Thursday, 25 August 2022

AM — The rumor mill: The central bank could be about to ease import restrictions



Good morning, friends, and happy FRIDAY to you all. The banking sector and our ongoing FX crunch are the big story here at home as we prepare to slide into one of the final weekends of summer.

Central Bank of Egypt Governor Hassan Abdalla closed out his first full week on the job yesterday, holding a meeting with senior bankers. The gathering was more about sending the right message (essentially, “We’re all in the same boat, so let’s work together”) rather than to go deep on the current macro challenges, including the FX crunch, though the availability of foreign exchange featured prominently in the sit-down.

Abdalla also appointed two veteran private-sector bankers as top advisors, including former CIB Chairman and MD Hisham Ezz Al Arab.

The story is getting prominent coverage in the domestic press (here and here) and featured prominently on last night’s talk shows.

MEANWHILE- For importers, hope springs eternal: Abdalla’s meeting with bank bosses, an unconfirmed report about an banks conducting an “inventory” of FX needs for the coming 9 months, and a government statement have stoked expectations that import restrictions could be eased. We think the story is overblown.

^^ We have more detail and analysis on all of this in this morning’s news well, below.


The second Egypt- and UN-led regional climate roundtable takes place in Bangkok: The one-day event will see climate negotiators from the Asia-Pacific region discuss climate finance with private- and public-sector stakeholders ahead of the COP27 summit in November. This is the second of five regional roundtables being organized by Egypt and the UN. The first took place in Ethiopia last month.

The Madbouly government will hold consultations with stakeholders in the water sector on its privatization strategy. The government is holding workshops and consultations with stakeholders from different industries every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday on its privatization plans. You can find more details on the schedule of the meetings here.

The big central bank meet at Jackson Hole starts: Fed chairman Jerome Powell will deliver a speech on Friday and investors will be keeping a close eye for hints about how far the central bank could raise rates when it next meets in September. Shares in Europe and the US ended a recent run of losses yesterday, ending yesterday’s trading session marginally in the green ahead of Powell’s speed.

Asian markets are mainly in the green this morning and futures suggest shares in Europe and the US will see early gains later today.


THE BIG STORY ABROAD- On the front pages of the global press this morning:

#1- Biden’s latest play to salvage the midterms is everywhere in the US media this morning after the president yesterday pledged to forgive up to USD 20k in student debt for tens of mns of Americans. (Wall Street Journal | Bloomberg | | Reuters | CNBC | Financial Times | New York Times | Washington Post)

#2- Ukraine latest: The war in Ukraine has been elevated back to the front pages this morning as the global press marks the 31st anniversary of Ukrainian independence. A Russian missile strike in Eastern Ukraine left 22 dead and dozens wounded yesterday. (Reuters | WSJ | NY Times | BBC | AP | The Guardian)


iSHEEP, Assemble: The launch event for the iPhone 14 will take place on 7 September at 1pm ET (or 7pm CLT), Apple announced in invitations to journalists yesterday, according to the Verge. You can catch the event on livestream here.

PSA #1- Climate tech entrepreneurs have one month to apply to the global ClimaTech Run competition: Tech startups that address climate and environmental issues have until 22 September to apply for the competition, which offers startups a top award of USD 100k and the chance to present their product at COP27, according to a cabinet statement. The competition is hosted by USAID-backed Business Egypt and backed by the international cooperation, environment and communication ministries.

PSA #2- Your deadline to catch a 65% break off late payment fines for your taxes is coming up next Wednesday, 31 August. The waiver applies to late payment fees for customs tariffs, income, real estate, and sales taxes, VAT, and stamp duties among others. The remaining 35% of your due payments will need to be paid before next March.

FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD- Egypt and Tunisia could sign an MoU to cooperate on solar power projects in the next two months, when a Tunisian delegation is expected to visit Egypt, Al Borsa quotes sources in the know as saying.

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


2CELLOS – LIVE AT SOMABAY: World-renowned and wildly popular cellist duo, 2CELLOS, are bringing the magic of music to Somabay on the 18th of November 2022. Get ready for an unforgettable night of captivating performances and electric energy. Book your ticket here.


Is the central bank about to ease import restrictions?

Meetings held yesterday by Central Bank Governor Hassan Abdalla and key cabinet members have stoked expectations in some corners that they may be looking for ways to ease import restrictions that have hobbled everyone from manufacturers to retailers. The restrictions have been in place since spring as the nation has struggled with a shortage of foreign currency. Business leaders we spoke with yesterday are hopeful that Abdalla could review import rules brought in by his predecessor Tarek Amer in March — and they would very much like to be invited to a sit-down with the new CBE boss, who has now been on the job for just one week.

What’s prompting the optimism? Four data points — and a healthy dose of wishful thinking:

  • Abdalla met yesterday with senior figures in the banking community and has reportedly named as advisors two veteran bankers, including our friend Hisham Ezz Al Arab and Mohamed Naguib. Naturally enough, the FX crunch was a feature of the talks.
  • Reading a lot into a government statement: Newly-appointed Trade and Industry Minister Ahmed Samir told Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly yesterday that officials are working on measures to expedite the import of raw materials and spare parts via documentary collection rather than L/Cs.
  • The usual workings of government: Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa, whose rehabilitation as a source of information on government policy is nothing less than remarkable, said last night (watch, runtime: 3:21) that Abdalla, Samir and Finance Minister Mohamed Maait have been talking about how to facility the release of goods stuck in customs warehouses thanks to the restrictions.
  • An unconfirmed report in Bloomberg Asharq, which says the central bank has asked banks to provide it with estimates of their manufacturing clients’ hard currency needs through the end of the current fiscal year in June 2023.

What’s the business community hoping for? Speculation among importers and others we spoke with is that the inventory-taking Bloomberg Asharq reported could pave the way for the CBE to loosen rules requiring importers to use (L/Cs) to purchase non-essential goods, instead of the previous system of documentary collection — a move that has made it almost impossible for companies to import goods in a number of sectors.

Why you should keep your expectations in check:

  • Abdalla’s appointment of Ezz Al Arab and Naguib as advisors was classy and brings trusted private-sector players into the loop — but it’s one move in a long game of chess, not a sign that a solution to import restrictions is imminent.
  • Many importers have since May been able to use documentary collection to bring in production inputs and spare parts, when they got an exemption to the L/C rules. Samir’s advocacy for importers is an important sign he gets the nature of the problem, but it won’t make greenbacks appear overnight.
  • Cabinet officials have been talking about the FX crunch directly with the central bank since May.
  • As the regulator, the CBE already has the data it needs to estimate run rates through next year.

Oh, and there’s the small matter of where the greenbacks would come from when / if restrictions are eased. Solving the FX crisis is at the top of Abdalla’s agenda — we think it’s highly unlikely he would do anything more than ease restrictions for a very limited subset of critical imports until he knows where he’s getting firepower from — whether that’s more FDI from our allies in the Gulf, a fresh IMF loan, or both — as part of a wider plan to let the currency ease against the USD.

What are importers hoping for?

  • They want a sit-down with Abdalla, Mohamed Rostom, first secretary at FEDCOC’s importers division, told us.
  • They want to widen the number of industries that can use the documentary collection exemption for the import of raw materials and spare parts. “All raw materials required in industries should be exempted from L/Cs , including industrial equipment and others,” Mohamed El Bahi, a spokesperson for the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC), told us. Not all industries have been able to access the exemption, importers confirmed to Enterprise.
  • They would like consumer goods to be exempt from the L/C requirement, too, according to Rostom, who said: “Stocks of consumer goods are diminishing amid continued supply hurdles and a loss of confidence by foreign suppliers in local firms because of blurry payment mechanisms,” he said.
  • And they want to be able to source FX from foreign exchange bureaus given the challenges they have sourcing greenbacks from banks, FEDCOC officials said. (Wait … haven’t we been down that road before?)


Hisham Ezz Al Arab, Mohamed Naguib are advising the new CBE governor: Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Acting Governor Hassan Abdalla has appointed banking industry veterans Hisham Ezz Al Arab (LinkedIn) and Mohamed Naguib (LinkedIn) as his advisors, local media are reporting. The decision came during Abdalla’s meeting with senior bankers yesterday. Ezz Al Arab acknowledged the news on social media, writing: “May God grant us success in this task, and I am sure, God willing, of success despite the challenges.”

About Ezz Al Arab: The former chairman and managing director of leading private-sector bank CIB, Ezz Al Arab was one of the names floated for the top position at the CBE following Tarek Amer’s resignation last week. The industry veteran led CIB to its position as Egypt’s leading home-grown bank in everything from profitability to sustainability. 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.

About Naguib: Naguib has served on the boards of a number of banks and corporations — including Incolease, GB Auto and Banque Misr — in Egypt throughout his nearly 40 years of experience in banking, leasing and credit. He was chairman and managing director of SAIB Bank between 2011 and 2018, after serving as vice chairman and head of the credit and investment committee at Banque Misr. He was also the general manager of credit and marketing at Misr International (MIBank) for over 20 years.


B Investments now has until mid-Sept to mull Adnoc’s bid for TotalEnergies Egypt

Filing error gives B Investments more time to respond to Adnoc’s bid for TotalEnergies Egypt: B Investments has been granted an extension until 15 September to decide whether it will preempt Adnoc’s bid to acquire 50% of TotalEnergies Egypt, the company said in an EGX disclosure (pdf) yesterday. The private equity firm was originally set to respond to the offer by 29 August, but the deadline was extended due to a “minor miscalculation in the number of shares” listed as up for sale in paperwork that TotalEnergies sent to B Investments, the disclosure read.

REFRESHER- Adnoc’s distribution arm last month agreed to acquire 50% of TotalEnergies Egypt for up to USD 203 mn — including the 15.4% stake currently held by B Investments, which is the only minority shareholder in the fuel distributor. Total Energies Marketing Afrique (TEMA), which holds the 84.6% majority stake, would sell 34.6% to Adnoc, handing the two companies 50-50 ownership.

B Investments has the right of first refusal, allowing it to pre-empt Adnoc’s bid and buy the 34.6% stake that TEMA plans to sell to the Emirati firm. Alternatively, B Investments can allow the transaction with Adnoc to go ahead and exit TotalEnergies entirely.

The board is “still studying the bid” and will meet to make a final call before the 15 September deadline, IR head Omar El Labban told Enterprise. The investment committee has already met once to discuss the bid and is still studying all its options.


Pachin taps Al Ahly Pharos to advise on takeover bids

Paint and Chemical Industries (Pachin) has tapped Al Ahly Pharos to advise it as it mulls multiple takeover bids, the EGX-listed paint company said in an EGX disclosure (pdf) yesterday. Pachin appointed the firm to “differentiate between bids submitted and negotiate the highest possible value for the share price,” it said.

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

Pachin wants more: Pachin’s largest shareholder, Chemical Industries Holding Company (CIHC), wants to conduct its own fair value study because the offers “do not reflect the fair value” of Pachin, Chairman Emad El Din Mostafa told us earlier this week.

Advisors: Adsero–Raji Soliman & Associates is the firm’s legal advisor. CIHC is also looking to appoint investment bankers.


Israeli natgas exports surge in 1H 2022

All the more gas for us to liquefy: Israeli natgas exports surged 35% y-o-y in the first six months of the year as production increased at its two biggest fields in the eastern Mediterranean, Bloomberg reports. Israel exported some 4.59 bn cubic meters (bcm) during the period as production surged 22% to 10.85 bcm, according to the country’s energy ministry.

A lot of this extra gas would have come our way: The ministry did not provide details on where the gas was exported, but Egypt is likely to have been the main recipient, being the biggest purchaser of Israeli gas. Currently, Egypt and Jordan are the only two countries that Israel exports gas to directly.

There are big plans to send more of this gas across the Med: This comes as Israel and Egypt forge closer ties with Europe, which is suffering a historic energy crisis triggered by western sanctions on Russia. Under an agreement signed in June, the EU will increase its imports of Israeli gas, which will be sent to Egypt, liquefied and shipped across the Mediterranean as LNG. The higher production volumes this year would help Israel boost sales to Europe under the new agreement, Energy Minister Karine Elharrar said.

The caveats: Details of the agreement are yet to be worked out, including where the money will come from to build the vital infrastructure and how long it might take. The MoU didn’t contain any commitments regarding export volumes.

More where that came from: Production will rise further once drilling begins at the disputed Karish gas field in the eastern Mediterranean, Elharrar said. Karish owner Energean expects production to start at the end of September.


Hyundai Rotem signs USD 656 mn agreement to locally produce rolling stock for the Cairo Metro

Hyundai Rotem has signed a USD 656 mn contract to locally produce rolling stock for the Cairo metro, the Transport Ministry said in a statement yesterday. Under the agreement, the South Korean railway equipment manufacturer will produce 40 trains comprising 320 carriages for Metro lines 2 and 3 alongside the National Egyptian Railway Industries Company (NERIC). The firm will also provide maintenance services for eight years, the ministry said.

This has been in the works for more than a year: Hyundai Rotem signed an initial MoU with NERIC in May 2021 and a framework agreement six months later.

Hyundai Rotem is no stranger to the Metro: The company has supplied 48 trains for all three of Cairo’s metro lines in the past, the statement said.

This is part of Project Localize: The agreement comes as part of the government’s plans to localize the railcar manufacturing industry. Under the contract, 30% of the components used will be sourced from local suppliers, the ministry said. The government plans to reach a 25% local component quota for the nation’s railway system over the next two years as part of a six-year plan signed off by Ittihadiya. The strategy would see the local component quota at 50% after four years and 75% at the end of the six-year period.

Refresher: NERIC was set up in late 2020 as a JV between the Sovereign Fund of Egypt, the Suez Canal Economic Zone, the Transport Ministry, East Port Said Development, Hassan Allam, Samcrete, and Orascom Construction. The company was established as part of a state-led bid to localize the rail industry and specializes in producing and refurbishing rolling stock. Hyundai Rotem partnered with the JV last year to help transfer technology to Egypt, manufacture railway cars, signaling systems, and control and driving equipment, in addition to providing railway engineering services.


Edtech startup OBM lands USD six-figure investment from EdVentures

Student career advising startup OBM Education has secured a six-figure USD investment from EdVentures, according to a company statement (pdf) by the edtech-focused VC. The company will use the funds to develop its new app, Taleb, which will provide career advice to students from the ages of 12 to 19, founder and CEO Omar El Barbary told Enterprise.

This is the second round of funding OBM has received from EdVentures this year, after it snagged an undisclosed sum from the VC in January.

About OBM: Founded in 2020 by Omar El Barbary (LinkedIn) and Ezz El Din Farag (LinkedIn), OBM provides career advising, mentoring, and training programs to middle- and high-schoolers through summits and programs. They have 900k beneficiaries and have hosted 82 programs and events, according to their website.

Where the money’s going: The app, which will be launched early September, will act as a “one-stop shop” for high school students seeking college and career advice, El Barbary tells us. The app will include career and major placement assessments, educational videos, and an online advisory center with advisors from 70 different majors, he explained. It will also include an online shop where students can buy and sell student resources like books and stationery supplies, he added.

The startup is targeting 80k downloads for its app by the end of the year, El Barbary says. Next year, it plans to tap additional financing and expand to Saudi Arabia, he added.


The VC outfit is set to finalize two more investments in the region over the next two months, and will invest in a third firm outside of the MENA region by the end of the year, EdVentures General Manager Maged Harby tells Enterprise. The VC has increased its average ticket size to USD 500k from USD 300k this year and could invest up to USD 1 mn for select projects, he added.

EdVentures portfolio includes online training provider Sprints as well as Akhdar, Career180, OTO Courses, and iSchool. Harby says the firm focuses on “startups that address untapped subsectors in the education industry.”


Savola to invest EGP 1 bn in Egyptian Belgian Company

Saudi food conglomerate Savola plans to invest over EGP 1 bn in the Egyptian Belgian Company to increase production, CEO Sameh Hassan told CNBC Arabia (watch, runtime: 3:06). The company acquired the maker of Ole-branded baked goods for EGP 622.4 mn in June.

Savola has hiked prices aggressively since taking over: Savola has raised prices by 30-35% since it acquired the company in response to soaring local inflation and the devaluation of the EGP, Hassan said. Savola also recently acquired another snack food factory in Egypt, which will come online next year, he said.


Beltone Financial turns a loss in 2Q 2022

Beltone Financial returned to the red in 2Q 2022, recording EGP 109.4 mn in net losses after making a EGP 4.7 mn profit in the same period last year, according to its consolidated financials (pdf). Revenues were down 1% to EGP 82.7 mn during the April-June quarter despite interest income rising by a third due revenues from fees and commissions sliding 34%.

REMEMBER- Beltone is under new management: Chimera Investments replaced Orascom Financial Holding as Beltone’s controlling shareholder earlier this month after purchasing its 56% stake at EGP 1.485 per share. CEO Ibrahim Karam was replaced by former investment minister and Masar chairwoman Dalia Khorshid the following week.



It was an econ-finance heavy night on the airwaves yesterday: Rumors that the Central Bank of Egypt could be about to reverse course on controversial import restrictions introduced in March got attention on the talk shows last night. We have more on this in this morning’s news well, above.

The Sisi administration’s privatization strategy featured on Ala Mas’ouleety following reports that a government committee is studying the potential IPOs of ports and other assets owned by the Transport Ministry (watch, runtime: 5:01 | 7:49). The committee will reportedly present within two months a proposal for privatizing select assets; it is reportedly headed by Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly’s economic advisor, Gihan Saleh, and will also include representatives from various ministries, the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) and GAFI. Plans to merge seven of Egypt’s biggest ports under one entity and list it on the EGX were first announced by Madbouly as part of sweeping privatization plans that will see the government attract USD 40 bn in investments over the next four years.

Listing isn’t the same thing as selling, says Moussa: In a long monologue railing against critics of privatization, Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa denied that listing shares in state-owned companies is the same thing as “selling” assets and explained the benefits of leveraging foreign companies’ investments and management experience while still retaining ownership of some companies in “strategic” sectors. The IPOs of state-owned firms could bring in much-needed liquidity to the markets, and could also invite Egyptians to invest in companies through the bourse and feel a sense of ownership in state-owned assets, Rania Yacoub, board member at the EGX, told him, while reiterating his comments on the difference between selling state assets and partnering with the private sector to help operate and manage them.

The appointment of Hassan Abdalla’s new advisors, banking industry veterans Hisham Ezz Al Arab and Mohamed Naguib, also featured on Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 3:25).

Thousands of people didn’t get the memo about electricity rationing: Some 26.6k buildings and businesses have been slapped with fines of up to EGP 4k after failing to abide by the recent measures to cut electricity use, local development ministry spokesperson Khaled Qassem told Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 19:32). The government has so far managed to save about 22-25% of the electricity that goes towards roadlights, and 11% of what goes to store front signs, Qassem added.

Some 250-300 companies have taken out conditions booklets for a tender for three industrial complexes comprising 1k units in Upper Egypt for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), head of the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) Mohamed El Zalat, told Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 9:50). The ministry had slashed prices for the booklets for companies bidding for the units by more than half to EGP 300-500, from EGP 2k previously.


It’s still all about Egyptian-Israeli relations in the foreign press: Tension in our relations with our neighbors to the east — and the ceasefire Egypt brokered earlier this month between Palestinian militants and Israel — is still everywhere in the Israeli press. The silence of the Egyptian media on the tensions could be a sign that Cairo doesn’t intend to escalate matters but Israel needs to “tread carefully” in how it manages its relations with one of its closest regional partners, Zvi Bar'el writes for Haaretz. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post is out with a piece looking at what’s behind the recent flare-up in tensions.

Also making headlines:

  • Positive coverage in the global travel press: CNN Travel lists Egypt as one of the 12 “cool places” to go for the fall and Conde Nast Traveler features the country as one of the best places to go to discover “architectural marvels” beyond the famed Giza Pyramids.
  • COP is off limits to some civil society groups: Some Egyptian NGOs say they are being excluded from the COP27 summit through the registration process because they are critical of the government. (The Guardian)
  • Gender violence: The murders of a number of women in the past few months raises concerns about the extent of gender-based violence and the lack of sufficient legal protection for women in the country. (Reuters)


Elsewedy launches electric bus charging at the Adly Mansour transit hub: Elsewedy Transport & Distribution has started operating electric bus charging facilities at Adly Mansour station, it said in a statement (pdf) yesterday. The transit hub connects five different modes of transport: Cairo Metro Line 3, the newly-launched light railway, a railway station, SuperJet bus station, and the under-construction Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

Elsewedy T&D is also working on the electric bus charging station in Sharm El Sheikh as part of preparations for the COP 27 summit in November.

Aswan could get a massive EGP 20 bn fertilizer industrial complex: Aswan Governor Ashraf Attia presented a EGP 20 bn project to build the governorate’s largest fertilizer industrial complex during a meeting with Singaporean firm IVL Dhunseri Polyester and the heads of Misr Phosphate, according to a statement.

US-based, MENA-focused developer Global Ventures (not the VC outfit by the same name) wants to attract a number of Chicago real estate investors to help develop a series of residential, administrative and commercial projects in the new capital, New Alamein and other new cities, Al Mal reports. Global Ventures is part of the US-UAE consortium in charge of the Mogamma redevelopment project.


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More warnings of a wave of EM debt defaults: Developing and emerging nations’ foreign reserves dropped USD 379 bn in the first half of this year, according to IMF data picked up by the Wall Street Journal — more than at any time since the 2008 financial crisis. Rising commodities prices on the back of war in Ukraine, aggressive rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve, and global inflationary pressures are making it increasingly difficult for developing countries to sustain spending on key imports like food and fuel and service their foreign debt. Sri Lankan USD reserves have almost run dry after the countries in May defaulted on its bonds for the first time in its history — and countries including Pakistan, Turkey, and Ghana could face similar crises, the WSJ says.

FX reserves will be a key challenge for the CBE: Egypt’s foreign reserves have declined by almost 20% since March, slipping to USD 33.14 bn in July, as the fallout from the war in Ukraine and rising interest rates force the central bank to intervene to cover portfolio outflows, finance imports and meet debt repayments. Bringing hard currency back into the country will be a priority for new acting Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) governor Hassan Abdalla, with speculation growing that the EGP may need to be allowed to depreciate further against the USD to dodge a balance of payments crisis.

All those celebrating falling food and energy prices might want to put the cork back in the champagne bottle, according to Invesco, which is predicting commodities to give us a “rude awakening” and rise again in the fall. Fears of recession and an easing of supply problems have seen global food and energy prices fall back from record highs in recent weeks, and the market expects the trend to continue.

Not so fast: Not only will the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve’s releases — which have played a major role in calming markets over the past few months — end in October, but the Russia-Ukraine war will threaten Ukraine’s winter harvest, droughts are expected to squeeze crops in the US, and a historic energy crisis in Europe will further disrupt other markets, Jason Bloom, head of fixed income and alternatives product strategy at Invesco, tells Bloomberg.

Add an unexpected cut to oil production to that list: It’s looking more likely that OPEC+ could cut production soon, with at least six more cartel members backing comments made by the Saudi energy minister this week who said that producers could soon reduce supply to address “extreme” price volatility in the markets, Bloomberg reports. Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Equatorial Guinea and Venezuela have all expressed support to Saudi Arabia’s stance on the “disconnect” between physical and paper barrels.




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The EGX30 fell 0.3% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.32 bn (37.6% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is down 15.4% YTD.

In the green: Rameda (+2.9%), Housing & Development Bank (+1.8%) and Alexandria Containers (+1.5%).

In the red: Palm Hills Development (-2.1%), Heliopolis Housing (-2.0%) and Sidi Kerir Petchem (-1.9%).


Has the US rejected Iran’s demands for the nuclear pact? The US has finally given its reply to the EU’s proposal to save the Iran nuclear pact and if this report in Al Arabiya is correct, it’s not good news. The Saudi broadcaster reported yesterday that Washington rejected all of the conditions put forward by Iran in its response to the EU’s draft text, and told it to stop restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities. There was relative optimism that the two sides could reach an agreement a few days ago when the EU described Iran’s response to its proposal as “reasonable.”

Adding to the tensions: The US bombed Iran-backed fighters in Syria yesterday, earning it “strong condemnation” from Iran — though the country denied having any links to groups in areas the US targeted.


Carlos Gonzalez, CEO of CEMEX Egypt and UAE: 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 Carlos Gonzalez (LinkedIn), CEO of CEMEX Egypt and UAE. Edited excerpts from our conversation:

My name is Carlos Gonzalez and I'm currently the CEO of CEMEX in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. I’m from Mexico so I was born and raised in a third world country. As a young kid, I dreamed of exploring the world and I’ve been lucky enough to work in seven different countries in different roles ranging from consultant to engineer to managerial positions.

I’m in charge of the company’s business in the UAE and in Egypt. CEMEX is a construction materials company, so we have around eight or nine different businesses, between ready mix aggregates, all aspects of construction, materials and services. Our revenue between the two countries is around EGP 400 mn a year and we employ around 5k people.

I’ve been living in Egypt for the past five years. There are many things that I find beautiful about the country. Believe it or not, I really appreciate the weather here and how we get to experience all four seasons. Egyptian culture and family values are very similar to Mexican culture, which makes me feel at home. Egypt and Mexico are also the only two countries in the world that have pyramids, so that’s something else they have in common.

In my opinion, a CEO has three main roles. They set the strategic intent, monitor performance and allocate resources necessary to reach optimal performance. Continuing to innovate is imperative. We’re doing that by finding new ways of decarbonizing our operations and becoming more profitable in the process. I’m also focused on becoming a better manager and making sure that our teams are growing along with the company.

I usually wake up at 7am and I try to exercise first thing in the morning around three to four times a week. I usually run and do a little bit of cardio and some strength training here and there. I then have a cup of tea and read the news which helps me prepare for my day. I read Enterprise, the Financial Times, the Guardian and a Mexican newspaper called El Norte to keep up with the news back home.

Twitter is the only social media platform I use. I don't think it's as distracting as other platforms that can be too time consuming and addictive. I find it to be informative and I enjoy reading different points of view. I usually head to the office at 9am and begin answering emails and phone calls on my way.

I try to keep the amount of time I spend in meetings in a day to a minimum. I find communicating through WhatsApps and walk-ins more efficient than scheduling formal meetings for everything. I try to look at things from the top and just dive into things that require my attention rather than scheduling meetings for every single topic.

There are two main challenges that the cement industry is facing in Egypt today. The most pressing issue was the oversupply issue. It was really killing the industry and the only way we could’ve gotten through that was through government intervention. I’m very thankful that the government stepped in to make sure that the industry is generating a certain level of profitability and hopefully the industry can get back on its feet.

But on a much bigger scale, decarbonization is the major issue we should be tackling — and not just in the cement industry. As recently as a few years ago, climate change seemed like it was a far-off problem, especially to the western world and we’re all now beginning to face the consequences of putting off addressing the issue.

CEMEX reduced 30% of its emissions in a matter of three years by decreasing its use of fossil fuels and by using a combination of different technologies. The technology was there, we just had to utilize it and invest in it. We have plans to further reduce our emissions in the years ahead.

People constantly ask why a cement company has a football team. CEMEX’s football team has been around since the company was government-owned. There were a couple of years when we didn't have a team but we kept our football academy going. We ended up with really good players, but no team. Some players went on to play for other teams but four years ago we joined the fourth division. We then started to put some money into the team as a marketing investment because it would get the company’s name out there and the team eventually made it to the second division, where we are now. The football story shows the youth that if you work hard you can really succeed, which is consistent with how we operate as a company.

The best piece of advice I received was from my mother. As a kid when things weren’t going my way I’d look for excuses to justify it, but my mom would tell me that I know better and shouldn’t fool myself — that’s always resonated with me. Early on in my career, I was experiencing a lot of setbacks and one of my managers told me when the going gets tough the tough get going and that’s also something that I keep in mind. Good times will come and tough times will come. You just have to be consistent and keep doing it.

A colleague of mine recommended that I watch the movie The Message, which gave me more very interesting background on the beginnings of Islam. It’s also nice that a Mexican actor (Anthony Quinn) stars in the movie. I also recently watched Top Gun: Maverick and really enjoyed that — it’s impressive what Tom Cruise can pull off at 60.


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: Sharm El Sheikh will host the African Sumo Championship.

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.

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: 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.

3 September (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.

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 (Wednesday): Deadline for B Investments to response to Adnoc’s bid for TotalEnergies Egypt.

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: 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.


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.


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: 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.


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.


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

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


6 October (Friday): Armed Forces Day.

Late October-14 November: 3Q2023 earnings season.


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.

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