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Tuesday, 13 March 2018

What we’re tracking on 13 March 2018

Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil is discussing local component requirements for the Automotive Directive with several auto manufacturers today, Al Mal reports. We have more on that in the Speed Round below.

First power plant of the Benban solar park to be inaugurated today: Infinity Solar is scheduled to inaugurate its 50 MW solar power plant in Benban, Aswan today, according to Al Ahram. As the first company to complete a solar power plant under the feed-in tariff program, the event today marks the beginning of the largest solar power park in the Middle East, which has drawn over USD 1.8 bn in investments over the last year. Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker is expected to attend the inauguration.

Solomon to succeed Blankfein at Goldman Sachs? David Solomon became the heir apparent at Goldman Sachs after his main rival for the position, Harvey Schwartz, abruptly resigned, the Wall Street Journal reports. The surprise announcement came after Goldman’s board of directors last month anointed Solomon as the eventual successor to current CEO Lloyd Blankfein, according to people familiar with the matter. The move amounts to a wager that the coming decade will look little like the last one, as Goldman continues to evolve from a secretive trading powerhouse into a more entrepreneurial place. Solomon, who headed investment banking at the firm, had overseen a rise in net revenues at the unit to USD 7.4 bn, while the firm’s securities trading unit, from which Schwartz emerged, had been floundering, according to the FT. The New York Times also has the story, emphasizing in its headline that Solomon moonlights as a D.J., and CNBC also has a profile.

Want to please investors? Lower FOL. Easing of foreign ownership limitations at two of the Middle East’s biggest banks is being touted as a sound way for banks to diversify their investor base amid the ongoing impact of lower oil prices and regional politics. Qatar National Bank, which is feeling the burn from the Qatar boycott, is seeking shareholder approval to boost foreign ownership to 49% from 25%, while Emirates NBD wants to raise its limit to 20% from 5%, Bloomberg reports. Investors appear to have responded well to the move, with QNB shares jumping 10%, the most in more than 12 years, while Emirates NBD gained 4.5% after advancing 14% on Sunday. EFG Hermes Frontier CEO Ali Khalpey had told us in an exclusive interview last week in Dubai that foreign ownership limits were one of the biggest challenges facing frontier market investors.

Hedge funds are betting against the world’s largest advertising companies, with outfits including Marshall Wace, Lone Pine and Maverick Capital shorting Publicis, WPP and Omnicom. The shorts come as “the advertising industry has come under intense financial pressure as companies shift their marketing budgets to Facebook and Google, which have come to dominate online advertising. Traditional advertising groups have also suffered from sharp cutbacks in marketing spend at large consumer product companies like Procter & Gamble and Kraft Heinz,” the Financial Times writes.

In other business news from around the world worth a skim this morning:

  • Donald Trump has blocked the acquisition of Qualcomm by Singapore’s Broadcom, citing national security grounds. (FT | Reuters)
  • If no one owns the moon, can anyone make money up there? The New York Times looks at how “Ambiguities in the 50-year-old Outer Space Treaty may be getting in the way of entrepreneurs seeking opportunities elsewhere in our solar system.”
  • Is time running out for the Swiss watch industry? (WSJ)

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