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Tuesday, 8 May 2018

What we’re tracking on 08 May 2018

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is also visiting Cairo today to meet with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa said, according to Ahram Gate. Topping the agenda items include the stalled talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry did not mince words on who he believes is responsible for the deadlock during last week’s negotiations between irrigation ministers. Ethiopia and Sudan continue to have reservations about a technical report on the dam’s environmental and economic impact, Shoukry said in a statement to the press. Shoukry, along with his Ethiopian and Sudanese counterparts and intelligence heads will meet again on 15 May for further talks, he added.

Trade is also on the agenda as the Egyptian-Uganda business council convenes in Cairo today. Shoukry and Kutesa had discussed potential government or private partnerships between the two countries, according to a ministry statement. The pair looked at increasing Egyptian investments in Uganda through water, electricity, and agricultural projects. An unnamed Egyptian company is currently studying several energy projects worth a total of USD 300 mn, the statement read.

Here we go again with the latest “imminent” metro ticket price increase: The Egyptian Company for Metro Management and Operation plans to implement the new tiered pricing system for metro tickets based on distance traveled “within days,” sources tell Al Mal. The company has begun trial operations for the new system, which will set a base rate of EGP 2 for nine stations or fewer, a rate of EGP 3 for 18 stations, and EGP 5 for the full line. We apologize to our readers, but we feel honor bound to note this on the off chance the boy who cried “ticket hike” is right this time. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

The Egyptian embassy in London will be hosting a “Made in Egypt” gala today. The event, which will exhibit the work of leading Egyptian designers, is sponsored by Mr & Mrs Samih Sawiris, CIB, Edita, EgyptAir, Palm Hills, Ramsco and SODIC.

Abraaj is in talks to sell a majority stake in its recently spun off fund management unit to US asset manager Colony NorthStar, sources close to the matter told Bloomberg on Monday. “Discussions between the Dubai-based firm and U.S. asset manager about the newly-separated investment unit are preliminary and may not result in a sale, given the complex structure of the underlying holding company and funds,” said sources. They hinted that other investors may be interested. The move comes as part of the Dubai-based emerging markets PE giant’s strategy to shed assets following allegations of misuse of its USD 1 bn healthcare fund which forced it to restructure. Abraaj recently exited Egyptian education firm CIRA and is reportedly delaying the IPO or sale of its North African hospitals business, which owns a dozen hospitals and clinics in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco worth a collective USD 500 mn.

Keep calm during this emerging markets sell-off: AllianceBernstein and UBS Wealth Management are telling investors to chill out about an emerging markets sell-off, saying that it won’t be as bad as the taper tantrum in May 2013. What do they see that the other harbingers of doom (cough, FT, cough) don’t? The fundamentals of EMs clearly show that they are more resilient. “Generally, emerging markets are much better positioned today to withstand external shocks. We view it as an opportunity to add exposure to countries that are being overly penalized by a movement in the dollar and U.S. rates,” AllianceBernstein money manager Christian Diclementi tells Bloomberg.

Here’s what we should be looking at: Crude oil prices broke the USD 70 mark on Monday for the first time since November 2014, according to Reuters. U.S. crude rose USD 1.01 to settle at USD 70.73 a barrel. While this may be good for Saudi Arabia, it’s not helpful to Egypt. In it’s December 2017 Monetary Policy Report, the central bank cited rising crude prices as the biggest risks to Egypt’s economic recovery. The Finance Ministry had noted similar concerns in its report on the FY2018-19 budget.

What could exacerbate the situation is the Trump Administration’s decision on whether to leave the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, which will be announced today. A resumption of sanctions would threaten Iran’s ability to attract foreign investment, keeping the country’s output flat or lower through 2025, according to a research note published Monday by Barclays that ran on Bloomberg.

Calling all coffee lovers: Food giant Nestlé signed a USD 7.2 bn licensing agreement with Starbucks to sell the chain’s branded coffee and tea, Reuters reports. The agreement, which grants Nestlé exclusive rights to retail Starbucks’ coffee, could bring USD 2 bn to the latter’s topline while helping it focus on its suffering cafe franchise.

Other headlines that caught our eye include:

Egypt-backed Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar launched military operations to retake Derna after his forces clashed with rivals on the outskirts of the eastern city, Reuters reports. “The peace efforts in Derna have reached a dead end,” he said.

Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies have emerged as the most dominant force in Lebanon at the parliamentary polls on Sunday, Bloomberg reports.

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