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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

What we’re tracking on 29 March 2017

Some good news to start your morning: Thomas Cook says there are early signs tourists are returning to Egypt, Reuters reports. The tour operator expects to hit its full-year operating targets and says “after a slow start to the season and a tough year in 2016, we’re seeing early signs that customers are beginning to go back to Turkey and Egypt.” Hey, Boris. Are you listening?

Some bad news this morning: The first shot has been fired in the robot apocalypse infinance. BlackRock just axed portfolio managers and hired robots. The ominous headline atop the press release announcing the change? “BlackRock positions equity investment platform for future of active management.” The firm has fired “several prominent stockpicking fund managers and plans to switch their funds to quantitative investment strategies in what chief executive Larry Fink calls a ‘pivot,’” the Financial Times dryly notes. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, saw USD 20 bn flow out of actively managed funds last year. The news is prominently featured this morning in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNBC and Bloomberg.

Also raising eyebrows in finance circles today: Bloomberg sold fewer terminals last year than the year before, the Financial Times reports, the first time since the global financial crisis that the data giant has sold fewer of the USD 22k per annum boxes year-on-year. The catch: Overall spending on financial data is rising.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi arrived in Jordan for the Arab Summit that kicks off today, according to a statement from the President’s spokesman. El Sisi will be advancing agendas on terrorism and the economy and is expected to hold one-on-ones with other heads of state and government. Look for Syria and Yemen to but put on the backburner, Reuters suggests. Instead, attendees will focus on coming up with a unified policy what to do about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in light of The Donald. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is also skulking around Jordan for the summit.

The White House has officially confirmed El Sisi’s meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington on Monday, 3 April. “President Trump and President Al Sisi will use the visit to build on the positive momentum they have built for the United States-Egypt relationship. They will discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues, including how to defeat ISIS and pursue peace and stability in the region,” the statement said.

Contrary to earlier reports in the domestic press, El Sisi will take a trade delegation with him to the US — and talk business and politics while there. We have that news and more from the AmCham investment conference yesterday in our Spotlight section.

Also at AmCham yesterday: Deputy Finance Minister Ahmed Kouchouk confirmed the state budget should reach the House of Representatives by week’s end.

The Egyptian Private Equity Association’s seminar on “first-time SME equity fund managers in Egypt” takes place today from 9:30am-1:30pm at the Cairo Marriott

Random fact of the morning: Egypt is the second-largest market after India for Truecaller, the privacy-invasive caller ID app based in Sweden and backed by Sequoia and Kleiner Perkins. (We’re not recommending sharing your contacts with that thing. We’re just saying.)

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