Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Sweeping anti-terror law out. Oil Ministry to float “more than one company” in 2015. Nazif, El-Adly cleared. Qatar claims it’s coming to Sharm. No rollback of cigarette tax hike. First LNG cargo next month. EBRD offers to buy 20% of Ibn Sina Pharma.

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Despite the ongoing diplomatic spat, Qatari Foreign Minister confirmed in an interview published on Monday that Qatar is still planning on attending the March investment summit. More on his interview can be found in our Diplomacy section below.

There are three conferences of note today:

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING THIS WEEK

The Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meets tomorrow.

LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

A visit to the White House yesterday by Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani provided more fuel for the fire as talk show hosts used Al-Thani’s sit-down with Obama as yet another opportunity to voice their hatred of the Gulf state.
Lamees El Hadidy pointed out that the western media — including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times — have started taking a negative stance toward Qatar. She pointed to the New York Times opinion piece by the Qatari Emir, “Qatar’s Message to Obama,” and declared, “I don’t buy it. The Western media doesn’t buy it anymore and U.S. public opinion is turning against you. You are supporting terrorism.”

El Hadidy then turned her attention to the new terrorism law, which President Abdelfattah El-Sisi enacted last week, but which was only made available to journalists yesterday.
“Now that we have an official law that defines what terrorist entities are and how they should be dealt with, let’s not procrastinate. Let’s move quickly to implement the law. I want a list of terrorist organizations and a list of the names of the individuals who belong to these organizations to made public within the next few days. Their assets should be immediately frozen and seized,” said El Hadidy, channeling her internal Interior Minister.

El Hadidy hosted Atef Helmy, Minister of Communication and Information Technology. Helmy, who was wearing his EEDC lapel pin, announced some very ambitious plans to turn Egypt into an international center for technology and discussed projects that he intends to present in Sharm El Sheikh.
According to Helmy, EGP 30 bn will be invested in ICT within the next five years in projects including smart meters (presumably for electricity and natural gas, not parking) and technology parks, including an EGP 3-4 bn technology park in the Suez Canal Zone.

Khaled Abu Bakr agreed that the terrorism law was long overdue, but he and Amr Adeeb had another issue on their mind last night: parliamentary elections.

“Parliamentary elections are allegedly less than a month away and yet it feels like no one cares,” said a very indignant Adeeb. “Sometimes there are crimes that involve 90 mn people; this is one of them. It’s a crime that no one cares. Why is no one giving it the importance it deserves? No one cares that there are Fi Hob Misr billboards and even billboards for individual candidates all over the place even though the official start of campaigning is March 2.

“What are these lists anyway? What do the people on the list stand for? What will they do for me if they are elected? Who are we kidding? Who is responsible? This is the most important parliament Egypt will ever have, and yet we all think it will be our worst parliament. Somebody has to do something. We are the only country in the world that can’t draft an election law and elect a parliament. If this next parliament is not strong, we will have serious problems and it will be dissolved,” said Adeeb.

SPEED ROUND

New anti-terror law enacted: Passed by President Abdelfattah El-Sisi last week and made available to journalists only yesterday, a new anti-terrorism law gives prosecutors the power to freeze the assets, ban from travel and banish from public life anyone suspected of having threatened public safety “by any means.” The key phrase here is “suspected”: The Prosecutor General’s Office needs only to convince a panel of judges that the listing is warranted; no trial is required before a suspect is listed for a three-year renewable term. Al-Ahram notes that the definition of terror now extends to crimes inside and outside of Egypt that involve harm to individuals, the spreading of fear or terror, security threats of all forms, damage to the environment, destruction of public or private property, interruption of communications and halting transport. The Associated Press has a solid take in English including commentary from a leading rights group, while Ahram Online covers the basics.

Egypt’s GDP would be 34% larger if women participated in the economy at the same rate as do men, the IMF says in a brief mention in a longer op-ed attributed to IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. (Read or watch, running time 02:44)

Petroleum ministry to float “more than one company” in 2015: Oil Minister Sherif Ismail said the ministry is currently evaluating 10 state owned companies and will prepare them for listing. The ministry is in talks with NBE and the EGX over the potential listings, which could be the first since 2005 when Amoc and Sidpec were listed, Al-Borsa reports.

Nazif, El-Adly cleared of graft charges. Former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and ex-Interior Minister Habib El-Adly were cleared yesterday of profiteering and charges they had squandered public funds in a retrial that came after verdicts issued in 2011 were overturned on appeal. Nazif had been handed a one-year suspended sentence, while El-Adly was originally given a five-year term after having the two were convicted of having awarded an EGP 92 mn contract for the manufacture of license plates to a German firm without a public tender. Nazif now appears to have escaped the clutches of the legal system. El-Adly, who was acquitted late last year of having ordered the killing of demonstrators in the 25 January 2011 revolution, still faces at least one corruption case. After a slow start, the story has now gone international after having been picked up by Reuters and the AP. Ahram Online has the best roundup we’ve seen.

Ramez: Black market has 2-3 weeks left to live, deposit caps remain in place. Central Bank Governor Hisham Ramez said USD flows into the nation’s banks “surged over the past week after policy makers took measures to clamp down on a black market for foreign currency,” according to a piece out inBloomberg recapping a television appearance. Ramez says flows are now about USD 1.3 bn above an unspecified “normal rate” and that there are no plans to ease or remove deposit caps that limit individuals and companies alike to USD 10k per day and no more than USD 50k in a month.

No backing down on smoke tax hike. Finance Ministry officials denied yesterday that they were bowing to pressure from smokers, stressing that there was no going back on plans to impose new taxes of EGP 0.50 on local packs, EGP 1.00 on low-end imports, and EGP 1.50 on high-end imports. Al-Mal has more on the story, while Al-Ahram notes that Eastern Company, which has a virtual monopoly on the manufacture of tobacco products in Egypt, took advantage of the tax hike to raise prices even further.

No inflationary impact from VAT –Abdelnour. Trade and Industry Minister Mounir Abdelnour said yesterday the VAT is not expected to drive inflation when it replaces the sales tax system. The VAT will likely widen the tax base, according to the minister, and bring in players for grey economy, Al-Shorouk reports.

The new U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter phoned Minister of Defense Sedki Sobhy yesterday “and expressed his condolences to Egypt for victims of recent terrorist attacks and his desire to work closely with Sobhy as the U.S. and Egypt cooperate to meet security challenges,” according to a statement by the U.S. Department of Defense.

FIFA took six months to decide that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should be moved to winter:In a move that is already being criticized, FIFA announced yesterday that after a six-month consultation process, a task force assigned to administer upcoming games has concluded that Qatar is too hot to host the most-watched sporting event in the world in the summer. Despite Qatar’s previous promises to provide air-conditioned stadiums, that apparently is not happening. The statement goes on to say that “the FIFA Club World Cup – could be relocated to Qatar to serve as the operational test event for Qatar in November/December 2021.” The idea of a winter World Cup will be taken up at FIFA’s next executive meeting in March, according to FIFA’s website.

Ahram, Akhbar and Gomhoriya presses raise printing prices to independent newspapers:Saying they face spiraling electricity and petroleum costs and the impact of devaluation, the nation’s three largest state-owned printing presses have hiked prices to the independent newspapers they print. Al-Mal is among those leading the charge against the hikes, quoting journalists as saying there need to be urgent consultations on the matter; independent publishers fear they lack the pricing power to pass the cost rises on to readers.

Income disparities in the MENA region are likely larger than what the data suggests, according to Elena Ianchovichina, lead economist at the World Bank for the MENA region. The data typically presented uses consumption information derived from household expenditure surveys but characteristically, income disparities — and, more broadly, wealth disparities — are greater than consumption disparitiesas they take savings (that could translate into future investments in human capital) and “hidden” wealth into consideration.

Daesh abducts dozens of Christians in Syria: 90 Christian men, women and children were abducted by in raids conducted by Daesh in north-eastern Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The news was also confirmed by a few of the prisoners who managed to escape, as well as Daesh’s online radio station, Al-Bayan. (Read)

Egypt responds to accusations over civilians killed in Libya airstrikes: “The latest report issued by Amnesty International on the Egyptian air strike on the sites of the terrorist organisation of (ISIL) includes false and incorrect information,” according to MOFA spokesperson Ambassador Badr Abdelatty yesterday, as reported by state news agency MENA. Reuters notes that Abdelatty did not specifically confirm or deny reports of civilian casualties.

MORE ON ALLEGATIONS OF DAESH DIGITAL MANIPULATION OF EXECUTION VIDEO:Yesterday we noted that the Ikhwan’s political party the FJP were claiming that Fox News hosted an expert on one of their programs, who claimed that the video released by Daesh of the execution of 20 Egyptian Christians and one African was digitally manipulated. It turns out that the story about the Fox broadcast is absolutely true. So what does this all mean? This would not be the first time that Daesh has been accused of disseminating digitally altered media. The same analyst quoted by Fox, Veryan Khan, made the same statements about the Japanese hostages a month ago, which inspired the Japanese memes mocking the images online. (Watch on Reuters, running time: 1:46) This manipulation, as the Fox piece clearly states, is most likely to cover up that the videos were filmed indoors in order to evade detection of their location.

What does this mean in the context of Egypt and the region: Islamists within Egypt, including the Ikhwan and their political party, along with Islamist rebels in Tripoli, have accused the Egyptian government of perpetrating the crimes in the video in a false flag operation as a pretext for military intervention in Libya. Unfortunately, the Brotherhood and other Islamists will now use this Fox report as ammunition to bolster that claim, relying on their followers not to check original sources, nor engage in critical independent reasoning if they did. The reality of the crime remains: 20 Egyptian Christians were executed by Daesh.Where and when our citizens were killed may differ from what the terror group actually stated, as the terror group has done in previous cases. It is assumed that their immolation of Jordanian fighter pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh likely took place weeks before Daesh pretended he was still alive in order to use him as a bargaining chip in exchange for imprisoned terrorist Sajida al-Rishawi. This does not negate the reality of their murder, nor does it absolve Daesh of their crimes against humanity.

Aramex founder delivers hope in the Middle East’: CNBC writes a well-deserved love letter to Fadi Ghandour and his second act as an activist for entrepreneurism and community development.

SPOTLIGHT: AL-JAZEERA CABLES

NEW HOPE FOR INSOMNIACS: Reading Al Jazeera’s South African spy cables will help you get to bed at a decent hour, finally: Al Jazeera’s zealously-hyped leaks of alleged South African spy cables are turning out to be a real disappointment to the several people around the world who are closely following the story. Below are a few examples of some real nail-biters, along with our @SavedYouAClick-style time-saving translations from the language of hype into English:

Spy Cables: Mossad’s questionable questions about Morsi (Translation: Mossad asks some questions about Morsi that one could find the answers to in a Wikipedia article)

Spy cables reveal African Union assassination threat (Translation: Cables alleged that South African intelligence officials notified their Ethiopian counterparts that an assassination attempt on the former chair of the AU, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, was imminent during her visit to Addis Ababa in 2012. The threat was from an unnamed state, which the article cites Ethiopian intelligence officials as suggesting was Sudan. The attack never came, and the article then goes on to say that the head of Ethiopian intelligence stated that they did not believe Sudan would attempt such an attack. So what was the point of this whole article, again? That they received some bogus intelligence that turned out to be nothing? Oh.)

‘Arrogant’ Israeli spy infuriates S Africa intelligence (Translation: ‘Arrogant’ Israeli spy infuriates S Africa intelligence. That’s the whole, entire article.)

Mossad contradicted Netanyahu on Iran nuclear programme (Translation: Didn’t Obama already stab Netanyahu in the back by leaking a very similar story a month ago? Yes, but this is different: Al Jazeera is talking about something that happened back in 2012. Mossad had said that Iran had not appeared to be working on a bomb at the time, but nonetheless, that their activities “will reduce the time required to produce weapons from the time the instruction is actually given.” The most useful piece of information to come out of this leak, (and which is not news to anyone), is to confirm that Qatar is the Obama administration’s junior partner in the region, helping them to throw people under the bus rather than address real security concerns. Thank you Al Jazeera.)

The only newsworthy item to emerge from these leaks: Al Jazeera has jeopardized the life of a North Korean official who the leaks allege that Mi6 were attempting to turn. The original article had stated the dates of an unnamed high-ranking official’s flight, and with so few North Korean officials fitting that description, their identity would be easy to surmise. Belatedly understanding their error, Al Jazeera went back and amended their article to retract the dates of the flight of the official, but the damage has likely already been done.

WORTH READING

On Qatar: Hate them or be paid to say you love them, none can deny the oversized ambition and influence of Qatar, a nation of at least fifty people.

On the occasion of the Qatari emir’s visit to the United States yesterday to highlight the protection moneyinvestments that Qatar has poured into the U.S., the Wall Street Journal published an excellent piece on Monday about the links between the statelet’s ties to Islamist terrorists: “The Qataris need to know they can’t have it both ways,” said Dennis Ross, who was Mr. Obama’s top Mideast adviser in his first term. “But so far, they see that they can.” (Read: Qatar’s Ties to Militants Strain Alliance)

On Game Theory: The best strategies for wildlife’s survival turn out to be selfish ones that led to extortion, not cooperation, according to game theorists Freeman Dyson and William Press in their attempt to find a new solution to the Prisoners’ Dilemma game. It was previously thought that “the most successful strategies often tend to be the ones that don’t try to take advantage of another person,” but Dyson and Press outlined that an extortionate approach, that calculates how often you can defect without demotivating other players completely, could always win by choosing to defect according to a prescribed set of probabilities.

The work, described in the Scientific American as reviving the entire field, “is entirely theoretical at this point. But the findings could potentially have broad-reaching implications, explaining phenomena ranging from cooperation among complex organisms to the evolution of multicellularity—a form of cooperation among individual cells.”

WORTH WATCHING

VIDEO: In the Fall, by Steve Cutts. Music: Guided by Voices. An animated dark comedy about coming to terms with dying. (Watch, running time: 1:44)

STILLS:Hundreds of photographs from the early years of the space age are for sale. That includes the first image taken from space … Apollo 8’s “Earthrise” … Buzz Aldrin’s boot print in the moon’s soil … others were never widely distributed by NASA, and although some have been available on the web, the images are still unfamiliar to most. That includes a selfie taken by Mr. Aldrin in 1966 as he was floating in orbit during a Gemini 12 spacewalk.” (Read, then tap through for the image gallery)

DIPLOMACY

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with the Director of CIA John Brennan on 19 February to discuss, among other topics, the need of rapidly holding a strategic dialogue session between Egypt and the United States, along with the crisis in Libya and the draft Arab resolution in front of the UNSC regarding the North African state, along with other regional issues such as Syria. (Read)

As noted in our talk show review above, Qatari Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani published an op-ed in the New York Times yesterday titled ‘Qatar’s Message to Obama,’ where the emir states that the root cause of terrorism is not Islam but “hopelessness”: “It’s the hopelessness we see in the poorer neighborhoods of Europe’s great cities, and, yes, even in the United States.” One wonders if the Qatari emir is including thehopelessness of the Nepalese migrant workers who have died at the rate of one worker every two days in 2014building Qatar’s disposable stadiums, or the hopelessness of the North Korean slaves working on the same sports facilities?

Al-Monitor has a very contentious Interview with Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah, who had the following to say when asked about relations with Egypt: “But do you follow up and see the Egyptian media? Although we are refraining from talking about these issues now, every day an Egyptian official attacks Qatar. I mean, I will give you a very simple example. I was asked to meet and greet an Egyptian official, and I did, and he handed me an invitation from President Sisi to the prince to attend the economic conference in Egypt. Then one day, one of the most prominent Egyptian officials in the executive authority appears on television where he was asked live whether Qatar was invited to the economic conference. “Not that I know of,” he said. How can that possibly be acceptable? Despite all that, we only wish for stability to prevail in Egypt.

Al-Hayat:  Will Qatar attend the economic summit in Egypt?

Attiyah:  We have already talked about this with King Abdullah Abdulaziz, God bless his soul, and with the prince as well, who emphasized that Qatar will indeed be present at the conference. (Read)

ENERGY, RENEWABLE ENERGY & SUBSIDY REFORM

Terra Sola proposes solar project worth USD 3.5 bn coupled with 20,000 job opportunities
Al Mal | 24 Feb 2015
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, along with a delegation that included the Minister of Electricity, met with the Chairman of Terra Sola Group. The Chairman of the company presented Terra Sola’s plans for a USD 3.5 bn project in Egypt that the company will fully finance. The project is expected to generate revenues close to USD 760 mn per year, and will create around 20,000 employment opportunities. (Read in Arabic and refer to Terra Sola’s website noting their plans for their Egypt operations)

OIL & GAS

EGAS assessing two different options for extra LNG shipments – Source
Al Shorouk | 24 Feb 2015
EGAS is currently assessing two different options to implement the second phase of the LNG import process, according to an inside source. The first option is for EGAS to contract companies that had already submitted winning bids in the first phase for larger quantities. The alternative would be to issue a new tender and assess bids. (Read in Arabic)

Mazut a more viable alternative to LNG – former EGPC deputy chief
Al Bawaba | 23 Feb 2015
The recent drop in energy prices is now making mazut a more reliable alternative to LNG, according the former deputy head of EGPC, Medhat Youssef. Youssef notes that since the mazut prices dropped to USD 245 per ton, the price per mbtu ends up being USD 6.3 and given mazut’s broader usability, according to Youssef, it is more valuable than LNG. The former EGPC deputy chief believes that the contracted prices for LNG should be made public and is outraged if the leaked prices ranging from USD 14-16 per mbtu are true. (Read in Arabic)

Egypt to get first LNG cargo next month amidst export plans
Bloomberg | 23 Feb 2015
Egypt is set to receive the first cargo of LNG next month, according to the head of the Petroleum Ministry’s media department, Hamdy Abdel Aziz, who did not identify the supplier. Depending on the needs of the local market, imports are expected to stop by 2020 as major field development and exploration projects get under way. Abdel Aziz says the imports are needed until domestic gas production can be boosted and exports resumed. Bloomberg notes that “Egypt has two LNG-exporting plants, with shipments from one of them, operated by Union Fenosa Gas, stopped since 2013. The other plant, run by BG Group Plc, declared force majeure in January 2014, citing “ongoing diversions” of its gas supply to the local market, according to BG’s website.” (Read)

BP announces the start of drilling of the Atoll-1 well north of Damietta
Offshore Crews | 23 Feb 2015
BP announced it has started the offshore drilling of the Atoll-1 well north of Damietta. Atoll-1 is the second exploration well at the North Damietta Offshore concession and follows the Salamat-1 discovery announced in 2013. The well will be drilled using the Maersk Discoverer rig and the drilling is expected to be completed in the summer. “The significant investment in Atoll-1 is another great example that demonstrates our commitment to meeting Egypt’s energy needs…We look forward to continuing to play a key role in the development of Egypt’s energy sector,” Hesham Mekawi, BP North Africa regional president said. (Read)

MANUFACTURING

Gas supplies’ shortage behind drop in exports of chemicals
Al Ahram | 24 Feb 2015
The Chemicals and Fertilizers Export Council complained that the shortage of natural gas supplies caused the drop in chemicals’ exports. The Council gave an example of Helwan Fertilizers, which had its production shut down completely as Town Gas has not provided it with natural gas since January. A memo will be submitted to the Ministry of Petroleum regarding the issue. The companies also expressed their concern about the shortage of hard currencies following the latest CBE regulations. (Read in Arabic)

HEALTHCARE

EBRD offers to buy 20% of Ibn Sina Pharma
Al Borsa | 24 Feb 2015
The EBRD has reportedly submitted an offer to acquire 20% of Ibn Sina Pharmaceuticals. The deal will be done through a capital increase and should be finalised in two months. Ibn Sina, the country’s second largest pharmaceuticals distributor, appointed Beltone as advisor, with Deloitte conducting the due diligence. (Read in Arabic)

Borg Pharma target EGP 130 mn in sales this year
Al Borsa | 23 Feb 2015
Borg Pharmaceutical Industries said it is targeting EGP 130 mn in sales this year, up from EGP 100 mn last year. The company’s CEO stressed the need for the government to raise the fixed prices of some drugs to keep up with the rising manufacturing costs. Borg also denied any intention to list its shares in the near future. (Read in Arabic)

Pharmacists’ Syndicate calls on the government to fix the prices of infant formula
Al Borsa | 23 Feb 2015
After witness a price rise for the fourth time this year, the Pharmacists’ Syndicate called on the government to set fixed prices for infant formula. The syndicate is hoping the government follows in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia, which set a fixed price for all imported infant formula. (Read in Arabic)

REAL ESTATE

Madinet Nasr Housing & Development call for general meeting for proposed capital hike
Al Mal | 24 Feb 2015
Madinet Nasr Housing & Development announced to shareholders that it will be holding its general meeting on 5 March. The company will look to approve an increase in its issued capital. Additionally, shareholders will consider modifications to articles 6 and 7 of MNHD’s Articles of Incorporation. (Read in Arabic)

Al Ahly for Real Estate Development awarded EGP 2.5 bn worth of land
Amwal Al Ghad | 24 Feb 2015
Mostakbal Real Estate announced that Al Ahly for Real Estate Development was awarded three plots of land with a total value of EGP 2.5 bn. Al Ahli presented bids that were higher than four other bidders’, Al Mostakbal said. The payment for the land will be made over five years. (Read in Arabic)

EDUCATION

Emaar Egypt signs agreement to open AIS campus in Uptown Cairo
Al Mal | 24 Feb 2015
Emaar Egypt has signed an agreement with Esol Education to open a branch of AIS at its luxury housing development, Uptown Cairo. Emaar Egypt has allocated 40,000 meters squared of land for the construction of the school. The decision to establish the school is in line with the company’s goal to develop a “full-service” community for its residents. (Read in Arabic)

TOURISM

Tourism ministry to spend USD 3 mn promoting Egypt to Russian tourists
Al Mal | 24 Feb 2015
The Ministry of Tourism said it will spend USD 3 mn until the end of June promoting Egypt as a destination for Russian tourists. Charter flights will also be promoted as part of measures the ministry is taking to support the Russian tourist market. Technical as well as financial support was promised to operators bringing in Russian tourists, according to the ministry. (Read in Arabic)

Zaazou: Arab tourists critical to industry’s recovery and growth
Al Masry Al Youm | 24 Feb 2015
While speaking at a conference in Hurghada, Egypt’s minister of Tourism, Hisham Zaazou,  stated that Arab tourism was critical to the industry’s recovery and growth. Zaazou added that ministry has planned new initiatives, similar to last year’s Wahashtoona campaign, to attract Arab tourists back to the country. For instance, the ministry in the process of commissioning prominent Arab musicians to participate in “Egypt is Close”, an operetta  on the marvel’s of Egypt’.  (Read in Arabic)

BANKING & FINANCE

Banque du Caire reveals its investments in government debt
Al Mal | 24 Feb 2015
According to Banque du Caire deputy chairman Mohamed Taha, the bank’s investment in government debt instruments amounts to EGP 31 bn. Of this amount, EGP 12 bn is in treasury bonds, while EGP 19 bn  is in long-term government bonds. (Read in Arabic)

Ahli United Bank to provide EGP 350 mn for Egyptian Steel’s loan
Amwal Al Ghad | 23 Feb 2015
Ahli United Bank will participate in the EGP 1.7 bn syndicated loan for Egyptian Steel with EGP 350 mn. The loan is organised with four other banks including CIB, Alex Bank, Audi, and Emirates NBD. The loan will be used to finance the building of a new steel production plan in El Ein El Sokhna. (Read in Arabic)

Bank Audi in talks with SinoTharwa for a USD 30 mn loan
Amwal Al Ghad | 24 Feb 2015
SinoTharwa is now in talks with Bank Audi for a USD 30 mn loan. Previous negotiations with NBE and AAIB had fell apart leading SinoTharwa to look for alternatives. The loan will be used to buy 10 new rigs, which will be used in the Ministry of Irrigation’s land reclamation project. A source said hard currency shortage is limiting USD financing domestically. (Read in Arabic)

OTHER BUSINESS NEWS OF NOTE

Americana Egypt to pay dividends to shareholders
Wafd | 24 Feb 2015
Americana Egypt will reportedly be paying dividends of EGP 2.38 per share to shareholders for profit generated in FY2014 (EGP 166.72 mn), over two separate installments. The company recently announced its plans to schedule a general meeting for March 15 in order to approve its dividend payout plan.  Additionally, the company will announce its budget for FY2015. (Read in Arabic)

Egyptian-Kenyan alliance to build USD 100 mn paper factory
Amwal Al Ghad | 24 Feb 2015
Hany Cassis, Mintra Egypt’s Managing Director, said the company is joining an alliance with Kenyan investors to build a new USD 100 mn paper factory in Kenya. The Kenyan government is on board, Cassis said, and it will provide land for the project. Financing for the project is expected to come from domestic banks as well as from Afrixem’s initiative to increase trade with East Africa. (Read in Arabic)

EGYPT POLITICS + ECONOMICS

All ration cards to be replaced with smart cards imminently –Supplies ministry
Al Borsa | 24 Feb 2015
The Minister of Supplies, Khaled Hanafy, said the ministry will be replacing all of the physical ration card with smart ones. The system will allow for an easier allocation for food rations and for a more efficient supply chain. (Read in Arabic)
REGIONAL

Studio Masr expands in Dubai
Agl News | 24 Feb 2015
Studio Masr, the Egyptian restaurant chain owned by Amer Group, reportedly will be opening a Dubai branch in the very near future. If opened, this would be Studio Masr’s third branch outside of Egypt; Studio Masr already has restaurants in Jeddah and Abu Dhabi. According to a representative from Tropicana Group – a Amer Group subsidiary- the company has plans to open three additional Studio Masr restaurants in the UAE. The company also has plans to expand to other GCC countries. (Read in Arabic)

ON YOUR WAY OUT

Al-Mal is vaguely scandalized that the Maritim Jolie Ville will host part of the Sharm economic summit next month. Their objection: The hotel, a fixture of the “international summit” scene in Sharm, is owned by Hussein Salem of EMG / gas-to-Israel fame.

Sameh Seif Al Yazal, President of the Egyptian British Businessmen Association, says that he expects 51 British companies to attend the investment summit in March. (Read in Arabic)

Dr. Tharwat Nafie has reportedly resigned from the presidency of the alternate-universe Egyptian Ikhwan-in-exile parliament in Turkey. (Read in Arabic)

BY THE NUMBERS

USD CBE auction (Monday, 23 Feb): 7.5301 (unchanged since Monday, 02 Feb)
USD parallel market (Tuesday, 24 Feb): -no quote-

EGX30 (Tuesday): 9,611.66 (+0.11%)
Turnover: EGP 315.8 mn (54% below the 90-day average)

WTI: USD 49.29 (+0.02%)
Brent: USD 58.92 (+0.44%)

TASI: 9,294.1 (+0.6%)
ADX: 4,621.0 (-0.2%)
DFM: 3,838.7 (+0.2%)
KSE Weighted Index: 457.7 (flat, +0.03%)
QE: 12,525.9 (-0.2%)
MSM: 6,599.2 (-0.3%)

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