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Sunday, 10 June 2018

What we’re tracking on 10 June 2018

It is the last week of Ramadan. We look forward to writing you next week in a more caffeinated state. The expectation right now is that Thursday will be the last day of Ramadan, with the Eid El Fitr holiday running Friday through Sunday, inclusive. And no, friends, there is no waqfa (or wa’fa, if you prefer) on Thursday — the waqfa is Waqfat Arafat and precedes Eid El Adha. Still, rumors abound in the capital that the government will find one pretext or another to give us an extra day off to make it a four-day weekend.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly? President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has appointed former housing minister Mostafa Madbouly to form a new government. Unconfirmed speculation in the domestic press is that the new cabinet could be more focused, with 24 ministers instead of the 33 in the outgoing Ismail Cabinet, which remains in place as a caretaker government. We have more on the story in the Speed Round below.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is in Cairo for a two-day visit to discuss “issues of mutual interest” with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, according to an Ethiopian embassy statement. Ahmed met with El Sisi met yesterday and the two are scheduled to hold a joint presser today. We have more details in Diplomacy + Foreign Trade, below.

The central bank is expected to announce May’s inflation figures today. Annual headline inflation rates dropped to 13.1% in April from 13.3% the month before, while core inflation for the month was flat at 11.62% from 11.59% in March. Analysts expect inflation will pick up this summer, particularly with the 46.5% increase in water prices and the threefold increase in metro ticket prices in recent weeks and the prospect of cuts to fuel and electricity subsidies looming. Higher global oil prices and a stronger USD in May are also likely to have driven inflation higher in May. The prospect of rising inflation already has analysts predicting the Central bank of Egypt will leave interest rates on hold when it meets on 28 June.

FinMin’s EGP 70 bn overdraft request for FY2017-18 up for discussion at Parliament today: The House Planning and Budget Committee will discuss today the Finance Ministry’s request for an EGP 70 bn overdraft for the FY2017-18 budget, the committee’s deputy chair Yasser Omar says. Cabinet had approved last month the overdraft to cover “necessary expenditures,” the lion’s share of which was likely importing fuel at higher prices than had been anticipated.

Egypt will announce today the details of the prequalification stage of a tender to manage the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), according to the Investment Ministry (pdf). The Antiquities Ministry will also be unveiling the GEM’s logo during the scheduled press conference, says Egypt Today.

Watch this space: Big businesses in Morocco are being hit by social media boycott campaigns from citizens calling corporations “thieves” and “blood suckers.” The campaign has been so successful, the Financial Times reports, that a subsidiary of France’s Danon “issued a profit warning and announced that its sales had plummeted by half after it became a target of the campaign.” In contrast to activists in Jordan and Egypt, the Moroccans have “remained anonymous, stayed off the streets and been selective in their targets. The companies being boycotted are in sectors considered to be dominated by oligopolies, some of which are close to the political and royal elite.”

Warren Buffett and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon would like CEOs to stop issuing quarterly earnings guidance, writing in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal that the practice in developed markets too often “leads to an unhealthy focus on short-term profits at the expense of long-term strategy, growth and sustainability.” But quality quarterly and annual reporting is a must, they argue, saying transparency is an essential aspect of US public markets. Communications with shareholders about a company’s strategic goals, they say, “should be provided on a timeline deemed appropriate for the needs of each specific company and its investor.” Their call is getting wide attention in the financial press and has crossed over into mainstream media such as USA Today. Check out follow-on reporting from the WSJ, Reuters, Bloomberg or CNBC.

One economist takes it even further, arguing that companies should report earnings just once every six months if they really want to address short-termism, MarketWatch adds. The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority removed its quarterly reporting requirement back in 2014, demanding full earnings reports only at the 1H and FY marks, even for premium listed companies on the London Stock Exchange. Still, more than 90% of UK-listed companies continue to report on a quarterly basis, the story notes.

The latest in the Abraaj story: Kuwait’s pension fund has published a notice in the print edition of the UAE’s The National drawing attention to a Cayman Islands hearing scheduled for the end of this month on the potential appointment of a liquidator for Abraaj Holdings.

Is USD 80 oil over for now? Saudi Arabia boosted oil production by 100k bbl/d last month to 10 mn bbl/d, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move marks a shift in policy for the Kingdom, which cut output over the past two years. The reversal comes after oil had moved past the USD 80 / bbl mark, drawing grumbles from allies as far flung as the US and Egypt. The production ramp up also attempts to preemptively counter a global shortfall in oil exports from the slowing Venezuelan economy. Brent fell 1.1% to USD 76 / bbl on Friday. The news comes ahead of an OPEC meeting scheduled for 22 June at which Saudi had signaled it may ease production cuts.

This announcement is brought to you by the LSE’s PR department: JP Morgan sees a wave of Africa-based companies looking to list in London, according to Bloomberg. Six companies are apparently considering dual listings on both the London Stock Exchange and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, said Barry Meyers, the head of JPMorgan’s UK capital markets and sub-Saharan Africa business. The inquiries come amid a USD 2.7 bn share sale by Vivo Energy last month, the largest IPO in London this year. “The market wants high growth, and it’s hard to get that at the moment in the UK and Europe,” spurring increased investor demand for assets in South Africa and the rest of the continent, Meyers said. “That’s why these emerging market [transactions] are becoming more prevalent. Dual listings could become a bit of a trend.”

In other EM news, Argentina will receive a USD 50 bn aid package from the IMF — the second largest IMF credit line in cash terms in history, according to the Financial Times. The lifeline is already helping stymie the slide in the country’s sovereigns. Argentine bond prices stabilized on Friday in reaction to the IMF standby arrangement.

Meanwhile, the world’s worst summit has broken up: The weekend summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations “ended in acrimony” as US President Donald Trump threatened to retaliate against allies that don’t drop to zero their tariffs on US goods and services and called the Canadian prime minister “dishonest and weak” in a tweet. The Global and Mail and the New York Times have the full story.

Organ transplant surgeons teach you how to concentrate for hours on end: Among the many tips that carry over into business: Ditching mobile phones, keeping their visual field distraction-free, staying in shape, dressing comfortably and playing tunes that put you at ease. It’s an oldie from the WSJ archives, but 100% worth reading if you haven’t come across it before. Read: How surgeons stay focused for hours.

So, when do we eat? For those of us observing, Maghrib is at 6:56 pm CLT today. You’ll have until 3:08 am tomorrow to finish your sohour.

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