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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

What we’re tracking on 7 February 2016

Get ready to meet your new cabinet on Sunday, 12 February, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail told Ahram Gate. That trumps an earlier report citing sources at the pro-government Support Egypt Coalition as confirming the date. Elsewhere, Al Shorouk suggests that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi rejected last Thursday at least five of the 10 potential ministers nominated by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail.

The Donald gets some love from Egypt: The Foreign Affairs Ministry praised how US President Donald Trump is handling the media after The White House released a list of 78 terrorist attacks, including nine in Egypt, it believes went “unreported.” Trump has said the media in many cases “doesn’t want to report on” terrorism. According to a White House official, the international list was sent out to prove the point “that these terrorists attacks are so pervasive at this point that they do not spark the wall-to-wall coverage they once did,” Politico says. Trump trolls media, media rises to bait: Witness the New York Times’ exhaustive “Our Articles on the Attacks Trump Says the Media Didn’t Cover.” (More on this in Egypt in the News.)

The ministry says the White House’s stance is in line with Egypt’s and follows the calls to for a complete, coordinated, and non-selective strategy to combat terrorism. Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid attacked the media further, saying the Egyptian state often found itself accused of negligence or complicity after it suffered from terrorist attacks including the Metrojet flight crash or the attack on the Coptic Cathedral. Russia’s TASS pounced on Abou Zeid’s remarks, highlighting that the Foreign Affairs Ministry has referred to the Metrojet plane crash “officially” as an “act of terror.”

It’s not exactly reciprocity, but Ittihadiya doubtless appreciates that the White House is mulling whether to designate the Ikhwan as a terrorist organization. The New York Times seems preoccupied less with right-wing staple Breitbart being “alarmed” at the Ikhwan than it is with the notion that designating the organization as terrorist would “create a legal justification to crack down on Muslim charities, mosques and other groups in the United States.” The Ikhwan has bedeviled top Trump advisor Stephen Bannon for at least a decade, the Washington Post reports. The New York Times has the full story.

Biggest equity advisory mandate in history: “Moelis & Co has been chosen as the sole independent advisor for the planned initial public offering of Saudi Aramco … scoring the New York boutique investment bank the biggest equity advisory mandate in history,” the Financial Times (paywall) reports. Other banks are still in the running to underwrite the offering, the paper reports. Moelis edged out Rothschild and Lazard as well as Goldman Sachs and HSBC for the mandate. Moelis’ mandate includes advisory on selection of underwriters and execution of the IPO, the Wall Street Journal reports.

We love Moelis’ story and figure there must be a lesson or two for Egypt here given what we’re going through right now. The firm was founded by “old-fashioned dealmaker” Ken Moelis smack in the middle of the global financial crisis back in 2007. “Ken Moelis admits that launching a boutique investment bank in the middle of a global financial crisis was not the most obvious move for a banker trying his hand at being an entrepreneur for the first time. The bank enjoyed a dazzling growth rate as it hired about 200 staff in less than two years … Critics predicted it would struggle to find new clients … Instead, Moelis rapidly became emblematic of a bespoke kind of merchant banking … That means concentrating on advisory services rather than additional offerings, such as financing.” Read the rest of the FT’s profile of Moelis in its Monday Interview here.

And at the intersection of Trump and Wall Street: Dealbook founder and CNBC host Andrew Ross-Sorkin (also executive producer of the amazing Bn’s, which returns a week from Sunday) tells us that Baupost Group boss Seth Klarman, “the most successful and influential investor you have probably never heard of,” has quietly penned “the most sought-after reading material on Wall Street” — namely the notion that “exuberant investors have focused on the potential benefits of stimulative tax cuts [under the Trump administration] while mostly ignoring the risks from America-first protectionism and the erection of new trade barriers.” Boston-based Klarman is often tipped as “the next Warren Buffet”; his fund has about USD 30 bn in AUM. The full letter has yet to leak, but Zero Hedge and Benzinga have excerpts.

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