Wednesday, 26 October 2022

AM — SODIC makes a play for ODE subsidiary

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and welcome to another very busy news day. We’re stuffed to the gills this morning, so we’re going to jump right in.

THE BIG STORY HERE AT HOME this morning: The state’s Egypt Economic Conference wrapped yesterday. Cabinet has a long to-do list that needs both focus and phasing. The gathering looks like it could become an annual thing: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly suggested yesterday that the next iteration could take place in 1H 2023. We have chapter and verse in the news well, below.

ALSO- President Abdel Fattah El Sisi talked all things economy in a talkshow appearance last night just hours after he and the PM spoke at the closing session of the conference.

AND- A Cairo gathering of gas exporting countries put a shot over the European Union’s bow yesterday as ministers slammed the European Union’s bid to put price caps on natural gas.

DRIVING THE AGENDA TODAY-

Egypt and the UAE will host a three-day gathering starting today to mark 50 years of bilateral ties. Today will feature an economic forum with attendees including ministers, senior officials and business leaders from the two countries. We’ve been told to expect that a who’s who of the business community will be on site.

Egyptian + Emirati business leaders kicked events off early yesterday: UAE government-backed investment platform Investopia and the International Finance Corporation hosted a business forum to discuss bilateral investment in the private sector, Emirati state news agency WAM reported.

PSA- Keep your umbrellas at hand: There’s a 50% chance of more light rain in Greater Cairo today, according to the national weather service (though our favorite weather app is only predicting clouds). It should still be relatively warm, with highs of around 27°C and lows of 19°C.

FACT CHECK- Schools aren’t off for the day. The cabinet in a statement denied rumors that the nation’s schools will take the day off due to bad weather.

ALSO- Empowering the South: Green Economies and Climate Resilience takes place at the Greek Campus today. Speakers at the conference include former deputy prime minister Ziad Bahaa El Din, Egypt climate czar Mahmoud Mohieldin, and International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat. You can register for the event here.


There’s no one BIG STORY ABROAD leading the front pages of the international business press this morning:

  • Dems losing control? With two weeks to go until the midterm elections, Reuters and the New York Times say polling data has US President Joe Biden’s Democrats scared they could lose control of both the House and the Senate.
  • Nadir in US-Saudi relations: Davos in the Desert has captured the interest of the global business press, with the New York Times offering more on how US-Saudi relations became so strained in recent months, Saudi’s energy minister criticizing the US’s bid to tamp down oil prices and the suggestion in the Grey Lady that Biden’s spat with KSA could threaten Dems in the midterms. The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, is claiming that things have gotten very personal between Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.
  • A bad day in the offing for US tech stocks? Shares of Google (-7%) and Microsoft (also -7%) were down in after-hours trading as traders digested 3Q earnings from the tech giants (Google | Microsoft).

COUNTDOWN TO COP27 (11 days to go)-

Egypt wants Sunak to honor the UK’s climate pledges despite economic turbulence: Egypt’s top climate diplomat has urged newly-elected British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to stick to the country’s climate pledges despite an incoming recession. “We know that there are challenges, economic challenges that are there, facing the UK and other countries, but we hope that those challenges do not lead to backsliding on the pledges,” Ambassador Mohamed Nasr reportedly told Sky News.

Still banging the green finance drum: Nasr said developed nations don’t have a lack of funds to address climate change, but that the challenge is finding the “political will and the commitment” to deliver on climate finance pledges.

AND- Could King Charles make an appearance after all? Egypt is still hoping that the British monarch, who has long campaigned for environmental causes, could show up in Sharm El Sheikh, Nasr is quoted as saying. King Charles had reportedly been advised by former PM Liz Truss not to attend the summit.

MEANWHILE- A showdown over climate finance is brewing in the run-up to Sharm El Sheikh: Nasr isn’t the only one calling on developed countries to step up on climate finance to less wealthy nations — or risk jeopardizing the credibility of the entire COP process. Enterprise Climate has the full story this morning.

MARKET WATCH-

The world is in its “first truly global energy crisis” — and that could turbocharge the switch to renewables, International Energy Agency (IEA) chief Fatih Birol said yesterday. OPEC’s decision to cut 2 mn barrels of oil supply per day is “risky” given pressures on the energy markets, but the upshot is that new renewables capacity is growing faster than expected, Reuters quotes Birol as saying. Enterprise Climate has more.

Europe looks to have averted a winter gas crisis (for now): A mild October and successful bidding for extra LNG cargoes by European governments mean gas stockpiles are almost full and prices have fallen to less than a third of their summer peak, Bloomberg reports.

It’s not over till the thermostats go on: Much still depends on how harsh the European winter will be once it begins in earnest, and how geopolitical energy tensions play out. February gas futures are trading at a 44% premium to November, meaning the markets expect supply snarls to persist.

MORNING MUST READ-

One crypto article to rule them all: Bloomberg’s brilliant finance columnist Matt Levine has written 40k words for the business information service, breaking down everything you’ll ever need to know about digital currencies.

Among the good crypto questions Levine poses, and tries to answer: “What is this for? Where did all this money come from? If you’re building the future, what is the actual work you’re doing? If you’re building the future, why does it seem so grim and awful?”

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

An IMF delegation will land in Cairo in the first week of November to continue loan talks, Jihad Azour, the IMF’s director for the Middle East and Central Asia, said earlier this week.

Law firms Matouk Bassiouny and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer will hold a webinar on 2 November that will spotlight COP27’s potential impact on businesses globally. Register for the webinar here.

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


CORRECTION- We incorrectly reported yesterday that the purchase of a 4.7% stake in EIPICO was the Public Investment Fund’s first acquisition in Egypt's pharma sector. The wealth fund had previously accumulated a stake in Rameda Pharma that now stands at 11%. The story has since been updated on our website. H/t Kareem G.

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*** It’s Hardhat day — your weekly briefing of all things infrastructure in Egypt: Enterprise’s industry vertical focuses each Wednesday on infrastructure, covering everything from energy, water, transportation, and urban development, as well as social infrastructure such as health and education.

In today’s issue: Could our new capital be ready to host the 2036 Olympics?

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2CELLOS — LIVE AT SOMABAY on 18 November, 2022: Mark your calendars — world-renowned and wildly popular cellist duo, 2CELLOS will be performing at Somabay on 18 November, 2022. Having racked up a bn-plus audio streams, countless sold-out concerts, and mns of fans across the globe in their 10 years together as 2CELLOS, the Croatian duo of Luka Šulić and HAUSER will be visiting Egypt in their long-awaited 2022 Dedicated World Tour. Book your ticket now: https://www.ticketsmarche.com/tickets/buy-tickets-2-cellos.html. Call us 16390.

M&A WATCH

SODIC offers to buy O West developer ORE for EGP 2.46 bn

SODIC is making a bid to acquire Orascom for Real Estate (ORE). The upmarket real estate developer has submitted a preliminary, non-binding offer to acquire 100% of the Orascom Development Egypt (ODE) subsidiary, the companies said in separate exchange filings (here, pdf | here, pdf) yesterday.

SODIC is feeling very acquisitive under new ownership: An Emirati consortium of real estate giant Aldar Properties and Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ acquired 85.5% of SODIC for EGP 6.1 bn last year — and it’s pushing for aggressive growth in a market it sees laden with potential. Aldar said last year after the SODIC acquisition that it was mulling several additional investments in the Egyptian real estate market. The company recently offered to acquire 100% of MNHD in a transaction valuing the company at some EGP 6.2 bn in July, a bid that MNHD shareholders said was too low. SODIC then dropped its bid for MNHD.

The valuation: SODIC’s offer values ORE ⁠— which owns the 4.2 mn sqm O West development ⁠— at almost EGP 2.5 bn (USD 124.9 mn). That’s equal to more than a third of ODE’s nearly EGP 6.4 bn market cap.

Due diligence is underway: ODE given SODIC the green light to do due diligence, it said, paving the way for talks on the transaction to begin. ODE is actively considering the offer, a source familiar with the transaction told Enterprise yesterday, declining to comment further.

Market reax: ODE shares gained 5.3% during trading yesterday to close at EGP 5.99.

O West is a serious money-maker for ODE: Revenues from the O West development in West Cairo accounted for a fifth of ODE’s top line in 2021. It was the second-most lucrative location after El Gouna, according to company figures (pdf).

Who owns what: ODE owns a 70% majority stake in ORE, while founder Samih Sawiris owns the balance, according to the company’s shareholder structure (pdf).

ADVISORS: CI Capital is sole financial advisor on the buy side and Zulficar & Partners are buy-side legal counsel. EFG Hermes have the mandate as sole sell-side financial advisor.

The story got attention internationally: Reuters.

EIPICO IS GETTING BORED WAITING FOR UP PHARMA-

The board of Egyptian International Pharma Industries Company (EIPICO) could abandon its bid to acquire Upper Egypt Pharma (UP Pharma) after months of waiting on the company to allow it to conduct due diligence, EIPICO said in an EGX disclosure (pdf) yesterday.

Refresher: EIPICO’s board had approved the start of procedures to potentially acquire 99.9% of UP Pharma in late May. Both firms are owned by the Arab Company for Drug Industries and Medical Appliances (ACDIMA). The transaction would see EIPICO snag ACDIMA’s stake in UP Pharma to bring its sibling firm under its umbrella.

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ECONOMY

Cabinet’s to-do list is long after the wrap of the Egypt Economic Conference

The Egypt Economic Conference wrapped yesterday with closing speeches from President Abdel Fattah El Sisi (watch, runtime: 1:59:16) and Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly (watch, runtime: 11:43), both of whom laid out what they see as next steps for the state’s role in the economy, manufacturing and other policy areas after three days’ worth of public talks.

What the government says it wants: To boost private-sector involvement in the economy, strengthen local industry, and grow exports. May we humbly point to our five-step plan that puts export-led growth and FDI at the heart of a new Egyptian economy?

Stay tuned for Egypt Economic Conference 2023: The government wants to hold the conference on an annual basis, with the next edition set to take place sometime in 1H2023, Madbouly said during his closing speech. The next edition will follow up on the measures agreed on during this year’s edition to boost the economy. It will also act as a platform to drum up investment in various sectors from international companies, he said.

ON INDUSTRY-

The Trade and Industry Ministry will focus on no more than seven priority sectors, for which it will put in place a package of incentives to help manufacturers localize these industries and increase exports, Trade and Industry Minister Ahmed Samir said during a session on industry (watch, runtime: 18:22).

The industries the ministry likes: chemicals, engineering, textiles, building materials, food and agriculture, meds, and furniture.

The incentives include a 55% tax cut on income generated by projects in the sectors, to be rebated within 45 days of the tax return submission date. This is likely the same tax cut that cabinet proposed earlier this week, which would see companies that use hard currency to fund at least half of the investment cost of industrial projects in Egypt receive a 55% rebate.

Some 56% of our imports are production inputs, Samir said, adding that “we need a strong industry that can overcome any external shocks, which is doubtful in light of the amount of production inputs we import.”

More export subsidies: The Finance Ministry will soon open the door to another phase of the export subsidy program, through which it plans to pay out some EGP 5.5 bn in subsidies to exporters, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said during the session. The ministry has so far paid out some EGP 4.4 bn in export subsidies throughout the four phases of the program, which allows exporters to receive overdue subsidies in a single payment rather than in installments over four to five years, in return for a 15% haircut.

FinMin is also working on shortening the time it takes to pay out subsidies to just a month from receiving documents from exporters, Maait added.

More digitization: The Trade and Industry Ministry will soon sign an agreement with EGX-listed e-payments player e-Finance to establish an online platform and database for all industries to access governmental services, Samir said during the session.

ON PRIVATIZATION-

No state ownership policy document yet: The state ownership policy document will be finalized within weeks and sent to the cabinet to be reviewed for final approval, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said during the final day of the Egypt Economic Conference 2022. The document, which was being discussed on the second day of the conference, was supposed to be unveiled during the gathering, after policymakers amended the original in response to feedback they received from the private sector during public consultations.

Refresher: The state ownership policy document details the government’s plan 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 document outlines the industries which the government plans to open up to private companies and the ringfenced strategic sectors that will continue to see heavy state involvement.

ON THE STATE IPO PROGRAM-

Cabinet ❤️EGX: “The priority exit strategy for the state privatization program moving forward will be towards IPOs on the EGX,” Madbouly said during his speech, without disclosing further details. This came in response to suggestions from several MPs and business leaders to make room for the public to purchase stakes in state-owned enterprises, rather than selling the stakes to foreign investors.

But, but, but… Reflexive nationalism is … not smart. There is absolutely nothing wrong with derisking a sale (and perhaps upping the competitive metabolism of a company) by selling a large stake to a strategic investor — ahead of a future offering of a smaller (say, 20%) take in an IPO that would be open to both domestic and international investors. Foreign capital brings global expertise; policymakers need to stick to their metaphorical guns when MPs’ inner economic Nasserists awake.

Refresher: The government said at the beginning of the year that it wanted to pull the trigger on 10 primary and secondary listings by state companies this year, only for the plans to be derailed by the global and domestic fallout (in the economy and in markets) from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) boss Ayman Soliman has since said that stake sales are likely the order of the day for the state’s privatization program in the foreseeable future due thanks to volatility in global equity markets. More recently, the SFE has set up a pre-IPO fund aimed at selling strategic stakes in state-owned enterprises ahead of listing on the EGX once markets stabilize.

State-owned and military-owned companies are ready for privatization, El Sisi said yesterday (watch, runtime: 1:57), likening them to an “inheritance we must preserve” and talking down the notion that there would be layoffs as companies are sold (in whole or in part) to the private sector.

High on the privatization priority list: hospitals and ports. The Madbouly government is ready to offer public hospitals to the private sector with the aim of improving health services, El Sisi said, according to CNBC Arabia. The government last month said it wants to attract private sector investment to state-owned Heliopolis Hospital under a wider plan to open up the healthcare sector to private-sector players. The state is also looking to privatize port operations, El Sisi said. CNBC reports Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir as saying our ports have gotten attention from Emirati, Germani, Qatari and Chinese companies.

MONETARY POLICY-

New inflation target coming: The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) will announce a new inflation target before the end of the year, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said, recapping remarks from earlier in the conference by CBE Governor Hassan Abdalla, who plans to roll out a new inflation policy by the end of the year. Inflation in September hit a fresh four-year high of 15.0% y-o-y, more than double the central bank’s current target of 7% (±2%) in 4Q 2022. The bank has repeatedly said that it will “temporarily tolerate” inflation above its target as it continues to assess the impact of the 300 bps worth of hikes made earlier this year.

SOCIAL SECURITY-

The government is working on a new package of social support measures set to come into effect starting next month, Madbouly said, without disclosing further details. This comes shortly after the government expanded the social safety net to include 1 mn more families, and upped ration card holders’ allowance in a bid to alleviate the pressures of inflation and the economic crisis on vulnerable families.

GREEN HYDROGEN

Egypt expects the cost of its green hydrogen production to be at USD 2.68 per kilogram in 2025, Electricity and Renewable Energy Minister Mohamed Shaker said. Shaker sees costs falling to USD 1.70 per kilogram by 2050, adding that Egypt is looking lock supply about 8% of global green hydrogen demand, bringing in up to USD 18 bn of revenues to the country.

BACKGROUND- Egypt plans to unveil its national hydrogen strategy at COP27 and has some USD 64 bn worth of green hydrogen projects in the pipeline and the government plans to unveil its national hydrogen strategy at COP27.

The caveat(s): What we’re seeing now in the global green hydrogen / ammonium markets is akin to the Klondike or California gold rushes of the late nineteenth century. Global players (real and in their own minds) are flitting from country to country, inking MoUs and letters of intent to build new plants. Most companies have inked more MoUs than they have production capacity. None of them have put together finance packages. And the Biden administration (smartly) drilled a hole in every emerging market’s boat with production tax credits of up to USD 3 per kg, making it far and away the most attractive market for would-be producers.

CABINET’S POST-CONFERENCE TO-DO LIST-

The Madbouly government is walking out of the conference with over 200 recommendations, National Dialogue General Coordinator Diaa Rashwan said last night (watch, runtime: 13:33). Rashwan laid out some of the most prominent outcomes of the conference — the result of the many sessions that took place over the three-day period between government officials, experts and private sector players:

  • Concluding our IMF agreement promptly;
  • Becoming more open to a flexible exchange rate that reflects supply and demand as a tool to absorb external shocks;
  • Launching new currency hedges to allow investors to hedge against the risk of further currency depreciation;
  • Formulating a new (trade-weighted?) benchmark for the value of the EGP against foreign currencies;
  • Fleshing out and making public the state ownership policy;
  • Transferring a number of state-owned companies to the Sovereign Fund of Egypt;
  • Working to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio and deliver a primary surplus.

ENERGY

Cairo-hosted gas forum “concerned” about Europe’s price cap + a whole lot of regional energy diplomacy

Egypt was at the center of a big day for energy diplomacy in the region yesterday: Members of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) used their annual meeting in Cairo yesterday to express their concern over European attempts to cap gas prices. We also got updates on:

  • Egyptian-Palestinian efforts to tap Gazan gas resources;
  • the Oil Ministry forging closer ties on energy with new best friend Qatar;
  • and an agreement to cooperate on oil and gas projects between us and Algeria.

GAS PRODUCERS DON’T LOVE PRICE CAPS-

Ministers from gas-producing countries voiced “great concern” over Europe’s bids to impose “politically-driven price caps” on natural gas. The EU is edging closer to agreeing to cap gas prices in response to the energy shock — and G7 nations are planning to impose a price cap on Russian oil in response to its invasion of Ukraine. But the forum — which counts Russia, Qatar and Egypt among its members — warned against the moves following a ministerial meeting yesterday. “Such artificial intervention in market functioning can only aggravate market tightness, discourage investment, and be detrimental to producers and consumers alike,” the forum said in a joint communique (pdf) following the talks in Cairo yesterday.

CLOSING IN ON GAZA MARINE-

Gaza Marine gas field agreement on the horizon: Egypt’s state-owned EGAS and the Palestine Investment Fund are expected to sign an agreement to develop the Gaza Marine field during 1Q 2023, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla told Bloomberg Asharq yesterday on the sidelines of the forum (watch, runtime: 2:09).

Everyone is in agreement on a general framework, El Molla is cited as telling Reuters. Talks have reportedly involved Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) officials, as well as Hamas representatives. Only final technicalities and approvals from the PA still need to be secured, Reuters quotes an unnamed Palestinian official as saying.

More gas for our export hub ambitions: After EGAS extracts the gas, it will be brought to Egypt and liquefied either for re-export or local use, El Molla told Asharq, adding that a financial agreement with Palestinian authorities has not yet been finalized.

Background: EGAS signed an MoU on the project with the Palestine Investment Fund last year. Gas extraction is expected to begin within three years of signing the final agreement. The field, located 22 nautical miles off the coast of the Gaza Strip, contains an estimated stock of 1 tn cubic feet of gas, which could be pumped for 10 to 12 years.

MAKING ENERGY FRIENDS WITH QATAR + ALGERIA-

Egypt + Qatar talk gas cooperation: El Molla and his Qatari counterpart Saad Al Kaabi talked about joint investment in oil and gas on the sidelines of the forum. Readouts from the Egyptian and Qatari sides provided few details on the talks.

Signs are that Qatar is becoming an ever-closer friend: The country is also eyeing investment in our ports and in local listed firms, after earlier this year pledging to invest as much as USD 5 bn in Egyptian companies as part of wider Gulf efforts to shore up our economy and provide us with vital FX.

Egypt and Algeria inked an MoU on oil and gas cooperation, according to a statement that will see the two countries cooperate on marketing, research, exploration, and production. They will also consider setting up a joint company which would manage oil and gas projects and eventually expand its activities across Africa. The two also agreed to cooperate on converting cars to run on natural gas, and to exchange expertise on their national hydrogen strategies.

ELSEWHERE IN REGIONAL GAS DIPLOMACY-

A maritime border agreement between Israel and Lebanon will be inked on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said earlier this week, Reuters reports. The US-mediated agreement represents a serious compromise between the two historically unfriendly neighbors, and is expected to pave the way for offshore gas exploration in the area.

LEGISLATION WATCH

It’s a mixed bag in the House: Green financing + gun licensing + ID cards

MPs approve fresh green finance: The House of Representatives approved a draft presidential decree for a EUR 83 mn loan from the Africa Development Bank (AFDB) to finance the second phase of the Electricity and Green Growth Support Program (pdf), Youm7 reports. The second phase aims to support the government on electricity tariffs, a new procurement framework for the electricity sector, and new units in several government ministries dedicated to improving energy efficiency. The first EUR 225 mn phase was concluded at the end of June 2021.

More green financing: The House approved another draft presidential decree for a EUR 1.5 mn grant agreement in a bid to support Egypt’s climate finance strategy and promote the low carbon transition. The grant comes as part of the Green Climate Fund’s Transforming Financial Systems for Climate (TFSC) project, funded by the French Development Agency (AFD), the news outlet reports.

Getting a license to buy and sell guns could become harder: MPs gave preliminary approval to two draft bills that will make it harder for people to obtain gun licenses, according to Youm7. This comes in response to the spread of videos on social media with violent content featuring the use of unlicensed guns.

Expect ID cards to be issued at 15 years old: The House gave an initial nod to a draft amendment to the Civil Status Law that would require citizens to get their national ID cards at 15 years old instead of 16 years old, Al Mal reports.

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LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi took to the airwaves last night to talk all things economy, speaking just hours after he and Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly wrapped up a three-day economic conference. El Sisi spoke with Al Tasea’s Youssef El Husseiny (watch, runtime: 1:18:39). Here are the key takeaways from El Sisi’s interview:

On the new administrative capital: The new capital has generated EGP 2 tn in revenues so far — and only some 40k feddans of the capital’s 175k feddans have so far been developed, El Sisi said. The new capital could bring in some EGP 7.5 tn if land was sold at EGP 10k per sqm, he added. (Watch, runtime: 2:30)

We shouldn’t use the EGP-USD exchange rate as a measure of the health of our economy, the president said. The USD is soaring on the back of monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve, affecting many global currencies, El Sisi said, noting that what is important is being able to create a surplus in the trade balance. (Watch, runtime: 3:17)

We need to reduce imports and up exports — but the task is not an easy one, El Sisi said. He said the Ebdaa initiative is working to encourage the local production of commonly imported production inputs, but noted that new factories take years to set up and begin employing workers. (Watch, runtime: 2:10)

We have a major funding problem in education: The education sector needs EGP 250 bn to be brought up to scratch — not even half of which is available, El Sisi said. We need 60k new classrooms every year, which alone would cost EGP 60 bn, he added. (Watch, runtime: 1:35)

The talking heads spent their night dissecting El Sisi’s two-hour closing speech at the conference. El Sisi used the speech to pledge more social protection measures and emphasize the state’s plan to open up more sectors to the private sector.

Below EGP 10k a month isn’t a livable wage, President El Sisi said. “Salaries are unacceptable … and less than EGP 10k for any working man is unlivable,” he said during his closing speech yesterday (watch, runtime: 3:37).

EGX revival? The state offering its companies on the EGX will help encourage other privately-held companies to make their EGX debuts and in turn revive the market, FRA chief Mohamed Farid told Hadret Al Mowaten (watch, runtime: 12:32).

More private sector love: The private sector is the main source of the state’s revenues and the factor that can help solve the employment issue, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told Yahdoth Fi Masr (watch, runtime: 8:36).

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

The calm before the COP: The foreign press doesn’t have much to say about Egypt this morning.

Mubarak family attorney Farid El Deeb died yesterday after a battle with cancer, the National reports.

Art industry trade media is still looking at Egypt, with Artnet writing that as the GEM prepares to open and “star-powered installations are arriving in Egypt … its art scene remains desperate and disenfranchised.”

Prosecutors have detained a number of people accused of stealing 59 artifacts from Sohag University’s archeological museum, also according to the National, while US media have zeroed in on a suspicious fruit ship laden with some 1.7k smuggled artifacts that were about to be spirited out of Egypt.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Another electric train project + Swvl says anticipated turn to black will save it from Nasdaq delisting

PPP electric train to connect ports: The National Authority for Tunnels, El Didi Group and Gama Construction signed an MoU for an electric train project under a public-private partnership framework at the state’s economic conference, cabinet said on Monday. The agreement will see the establishment of a joint venture to build, operate, maintain, and manage a 250 km cargo-and-passengers railway project connecting key ports in the country. We have the full story in this morning’s Enterprise Climate.

Swvl is confident it can turn things around and avoid delisting from Nasdaq: The Cairo-born ride-hailing startup is positive it will turn profitable next year, Bloomberg Asharq quotes CEO Mostafa Kandil as saying. Getting the company’s balance sheet in the black will reassure investors and have a positive impact on the company’s share price, helping it to avoid a threatened delisting on the Nasdaq, Kandil suggested, adding that Swvl is already turning a profit in 70% of its operating markets.

REFRESHER- Swvl had previously planned to turn to the black by 2024, but has moved up its timeline to next year as it looks to ride out global headwinds. The ride-hailing startup has consistently traded below USD 1.00 per share since 20 September. According to Nasdaq delisting rules, the index sends a deficiency notice to any company whose share price remains below USD 1.00 for 30 consecutive business days. The listed firm then has 180 calendar days to get its share price back up or face delisting. By our count, Swvl is set to receive a deficiency notice next Monday, 31 October.

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

  • EFG Hermes has become the first financial institution in Egypt to be granted ISO 31000:2018 Enterprise Risk Management certification by the British Standards Institution. (Statement, pdf)
  • Ten people were killed and at least 9 injured when a truck and a minibus collided in Dakahlia. (Youm7 | Associated Press)

PLANET FINANCE

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Wall Street bankers reiterated their warnings about the global economy at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh yesterday, Reuters reports. Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said the Fed may have to raise interest rates beyond 4.5-4.75% if consumer demand and the labor market holds. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, meanwhile, said that the current geopolitical climate — including war in Ukraine and rising tensions between the US and China — is a greater cause for concern than a potential US recession.

Saudi Arabia’s IPO pipeline is nowhere near empty, Tadawul boss Mohammed Al-Rumaih told Bloomberg on the sidelines of Davos in the Desert. “There are 18 approvals that will “materialize within the next three months” and more than 70 listing applications that are being reviewed by the bourse and the market regulator,” the business information service reports.

ALSO WORTH NOTING-

  • A major Meta investor just gave Zuckerberg a warning: Investment firm Altimeter Capital has urged Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reduce staff, cut costs, and scale down his plans for the metaverse in response to a sharp decline in the company’s share price, signaling growing shareholder dissatisfaction. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) has closed a USD 389 mn Samurai loan facility as part of efforts to diversify funding. (Statement)

Up

EGX30

10,475

+1.5% (YTD: -12.3%)

Up

USD (CBE)

Buy 19.64

Sell 19.75

Up

USD at CIB

Buy 19.67

Sell 19.73

None

Interest rates CBE

11.25% deposit

12.25% lending

Down

Tadawul

11,974

-0.8% (YTD: +6.1%)

Down

ADX

10,060

-0.1% (YTD: +18.5%)

None

DFM

3,377

0.0% (YTD: +5.7%)

Up

S&P 500

3,859

+1.6% (YTD: -19.0%)

Down

FTSE 100

7,013

-0.0% (YTD: -5.0%)

Up

Euro Stoxx 50

3,586

+1.6% (YTD: -16.6%)

Down

Brent crude

USD 92.74

-0.8%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 5.71

+1.7%

Down

Gold

USD 1,657.10

-0.1%

Up

BTC

USD 20,101

+4.1% (YTD: -56.6%)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 1.5% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 992.5 mn (2.8% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net sellers. The index is down 12.34% YTD.

In the green: Orascom Construction (+5.6%), CIB (+5.1%) and Madinet Nasr for Housing and Development (+4.2%).

In the red: e-Finance (-2.1%), Alexandria Containers and Cargo Handling (-1.3%) and Eastern Company (-1.3%).

Asian markets are up in early trading this morning, while futures suggest European and US indices are set to open in the red later on today after some of the world’s biggest tech firms yesterday reported disappointing earnings results.

hardhat

Egypt could be vying for a bid to host the Olympics in 2036 — how prepared are we? Hosting the Olympic games is a notoriously costly endeavor that fewer countries have been willing to bid for in recent years. Residents in host cities fear the strain of a huge influx of visitors and infrastructure works on public services and budgets — even with the frequently touted upside of increased tourism revenues. Yet, some countries have continued to bid to host the games anyway. Among them is Egypt, which last month announced it is preparing to join a bid to host the 2036 Summer Olympics in the new administrative capital, where an Olympic city is expected to be built by the end of 2022. So what does it take to host the Olympics and just how feasible is that goal for Egypt?

There’s a lot that goes into it: For a city to qualify for hosting the summer Olympic games, it needs to have constructed an Olympic village capable of housing, feeding and providing medical care to some 11k-16k athletes and their trainers, according to a contractual framework (pdf) from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Other requirements include a media village for international press personnel, a media center to broadcast the competition, 40 unique venues to host the 300 sporting events, and ceremonial and green spaces. That’s not to mention at least 40k hotels for spectators to lodge.

It’s more than just building out stadiums: Having the appropriate road and transit infrastructure to facilitate the movement of athletes, spectators, and Olympic staff is a crucial component of the games. Ensuring the security of all these people also requires a significant amount of logistical coordination and constitutes a significant portion of the games’ bill — which has “risen 6 fold since the 1990s and now generally exceeds USD 1.5 bn,” economic researchers Victor Matheson and Andrew Zimbalist write in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs.

Some facilities are already up and running at the NAC, but there’s a lot more to go before 2036: The government has already constructed portions of a 31.4k sqm sports complex in the NAC that is expected to contain a 7k spectator indoor stadium, Olympic-grade swimming pools, squash courts and tennis courts — all at an estimated cost of some EGP 2 bn. There’s also a massive 90k spectator stadium in the works, which is slated to become one of the new capital’s official Olympic stadiums, as well as a 15k-seat indoor stadium, a combat sports arena and a 3 km track. We don’t yet know the timeline for building out the remaining facilities but President Abdel Fattah El Sisi earlier this year ordered the “swift” construction of the International Olympic Village.

Road infrastructure works across the country have been in high gear over the past few years: Road and transit infrastructure are often an integral part of hosting requirements set by the IOC. Egypt has been implementing a massive road and transport infrastructure program over the past several years, with transport and railways getting EGP 247 bn in budget allocations in FY 2021-FY 2022 alone.

We might be coming up on new sustainability requirements by the time 2036 rolls in: The IOC has since 2020 announced that it will be ensuring all Olympic games after 2030 become “climate positive.” This means that operational requirements for hosts could soon be adjusted to incorporate stricter environmental regulations on the games like “zero-carbon solutions,” and emissions compensation schemes.

And maybe even high-speed internet requirements, too: The Pyeongchang Winter Games in 2018 saw 5G networks being rolled out for the first time to major audiences. Last year in Tokyo, the games were reportedly supported entirely by 5G networks and in several events, robots. The IOC hasn’t yet explicitly made 5G connectivity a host requirement, but could do so in the lead up to 2036.

All of this costs a pretty penny to put together: The 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo cost some USD 12.7 bn, doubling its initial projections in 2013. Japan’s national auditor puts that figure even higher at north of USD 20 bn, some USD 3 bn of which was due to its covid-caused postponement. Olympic games cost overruns are an average of about 172%, researchers found. At its worst, it can run way higher: The cost of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, which came to some USD 13 bn, outpaced projected budgets by some 352%. A separate 2016 study found that the five games preceding Rio de Janeiro exceeded USD 10 bn. The Beijing Olympics was even more expensive, setting China back over USD 45 bn to put together, with the IOC only chipping in USD 1.3 bn.

And the remaining facilities are costly to maintain and often neglected: With 35 sports to accommodate, many cities need to build out “very, very specific sports infrastructure” that they “don’t have much use for” once the games are over, Matheson told Vox. Only some 15 of the 27 venues specifically built to host the Rio games remained in use a year later. This is also a problem because they’re often really expensive to maintain.

It's hard to say just how much it would cost us to host: Given that Egypt’s bid for the 2036 games is geared for the yet-to-be completed new administrative capital, it's hard to separate how much the infrastructure supporting the Olympic games would cost from the total price tag on the capital — which is about USD 45 bn.

The revenues and long-term benefits don’t exactly make up for it: The Rio games generated just USD 9 bn in revenues for Brazil — 70% of which the IOC pocketed. The games can trigger a brief boon to employment in the host city, but that impact is often short-lived and well below official projections, according to a 2016 report (pdf). The only city to ever come out in the black after hosting the games was Los Angeles in 1984, which saw a USD 215 mn surplus.

The larger effect on tourism is mixed, though: Barcelona, Sydney and Vancouver were the only locations that saw a tourism boost after hosting the games. Some observers argue that the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 marked a turning point for the city where better roads, more green spaces and public beaches — which became more widely accessible in preparation for the games — helped drive tourism numbers in subsequent years. While these figures are in fact correlated -– tourism in Barcelona multiplied from 1.7 mn visitors in 1992 to 7.4 mn in 2011 — it's not entirely clear that there’s a causal link solely attributable to the games, a University College London study (pdf) shows. London, Beijing, and Salt Lake City actually saw tourism figures plummet after the games had commenced in their cities.


Your top infrastructure stories for the week:

  • The country’s first black sand plant, built by Hassan Allam Construction, was inaugurated in Kafr El Sheikh.
  • The House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to a draft bill allowing the River Transport Authority to increase private sector participation in the country’s inland waterways.
  • Hassan Allam was awarded a contract to construct an irrigation water transmission line in the new administrative capital.
  • Orascom Construction secured new projects worth USD 670 mn in 3Q 2022.
  • Schneider Electric inaugurated three automated power distribution control centers in Greater Cairo worth nearly EGP 1.8 bn.

CALENDAR

OCTOBER

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

26 October (Wednesday): Empowering the South: Green Economies and Climate Resilience conference, the Greek Campus, Cairo, Egypt.

26-28 October (Wednesday-Friday): Egypt celebrates 50 years of ties with the UAE.

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

30 October-1 November (Sunday-Tuesday): Egypt Energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center (EIEC), New Cairo.

Late October-14 November: 3Q2022 earnings season.

Late October: First Abu Dhabi Bank to complete full integration with Bank Audi’s Egyptian operations after merger.

NOVEMBER

First week of November: IMF delegation to visit Egypt for negotiations on loan agreement.

1-2 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

1-2 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Arab League annual summit, Algiers, Algeria.

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.

5-8 November (Sunday-Tuesday): Techne Summit for Investment and Entrepreneurship, Alexandria, Egypt

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

7 November (Monday): Middle East Green Initiative, Sharm El Sheikh.

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

9 November (Wednesday): Finance Ministry to host “Finance Day” at COP27.

11-12 November (Friday-Saturday): Saudi Green Initiative, Sharm El Sheikh.

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

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

27 – 28 November (Thursday-Friday): The first edition of the Egypt Media Forum.

27-30 November (Sunday-Wednesday): Cairo ICT, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo.

DECEMBER

3 December (Saturday): Dior Men’s pre-fall collection show in Giza.

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: Egyptian Automotive Summit.

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): Use of Nafeza becomes compulsory for air freight.

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.

24 January-6 February: The 54th Cairo International Book Fair, Egypt International Exhibition Center

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

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

30 January-1 February (Monday-Wednesday): CI Capital’s Annual MENA Investor Conference 2023, Cairo, Egypt.

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.

23-27 February (Thursday-Monday): The eighth annual Business Women of Egypt’s Women for Success conference.

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

19-21 June (Monday-Wednesday) Egypt Infrastructure and Water Expo debuts at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.

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.

4Q 2022: Electricity Ministry to tender six solar projects in Aswan Governorate.

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

4Q 2022: Saudi Jamjoom Pharma to inaugurate its EGP 1 bn pharma factory in El Obour.

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.

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