Sunday, 19 March 2023

AM — Elab first up for sale via SFE’s pre-IPO fund -Soliman



Good morning, friends, and welcome to the last workweek before Ramadan. We hope you had a wonderful weekend.

The tone this morning: A bit of optimism amid a flood of investment and privatization news, as the tl;dr stack above suggests. The investment news centers on logistics, infrastructure and manufacturing — all themes we love to see.

WATCH THIS SPACE #1- Fresh Saudi investment — whatever it takes: Egypt is “keen to support everything that is required to increase Saudi investments,” Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in a statement picked up by Bloomberg. The statement came after Maait attended last week a financial conference in Riyadh where he met with his Saudi counterpart Mohammed Al Jadaan, according to the business information service outlet. Maait also met with a group of Saudi investors who expressed interest in increasing investments in Egypt; they also want to see additional protections against double taxation between the two countries.

Resolving the United Bank impasse? Maait’s comments come in the wake of reports that talks between the two sides regarding the sale of United Bank had ground to a halt due to disagreements about the lender’s valuation. Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) opened talks to acquire United Bank last year, but PIF want to agree on a valuation in local-currency terms, with the USD amount payable determined at the time of the transaction according to the exchange rate at the time of execution. The Central Bank of Egypt, which owns 99.9% of the bank, has reportedly insisted on a USD-based valuation from the beginning. Reports suggest the bank was valued at something in the USD 600 mn range.

Riyadh is yet to pull the trigger on its pledge last year to invest bns of USD: Saudi Arabia has so far invested USD 1.3 bn in listed state-owned companies, a fraction of the USD 10 bn it originally pledged to support the economy through the crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine. Al Jadaan in January said future financial support to countries would no longer be given unconditionally and would come with strings attached.

WATCH THIS SPACE #2- Could 40 soon be the new 30? Pressure is continuing to mount on the EGP in the offshore markets, with derivative contracts widening further from the official rate at the end of last week, according to Al Arabiya. Twelve-month non-deliverable forwards (NDFs) — contracts used to forecast the value of the currency over the next 12 months — rose to a record 39.19 on Thursday, while in the parallel market the USD rate rose to between 34.5-35.55. In the credit markets, the spread on the cost of insuring the country’s debt rose to almost 1500 bps — the second-highest level on record, according to the news outlet.

EGP WATCH- The official EGP-USD rate continued to hover below the 31.00 mark, and has remained unchanged at 30.96 since 9 March.


The Finance Ministry’s two-day Public-Private Partnerships MENA Forum starts today at the Nile Ritz-Carlton. The forum will gather local, regional, and international leaders and PPP specialists. Topics will include PPP policies, regulatory frameworks, and long-term financing for national projects, according to the Finance Ministry.

Another US official is in town: Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf is on a three-day trip to Egypt as part of a wider regional tour that will see her travel to Lebanon and Tunisia, the US embassy in Cairo said. Leaf kicked off her trip on Wednesday with Jordan before landing in Egypt yesterday.

Israel-Palestine summit to take place in Sharm El Sheikh today: Palestinian and Israeli officials are meeting in Sharm El Sheikh today as part of a five-party meeting with Egyptian, Jordanian and US officials. This is the second such meeting in recent weeks: A pact made in Jordan last month did little to calm tensions in the West Bank, with members of the Israeli government almost immediately walking back on the agreement and Israeli settlers attacking a Palestinian village after two Israelis were shot by Palestinian gunmen.

It’s already off to a not-so-great start: Palestinian militants fired a rocket into southern Israel yesterday evening, the Israeli military said, according to the Associated Press. There were no casualties, but the attack raises the possibility of a fresh spate of violence between the two sides just days before the start of Ramadan.

The House is back in session today after a three-week break. Here’s what’s on the agenda: MPs will today discuss and vote on the new round of wage and pension hikes, which were approved by the House Manpower Committee last week. The measures were announced earlier this month and come as the government tries to mitigate the impact of soaring inflation on households. Lawmakers will also vote on the bill to grant temporary licenses to informal industrial projects, and two loan agreements: a USD 301 mn facility from Japan to help finance Metro Line 4 and a USAID grant for higher education.


Higher education minister to face MPs on Tuesday: Higher Education Minister Ayman Ashour will face questions from MPs on the performance of state-owned universities and the shortage of doctors and medical supplies in university teaching hospitals, among other things.

It’s Fed week: The Federal Reserve will hold its two-day policy meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Fresh off brokering a Saudi-Iran accord, Xi has his sights on peace in Ukraine:

Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold separate talks with Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy this week, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Chinese president will fly to Moscow for the first time since the war broke out for face-to-face talks with Putin and will likely speak to Zelenskiy virtually, people familiar with the matter told the newspaper. This comes a few weeks after Beijing published a 12-point plan for restarting peace talks and ending the war.

The US isn’t yet on board with a ceasefire: “A cease-fire now is … effectively the ratification of Russian conquest,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said Friday. “And of course, it would be another continued violation of the UN Charter.”


Sisi-Erdogan summit in 2H 2023? President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will for the first time hold direct talks in a summit to take place during the second half of the year, Al Arabiya reported yesterday, citing sources it says have knowledge of the matter. This came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s historic visit to Cairo and meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry. We have the full rundown in the Diplomacy section, below.

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


UBS to the rescue? Swiss banking giant UBS is in talks to acquire embattled lender Credit Suisse as Swiss authorities race to prevent its collapse, the Financial Times reports, citing people familiar with the talks.The boards of the two largest Swiss banks are meeting this weekend to discuss the plans, which are being fast-tracked by the Swiss central bank and its financial regulator to save Credit Suisse before the markets open on Monday.

ICYMI- The collapse of three banks in the US earlier this month has triggered panic in the markets about the financial stability of banks across the world. Credit Suisse — whose slow decline since the 2008 financial crisis has accelerated in recent months following a series of heavy losses — saw its share price plunge to record lows and suffered CHF 10 bn in daily withdrawals as depositors panicked about its solvency. The Swiss central bank handed it an emergency USD 54 bn loan last Wednesday which failed to stem the bleeding.

Trump in cuffs this week? Former US President Donald Trump said yesterday that he is expecting to be arrested on Tuesday on charges of paying an a performer some USD 130k in hush money. Trump called on his supporters to protest against his arrest in a post on his own social media platform Truth Social. “Protest, take our nation back,” he wrote. (Reuters | AP | CNN | Bloomberg | New York Times | BBC)

Good news: We’re not heading back to the dark days of the 2022 global grain shortages (at least not yet anyway): Russia, Ukraine and the UN have reached an agreement to renew the Black Sea grain initiative, which will allow Kyiv to continue to export food through its Black Sea port, according to Reuters. The UN was aiming to secure an agreement to extend it by another 120 days but Russian objections to Western sanctions mean that it will only remain in place for 60 days. Moscow is conditioning further extensions on the removal of some of the sanctions.


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Elab first up for sale via SFE’s pre-IPO fund -Soliman

First up from the SFE’s pre-IPO fund: Egyptian Linear Alkyl Benzene (Elab) will be the first company to go to market via the Sovereign Fund of Egypt’s (SFE) pre-IPO fund, fund head Ayman Soliman reportedly told Al Borsa. Soliman didn’t disclose further details relating to the sale, but we expect the transaction to include an initial public offering of shares on the EGX.

We still don’t know which firms are in the fund: Eight companies have now been added to the fund, Soliman reportedly told the newspaper, without disclosing names. Al Borsa reported last week that the SFE is adding state ins. company Misr Ins. Holding to its portfolio, while an unconfirmed report in January claimed that Banque du Caire, Misr Life Ins. and Elab.

Safi and Wataniya are not included in the fund, Soliman told Al Borsa. CI Capital has reportedly started marketing the two military-owned companies to strategic investors, with the goal of selling c. 10% of each.


Six of the first eight companies set to debut on the EGX under the state privatization program are oil or petchem players, according to a separate report by Asharq Business, citing sources it says are close to the matter.

The lineup: The news outlet says that a preliminary list of state-owned firms earmarked for IPOs include Enppi, eMethanex, Midor, Assiut Oil Refining Company (ASORC), Ethydco, and El Wady for Phosphate Industries and Fertilizers (WAPHCO) — all of which were flagged by the EGX earlier this year as being in line for privatization. Also reportedly on the list are the Port Said and Damietta container terminal operators, in which the Qatari sovereign wealth fund is reportedly attempting to acquire majority stakes.

32 becomes 37? Enppi, eMethanex, Midor, ASORC and WAPHCO were not on the initial list of 32 companies announced by Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly in February. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said last week that the government could add more names to the line-up, without providing details.

BACKGROUND- The government plans to sell stakes in 32 state-owned companies on the EGX, to strategic investors, and a mix of both as part of its rebooted state privatization program. The SFE set up its pre-IPO fund in September 2022 to prepare state-owned companies for eventual listing on the EGX.


SFE open to selling 100% of Safi, Wataniya to strategic investors -Soliman

No limits on Safi, Wataniya stake sales -SFE’s Soliman: The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) could sell up to 100% of military-owned firms Safi and Wataniya to strategic investors depending on market appetite, Asharq Business quotes our friend SFE CEO Ayman Soliman as having said. The news outlet had reported last week that the government was looking to sell at least 10% in each company as part of its privatization drive and that CI Capital had been tapped to manage the sales. “There will be no upper limit” to the size of the stake on offer, Soliman said on the sidelines of an event in Cairo.

How much will be up for grabs? It all boils down to investor appetite, Soliman said, emphasizing that the SFE aims to be “very flexible” and “responsive to the market” in its approach to the sales.

It’s not just Gulf wealth funds that are showing interest, Soliman says: The investors eyeing Safi and Wataniya include international, regional, and local players, Soliman told Asharq, adding that the companies have received interest from a large number of investors.

Remember: CI Capital opened talks with prospective investors last week in a roadshow that is expected to finish next month.

Ownership limits have reportedly been a sticking point in negotiations for other state companies: Sale talks for stakes in Vodafone Egypt and several port operators have reportedly stalled in recent weeks due to disagreements over ownership. Those sale processes are not being managed by the SFE. Recent reports have suggested that the government has been unwilling to meet the Qatar Investment Authority’s demand for all of Telecom Egypt’s (TE) 45% stake in Vodafone Egypt and for majority ownership of the Port Said and Damietta container terminal operators.

A lot is at stake: Concerns over Egypt’s progress in selling state assets are contributing to the shortage of hard currency and pressure on the EGP, which have intensified in recent days despite three devaluations over the past year. Portfolio investors are continuing to sit on the sidelines until they see signs that the government is delivering on its commitments under the IMF program, which include accelerating privatization and maintaining a fully flexible exchange rate.

Background: The SFE was earlier reported to have planned to sell a 20-30% stake in Safi and Wataniya to strategic investors before proceeding with public share sales when global market conditions have improved. The fund has been restructuring the two firms ahead of the share sale. Safi and Wataniya are both on the list of the 32 state-owned companies the Madbouly government plans to offer to strategic investors and the EGX by the end of 1Q 2024.


ADP lands 30-year contract to develop and operate Safaga Port terminal

Abu Dhabi Ports just established itself as a major player in Egypt’s port infrastructure: Abu Dhabi Ports (ADP) will develop and operate a container terminal at Safaga Port under a USD 200 mn, 30-year concession agreement signed with the government on Saturday, according to statements from the Emirati port developer and the Madbouly cabinet.

The details: The Safaga 2 terminal is expected to kick off operations in 2Q 2025, handling some 5 mn tons of dry bulk, 1 mn tons of liquid bulk, 450k TEUs of containerized cargo and 50k car-equivalent units (CEUs) of roll-on, roll-off cargo. The port currently has a maximum capacity of 6.37 mn tons per year. ADP will spend USD 200 mn on “superstructure and equipment, buildings, and other real estate facilities and utilities’ network inside the concession area,” most of which will be spent in 2024 and 2025. The Emirati company inked the agreement with the Red Sea Ports Authority, making the Safaga Port the “first internationally-operated port in the Upper Egypt region,” it said.

A few years in the making: ADP first expressed its interest in Safaga port in 2021, and signed a term sheet with the government last year. The terminal was one of nine proposed PPP infrastructure projects given preliminary approval by the cabinet last year.

Raising cement exports: ADP also signed two 15-year agreements with the Suez Canal Authority to develop cement terminals in Al Arish Port and West Port Said Port, which will collectively require USD 33 mn of investment. The two terminals will feature silos with a combined storage capacity of 90k tons, and are expected to be operational by 4Q 2023.

There’s more: ADP inked letters of intent for the development, management, and operation of new cruise terminals at Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada, and RoRo, cruise and multipurpose terminals at Sokhna port, the statement said, without providing details. The company also signed an MoU for potentially working on the East Port Said terminal, a logistics zone, and an economic zone.

The news received attention internationally: Reuters.


Four companies open new logistics zones, factories in SCZone

New logistics zones, factories in the SCZone: Mercedes-Benz, local shipping firm Kadmar and two Chinese companies inaugurated new logistics zones and factories in the Suez Canal Economic Zone on Thursday.

#1- New Mercedes hub to handle 12k cars annually: Mercedes-Benz opened a new EGP 35 mn logistics zone in the SCZone to serve as a warehouse and a distribution platform for cars and spare parts, cabinet said in a statement. The facility can handle up to 12k cars annually.

#2- An expanded Chinese fiberglass plant: Jushi Group inaugurated a new USD 320 mn production line at its factory in China’s TEDA trade zone, cabinet said in another statement. The line has an expected output of 200k tons annually, and increases total investments in the factory to USD 920 mn.

#3- And a new Chinese textiles factory: The Egypt Fanyang Textile Company — also located in the TEDA zone — inaugurated a USD 60 mn factory, cabinet said. The facility is specialized in producing fabrics for clothing, blankets and home furniture, and is expected to produce 30k tons of fiberglass annually, generating revenues worth USD 150 mn.

#4- Kadmar opens logistics zone: Private-sector shipping company Kadmar has opened a USD 20 mn logistics zone that will handle shipping containers, store goods and prepare products for export, according to a separate statement. Plans to expand the facility are expected to increase its cost to USD 35 mn.


A new gov’t investment fund wants to attract FDI from expats

The Emigration Ministry will set up a new company aimed at encouraging Egyptians living abroad to invest in the local economy and bring more hard currency into the country, it said in a statement Friday. The Egyptians Abroad Investment Company will promote investment to major expat investors as well as regular savers, and has signed up eight Egyptian businessmen living abroad to sit on the board, the ministry said.

Sitting on the board are:

It’s early days: It’s still not clear how the company will operate. Board members and several state agencies will now prepare a plan on how to establish the company and how it will operate, according to the statement. A listing on the EGX or an exchange abroad is among the options being considered, it added.

REFRESHER- The government has launched several initiatives in recent months aimed at finding new sources of hard currency in response to the ongoing FX crisis. More attractive citizenship rules for foreigners, new tax incentives and land price discounts for foreign investors, and the car import scheme are all designed to stimulate new FX inflows.


With equity fundraising flowing to a crawl, are more mature startups eyeing securitized bonds?

Securitization could become the next big thing in startup funding: Egypt’s startups and younger companies began shifting towards alternative investment vehicles last year, trumping the equity card with instruments like debt to avoid further share dilution. In the fintech space, we’ve heard of two young companies issuing securitized bonds in the past few months, suggesting that bond issuances could be gaining traction in StartupLand.

Blnk and MNT-Halan are two startups that have recently turned to securitization: Lending platform Blnk raised a total of USD 32 mn in equity and debt capital in November, of which USD 8.3 mn were a securitized bond issuance underwritten by Banque du Caire and the National Bank of Egypt. Egyptian superapp MNT-Halan also took two bond issuances worth USD 140 mn to market through its subsidiaries Tasaheel Microfinance Company and Halan Consumer Finance early February. This was the company’s second issuance, with the first one completed in June last year for USD 150 mn.

Both Blnk and MNT-Halan are lenders, which means they can securitize their loan books. As lenders, Blnk and MNT-Halan have a pool of receivables that they’re expecting to get in the short, medium, and long term. These receivables were restructured as a bond, and rated by local rating agency MERIS. After a due diligence process by an auditor and a law firm, this pool of underlying receivables can be sold to fixed-income investors, which are predominantly banks, ins. companies, and fund managers.

But why opt for securitized bonds?

#1- Fast growth means more cash burn: “You’re basically moving your loan book from your balance sheet to someone else’s balance sheet to raise money to keep growing,” MNT-Halan founder and CEO Mounir Nakhla told Enterprise. Companies opt for securitized bonds because they can offer more liquidity by offloading receivables. “We’re growing faster than our ability to secure debt from local commercial banks, and to compensate for that, as well as demonstrate our ability to de-bottleneck our balance sheet, we pursued the securitization at a very early stage,” Blnk co-founder and CEO Amr Sultan tells us.

#2- And there’s no cap on the amount of money you can raise, as opposed to traditional debt. “Getting traditional forms of debt comes with a cap, but securitized bonds allow us to raise bigger amounts than traditional overdraft facilities,” Nakhla adds.

#3- Moving away from foreign currency and share dilution: When it comes to equity funding — the usual suspect in the startup funding space — entrepreneurs get a bit wary due to two things. Firstly, every investor that comes on dilutes not only the founders’ shares, but also those of the company’s other investors. Secondly, “a lot of the equity funding is in USD and I definitely do not want any USD exposure to grow my loan book, but rather local currency exposure,” Nakhla explains.

Caveat: The process is tedious and time-consuming: The founders used words like “complicated,” “tedious,” and “thorough” to describe the securitization process. “The first securitization was very complex and took at least six months to go through,” Nakhla says. This goes back to the meticulous due diligence process taking place between auditors, lawyers and government bodies. “The subsequent ones were more straightforward. There is a learning curve,” he adds.

But that’s also not necessarily a bad thing: The complex process makes it a safer option for investors. “Given the level of scrutiny we are subjected to in the securitization process, it gives fixed income investors a level of comfort in the soundness of the company and its business,” Sultan explains. Banks — a few of which might be averse to lending a young company — as well as other fixed income investors, are more likely to invest in a highly rated securitized bond, which is why this type of funding opens up the possibility of having multiple sources of funding that can grow concurrently, he adds.


Adel El Labban steps down from AUB after two decades at the helm. PLUS: ITIDA, Journalists’ syndicate get new chiefs

Adel El Labban (LinkedIn) stepped down from his role as group CEO of Ahli United Bank last week, a position he has held since 2000, according to Youm7. El Labban was responsible for the management of the commercial, retail and private banking and wealth management businesses or AUB and all its affiliates across Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Libya and the UK. A senior international banker with close to 30 years in the industry, El Labban has held C-suite positions at the United Bank of Kuwait and CIB as well as acting as the vice president of corporate finance at Morgan Stanley’s Investment Banking Division.

Ahmed Elzaher (LinkedIn) has been officially made CEO of the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) by Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly, the Communications Ministry said in a statement yesterday. Elzaher has held the position since December, when he was named acting head in place of Amr Mahfouz who retired a month prior.

About Elzaher: Elzaher is also assistant minister for ecosystem development at the Communications Ministry, and has more than 27 years of experience in the IT industry in several countries, including Egypt, the UAE, Kenya and Algeria.

Khaled El Balshy has been elected the new head of the Journalists’ Syndicate after winning almost 50% of the vote in Friday’s election. El Balshy received 2,450 of the 5,062 votes, beating his closest rival, Al Akhbar editor-in-chief Khaled Miri, who got 2,211, according to a tally carried by Al Shorouk. El Balshy will succeed Diaa Rashwan who had headed the syndicate since 2019.

Who is El Balshy? A critic of the government, El Balshy is currently the editor-in-chief of the blocked leftist online publication Darb, before which he led El Badil. He also previously headed the syndicate’s freedoms committee. El Balshy ran a campaign focusing on press freedoms, the need for an independent syndicate, and low wages in the industry. The election results received coverage overseas: AFP.



Egypt-Turkey talks in Cairo dominate talk show coverage

It was all about foreign policy on last night’s talk shows as the nation’s talking heads shifted their attention to the future of Egyptian-Turkish relations following Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s meeting with Sameh Shoukry. We have more on that in Diplomacy, below.

How to patch things up with Turkey: “Egypt wants Turkey to learn from the past 10 years that having major conflicts is in no one’s advantage,” veteran journalist Abdel Moneim Saeed told Kelma Akhira’s Lamees El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 7:33). “I see that Turkey is very eager to set up embassies once again and to have the countries’ heads meet sooner rather than later,” he said, adding that the Egyptian side is more wary, wanting to reestablish these ties in a more deliberate program and put in place a framework to settle conflict.

“We are on the right track to fully restore ties with Turkey … the two countries’ presidents are expected to meet at some point in the future which will help push relations even further,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid told Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 10:24). Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 4:51) also had the news.

A one-on-one with the new head of the Journalists’ Syndicate: The newly-elected head of the Journalists’ Syndicate Khaled El Balshy joined Ala Mas’ouleety in a phone in to celebrate his win (watch, runtime: 3:19 | 3:45 | 6:36). “Our main goal is to defend journalists through a strong syndicate and free press,” he said, adding that “we want to make the syndicate, once again, a home for all journalists.” El Balshy also highlighted the need to help young part-time journalists secure full-time employment. The news also received coverage from Masa’a DMC (watch, runtime: 1:22).

El Forsa is still accepting applications: El Hadidi (watch, runtime: 3:15) reminded her viewers that her startups competition show El Forsa is still taking applications until 15 April. Applicants have to have businesses that are maximum three years old, have an actual product or service to offer, and are already established.


A diplomatic breakthrough with Turkey + privatization set the tone on Egypt in the int’l press this morning

Leading the international conversation on Egypt this morning: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s visit to Cairo yesterday for talks with Sameh Shoukry. We have the full story in this morning’s Diplomacy, below. (AP | Reuters | AFP | Bloomberg | The National | Al Arabiya)

Asset sales in Egypt face challenges: Analysts talking to Reuters say that the new state ownership document gives the government plenty of wiggle room to hold back from far-reaching privatization and could lead it to maintain control over a substantial portion of the economy.

AND- The Pyramids of Giza grace the cover of Time Magazine after the magazine named Giza and Saqqara among the world’s greatest places in 2023. (Time Magazine)


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No final decision made on grain treaty exit, says El Moselhy. PLUS: Love for the RUB, Nasser Bank’s high-yield CDs, precious metals fund


To leave or not to leave? Egypt could rethink its decision to exit from the UN grain treaty after receiving several letters from the Grain Trade Convention calling on the government to remain a member, Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy said yesterday. Officials said earlier this month that Egypt plans to withdraw from the treaty at the end of June because the government doesn’t see any benefits of paying the almost USD 58k in annual membership fees.

It’s not looking too good: “We think that our membership of such organizations is of no use as new technology made it much easier for us to get all the information we need about grain and wheat markets,” El Moselhy said, pointing to the convention’s failure to provide aid during the spike in food prices last year triggered by the war in Ukraine.


Egypt wants to open the door to more USD-less trade: As Egypt prepares to swap the greenback for the RUB to trade with Russia, it is now looking at making similar arrangements with China and India. “Egypt is currently studying exchanging trade with China and India in local currencies in the same way we are working to adopt the RUB and the EGP,” Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy said over the weekend.

Move to the RUB “moving well”: “Cooperation between Egypt and Russia in local currencies is now open and receives support from all, but it needs a link between the Central Bank of Egypt and the Russian Federal Bank, and it is technically moving well,” the minister said. The Russian central bank earlier this year approved the EGP as a trade currency, opening the door to the two countries cutting out the USD in bilateral trade. The countries are also exploring swapping goods, allowing Egypt to import Russian wheat in return for exporting oranges, he said.


Nasser Social Bank launches new high-interest savings certificates: State-owned lender Nasser Social Bank is now offering three-year certificates of deposit (CDs) at 22% and 18-month CDs at 20%, Social Solidarity Minister Nevine El Qabbaj said in a statement. The bank also increased the annual and monthly yields for its senior citizens certificates to 19.25% and 17.75%, respectively.


A precious metals fund? Egypt is working to launch a fund to invest in precious metals in the coming weeks, Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) boss Mohamed Farid told Asharq Business, without disclosing details. The authority will soon publish controls regulating investments funds focused on precious metals, he added.


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Analysts now expect the Fed to raise rates when it meets this week

It’s looking like a rate hike at the Fed: Wall Street experts are putting their money on the Federal Reserve moving forward with a 25-bps rate hike during its meeting this week, despite the turmoil in the banking sector, according to CNBC. Recent forecasts for the March meeting have varied from a 50-bps hike to even a possible rate cut in response to the crisis, which has seen three US banks collapse and left giant Swiss lender Credit Suisse in dire straits. But the consensus now is that the central bank will prioritize maintaining credibility in its fight against inflation, the news outlet writes.

“They have to do something, otherwise they lose credibility,” said one strategist. “They want to do 25, and the 25 sends a message. But it’s really going to depend on the comments afterwards, what [Fed chairman] Powell says in public. … I don’t think he’s going to do the 180-degree shift everybody’s talking about.”




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The EGX30 fell 0.1% at Thursday’s close on turnover of EGP 2.1 bn (1.6% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 0.7% YTD.

In the green: Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals (+7.8%), Elsewedy Electric (+2.9%) and GB Auto (+4.6%).

In the red: CIRA Education (-9.5%), Eastern Company (-6.3%) and Orascom Construction (-2.2%).


Turkey’s chief diplomat visits Egypt for the first time in a decade: Egypt and Turkey’s top diplomats pledged to put aside their differences and normalize relations for the first time in over a decade during talks in Cairo yesterday. In a joint press conference (watch, runtime: 33:24) with Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Sameh Shoukry said the two had engaged in “honest, deep and transparent” talks and spoke of reappointing ambassadors in both countries. “We largely agree on most issues. We have to improve bilateral relations in every field from transportation to trade,” said Cavusoglu, who was the first Turkish foreign minister to make an official visit to Egypt in 11 years.

Normalizing relations: Cavusoglu’s visit comes three weeks after Shoukry traveled to Turkey to show support following the earthquakes that hit the south of the country and Syria. The two countries have been inching closer to restoring ties for months, with President El Sisi and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan shaking hands in a brief encounter during the 2022 World Cup and Turkish companies last month pledging to invest USD 500 mn in Egypt. “Turkey will work to increase diplomatic relations with Egypt … we will do our best so that relations are never severed again,” Cavusoglu said.


  • Warming defense ties with Qatar? Qatar’s army chief Salem bin Hamad Al Nabit called for closer military cooperation with Egypt during the first meeting of the Egyptian-Qatari military committee in Cairo yesterday, the Egyptian Armed Forces said (watch, runtime: 4:21).
  • Shoukry calls Cyprus’s new foreign minister: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry congratulated Constantinos Kombos for becoming Cyprus' new foreign minister in a phone call on Thursday, according to a ministry statement.


Pan-Arab effort to bring Syria back into the fold: Arab states have offered Syrian president Bashar Al Assad a way out of isolation that would see them provide bns of USD for post-war reconstruction, according to the Wall Street Journal. The countries have also said they will lobby the US and Europe to ease crippling economic sanctions in return for opening talks with opposition groups, accepting Arab troops to protect returning refugees, and curbing Iranian influence in the country. The talks remain at an early stage but Damascus has so far not shown interest in political reform or accepting Arab forces in the country, Syrian, Arab and European officials told the newspaper.

Remember: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry earlier this month became the first Egyptian diplomat to make an official visit to Syria in a decade, a day after House Speaker Hanafi Gibali visited Damascus to discuss bringing the country back inside the Arab League.

ICC issues arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin: The International Criminal Court on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Russian president Vladimir Putin and another senior official for allegedly deporting children from Ukraine to Russia. (ICC)



March: 4Q2022 earnings season.

March: IMF to review USD 3 bn program.

March: Gov’t to launch the National Governance Index.

March: Palestine-Israel talks in Sharm El Sheikh.

Beginning of March: Rice to be added to the EMX.

18-20 (Saturday-Monday): Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf in Egypt.

19 March (Sunday): House reconvenes.

19-20 March (Sunday-Monday): PPP MENA Forum, Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo.

21-22 March (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

22 March (Wednesday): Ramadan trading hours in effect.

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

26 March (Sunday): Senate reconvenes.

27-29 March (Monday-Wednesday): The first meeting of the COP transitional committee, focusing on adaptation, and loss and damage.

30 March (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

31 March (Friday): Finance Ministry to present draft budget to House of Representative by this date.


April: GAFI to launch the country’s first integrated electronic platform to facilitate setting up a business.

April: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi's social support measures program to be implemented.

April: SCZone roadshow in China.

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

10-16 April (Monday-Sunday): IMF / World Bank Spring Meetings, Marrakesh, Morocco.

11 April (Tuesday): Deadline for NGOs to legalize their status.

16 April (Sunday): Coptic Easter

17 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

21 April (Friday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

25 April (Tuesday): Sinai Liberation Day.

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

30 April (Sunday): Tenth of Ramadan dry port tender deadline.

30 April (Sunday): Deadline for self-employed to register for e-invoicing.

30 April (Sunday): End of Mediterranean, Nile Delta oil + gas exploration tender.

Late April – 15 May: 1Q2023 earnings season.


1 May (Monday): Labor Day.

2-3 May (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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

4 May (Thursday): IEF-IGU Ministerial Gas Forum, Cairo.

9-11 May (Tuesday-Thursday): First edition of the Arab Actuarial Conference, Cairo.

12 May (Friday): Expat car import scheme ends.

15 May (Monday): Enterprise Exports & FDI Forum, Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza.

16-18 May (Tuesday-Thursday): Egypt will host its first conference on cybersecurity and defense intelligence systems (CDIS-Egypt).

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

20-21 May (Saturday-Sunday): eGlob Expo, St. Regis Almasa Hotel, Cairo.

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


7-10 (Wednesday-Saturday): The second edition of Africa Health Excon.

10 June (Saturday): Thanaweya Amma examinations begin.

12 June – 15 July (Monday-Saturday): Thanaweya Amma exams.

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

15 June (Thursday): Deadline for bids in EGPC’s mature oil fields tender.

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

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

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

30 June (Friday): June 30 Revolution Day.

30 June (Friday): Egypt to exit Grains Trade Convention.


18 July (Tuesday): Islamic New Year.

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

23 July (Sunday): Revolution Day.

25-26 July (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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

Late July-14 August: 2Q2023 earnings season.


August: Hassan Allam Utilities + Agility to open Yanmu East logistics park.

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

22-24 August (Tuesday-Thursday): BRICS summit, Johannesburg, South Africa.


September: IMF to review USD 3 bn program.

19-20 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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

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.

13 October- 20 October (Friday-Friday): The sixth edition of El Gouna Film Festival (GFF).

Late October-14 November: 3Q2023 earnings season.

31 October – 1 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.


2 November (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

15-24 November (Wednesday-Friday): Cairo International Film Festival, Cairo.


12-13 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): Federal Reserve interest rate meeting.

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


2023: The inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum.

2023: Egypt will host the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors in 2023.

1Q 2023: Egypt + Qatar to launch joint business forum.

1Q 2023: FRA to introduce new rules for short selling.

1Q 2023: Internal trade database to launch.

Summer 2023: EGX to launch a shariah-compliant index.

2H 2023: Egyptian government expected to sign agreements with a consultant for the EuroAfrica electricity interconnector.

4Q 2023: EGX to launch its new futures exchange.

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