Wednesday, 23 November 2022

AM — KSA notches historic win at World Cup

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, friends, and congratulations once again to all our friends and family in Saudi after the Green Falcons’ stunning upset of Argentina at the World Cup yesterday. Unlike us here in Egypt, folks in KSA get too few official days off, so we hope all of you over there are enjoying your impromptu national holiday. (More on the game below.)

(And no, Resident 15 Year Old, being one-quarter Saudi doesn’t give you the right to claim the holiday given you live and go to school in Cairo…)

It’s a pleasantly quiet morning on the news from, with the big stories of the day including Hisham Ezz Al Arab’s return to CIB as a non-executive board member. Meanwhile, the meltdown on Planet Startup continues as Swvl has reportedly fired a large number of staff. That meltdown isn’t stopping some folks from deploying capital, particularly if they’re backed by DFIs or other international agencies. The latest is Modus Capital, which has launched a venture builder with backing from USAID.

WATCH THIS SPACE #1- The IMF executive board’s public calendar now shows its first scheduled meetings for early December, and we’re not yet on the list. The board will meet next month to sign off on our USD 3 bn package after we reached a staff-level agreement in October. The cabinet economic group met yesterday to discuss unspecified issues related to the facility, spokesman Nader Saad said in a statement that also emphasized ministers were keeping a watchful eye on the nation’s FX position. Short-term priorities include promoting tourism in general and medical tourism in particular, the statement suggested.

PSA- The calm before the hammer comes down: The 24 companies that have failed to file their 3Q financial statements on time will have until 7 December to get them in, the EGX said in a notice (pdf) out yesterday.


enterprise

The Enterprise Climate X Forum is fast approaching, and we’re incredibly excited to meet with some of you in Cairo at the Grand Egyptian Museum on Tuesday, 6 December 2022. We get underway with a networking breakfast at 8am CLT.

What’s on the table? CEOs, execs, bankers and development finance folks will mull over a variety of topics, including:

  • What’s this green hydrogen mumbo-jumbo you speak of?
  • How are leaders building green businesses — from scratch, or as retrofits to decades-old family enterprises?
  • How do we pay for it all?
  • What do you really think of the green economy?

With that in mind, we’ll be dropping little notices in stories and topics we intend to explore more of at the forum. Study up if you’re coming.

Some of the biggest names in business and finance are on board — are you? If you’re a C-suite exec, business owner, climate professional, DFI staff, investor or banker, please email us at climatexrsvp@enterprisemea.com to signal your interest, letting us know your name, title and where you work. You can learn more on our conference website here.

*** YOU MUST REGISTER TO ATTEND by clicking the link on your registration email. Attendance is by invitation only. You’ll need a special QR code to gain access to the GEM on event day.

HAPPENING TODAY-

It’s day four of the World Cup: Teams in groups F and E play their openers today (all times CLT):

  • Morocco v Croatia (12pm)
  • Germany v Japan (3pm)
  • Spain v Costa Rica (6pm)
  • Belgium v Canada (9pm)

There’s only one story coming out of Doha that needs your attention this morning: Saudi Arabia delivered one of the all-time great World Cup upsets, beating Argentina 2-1 and putting Lionel Messi’s final chance at getting his hands on the trophy in jeopardy after just 90 minutes of football. If it wasn’t for Saudi’s offside trap working like a charm, the underdogs could have been 4-0 down by halftime, with the linesman chalking off three goals after Messi netted an early penalty. But two goals inside five minutes early in the second half gave the Green Falcons a shock lead, and after 40 minutes of dogged defending, they claimed a famous win against one of the (former?) favorites to win the tournament.

Elsewhere:

  • An afternoon snooze fest: Tunisia v Denmark and Mexico v Poland played out two goalless draws;
  • No Benzema, no problem: France recovered after going behind against Australia to win 4-1.

HAPPENING NEXT WEEK- We’re finally getting a commodity exchange: The Egyptian Mercantile Exchange (EMX) — FKA the Egycomex — will go live on Sunday, the Supply Ministry said in a statement yesterday. Traders will be able to buy and sell wheat from next week, according to the ministry, which plans to make more commodities tradable on the exchange in the coming months. GASC will offer imported wheat from its stock for sale to private mills through the exchange twice a week, the ministry said.

FYI- This is a spot market, meaning traders will only be able to buy and sell commodities at the current market price, rather than hedge and speculate based on future prices.

But futures are coming: The EGX intends to launch futures trading on the exchange by the middle of 2023, according to a senior source at the bourse, who told us recently that it’s working on setting up a clearing house and deciding on tech.

Why now? The decision to launch the EMX comes as part of the ministry’s efforts “to stabilize prices … and contribute in meeting imported wheat needs of private mill companies” to ensure price stability in the local market, the statement said.

Four years in the making: The commodities exchange has been in the works since 2018 and is expected to eventually allow traders to buy and sell a range of commodities including gold, oil, sugar, rice, steel, and cotton. It was scheduled to go live before the end of the year.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- No single story is driving the conversation in the global business press this morning, with a hodge-podge of stories competing for your attention. Among them:

  • Shocker — bad things happened at crypto-ponzi scheme FTX, and lots of assets are “missing,” report the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.
  • Turkey is getting a bailout from KSA as Riyadh deposits USD 5 bn at Turkey’s central bank in the latest indication of warming ties. (Bloomberg)
  • Bob Iger’s return to the helm of Disney is getting tons of ink in the US business press.
  • China is showing no signs of backing down from its covid-zero policy, reimposing restrictions on movement in Beijing and Shanghai. (Reuters)

WATCH THIS SPACE #2- The US is formally reviewing its relationship with Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, without going into details of where the review may be headed.

MARKET WATCH-

Is OPEC+ about to reverse course on supply cuts? Oil producers are considering raising output in anticipation of fresh Western sanctions on Russian crude, the Wall Street Journal reports. After angering the West last month with a shock supply cut, the cartel is now deliberating whether to increase production by 500k barrels a day at its next meeting on 4 December. The meeting will take place a day before the EU is due to impose an embargo on Russian oil and G7 nations introduce a price cap mechanism, moves that could take Moscow’s output off the market and stoke volatility in global energy markets.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The deadline to apply for the Chicago Booth Executive Program in El Gouna is Sunday, 27 November. The two-week program, which kicks off in March 2023, offers executives from Egyptian public and private sector the skills to help them “become a better leader for your organization and support Egypt’s growth in the years ahead.”

Payment and fintech conference Pafix will be held as part of Cairo ICT 2022 from 27-30 November at the Egypt International Exhibition Centre in New Cairo.

The US and Russia will hold nuclear talks in Cairo next week: Washington and Moscow will discuss resuming mutual nuclear inspections during week-long talks from Tuesday, 29 November through to 6 December, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, according to CNN.

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

enterprise

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STARTUP WATCH

More Swvl layoffs as company continues quest to turn cashflow positive

Swvl hands out more pink slips: Cairo-born mass transport app Swvl carried out a second wave of layoffs, Bloomberg Asharq reports, citing a number of people who have recently been let go. Swvl had already let go a third of its global workforce this year amid tough economic conditions but the company has now been forced to make further cuts in a bid to stem losses. The company is yet to release an official statement and company representatives did not respond to requests for comment when we reached out yesterday.

We don’t yet know the scope of the fresh job cuts — but they look to have been deep: Employees we spoke with suggest the scale of the cuts could be larger than in May. “It is much worse this time around … the product team is all gone and around 85% of the engineering team has been let go,” one current employee told Enterprise. “They’re keeping the teams in Europe,” they added. Asharq quotes one employee who was let go on Sunday as saying that 90% of the Cairo office had been laid off, though another source said that figure was exaggerated. The layoffs also hit Swvl employees in the UAE and Pakistan, according to the news outlet.

It has been a tough 2022 for the company: A period of rapid expansion at Swvl that culminated in its Nasdaq debut in April has in recent months given way to austerity, as tightening financial conditions and economic uncertainty batter the company’s share price and losses widen. Despite solid revenue growth, Swvl’s losses doubled during the first six months of the year due to rising expenses and costs relating to its Nasdaq listing, forcing the company to lay off employees, reduce executive pay and cut back routes. In July, the company’s full-year forecast was for losses to double to USD 90 mn.

Cashflow-positive by next year? That was Swvl’s declared target when it announced its first round of job cuts back in May. The company’s revenues are expected to rise almost 80% this year before almost tripling y-o-y in 2023.

Swvl is hoping to keep its place on Wall Street: The tumbling value of Swvl shares has left the company faced with being delisted from the Nasdaq. Shares have crashed more than 95% since it made its debut in April, and have traded below the exchange’s USD 1.00 minimum threshold since the third week of September. The Nasdaq informed the company this month that it has until 1 May 2023 to raise its share price above USD 1.00 or risk being ejected from the bourse.

STARTUP WATCH

Modus, USAID launch local venture builder to promote digital inclusion

A new venture builder on the scene: MENA-focused venture capital firm Modus Capital and our friends at USAID have launched MV Builder II, an Egyptian venture builder targeting startups working to drive digital inclusion among women and underserved populations, according to a joint statement (pdf) out yesterday.

MV Builder II is sector agnostic, with a focus on financial inclusion: “We’re looking to onboard ambitious founders … and particularly startups focused on boosting financial inclusion, digital literacy, access to equitable healthcare and education, and those reducing the digital gender divide in Egypt,” said Modus Partner Simon Tkachenko.

How it’s funded: USAID is supporting MV Builder II through a “blended finance model” under its Digital Invest program, which aims to mobilize private capital in digital connectivity infrastructure and fintech services in emerging markets. Blended finance is development-speak for using money from an agency such as USAID to attract private capital to a project or investment by effectively de-risking it.

Places are limited: Up to 10 companies will be selected to take part in the program, receiving as much as USD 250k in funding each. Modus’ UAE venture builder, Ventures Lab, received a total of 1.5k applicants, Tkachenko told us.

Interested? Apply here before the 15 December deadline.

Modus likes Egypt — and isn’t fazed by the challenges here: “Egypt is by far the largest [MENA market] in terms of population, and as a result a market opportunity. With Egypt being such a large country, there are complexities with this market that we do not find in other markets we participate in, such as certain regulations around cloud computing or a majority unbanked / underbanked population,” Tkachenko told Enterprise.

REFRESHER- Modus last week launched a USD 75 mn fund, dubbed Modus Africa, that will target early-stage African startups, including a number of local companies. The fund will invest in companies that use AI and blockchain technology and is expected to reach first close in 1Q 2023.

About Modus: Modus has established branches in Cairo, Abu Dhabi, and most recently Riyadh, and is supported by backers including Mubadala's Hub71 and USAID. It participated in Egypt-based blockchain email service provider Pravica’s USD 500k pre-seed funding round back in 2020. Modus launched its first Egyptian venture builder in 2019, which ended up graduating eight regional startups including Emirati mentoring platform SmartMentor and the Play:Date social media app for parents.

LEGISLATION WATCH

MPs approve bills on telecoms, real estate, contractors

Four bills get final nod in the House of Representatives: MPs yesterday gave final approval to a number of legislative amendments focused on regulating telecommunications, compensating contractors for losses on state contracts, and property registration in new cities. The final sign offs were the last before the House adjourned, with the lower house set to reconvene again on Sunday, 4 December.

#1- Tighter controls over telecom equipment: Amendments to the 2003 Telecommunications Act will ban the possession, use, manufacture of any telecom equipment without prior approval from the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA). Under the changes, those who import, manufacture, assemble and market the equipment without a license from the NTRA would be at risk of jail terms ranging from one to five years and a fine of EGP 2 mn to EGP 5 mn. The legislation does not specify which technologies will be subject to the legislation, prompting controversy among some representatives who raised concerns that users of personal equipment could be prosecuted under the legislation.

#2- Bailing out contractors: The amendments will allow builders who have suffered losses on state projects due to recent economic reforms to receive compensation from the government. The 2017 law⁠ ⁠— which was originally drafted for economic reforms undertaken between March and December 2016 — will be extended to cover all periods of reform. This means that contractors who have suffered losses because of this year’s currency devaluations and the phasing out of fuel subsidies may be eligible for compensation.

#3- Simpler property registration in new cities: Amendments to a 2018 law will simplify the real estate registry and notarization process in new cities. Under the changes, owners of property and plots of land in new cities won’t be required to interact with the real estate registry and notarization offices and will only need to submit registration paperwork to the New Urban Communities Authority.

#4- Equality for Al Azhar teachers: Amendments to the 1961 Al Azhar Law that would put Al Azhar’s teachers on an equal footing with their counterparts in public schools in terms of employment, promotion, salaries, bonuses and incentives were approved by MPs.

#5- The House approved a USD 6 bn loan agreement with the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation to help authorities meet the country’s needs of basic food commodities and fuel productions.

SIGNED INTO LAW- The River Transport Act, which aims to attract more investment into the country’s inland waterways. The changes will open up the river transport sector to private investment and put the River Transport Authority (RTA) in charge of licensing river boats, Nile cruises and floating units. The bill was approved by MPs last month.

A NEW BILL- The pro-government Mostaqbal Watan party, which controls the majority of the House, submitted a new bill that would make it illegal for hospitals and medical institutions to refuse medical care to people during emergencies or who have life-threatening conditions. The bill, which was submitted by the chair of the House Health Committee and former health minister Ashraf Hatem along with 60 MPs, would also establish a governmental fund to compensate victims of negligence by hospitals, and provide protection to doctors and medical institutions against assault.

What’s next: House Speaker Hanafi El Gebali sent the bill to the Health Committee for discussion.

FROM THE COMMITTEES-

#1- Econ committee on Egypt’s wealth fund: The House Economic Committee discussed the role of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) in implementing the state ownership policy document and maximizing economic returns from the sale of public assets, committee chair Mohamed Soliman told reporters. It also reviewed the fund’s role in attracting foreign investments, including those from Arab Gulf sovereign wealth funds, and implementing infrastructure projects, he said, without providing details of the discussions.

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.

#2- Turning EMRA into an economic body: The House Industry committee approved in principle plans to restructure the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority (EMRA) and turn it into an economic body, according to Youm7. The bill’s author, Rep. Mohamed Ismail, said it aims to resolve conflicts inherent in EMRA being supervised financially by the finance and planning ministries, while taking direction on technical matters from the Oil Ministry. Making it an “economic body” rather than a “public service body” as it is at present.

COFFEE WITH…

Coffee With: Hatem Dowidar, group CEO of e&

Coffee With: Hatem Dowidar (LinkedIn), group CEO of e& (formerly Etisalat): Hatem Dowidar joined the UAE’s largest telecoms operator as its COO in 2015, becoming its international CEO the following year, and Group CEO in 2020. In the two years since, the company’s market value has increased by more than 150%, while Forbes Middle East named Dowidar #16 in its 2022 ranking of the region’s top 100 CEOs.

Dowidar was at the helm for the rebranding of the company earlier this year as e&, which saw it split into telecoms provider etisalat by e&, e& international, consumer services branch e& life, investment arm e& capital, and e& enterprise as the company repositions itself as a global tech player.

ENTERPRISE: Etisalat was a known name. It had brand equity, particularly in the UAE, but had emerged as a clear Mideast-born telecoms operator with a clear business proposition. Why the shift in strategy? What does it mean to become a global tech and investment company?

HATEM DOWIDAR: We're a 46-year-old company that, like many others in our industry, has seen the telecoms market reach saturation around the world. Almost in parallel, we've all seen these tiny companies that sprung up in Silicon Valley 25 years ago start to compete. Once, they were tiny compared to even the smallest telcos. Today, they've become giants and the telcos are still largely where they are: stagnant. That's not e&. We've done things differently since our foundation and as the business landscape underwent unprecedented changes, we embraced a progressive outlook to seek ways to transform into a global technology and investment conglomerate early this year.

Our performance in the first half of the year demonstrates our resilience as we drive value from our core, focus on diversification, further digitalize and develop innovative solutions, build stronger regional adjacencies organically and through M&A. This year alone, we've taken massive strides in entering strategic partnerships and made several acquisitions for future business growth, driven by our commitment to providing innovative solutions for the benefit of our customers and offering long-term sustainable investments for our investors.

E: So that was the catalyst? The rise of Planet Startup?

HD: Yeah. What these companies offer are services that we call “over the top” services they can offer on top of anybody's infrastructure. Ours or others. What we've set out to do is design a suite of services that we can offer to any customer. To customers who are buying our connectivity, sure. But also to people who are getting their connectivity elsewhere. We planted the first seeds of this with our enterprise services, pushing into the internet of things (IoT) and cloud services. We started building our own data centers and selling capacity on these data centers.

E: What was the turning point?

HD: It was the pandemic. It was a great catalyst for us to rethink our business model. At first, we thought we were fortunate to be a defensive industry in the middle of the pandemic. If you were in aviation or hospitality, you really suffered. If you were in medical supplies, you did amazing. For us, as a telco, we found that there were fewer people out in the streets and in offices using their mobiles — but they needed a lot more broadband as they started working remotely, studying remotely, and so on.

As a defensive industry, we managed to deliver solid numbers in the middle of the pandemic, but we started thinking. The whole process of adapting to new ways of thinking, of working remotely — it was a catalyst for us to step back and say, "Right, what do we want to do in our next phase?"

I mean, the regulators opened up voice-over-IP, opened Zoom, opened Teams, and a dozen other apps. We realized that the pandemic was a stimulus, that it was changing the ground beneath our feet, and we wanted to be ahead of it rather than being reactive.

Hence the realigning of our business operations by creating business pillars (etisalat by e&, e& international, e& life, e& enterprise) and our investment arm, e& capital. Our overarching promise is increased smart connectivity, more digital products, innovative tech platforms, and a more seamless customer experience. Most importantly, our commitment is to remain agile and continuously adjust gears in our shareholders' and customers' best interests.

E: So the future is a business that combines the steady dividends of a utility with the growth prospects of a tech company?

HD: Absolutely. The telco industry was being commoditized — our goal was to pivot beyond that. There's a limit to how many gigabytes and minutes you can sell as a telco. But to become a technology company that's at the forefront of advancement and that creates a lot more value? That has the dividend stream of a utility but the growth prospects of a tech player? That's the best of both worlds — for our customers, our shareholders, and our people. That's why we're transforming from a regional telecom into a global tech company.

E: Why was it necessary to change the name? Why "e&”?

HD: It's more than just a name change. We knew we needed to signal to the world, to our staff, and to ourselves as a leadership team that we're becoming something different. It was to signal the magnitude of the change. It denotes that, yeah, you have our traditional telecom business Etisalat, but there's lots more coming into play. “Etisalat” in Arabic means connectivity, which was fitting for our role as a telco. However, with our progression into the digital space, we now provide more than just traditional connectivity. The name e& is a reflection of our ambition to push boundaries, accomplish more, and be well-positioned for the future.

E: What are your investment priorities right now?

HD: I think what we're doing with e& enterprise is particularly interesting. We're investing in three key areas: cloud, cybersecurity, loT, and Al.

In the cloud, it's all about the growth of our data centers and platforms as we help more companies move away from their own hardware and into the cloud and play a leading role in customer cloud transformation, including for our government clients, large-scale corporates, and enterprises.

Moving customers towards the cloud brings forward the need to step up cybersecurity, so in addition to our own resources, we've recently acquired Help AG, a leading

regional provider that is headquartered here in Dubai. It's a full acquisition and has helped us deepen our offering already trusted by some of the most demanding clients in the region — banks, governments, and major corporates.

We've focused our Al and loT efforts on helping governments and enterprises elevate to data-driven and highly automated organizations. Recently, we fully acquired Smartworld, one of the UAE's leading systems integrators, and formed a new company called e& enterprise iot & ai which will act as the vehicle for the loT and Al organization.

TAP OR CLICK HERE to continue reading the full interview, including more on e&’s investments in fintech and entertainment, growth prospects for its telco business, and the net zero commitments it made at COP27.

MOVES

Hisham Ezz Al Arab is back on the board at CIB

Our friend Hisham Ezz Al Arab is back home: CIB’s former chairman and managing director Hisham Ezz Al Arab (LinkedIn) is back on the bank’s board of directors after being appointed a non-executive director with the Central Bank of Egypt’s blessing, the bank said in a statement yesterday.

Ezz Al Arab was forced by the pervious governor of the central bank to step down from the board two years ago. Since the resignation of Tarek Amer as CBE governor earlier this year, Ezz Al Arab’s relationship with the central bank has taken a 180° turn — he has served as an advisor to governor Hassan Abdalla since late August.

All of this was good for CIB’s share price: CIB shares closed 1.5% higher at EGP 38.05 at the end of yesterday’s trading session.

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LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

It was a football-heavy night on the talk shows yesterday as the nation’s talking heads cheered Saudi Arabia’s shock victory against Argentina. Everyone from Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 2:14) and Al Hayah Al Youm’s Mohamed Sherdy (watch, runtime: 4:09) heaped praise on the Green Falcons for overturning a 1-0 deficit with two stunning second-half goals. Tunisia’s goalless draw with Denmark was the only other of yesterday’s games to get significant coverage — Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 3:08) and Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 1:43) — while El Hadidi continued the football theme by covering last night’s news that Cristiano Ronaldo had left Man Utd with immediate effect following last week’s bare-all interview (watch, runtime: 6:50).

Warraq development follow-up: President El Sisi’s meeting to follow up on the redevelopment of Warraq Island got coverage from Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 4:04) and Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 2:55). Ala Mas’ouleety’s Moussa took it on himself to claim that the island’s residents are fully in support of the state’s plans, despite mass evictions of islanders triggering clashes with security forces in August (watch, runtime: 7:11).

Also getting attention last night:

  • COP27: The UN sending a letter of thanks to Egypt for hosting COP was covered by Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 3:05), with host Mohamed Sherdy still giving a loss and damage fund praise.
  • No wings in the classroom: The Education Ministry’s decision to ban energy drinks at schools got coverage from Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 4:34), with ministry spokesperson Shady Zalata telling viewers (perhaps slightly hyperbolically) that the drinks “pose a threat to students’ lives.”

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Ivanka Trump rides camel, stands next to pyramid

You know it’s a slow news day when Ivanka Trump’s visit to the Pyramids is the most talked-about thing in the foreign press. Read about it here (The Times | Daily Mail | Business Insider) if you’re interested.

Also making headlines:

  • Egypt and Israel want to increase bilateral trade in the wake of climate discussions held at COP27. (Al Monitor)
  • A British journalist shares her experience of traveling to Egypt with her nine-year old. (The Telegraph)

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Among the other stories we’re paying attention to this morning:

TOURISM-

Egypt is going to need USD 20 bn if it’s going to realize its ambitions to attract 30 mn tourists a year, Tourism Minister Ahmed Eissa told MPs yesterday. “Egypt needs at least half a mn rooms to receive 30-40 mn tourists a year and this will cost around USD 20 bn,” he said during his appearance at the House yesterday. The government is expected to unveil a new strategy to attract more people to Egypt in 1Q 2023. Around 13 mn tourists visited Egypt in 2019.

INVESTMENT-

Qalaa Holding plans to invest EGP 15 bn in its subsidiaries over the next three years, co-founder and managing director Hisham El Khazindar reportedly told Al Borsa.

El Sewedy Electric is set to launch a Saudi subsidiary. (Statement, pdf)

ENERGY-

Rosatom will start shipping equipment for the Dabaa nuclear plant in March, Nuclear Power Plant Authority head Amgad El Wakeel reportedly told Al Mal. The Russian state nuclear company started building the 4.8 GW plant over the summer, and began work on the second reactor this week.

GREEN ECONOMY-

The initial portfolio size of Contact Financial Holding’s planned green financing covering solar power plants and modern irrigation systems — which could launch as soon as next month — is EGP 1.25 bn. (Al Mal)

FOOD & BEVERAGE-

Foodics is integrating Paymob POS devices into its restaurant management platform, creating what it says is “the first of its kind backend wireless API integration” in the Egyptian F&B sector. (Statement)

REGULATION-

Grievance committees handling non-bank financial services complaints have been restructured following a decree by Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly, the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) said (pdf) yesterday. The changes restructure committees for capital markets, ins., real estate finance, microfinance, and leasing and factoring, with some of the activities getting grievance committees for the first time. The move aims to “bolster confidence levels by stakeholders in NBFS activities supervised by the authority,” and to create a favorable environment for doing business.

PLANET FINANCE

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Citigroup has echoed Goldman Sachs’ optimism for the Gulf IPO market, predicting that the 2022 boom will continue into next year as demand for regional listings continues to rise. Citigroup ranks fourth among banks that have worked on the most listings in the Gulf region this year, behind Goldman Sachs, HSBC, and EFG Hermes. (Bloomberg)

If you’re hoping for a better 2023 for equities, don’t: Goldman Sachs strategists are expecting stock market conditions to remain more or less the same through 2023, Bloomberg wrote. Analysts are expecting the S&P 500 to gain just 0.9% on last week’s close by the end of next year, while the Euro Stoxx 600 should do a little better, rising 4.0%.”The conditions that are typically consistent with an equity trough have not yet been reached,” the strategists said, adding that we’ll need to see interests rates peak and growth slow before we can bid goodbye to bear markets.

Russia has threatened to totally sever gas links with Europe: State gas giant Gazprom warned it could reduce flows through Ukraine from 28 November yesterday, accusing Kyiv of siphoning gas supplies destined for Moldova, according to the Financial Times. Moscow has cut off most of its shipments to Europe this year as part of a tit-for-tat sanctions war between the two powers that has left Europe facing an unprecedented energy crisis.

AND- The European Union should agree this week to a cap on how much it will pay Russia for crude oil. The price cap is scheduled to go into effect on 5 December.

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THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 1.4% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.79 bn (32.7% above the 90-day average). Local investors were net buyers. The index is up 5.6% YTD.

In the green: Heliopolis Housing (+5.7%), Alexandria Containers and Cargo Handling (+4.8%) and Fawry (+4.5%).

In the red: Ezz Steel (-3.3%), Elsewedy Electric (-2.4%) and Juhayna (-1.8%).

DIPLOMACY

Egypt, Greece ink agreements on agriculture, migration

Egypt + Greece ink agreements on agriculture + migration: Egypt and Greece will work more closely on migrant rescue operations and increase cooperation on agriculture under two agreements signed Cairo yesterday.

#1- The two countries will cooperate on migrant search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean under an agreement signed by the countries’ defense ministers, the Greek Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

#2- Egypt will send 5k agricultural laborers to help harvest Greek crops for nine months a year under a pilot scheme agreed yesterday, the ministry said in a separate statement.

Regional rivalries: Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias was in Cairo yesterday for the second time in less than six weeks for talks with Sameh Shoukry. The visits have come after the countries’ mutual rival Turkey signed a new oil and gas exploration agreement with Libya’s Tripoli-based government. This was the latest in a series of moves that have pitted the two sides against one another as they jockey for control over the region’s natural resources.

MEANWHILE- The World Bank could provide support for electricity and green hydrogen projects in Egypt, according to an Electricity Ministry statement released Sunday following talks between Minister Mohamed Shaker and the bank’s country director, Marina Wes. Bank officials discussed partnering on several projects including the upgrading the electricity link with Jordan, green hydrogen plants, and emission-reduction initiatives.

CALENDAR

NOVEMBER

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

22 November- 23 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Fingerprint Summit will be held at the Nile Ritz Carlton Hotel.

27 November (Sunday): Senate in session.

27-28 November (Sunday-Monday): The first edition of the Egypt Media Forum.

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

29 November – 6 December (Tuesday-Tuesday): US and Russia to hold talks on resuming mutual nuclear inspections in Cairo.

DECEMBER

1 December (Thursday): Sphinx International Airport will begin operating international flights.

1 December (Thursday): Contractors to break ground on Egypt-Saudi interconnection project.

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

4 December (Sunday): House back in session.

4 December (Sunday): OPEC+ meeting.

5-8 December (Monday-Thursday): QS Reimagine Education Awards and Conference, multiple locations.

5-7 December (Monday-Wednesday): Food Africa 2022 kicks off at Egypt International Exhibitions Center.

6 December (Tuesday): Enterprise Climate X Forum, Grand Egyptian Museum.

7 December (Wednesday): Euromoney Egypt 2022 conference

10 December (Saturday): The TriFactory’s Pyramids Half Marathon.

10-12 December (Saturday-Monday): The 2nd edition of the Nebu Expo for Gold and Jewelry kicks off.

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.

December: Chinese President Xi Jinping visit to Saudi Arabia

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.

January: Infinity + Africa Finance Corporation to close acquisition of Lekela Power.

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): 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

1 April (Saturday): Deadline for banks to establish sustainability unit.

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.

End of December/early January: SFE’s pre-IPO fund to kick off roadshow.

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

4Q 2022: Raya Holding subsidiary Aman and Qalaa Holdings’ Taqa Arabia to launch their fintech company.

4Q 2022: Saudi Arabia’s 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.

1Q 2023: Internal trade database to launch.

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