issue cards, and was expected to launch the app earlier this year. OFH did not disclose how much of the Beltone proceeds it would invest in the fund and in Klivvr.

OFH is no longer a Beltone shareholder: OFH sold all 259.1 mn of its shares in the financial services company (c.56%) to Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Chimera Investments this month for EGP 1.485 each. It is set to receive around EGP 384 mn from the transaction, by our math.

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LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

El Sisi and MBZ’s sit-down yesterday dominated the airwaves: UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s arrival in New Alamein yesterday for a regional summit with Bahrain, Jordan, and Iraq, and his sit-down with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, got coverage from Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 4:21; 3:39), Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 4:03; 7:02), and Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 1:27). Check out What We’re Tracking Today, above, where we preview the meeting.

Car dealers can finally breathe a (small) sigh of relief: All of the cars marooned in Egypt’s ports for the past five months by the central bank’s new import requirements have now been released, Khaled Saad, the head of the Egyptian Association of Automobile Manufacturers and the managing director of Brilliance Bavarian Auto, told Salet El Tahrir (watch, runtime: 8:38). Local car dealers have faced challenges in recent months getting vehicles into the country, after a change in rules that required them to get letters of credit (L/Cs) in order to purchase non-essential goods.

But this does not really offer reprieve to the automotive industry: The cars released are just enough for deliveries to the people that have already ordered their vehicles, but not for the general market, Saad said. Car prices have risen 25-30% since March due to inflationary pressures and the EGP devaluation, Saad said, though the price increases will not be retroactively applied to cars ordered before 12 April, under directives from the Consumer Protection Agency.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Suggestions that tensions are rising between Egypt and Israel are the big story abroad this morning: The head of Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet reportedly arrived in Egypt yesterday to calm rising tensions between the two countries after the Israeli military killed three Palestinians a few days after the Egypt-brokered ceasefire in Gaza went into effect. Israeli media reported yesterday that Ronen Bar will be in Egypt until Monday to smooth things over with intelligence chief Abbas Kamel following what the Jerusalem Post described as a “breakdown of relations” following the killings. Kamel was due to travel to Israel but reportedly canceled his visit in protest at Israel’s actions. (Jerusalem Post | Times of Israel | Haaretz)

The Cairo Metro has recruited Egypt’s first female train drivers: Two women have been in the driver’s seat on Metro Line 3 since April. (France 24)

Egypt is also getting plenty of attention in the trades:

  • Four Seasons and TMG are looking to launch new properties and grow their real estate portfolio in Egypt. (TravelDine)
  • The green energy arm of iron-ore minter Fortescue is getting ink for its previously announced plans to invest in green hydrogen here (Mining Weekly)
  • “In Egypt, there is no modern equipment for harvesting onions,” Fresh Plaza reports alongside a quick pickup of the latest figures on mango cultivation.
  • Pymnts has an interview with Tamer El-Hussainy, CEO of Cairo-based ePayment service provider Damen.

MEANWHILE- The Indian Institute of Technology is mulling whether to open a campus in Egypt after identifying us as a priority market alongside the UK and UAE, Saudi, Qatar, Malaysia and Thailand. (Indian Express)

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Telecom Egypt and Orange Jordan will launch a terrestrial network that connects Iraq to Europe in 3Q 2022, according to a joint statement out yesterday. The two companies have agreed to integrate their networks to create the “Cairo-Amman-Baghdad (CAB) System,” which aims to increase internet connectivity services in Iraq.

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

  • Rameda Pharma has opened a wastewater treatment plant that is expected to halve its annual water consumption. (Statement, pdf)
  • Consumer electronics retailer B.TECH rolled out a digital app, Deel, to provide local merchants with a digital platform to maintain inventory, market their products, manage delivery, and access analytical tools, among other services. (Statement, pdf)
  • Helal El Sewedy Holding’s Energya Industries has reportedly landed a EGP 125 mn contract to alter the route of an overhead power line that is impeding construction work on the monorail in Sixth of October City. (Al Mal)
  • The National Authority for Tunnels reportedly wants to revise the route of the Sokhna-Matrouh high-speed railway and add an additional station at Alexandria. (Al Mal)
  • The military is setting up a stem cell research center after signing an agreement with US healthcare company SYMX. (Statement)
  • Fires broke out in two monasteries in Assiut and Minya yesterday, and were later brought under control with no serious injuries reported. Several fires have been reported in churches across the nation over the past week following the deadly fire in Abu Sefein church. (Statement | Statement)

PLANET FINANCE

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It’s going to be a quieter September than normal for debt-distressed EMs: Analysts expect junk-rated emerging markets to continue to shy away from international bond markets as they struggle with high borrowing costs and dwindling FX reserves, Bloomberg reports. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan all have low expectations for EM bond sales in September — usually a busy month as issuers look to capitalize on the higher post-summer demand from investors rebalancing their portfolios — and have slashed their 2022 forecasts for EM issuance. “Funding conditions should remain unfavorable for high yielders,” said Marcelo Assalin, head of emerging-market debt at William Blair International. “We see very little activity in the primary market in that space in the near term.”

Egypt is included in that list: Egypt is among a growing number of developing countries whose bonds are trading at distressed levels, indicating a rising risk of default amid rising borrowing costs and falling reserves. Egypt hasn’t issued fresh international debt since September when it pulled off a USD 3 bn issuance and has no immediate plans to sell new eurobonds.

But we could buck this trend: The Finance Ministry has started preparations to sell CNY-denominated bonds and is currently searching for bookrunners and investment banks to manage the issuance, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told Enterprise last week, without disclosing a potential timeline.

Up

EGX30

10,340

+2.4% (YTD: -13.5%)

Up

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

Down

Tadawul

12,555

-0.5% (YTD: +11.3%)

Down

ADX

10,083

-0.7% (YTD: +11.9%)

Down

DFM

3,420

-0.4% (YTD: +7.0%)

Down

S&P 500

4,228

-1.3% (YTD: -11.3%)

Up

FTSE 100

7,550

+0.1% (YTD: +2.3%)

Down

Euro Stoxx 50

3,730

-1.3% (YTD: -13.2%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 96.72

+0.1%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 9.34

+1.6%

Down

Gold

USD 1,762.90

-0.5%

Up

BTC

USD 21,539

+2.0% (YTD: -53.4%)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 2.4% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.23 bn (34.8% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 13.5% YTD.

In the green: Citadel Capital (+9.7%), Ibnsina Pharma (+7.7%) and CIB (+5.1%).

In the red: Egyptian Kuwaiti Holding (-1.1%) and E-Finance (-0.1%).

Asian markets are having a mixed start to the week: Shares in China and Hong Kong are comfortably in the green this morning while bourses elsewhere in the region are in the red, among them the Nikkei, the Kospi and the ASX. Stock futures indicate that last week’s sell-off in Europe and the US will continue this morning as investors continue to fret about how far the Federal Reserve is willing to go to curb inflation.

AROUND THE WORLD

Are the UAE and Iran about to bury the hatchet? The UAE’s ambassador to Iran will return to Tehran “in the coming days,” upgrading ties with the Islamic Republic six-and-a-half years after it pulled its most senior diplomat from the country, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. Ambassador Mohamed Al Zaabi’s return will “contribute to further advancing bilateral relations” to “achieve the common interests of the two countries and the wider region,” it said. Abu Dhabi downgraded diplomatic relations with Iran in early 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran following the execution of a top Shia cleric in Riyadh.

The US + EU are still mulling how to move forward with the Iran nuclear talks:

Four of the signatories of the original 2015 nuclear pact — the US, Germany, France and the UK — continued to weigh Iran’s response to the EU’s final revised draft during a call yesterday, and emphasized “the need to strengthen support for partners in the Middle East,” according to a White House readout.

Somali hotel siege ends after 30-hour battle: Somali security forces have retaken the hotel seized by Islamic militants on Friday following a 30-hour battle, government officials said yesterday, according to Reuters. More than 20 people were killed and at least 117 injured in the attack on the Hayat Hotel in the Somali capital, the country’s health minister said. Dozens of hostages were released yesterday when security forces retook the building.

blackboard

What is the fate of the education sector in the government’s privatization plans? The Madbouly government has been hosting public consultations on its privatization plans since mid-June to get input from stakeholders in different sectors on the policy plan. Last week, education sector players, including private school owners and operators, had their chance to voice their opinions on the policy, which lists education among the sectors the government considers strategic and therefore will not be exiting.

Refresher on the state ownership policy: The government intends to fully withdraw from as many as 79 industries over the next three years as part of plans to restructure the economy in favor of the private sector. This is all part of a wider plan announced in May to restructure the economy in favor of the private sector under efforts to cushion the economic blow caused by the Russian war in Ukraine. The state wants to more than double the private sector’s role in the economy to 65% over the next three years, and attract USD 40 bn in investment over the next four years.

The key takeaways: Education is a high-priority sector for public investments and the government is looking to push the private sector to offer competitive services at the K-12 and higher education levels, our sources tell us. That being said, private sector players want to see a legislative framework governing the sector with greater flexibility using the PPP structure, removing ministry-imposed obstacles for private schools to set their price structures (read: the 7% cap on annual tuition fee increases), offering land to help private schools expand their K-12 offerings at lower costs, and having more applied technology schools to qualify graduates for the labor market.

Important to note: No-cost public education services will not be affected by any changes resulting from the ownership policy, seeing as they are a constitutional right, our sources confirmed.

What is the sector missing on the legislative front? The sector needs legislation governing the educational process and the relationship between the three primary stakeholders: The Education Ministry, the school, and the guardian or the student, a source from the House of Representatives told Enterprise. A clear legislative structure would be better for all stakeholders than individual ministerial decrees, which can lead to policies being changed too frequently, our source says. There should also be legislation to govern how the Egyptian curriculum is implemented in schools, our source suggests.

An overview of the sector: The government has raised its education sector allocations by an annual 10.7% for the current fiscal year to EGP 127.8 bn, from EGP 115.4 bn during the fiscal year 2021-2022. The sector is also set to receive EGP 45.2 bn in investments during the fiscal year, up 14.1% y-o-y. There were 25 mn students enrolled in Egyptian schools for the 2021-2022 academic year, the majority of which — 22.5 mn — were enrolled in public schools, while the remaining 2.5 mn were enrolled in private schools, according to data (pdf) by official statistics agency CAPMAS.

Rapidly growing sector shows investment interest: There has been a boom in private schools and universities in the past few years, House Education Committee Chairman Sami Hashem tells Enterprise. This reflects the state's interest in increasing investment allocations for the education sector.

Public and private schools aren’t in direct competition: Hashem emphasized the state’s plan to provide the private sector with the chance to expand its operations, while maintaining the availability of public education at no cost. The private sector plays an important role in providing educational services and can continue to do so without affecting the state’s constitutionally mandated role in providing education at no cost, House Education Committee member Mona Abdel Aty said.

But private schools want to grow — and they need more land to expand their operations: Private players are calling on the state to facilitate the process of acquiring land, recommending some kind of partnership to help private sector education players secure land in new cities, to help solve the ongoing shortage of land available for sector players, Alhossam International School owner Hossam Eldin Al Mandouh told us.

A call for more private kindergartens: Education at the kindergarten stage needs to be restructured, namely through more partnership with the private sector, Hazem Rashid, dean of Ain Shams’ Faculty of Education told us. The state needs to continue to supervise the private sector work in nurseries and kindergartens, he added.

A push for more technical education: The private sector has been experimenting with technical education programs, said Mohamed Emara, head of the Technical Education Sector at the Education Ministry. These experiments aim to produce graduates who are able to meet the labor market needs, through adapting the vocational education system, he told us. The vocational education system allows students to intern in factories in parallel with their studies. We’ve seen such programs offered by Alaraby Group and El Sewedy, as we noted in our previous deep dive into vocational education.

Hospitality + industry stand to benefit the most from vocational schooling: Abdel-Aty suggested increasing private sector participation in hotel and industrial schools to ensure that students are qualified for the labor market and are able to find job opportunities after graduation. She also called for cooperating with the private sector to establish private technical schools in some fields, including fish farming.

Better governance is the key to more effective technical education: Amending the law governing technical education would help increase their role, which will in turn improve opportunities in the labor market, a parliamentary source told us. Atef Alam Eldin, a member of the Senate Education Committee said that the state needs to develop a law to control the work of private vocational schools with regard to tuition fees and student admissions.

Public-private partnership in technical education is needed to establish new schools to absorb the annual demand, said Abdullah Galal, former dean of the Faculty of Technology and Education at Helwan University. He recommended that the state provides the land on which the schools will be built, while the private sector be responsible for their operations.


Your top education stories for the week:

  • The Education Ministry delayed the starting date for the new school year for public schools to 1 October, from the previously announced date of 24 September.
  • Tansik registration for non-profit universities starts tomorrow: The Higher Education Ministry announced it will open registration to all government non-profit universities through the online public university enrollment (tansik) website starting Tuesday, 23 August.
  • 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.
  • Minimum grades for public unis are out: The Higher Education Ministry announced the minimum grades required for acceptance in public universities under the ministry’s first phase of the public university enrollment (tansik) system.

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.

17-21 August (Wednesday-Sunday): Delegation from the European Investment Bank visits Egypt to discuss the NWFE program with the Ministry of International Cooperation.

22 August (Monday): The Climate Finance Accelerator hosts a webinar on climate finance in Egypt.

22 August (Monday): ClimaTech Run 2022, Le Lac du Caire, Cairo.

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

23 August (Tuesday): Window to apply for government non-profit universities via the online tansik (enrollment) website opens.

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): Deadline to apply for government non-profit universities via the tansik (enrollment) website.

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.

1-3 September (Thursday-Saturday): The Union of Arab Banks is organizing a forum on money laundering and terrorism financing in Sharm El Sheikh.

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 written expression of interest.

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

25-27 September (Sunday-Tuesday) A delegation of executives at Egyptian real estate companies visit Saudi Arabia to present developers with investment opportunities in Egypt’s real estate sector.

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): Start of 2022-2023 school year.

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, 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.

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