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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

What we’re tracking on 30 May 2017

The successful eurobond issuance continues to make the rounds in the international media, with the Financial Times quoting Finance Minister Amr El Garhy as saying it is “a vote of confidence in the economic story of Egypt and the economic reform programme that Egypt is adopting.” El Garhy says there is no chance Egypt is going to scrap the IMF reform program, saying it is “a programme by the Egyptian government that we are going to deliver.” El Garhy also reiterated that trading in the nation’s eurobonds shows that “the market is basically perceiving” that Egypt deserves a credit ratings upgrade.

The government is getting busy on the legislative front: The House of Representatives approved a 0.125% stamp tax on capital market transactions during a plenary session yesterday. The measure won’t come into effect until signed off by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and being published in the Official Gazette. Meanwhile, cabinet is working on draft legislation that would see state coffers benefit from ministerial slush funds, the new (and controversial) NGO law went into effect yesterday, the House has made cheating on exams a criminal offense, and EFSA’s new regulations on ownership of brokerage houses have gone into effect. Details on all of this in Speed Round, below.

More strikes on Derna? Warplanes launched three airstrikes on Derna in Libya yesterday, a witness told Reuters. “There was no immediate confirmation of Monday’s strikes from officials in Libya or neighboring Egypt, nor any claim of responsibility for the raid on the city at the eastern end of Libya’s Mediterranean coast.” The Libyan National Army said it was coordinating with Egypt on the strikes, while an Egyptian military spokesman said, “Anyone sponsoring terrorism will be punished no matter where they are. We have not announced the cessation of military operations against terrorist training camps.

The state’s Supreme Media Council will discuss today a ban imposed on nearly two dozen news websites, according to media reports. The news comes as rumors circulate that the ban has been lifted, apparently prompted by some of the sites becoming intermittently available within Egypt. All the sites are accused of spreading false news or of being pro-terror. We have more in Speed Round, below.

Headed to the UK today? Breathe easy. “British Airways said its IT systems are back up and a full flight schedule is planned Tuesday at London’s airports, where thousands of passengers were stranded because of the breakdown,” CNN reports.

“U.A.E. Minister Says Gulf States in Crisis Amid Qatar Spat,” Bloomberg declares, reporting that Gulf monarchies are suffering a “severe” crisis as a result of “a spat between a Saudi-led alliance and Qatar over ties with Iran.” Bloomberg’s Alaa Shahine and Ladane Nasseri pick up on Saudi newspapers savaging Qatar in the wake of a call from The Statelet’s ruler to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Another looming credit crisis in America? Worries that student loans would trigger another US credit crisis haven’t come to pass, so the Cassandras at the Financial Times are turning their attention to the car loan market. “Big banks are throttling back” from the USD 1.2 tn market for automotive financing “fearing that consumers have taken on more debt than they can handle. … The consequences of an car sector meltdown are unlikely to be as severe as in mortgages, a market about eight times bigger, but ‘there will be fallout,’” the FT suggests.

I want my corner office back. And no “open door policy,” either. A week-old piece from the Wall Street Journal on CEOs fleeing open-plan workspaces for the corner office is getting wide notice. “Mr. Hamad has joined a cadre of bosses chucking the egalitarianism of working alongside their employees for the old-fashioned private office. Their open-office revolt, they say, is less about reclaiming the corner office than about needing a quiet place to think.” Read CEOs Want Their Offices Back (paywall).

Is this the ultimate Ramadan business story? Perhaps for Canadians. The National Post’s Financial Post takes a deep, character-filled dive into how iconic coffee and donut brand Tim Hortons is faring now that it is owned by the private equity cultists at Brazil’s 3G Capital, whose “efficiency-driven management style” dictates everything from menu choices to how employees at Tim Hortons’ headquarters should organize their desks. Why should you care if you’re not a Canadian coffee drinker? 3G capital owns iconic brands including Burger King, Anheuser-Busch, Kraft, Heinz and Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken. The catch? Even as it takes the brand global, 3G is driving Tim Hortons’ core franchisees to the point of near-revolt. Whether you have an affinity for the brand or you’re a PE type who wants to learn how not to foment revolt at your portfolio companies, read “At Tim Hortons it’s not business as usual: Profits are up, but so is franchisee discontent.”

A longtime friend of Enterprise has gotten together with a number of his friends to launch an online petition to talk about religious tolerance in Egypt. The organizers are asking you to show “your fellow Egyptians and the international community that we are all united — Muslims and Christians — against all forms of violence and that Islam, like all religions, denounces all forms of violence and extremism.” Not even the deep cynic in us can disagree with that sentiment. Check out the petition here — signing it will take just seconds, unless you also choose to leave a comment.

So, when do we eat? Maghrib prayers are at 18:50 CLT in Cairo, and the cutoff time for sohour is 3:11am.

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