Is the EGP set to lose 20% of its value over 12 months? Forwards say ‘Yes.’
- EGP set to lose 20% of its value over 12 months?
- Business conditions improved in August, PMI suggests
- Mahlab says fuel smart cards are coming; cabinet spox says price increases not in the cards this year
- Dimian laying groundwork for VAT
- EEDC and WEF Middle East will overlap in Sharm El Sheikh
- Challenges to scale for startups in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and UAE
- ** By the Numbers + Egypt’s economic freedom score + why Suez Canal naysayers are quite likely wrong **
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY
The finance ministers and central bankers from the G20 met in Ankara on Friday and Saturday with a warning from the IMF against a U.S. move to raise interest rates — and a sharp warning about risks to emerging markets growth — ringing in their ears. Despite a lot of weight being thrown around behind the scenes, the final communiqué stopped well short of calling a move by the U.S. Fed to raise rates a threat to EM growth. An earlier version of the final statement, Reutersreports, included a line suggesting that rate hikes by developed economies “may remain one of the main sources of uncertainty in financial markets.” Read the IMF report here and check out the FT’s coveragehere. Meanwhile: Developing economies could yet have a greater voice in IMF policymaking, Reuters notes.
What didn’t happen in China: We’ll be keeping a close eye in the coming weeks for any news on the China file. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s visit to Beijing late last week netted a USD 100 mn SME financing agreement and a vaguely-worded cooperation protocol that pledged to help increase Egypt’s manufacturing base. There was no news, however, on expected cornerstone agreements including USD 1 bn in funding for sewage infrastructure; high-profile Chinese investment in Egyptian rail opportunities; and Chinese investments in Canal-area free zones. (Although there was, admittedly, some talk of the latter in communiqués.)
WHAT WE’RE TRACKING THIS WEEK
The Fifth Annual EFG Hermes London MENA Conference. The three-day gathering kicks-off tomorrow in London at Emirates Stadium.
The fifteenth OECD International Economic Forum on Africa is due to take place in Berlin on Wednesday, and its organizers would like you to know that African growth is due to pick up this year and next, commodities slump or not: “Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to strengthen to 4.5% in 2015 and 5% in 2016 after subdued expansion in 2013 (3.5%) and 2014 (3.9%),” the organizers note.
ON THE HORIZON
Egypt looks set to shut down for an extra-long holiday weekend on Tuesday, 22 September, in observance of Eid Al Adha. The wa’fat el-Arafat will take place on Tuesday, with the observance of Eid taking place Wednesday-Friday, inclusive.
The T20 Innovation in Government conference is due to take place 11-12 October at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza. The two-day gathering will focus on innovation in strategies; recruiting and retaining top civil servants; and systems. Learn more about the T20 here.
Le Marché, the largest furniture and home exhibition in Egypt and the wider MENA region, is set to run 15-18 October
The inaugural N Gage Debate will take place on 13 October with a hands-on focus on how Egyptian companies can move their products and services into Africa through the Tripartite Free-Trade Agreement. Contact N Gage for more information. The timing couldn’t be better: Check out the FT’s recent “East Africa emerges as a trade hub“ suggests East Africa is increasingly a trade hub to rival Nigeria and South Africa. The story also touches on the the five “sleeping giants” with even more long-term potential: Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Tanzania and Ghana.
LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS
Lamis El Hadidy, host of CBC’s Hona El Assema, began last night’s how mourning the deaths of the Saudi Arabian, Bahraini, and Emirati soldiers who were killed by Houthi forces in Yemen this weekend before transitioning to a discussion of the upcoming parliamentary elections.
El Hadidi: “It is clear that the two most organized forces — former NDP members and the [Salafist] Nour party — will turn in strong performances. The NDP members will likely leverage their financial muscle, while El Nour will use religious messages to sway voters… The civil parties will, as usual, perform poorly. … It saddens me that after two glorious revolutions, the political landscape of Egypt has not changed significantly.”
Amr Hashim Rabea, vice president of Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, provided a counterpoint: “Despite the fact that El Nour have emerged as the strongest Islamist party [following the demise of the Ikhwan], I do not anticipate that they will be able to win more than 10% of the seats,” said Rabea, adding that, “no party will be able to win an outright majority, making these elections different than any other in Egypt’s history.”
Osama Kamal, host of Al Kahera 360, touched upon a wide range of issues during his two-hour long program, the most notable being the government’s roll-out of its fuel subsidy smart card program. Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab met again this weekend with top cabinet members to discuss progress in the implementation of smart cards for petroleum products, according to a lengthy recap from Cabinet. The cards had been due to become mandatory on 15 June, but President Abdel Fattah El Sisi stayed their implementation about 48 hours before the deadline for their use.
Mahlab himself called-in last night to provide viewers with status update: “This project will allow the government to collect data on citizens’ fuel consumption and will ensure that fuel subsidies reach those who need them. Additionally, this project aims to bring an end to corruption and other forms of negligence that reduce efficiency. To date, 3 mn out of a total 5.2 mn smart cards have been distributed to drivers. I urge anyone who is yet to obtain their card to go to the Traffic Authority to pick it up,” added Mahlab
(In related news, cabinet spokesman, Ambassador Hossam Qaweish, has denied reports that the government intends raise the prices of gasoline and diesel fuel before the end of the year.)
A MESSAGE FROM SODIC
Re-building Egypt together
Our journey with social responsibility has shown us that a lasting commitment to one’s community and nation should be a way of living, a way of doing business. And for it to be authentic — to have a real, lasting and quantifiable impact — we must align what we do in social responsibility with our core competencies and true values as an institution.
That’s why SODIC’s two social responsibility platforms are Education and Community Development.They’re about helping people live up to their potential, no matter their personal resources. We are honored to support early childhood education programs and art education for kids as young as six, in addition to vocational training for women and microfinance counselling. We facilitate access to credit, access to education and access to healthcare. Even the rebuilding from the ground-up of one of Cairo’s most underprivileged neighborhoods.
As part of our continuous efforts to develop Egypt’s informal areas, we have signed a protocol with Cairo Governorate and the Ministry of Housing to connect 1,000 homes to the fresh-water and sewage networks in Ezbet Khairallah.
From Cairo to Minya and beyond, you can learn more about the facts and figures of who we’ve worked with here. Or watch a short video (run time: 3:52) about our education program, or another about our community development platform (run time: 3:47). We hope they might inspire you this morning.
Forward contracts are implying that the EGP is set to lose 20% of its value in the next 12 months, Bloomberg says, adding that “traders are convinced Egypt won’t resist the pressure to weaken the pound for long” after China’s shock yuan devaluation. The pound remains “massively overvalued” an Aberdeen Asset Management investment analyst said, “The reason we and many others haven’t come back to the local market is because we expect some kind of depreciation in the future. Decision-making is very opaque, which makes the risk-reward picture unappealing for us.”
Business conditions for Egypt’s non-oil business sector improved in August at their fastest pace so far in 2015, according to the Emirates NBD PMI (pdf), which recorded a reading of 51.2. New orders and purchase activities grew solidly even though the business sector continued to shed jobs for the eighth time in the last nine months, albeit marginally. “The improvement in the August survey is encouraging, and more than reverses the decline seen in the previous month. The rise in the Output component to an 11-month high was particularly notable, and hopefully suggests that the slowdown witnessed in July will not persist through H2. With export activity softening, domestic demand is likely to be the main driver of growth in the near term,” Jean-Paul Pigat, Senior Economist at Emirates NBD, commented.
Dimian laying groundwork for VAT: The Mahlab government appears unlikely to enact a new law imposing a value-added tax, but will issue a string of amendments to the tax code to make the revenue-grab a reality. The news came as Finance Minister Hany Dimian released a statement (pdf) that was light on specifics, but which makes clear the government will grant a temporary 5% discount on VAT paid on goods and a temporary 15% discount on VAT paid on services when the tax first comes into effect. As to when it might be charged? That’s anyone’s guess. The finance minister has previously said it could be enacted “within weeks,” but yesterday’s statement is mum on the topic. Ahram Online has more.
A VAT lottery? Really? The government says it will institute a lottery to encourage businesses to issue receipts and consumers to demand them, to help eliminate the current practice of retailers ‘failing’ to issue valid tax receipts. The idea was actually first pioneered by Taiwan, and has since been implemented in a number of Asian states such as China, as well as Brazil and other developing states seeking to implement VAT. “This reward policy is also known as the Lottery Ticket Reward Policy (in short: LTRP). It is not just a theoretical approach to combating VAT and RST evasion, it has actually been implemented in several countries,” according to economist Marco Fabbri in his paper “Do you want a receipt?” (pdf). However, an IMF Staff Report from April 2015 states: “A lottery ticket may have much less value to the consumer than evading VAT on a big ticket purchase. Such schemes clearly cannot be the centerpiece of an effective compliance strategy,” (Read, pdf)
Dimian doesn’t expect VAT to result in inflationary spike: Finance minister Hany Dimian, inan article in The Banker, reviews the Mahlab government’s commitment to fiscal reform. On the subject of the long-awaited value added tax — which in the article Dimian refers to as GST or Goods and Services Tax — the finance minister states that exemptions will be maintained on staple goods and services, including public health and education. Dimian also doesn’t foresee an impact on inflation from the VAT’s implementation beyond a one-off 2% to 3%.
You’ve got to love retail investors: The Egypt Gas Company sent a disclosure to the bourseconcerning its (largely unexplained) 29% stock price increase from last Monday to Tuesday. The company, a contractor responsible for connecting Egyptian households and business with natural gas, said Eni’s gas discovery at the Zohr field in its Shorouk concession, which licensed by EGAS, has no direct impact on its business for the time being. Why would anyone think the discovery had any impact on them in the first place? Egypt Gas’ ticker symbol is EGAS.CA.
Speaking of Eni: The gas discovery could alleviate Egypt’s balance of payments pressures, Moody’s says: “Low global oil prices and increased domestic gas production will help alleviate the negative pressure on Egypt’s current account balance by reducing the need for natural gas imports and eventually re-establishing the country as a net hydrocarbon exporter,” according to Moody’s Investors Service on Friday, DNE reports.
The Ministry of Electricity looks set to release its final model power purchase agreement (PPA) to investors in renewable energy by the end of September, Al Borsa reports. Lamyaa Youssef, head of feed-in tariffs at the Ministry, told Al Borsa that Fichtner, a German engineering and consulting company, completed and sent contract amendments to international financial institutions and a legal consulting office in Cairo for review. The Ministry of Electricity had approved 136 companies and consortiums to carry out solar and wind projects in Egypt.
EEDC and WEF will overlap: Regular readers will recall that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi announced (here, second-to-last paragraph) in May that the World Economic Forum on the Middle East will be coming back to Sharm El Sheikh in May 2016, the first time it returns to Egypt since Rachid Mohamed Rachid convinced the forum to come to Egypt from the traditional Dead Sea venue. Raising the stakes: The second Egypt Economic Development Conference will be held in parallel, International Cooperation Minister Nagla Ahwany announced this weekend.
Ferro to acquire Egyptian tile coatings manufacturer Al Salomi for Frit and Glazes for USD 39 mn: American performance material supplier Ferro Corporation announced on Thursday that it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of Egypt-based tile coatings manufacturer Al Salomi for USD 39 mn. Al Salomi’s 5.6k sqm plant in Suez has a current production capacity of 55k metric tons per year, with two additional lines that can produce 12k metric tons due to come online by the end of 2015.
Four America and two Fijian MFO peacekeepers injured in IED attacks in Northeast Sinai on Thursday: The Pentagon reported on Friday that two improvised explosive devices hit an unspecified number of vehicles operated by Multinational Force and Observer peacekeepers on patrol on Thursday. There were no casualties, and the six injured soldiers were flown to a medical facility to receive treatment for non life-threatening injuries. “The safety and security of U.S. forces remains our top priority, and we are committed to taking necessary steps for their protection,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, director of press operations for the Defense Department said. “The United States continues to support the role of the Multinational Force and Observers in supporting the Treaty of Peace between Israel and Egypt.” (Read)
ICYMI- In “Silicon Wadi,” Forbes Middle East uses the story of Egypt’s Kngine (backed by Sawari Ventures) to get into a discussion of how Mideast startups get stuck in the so-called startup valley of death: “The story of Kngine is a common one in the Middle East. Promising Arab startups can find local capital at first, but as they begin to grow, they run into funding gaps, or what’s known as the valley of death. In the Middle East, these gaps exist for startups that need to raise between USD 1 mn and USD 10 mn.” H/t Rise Up newsletter. (And if you haven’t checked out the RiseUp summit yet, here’s your chance.)
El Sisi’s Asian tour ends: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi ended on Saturday his weeklong Asian tour after meeting with Joko Widodo, his Indonesian counterpart. The two discussed security and economic cooperation as well as how the two countries can work together to stamp out extremism, according to a readout from Ittihadiya.
U.S. Ambassador Stephen Beecroft visited the Pyramids on Thursday, where he “affirmed U.S. support for preserving Egypt’s antiquities and for increasing tourism,” according to an embassystatement.
Meanwhile, in Washington: Saudi’s King Salman met at the White House with U.S. President Barack Obama. The bottom line? Obama got a nod of approval from Salman on the P5+1 Iranian nuclear settlement, and Salman got both appropriate murmurs of support, with the note that the two discussed “fast-tracking the provision of certain military equipment to the Kingdom, as well as heightened cooperation on counter-terrorism, maritime security, cybersecurity, and ballistic missile defense.” Full joint statement here, in English. Or skip to breathless American coverage of the king having booked an “entire hotel“ and his somewhat extravagant fleet of limousines.
The Cairo Observer blog featured a post about the Cairo Urban Tours (CUT), an initiative providing tours seeking “to enrich and ground the urban discourse and academic concepts in local practice and everyday experience” and “featuring itineraries through Cairo’s typical urban conditions: the deteriorating urban core, encroaching informal areas, and expanding desert cities.” The CUT tours feature six distinct itineraries: Cairo’s urban core (Downtown and Islamic Cairo), Informal areas (Izbat Khayrallah and Ard Al Liwa), and the Desert Cities (Sixth of October City and New Cairo).
EGYPT IN THE NEWS
Egypt’s Brotherhood media in freefall: BBC Monitoring reports on what it describes as the “freefall” of the Ikhwan’s media, especially its media-in-exile run out of Istanbul, which has long incited violence in Egypt. “The drying up of funds to some of these channels comes against the background of the decision by the Egyptian government to seize the assets of many individuals belonging to the MB, which is designated a terrorist group in Egypt. … Apart from the financial troubles and internal differences, there have been suggestions that Turkey, the key host of the MB TV stations, may be changing its policy towards the group.” (Read)
President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has issued a “string of decrees to ratify important pieces of legislation affecting economic policy, in advance of the election of a new parliament,” theEconomist Intelligence Unit writes, highlighting amendments to the income tax law, special economic zones, and moves to deregulate the energy sector. “Taken together, the latest economic reforms are likely to be welcomed by the business community… However, the latest spate of amendments is likely to prove the apex of economic reform in the country for the time being, with the legislative process set to slow down as the parliamentary election campaign gets under way and after the assembly’s sessions begin,” the EIU adds.
Eni’s natural gas discovery from its Egyptian Zohr field is getting some coverage from The Economist’sprint edition. In contrast to Eni’s last major discovery, a 85 tcf field in Mozambique, The Economist says, developing Zohr should be a less expensive endeavour as Egypt “already has an established oil and gas industry and cheap, skilled labour.” A risk consultant adds that the discovery should also be welcomed in Israel as “in the long run Israel may gain more from a financially secure Egypt that is not dependent on Saudi funding than it would have done from selling the Egyptians gas.”
“The discovery of a giant natural gas field off the coast of Egypt is great news for that energy-starved nation, but it threatens to upend the grandiose energy dreams of neighbors like Israel and Cyprus,” Foreign Policy’s Keith Johnson writes. Even though the option to export gas to Egypt from Israel will unlikely be exercised, Johnson argues, Egypt’s gas find could spur greater Israeli gas consumption at home, increasing its added value. For Cyprus, the discovery might be a revival of interest in exporting to Turkey.
Jailed Islamists in Egypt are dying of neglect, a Reuters report says. The newswire spoke to the families and lawyers of five prisoners who said they saw a pattern of neglect with political detainees and presented three of the accounts, supported by documents, exposing this neglect.
An unidentified passenger was found to have deliberately started two fires on board a flight on 27 August from Birmingham airport to Sharm el-Sheikh. There were no injuries reported and the fires were put out by cabin crew. “UK authorities have been notified and are dealing with the matter. As the alleged incident is the subject of a police investigation, we are not in a position to comment further,” the airline said. (Read in The Guardian)
A colleague of Mick Deane, the veteran Sky News cameraman who was shot dead during the forced dispersal of the Raba’a sit-in, testified in coroner’s court that Deane’s flak jacket had been confiscated upon arrival at Cairo Airport. The flak jacket was allegedly rated to withstand a sniper’s bullet, the reported cause of Deane’s death. (Read)
Naguib Sawiris offers to buy Med island for refugees and migrants: Naguib Sawiris’ claim on Twitter on 1 September that he was prepared to buy a Greek or Italian island and develop it to help thousands of refugees and migrants has been picked up by the AFP. There would be “temporary shelters to house the people, then you start employing the people to build housing, schools, universities, hospitals.”
WHAT YOU CLICKED ON LAST WEEK
The most-clicked links in Enterprise last week were:
- Amal Clooney on Lamis El Hadidy (Youtube)
- Koran discovery could rewrite Islamic history (The Times, paywall)
- The men’s and women’s world number one squash champs are Egyptians, and they took a selfie (Facebook)
- Meet the TE Data Customer Service Baboon (Youtube, Enterprise parody)
- The six oldest trees in the world (Mentalfloss)
- IMF mission will discuss sales tax reform, monetary policy (Al Borsa)
Trends and challenges to scale for startups in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the UAE.Wamda Research Lab published its Country Insights report last week, based on surveys of 494 entrepreneurs in Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and Lebanon. The report features timelines on the development of the startup ecosystems of the aforementioned countries, as well as the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in each of their respective markets. (Download Country Insights: Exploring trends and challenges to scale for startups in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the UAE, pdf)
War Without Images: Algeria, I Know that You Know, (2002). Swiss-Algerian filmmaker Mohamed Soudani returned to his homeland to film this documentary after a 30-year absence from the country, accompanied by Swiss photographer Michael von Graffenried. The two track down the subjects of Von Graffenreid photographs ± some of whom had been photographed without their knowledge — taken during his visits to the country during its civil war from 1991 to 2000. In the following scene, a family relates a militant attack that took place in their home years after their photographs were taken by Von Graffenreid. (Watch in Arabic with English subtitles, running time: 6.5 minutes).
Images of the dead 3-year old Aylan Kurdi, a video of which we linked to in Thursday’s issue, should serve as “A wake-up call to end humanitarian suffering in Syria,” Ahmed Abu Zeid, foreign ministry spokesperson posted on Twitter on Friday. In related news, despite their seeming interchangeability in the media, the terms “migrant” and “refugee” are not synonymous, as pointed out by a recent statement by the UNHCR. “So, back to Europe and the large numbers of people arriving this year and last year by boats in Greece, Italy and elsewhere. Which are they? Refugees or migrants? In fact, they happen to be both.”
Foreign affairs ministry confirms death of at least 3 Egyptian fishermen off Libya: Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid confirmed on Friday that at least three Egyptian fisherman drowned off Libya’s coast a day earlier, with four survivors being detained by Libyan authorities, according to a statement, (Read in Arabic) and as reported by Ahram Online. On Thursday, the head of the fishermen’s syndicate said that 26 Egyptians in two fishing boats had drowned.
UN chief invites Egypt, Saudi, Jordan to Mideast Quartet meeting: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to a meeting this month of the Middle East Quartet (the UN, US, EU and Russia) in pursuit of restarting talks to reach a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Youm7 and Ahram Online report. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the expansion of the group to include the Arab states could lead to a reconsideration of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.
EGAS reassessing natural gas demand and supply projections following Eni’s discovery
Al Shorouk | 03 Sep 2015
Oil Minister Sherif Ismail has tasked EGAS to revisit its natural gas demand and supply projections for the next few years following Eni’s supergiant gas discovery, a source told Al Shorouk. The reassessment will take into consideration Eni’s production as well as from BP’s North Alexandria fields along with the LNG shipments expected to come via the “the third FSRU,” which we presume is the on docked in Aqaba, Jordan. On the demand side, the Ministry wants to take into account the increased gas requirements following expansions in building new power stations. (Read in Arabic)
Egyptian researcher claims to have discovered a new octane booster
Al Mal | 02 Sep 2015
An Egyptian researcher is set to announce her discovery of a new material that could transform grade 80 octane to grade 95, Al Mal reported. The researcher is using a methanol-based material to improve the quality of gasoline economically while abiding by environmental standards. (Read in Arabic)
EGAS invites 10 LNG firms for workshop linked to tender
Reuters | 04 Sep 2015
Ten liquefied natural gas (LNG) trading firms were invited by Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Co (EGAS) for a technical workshop, which according to traders speaking to Reuters, effectively amounts to a short-list of potential winners for a major LNG tender. Among the companies invited to attend are Noble Group, PetroChina, Shell, Gunvor, Vitol, Trafigura, Gas Natural, BP and Engie. (Read)
BASIC MATERIALS + COMMODITIES
French traders present the cheapest offer to deliver wheat to GASC
Reuters | 03 Sep 2015
French traders have presented GASC with the cheapest offer to deliver wheat in its most recent tender, traders told Reuters. GASC has issued a tender to buy wheat for 11-20 October delivery, but the purchase agreement has not yet been finalised. Egypt had extended its exemption for allowing wheat with a higher moisture content – a move that put French traders at an advantage. (Read in Arabic)
Energy shortage isn’t why new cement licences haven’t been issued, Abdelnour says
Al Shorouk | 03 Sep 2015
Issuing new cement production licences was delayed because the most suitable mechanism for the issuance has not been agreed upon yet, and not because of any energy shortage, Trade and Industry Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour said. Energy is not an issue, Fakhry said, especially given that cement producers will rely on coal. The government cannot issue the licences for free, since existing producers will then call for a refunding of the licence fees they paid, the Minister added. The Industrial Development Authority has sought to issue new licences to expand cement production domestically by 22 mn tonnes. (Read in Arabic)
HEALTH + EDUCATION
Doctors Syndicate, Social Insurance staff separately protesting Civil Service Act
Daily News Egypt | 02 Sep 2015
“It is well known that physicians and teachers receive high salaries abroad, yet the situation is different in Egypt. Providing health care professionals with low salaries has led most of them to look for another job in the private sector; which had led to the deterioration of medical services in the public sector,” said Dina Omar, managing director of a healthcare consultancy firm and television presenter. The Doctors Syndicate has called for a partial strike on 1 October against the introduction of the Civil Service Act. A second group of doctors have called for a full strike starting 1 September. Among the latter group’s demands is the removal of health minister Adel Al-Adawi along with a minimum wage of EGP 4k per month, Daily News says. Meanwhile, a number of employees at the Social Insurance Authority are also protesting the law, Ahram Online reports.
AUTOMOTIVE + TRANSPORTATION
National Authority for Tunnels studies fourth metro line with Japanese companies
Al Mal | 03 Sep 2015
The deputy head of the National Authority for Tunnels will leave for a meeting with Japanese companies involved in the construction process of the first phase of the fourth Metro line within the coming days. The project involves construction giants Taisei and Shimizu, alongside train manufacturer Mitsubishi. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will facilitate financing the project, with the first installment of a STEP loan, which is issued in Japanese Yen, adding up to USD 266 mn, while the total cost of the project is between USD 3.5-4 bn. The Fourth Metro line is meant to extend from the Al Malek Al Saleh station westward to the Grand Egyptian Museum in the first phase, and extends East to Nasr City in the second phase. (Read in Arabic)
BANKING & FINANCE
Axa to begin Egypt operations, Deputy CEO meets with Mahlab
Ahram Gate | 03 Sep 2015
French insurance firm Axa Group is set to begin operations in Egypt after finalising EFSA approvals. The company’s Deputy Chief Executive, Denis Duverne, met with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab on Thursday, as per a readout from the Prime Minister’s office. Duverne said Axa will begin property insurance operations in Egypt and is finalising the acquisition of a domestic life insurer. Mahlab suggested that the company should look into extending insurance packages to tourists visiting Egypt. (Read in Arabic)
Banque Du Caire negotiates with SFD for EGP 300 mn loan
Al Mal | 03 Sep 2015
Banque Du Caire is currently in negotiations with the Social Fund for Development (SFD) for an EGP 300 mn loan to finance micro projects, according to Niveen Badr El Din, deputy head of micro financing at the SFD. The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) will receive an additional EGP 50 mn loan, which it will then lend to microfinancing NGOs, she added. The total micro financing portfolio in Egypt, accounting for banks, companies, funds and NGOs, is only EGP 3 bn, while Egypt’s market need for microfinancing is estimated at EGP 30 bn, an EGP 27 bn deficit, she said. (Read in Arabic)
EGYPT POLITICS + ECONOMICS
El Gabha and El Esteqlal Coalitions to form electoral alliance
Al Ahram | 05 Sep 2015
Following a meeting on Saturday, El Gabha and El Estaqalal Coalitions agreed to form a “broad electoral alliance” in next month’s parliamentary elections, according to Nagi El Shehabi, President of Democratic Generation Party (DGP). Members of the National Movement Party, Misr Party, DGP, and El Ghad Party attended the meeting as well. El Shehabi said that the electoral alliance would welcome any other parties to join. (Read in Arabic).
War of words escalates in case of sacked nuclear scientist
Al Borsa, Al Mal | 05 Sep 2015
Ibrahim Asiri, the top nuclear energy advisor to Energy Minister Mohamed Shaker and the man who correctly predicted Rosatom would not sign a nuclear pact with Egypt during President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s recent visit to Moscow, was fired because he spoke too frequently with the press, Al Mal claims. The newspaper adds that Asiri was fired after ignoring repeated warnings to get his name out of the headlines. Asiri, meanwhile, continues to be outspoken on an issue he has previously termed “strategically vital,” taking to Al Borsa to tell his side of the story.
Workers Union to discuss Civil Service Act in seminar on Monday
Al Mal | 05 Sep 2015
The Working Women organization in the General Union of Egyptian Workers Union will organize a seminar titled “For or against us?” to discuss the economic and political implications of the Civil Service Act on Monday. Women reportedly represent 40% of the Egyptian public sector workforce, according to Al Mal. Representatives of women in workers unions and federations are set to take part in the seminar. (Read in Arabic)
Salafist Call expelled members for supporting violence -Borhamy: “I also condemn the media smear campaign against leaders of the Salafist Call ahead of the parliamentary elections,” said Yasser al Borhamy in a press statement released on Friday, as reported by Youm7 and Ahram Online. This came in response to television host and political commentator Moataz Abdel Fattah’s remarks on his program on Friday that Borhamy should cast out any militant members of his organization. Borhamy, the Salafist Call and its political arm the Nour Party have long been the targets of near-daily criticism by talk show hosts such as Youssef El Hosseiny and Ibrahim Eissa, as well as the “No to religious parties” campaign, which seeks to ban Nour’s participation from upcoming parliamentary elections. “I think everyone in this country knows quite well that Nour [party] is a religious party and that its ideology stands on discrimination among citizens on religious and sectarian grounds and as a result it should not be allowed to exercise any political activities,” a member of the campaign wasquoted as saying.
Preacher referred to investigation for deviating from Friday sermon: Sheikh Saad Abu Zeid Mahmoud, the imam of Al Nasr mosque in Matariya, has been suspended from work by the Ministry of Awqaf and referred to investigations for violating the unified topic of his Friday sermon, Youm7 andDaily News Egypt report. Abu Zeid also allegedly went over the allotted time and used colloquialisms, causing linguistic errors.
ON YOUR WAY OUT
The Eastern Company has denied allegations that they sold the Dahab Island land for no less than EGP 50 mn through a public auction, according to a statement sent to the EGX. Dahab Island is a rural Nile island accessible from the Maadi Corniche by falucca. Land use on the islands has been apoint of contention in the past.
As of Saturday, 3,924 individuals have submitted nomination papers to stand for election to the House of Representatives in this fall’s poll, said Amr Marwan, spokesman for the High Elections Committee. (Read in Arabic)
Powered byQUICK FACT: Egypt’s economic freedom score is 55.2, making its economy the 124th freest in the 2015 Index.
USD CBE auction (xx day, xx Month): 7.7301 (unchanged since xx day, xx Month)
USD parallel market (xx day, xx Month): 7.86 (unchanged since xx day, xx Month)
EGX30 (Thursday): 7,296.0 (+2.0%)
Turnover: EGP 431.8 mn (8% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -18.3%
Foreigners: Net short | -4.8 mn EGP
Regional: Net long | +22.0 mn EGP
Local: Net short | -17.2 mn EGP
Retail: 63.7% of total trades | 65.1% of buyers | 64.2% of sellers
Institutions: 35.3% of total trades | 34.9% of buyers | 35.8% of sellers
Foreign: 18.5% of total | 18.0% of buyers | 19.1% of sellers
Regional: 9.7% of total | 12.3% of buyers | 7.2% of sellers
Domestic: 71.8% of total | 69.7% of buyers | 73.7% of sellers
Naysayers on the “New” Suez Canal are likely wrong. PLUS: We decode Eni’s effective stake in the Zohr field
Daily two-way traffic along the entire Suez Canal hit a new record of 70 vessels on Tuesday. It was reported that 34 ships passed through the Canal from the north convoy and 36 ships passed from the south through the new stream, with a total load of 4m tons. The tonnage figure is relatively high when compared to the average daily net tonnage of 2.6m in 2014.
Several analysts have cast doubt on the potential economic benefits of the New Suez Canal, deeming the 2023 targets of 97 ships and USD 13.2 bn in receipts “unlikely” due to slower global trade growth. We think they’re quite likely wrong: Cargo tonnage has increased materially both in absolute terms and relative to the number of ships crossing the Canal. Moreover, the timing of launching the new Suez Canal has been optimal. The Panama Canal, which is competing with the Suez Canal for the Asia-East US traffic, is currently undergoing expansions that will increase its depth and width significantly by April 2016, a move that would have eroded the Suez Canal’s competitive advantage (its ability to handle larger ships). By comparison, the launch of the “New” Suez Canal has reduced transit time to 11 versus 18 hours for southbound traffic.
The bottom line: We view the surge in the number of ships crossing the Canal and in tonnage transported, if sustainable, as strictly positive to Egypt’s balance of payments.
BONUS CONTENT: After listening to the comments of the Minister of Petroleum on Eni’s deal, reading the concession agreement signed back in 2014 and reviewing a sample deal structure published by Apache Corporation, we depict what we understood to be the effective stake of Eni in the recently discovered 30 trillion cubic feet (TCF) Zohr field.
Read both research notes in full here (one pdf download containing both notes).
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