What we’re tracking on 16 June 2017
We’re nursing carbohydrate-induced hangovers this morning after the rare pleasure of an outstanding corporate iftar (thank you, Ovio, and your ridiculously good Turkish menu) followed by our first sohour with friends in approximately 1 bn years. So forgive us if we try to keep it somewhat brief this morning.
First: Our friends at Al Masry Al Youm are celebrating 13 years as pioneers of the independent Arabic-language press in Egypt. AMAY, which traces its spiritual roots to the seminal newspaper Al Jihad of the British occupation era, built itself from an upstart into a stalwart of the free press, granting it the space to act as a “responsible voice of opposition” at a time when opposition is sorely lacking, founder Salah Diab says in an interview marking the occasion. (Diab, a noted member of the business community, is the grandson of Al Jihad founder Tawfik Diab.) In addition to looking back at its history since its launch in June 2004, AMAY takes the time to look ahead to its future plans, which include introducing more analytical content and expanding into the digital space. AMAY also marked its 13th birthday with interviews with Culture Minister Helmy El Namnam, and Naguib Sawiris, both of whom lauded the newspaper as a turning point in the country’s media landscape and journalistic history. Coinciding with the anniversary, the head of the newspaper’s investigative department, Ahmed Shalaby, managed to clinch a top prize at the EU’s 2017 Migration Media Award for his work on an investigative piece on illegal migration to Europe.
Second, we note that the good folks at EFG Hermes ranked second out of 33 global and regional research houses in this year’s Extel survey for MENA while maintaining its position as the top research house in the MENA region. Three team members ranked in the top ten in a field of 183 ranked research analysts, including Hatem Alaa (consumer), Elena Sanchez (financials) and Mohamed Abou Basha (macro strategy). Ahmed Shams El Din, head of research at EFG Hermes, tells us that the emphasis for the firm going forward will be to keep the quality of its regional research product high while “ramping up our frontier markets coverage, where we plan to initiate coverage of more than 150 companies in 15 new countries over the next nine months. We have hired a team of ten experienced frontier-based analysts (with more to come), have opened new offices in Karachi and are eying entry to Nairobi. Our aim is to offer insights and clarity in markets that are non-transparent.”
Last, but not least: The team at Renaissance Capital were named the top frontier markets brokerage firm in the 2017 Extel survey, marking the second year in the row the firm has held the ranking. RenCap took home a second-place finish in the Russian Economics and Macro category and was ranked seventh in the overall Leading Pan-Emerging Europe Brokerage Firms category. In the individual rankings, Charles Robertson was the top-ranked frontier markets analyst, while Yvonne Mhango was rated number three. Daniel Salter took home a fifth-place finish for Eurasia and Oleg Kouzmin was third in the Russian Economics and Macro category.
More soothsaying on the “impending” bust of EM debt, specifically Africa: Demand for African eurobonds, including Egypt’s USD 7 bn bonds, has been growing, apparently regardless of political risk. But according to Standard Group, the boom days may be over. The bank is warning that investors need to shed some of their African exposure, as these markets may turn as the Federal Reserve raises rates, driving U.S. Treasury yields higher and reversing flows to risky assets, writes Bloomberg’s Paul Wallace. “The bull market is living on borrowed time,” Dmitry Shishkin, an analyst at Standard Bank in London said. Rand Merchant Bank joined the fray, stating that investors should be careful not to focus too much on yields at the expense of the risks in Africa.
The doomsday talk came as the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates a quarter of a percentage point yesterday, its second rate hike in three months. The Fed “said it would begin cutting its holdings of bonds and other securities this year, signaling its confidence in a growing U.S. economy and strengthening job market,” Reuters reports.
So, when do we eat? Maghrib prayers are at 6:58pm CLT in Cairo, and the cutoff time for sohour is 3:08am.