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Thursday, 29 March 2018

What we’re tracking on 29 March 2018

Cairo suffered through one of the worst sandstorms in years last night, with high winds and thick sheets of sand blurring visibility on roads and filtering into homes and offices. The mercury is set to plunge to a daytime high of 23°C in Cairo today, Youm7 reports, without mention of another sandstorm today.

Round one of the presidential election is officially over and there will be no extension of voting to today, the Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center said in a statement carried by Al Shorouk. Voting was extended for an extra hour last night, with polls closing at 10 pm, according to MENA. Counting votes has begun and the results will be announced on 2 April, a National Elections Authority spokesperson said yesterday, Al Masry Al Youm reports.

Early estimates from TV stations suggest President Abdel Fattah El Sisi could win with 95% of the vote, Reuters reports.

Moussa came third in a two-man race: Youm7 is running a live tally of exit polls on its homepage. As of dispatch time, the newspaper says El Sisi currently has won 90.1% of the vote, while Moussa Moustafa Moussa has 2.8%. Spoiled ballots accounted for 7% votes cast.

We have more election coverage in Speed Round, below, including news that the election authority wants to prosecute everyone who didn’t vote this week. See y’all in court.

It’s interest rate day: The central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet today to decide on interest rates amid a universal consensus in the business and analyst communities that rates will be cut. The sell-side research folks are looking at 50-100 bps.

Trading in the shares of our friends at B Investments gets underway at the EGX’s opening bell today. The retail tranche of BPE Holding for Financial Investments’ initial public offering was 84.4x oversubscribed when bookbuilding concluded on Monday. The firm is hoping to raise EGP 460 mn from the sale of 43 mn shares, good for a free float of about 27%. (The retail offering included 5 mn shares, while a further c. 38.1 mn were offered in a private placement). Sigma Capital was the sole coordinator and bookrunner, while Zaki Hashem & Partners acted as legal counsel to the issuer.

B Investments starts trading as its maiden earnings reported a net profit after tax and minority interest of EGP 133.2 mn for FY2017, a 152% y-o-y increase. Consolidated revenues for the year rose 58% y-o-y to EGP 171.6 mn, B Investments said in a statement last night (pdf). “Our performance during 2017 can be attributed to the remarkable growth of all of our portfolio companies despite the challenges that have risen in 2017,” said B Investments Chairman Hazem Barakat. “Heading into 2018, B Investments has a very vibrant pipeline of potential investments and will be rapidly implementing our post-IPO strategy of investing in our existing portfolio companies along with investments in new attractive sectors based on our active value investing approach,” noted founding partner Aladdin Saba. The company had said it will use the proceeds from its IPO to fund investments in renewable energy and non-banking financial services.

Investment Minister Sahar Nasr is holding a 9:45am presser today to discuss the details of her ministry’s investment map, which was released earlier this month. The map compiles an interactive directory of 1,270 projects up for grabs across the country’s 27 governorates. The investment opportunities span sectors including agribusiness, automotive, real estate and infrastructure, tourism, transportation, energy, and engineering industries, among others.

Real estate expo and conference Cityscape Egypt continues today and wraps up on Saturday at the Egypt International Exhibition Center. More than 90 companies are participating.

Saudi Arabia won classification as an emerging market by FTSE Russell, marking the first time a major index has classified the kingdom as an EM, according to a statement from the index. “The market authorities in Saudi Arabia have taken the required steps to implement market reforms and now meet the formal requirements to be included in FTSE GEIS. Changes include the introduction of enhancements to the Independent Custody Model (ICM) and the further opening of the Saudi Arabia capital market to Qualified Foreign Investors (QFI), which was initiated in 2015 and enhanced in 2018,” the FTSE said. Saudi will join FTSE’s secondary emerging market index in several stages starting in March 2019 and ending in December that year, the company said. Russell’s move improves the outlook for an MSCI emerging market upgrade expected in June.

Is KSA trying to out-do Benban? Saudi Arabia and SoftBank Group signed a MoU to build a USD 200 bn solar power development, which Bloomberg says is exponentially larger than any other solar project. The story has captured the delight of the international press, which has taken to rather tamely reporting headline initiatives including Saudi robots and other plans while, in the main, giving KSA a free ride on matters such as the corruption crackdown for which Egypt would have been pilloried. Just like the locker-room style skyscraper-measuring contest between Saudi and the UAE, we expect that the success of the USD 2 bn Benban solar park, has gotten the Saudis a little green.

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