What we’re tracking on 16 January 2018
EFG Hermes kicked off its second Egypt Day conference last night with the firm’s annual CEO Dinner at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza. The three-day conference will bring top state officials — including President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, CBE Governor Tarek Amer, acting Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, and members of the Cabinet’s economic group — together with 39 international investors with aggregate assets under management exceeding USD 10 tn in value. “Rising investor confidence and an increasing appetite for investment opportunities in Egypt have been a recurring theme at our gatherings since the initiation of the government’s economic reform program,” EFG Hermes CEO Karim Awad said. “His Excellency the President, and top government officials’ interest to directly meet with investors reflects that we are heading into 2018 with a positive outlook and a hands-on government bent on delivering positive results.”
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail has reportedly begun working from home as he gears up to return to his office within a week, government sources say, according to state-owned Al Ahram. Acting Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly has been bringing Ismail up to speed on developments that have unfolded since Ismail went on medical leave back in November, the sources say. Ismail might also sit in on the Egyptian-Ethiopian Joint Committee meeting scheduled for Thursday.
A bunch of interesting news from our neighborhood caught our eye this morning:
Morocco’s loosening of the peg on its currency on Monday apparently went by smoothly, with the MAD strengthening, according to Bloomberg. Bank Al Maghrib set the reference rate at MAD 9.2184 per USD 1, 0.2% stronger than Friday’s, even after the central bank widened the MAD fluctuation band to 2.5% above or below its peg. The regulator allocated less than a fifth of the USD it offered to sell at an auction earlier Monday, a sign that banks and businesses aren’t panicking, according to Banque Marocaine pour le Commerce et l’Industrie.
Historic exit for regional oil powerhouse: Shell announced on Monday it is selling a stake in the West Qurna 1 oil field in Iraq to Japan’s Itochu, effectively giving up on its last oil fields in Iraq, WSJ reports. Shell’s exit marks one of the final chapters in a slow pullback from the Middle East’s oil sector which it helped build into a global powerhouse. Shell plans to keep its natural gas interests in the region, including Egypt, Qatar, Oman, and Iraq.
Samsung Electronics is planning on doubling revenues from its African markets so they account for 20% of their global sales in the next five years, head of the firm’s Africa business Sung Yoon told Reuters. Yoon added that demand for larger TVs and mobile screens coupled with increased investment in telecommunications in the continent is expected to boost appetite for their products.
The UAE said Qatari fighter jets intercepted one of its commercial planes, “in what would mark an escalation in the feud straining ties among Gulf Arab monarchies,” Bloomberg reports. The act “is a flagrant threat to the safety of civil aviation and a clear violation of international law,” the UAE’s official news agency says. Qatar denies the incident took place, with Sheikh Saif Al Thani, head of the Qatari government communications office, saying the claim is “completely untrue.”
..Trump can’t seem to make up his mind on which side he’s on: US President Donald Trump on Monday thanked the ruler of Qatar for “action to counter terrorism and extremism in all forms,” suggesting a warming of ties between the two countries, Reuters reports.