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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

What we’re tracking on 19 September 2018

**#4 Egypt, Cyprus to sign gas pipeline agreement this morning: Oil Minister Tarek El Molla and Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis will sign this morning an agreement to build a USD 1 bn pipeline connecting the Aphrodite gas field to liquefaction plants in Egypt, Oil Ministry spokesperson Hamdy Abdel Aziz tells AMAY. Lakkotrypis and El Molla met yesterday in Nicosia with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, according to Cyprus Mail. El Molla said that some of the gas imported from the Aphrodite gas field will be used for domestic consumption, adding that the agreement would be a win-win for Egypt, Cyprus and the EU, according to the AP. Lakkotrypis called the agreement a first of its kind for the region, saying it would bolster Europe’s energy security. The pipeline is a crucial stepping stone towards Egypt’s bid to become the Eastern Med’s premier energy hub.

New Brit ambassador arrives in town: Newly-appointed British ambassador Sir Geoffrey Adams arrived in Cairo yesterday, Ahram Online reports, citing a report by state news agency MENA. Adams, who replaces outgoing ambassador John Casson, was the number two at the UK’s mission to Cairo from 1998-2001. Unlike his predecessor, Adams doesn’t tweet very often. He was previously the UK’s ambassador to the Netherlands and to Iran. Adams’ very brief FCO biography is here; the UK embassy’s website still shows Casson as ambassador as of dispatch time this morning.

Drilling for oil? You’ll be happy to know that Saudi Arabia is “now comfortable with Brent oil prices rising above USD 80 a barrel, at least in the short term, as the global market adjusts to the loss of Iranian supply from U.S. sanctions, according to people familiar with the kingdom’s view.”

China hit back yesterday at USD 200 bn in tariffs imposed by The Donald, saying it would slap import duties on about USD 60 bn worth of US goods, the Wall Street Journal reports. That means China has now imposed new duties on just about everything it imports from the United States — suggesting, in turn, that Beijing is increasingly out of options in this tit-for-tat war, the New York Times argues.

The African Development Bank has offloaded risk from some USD 1 bn in loans to a New York hedge fund in what is being described as a “pioneering [agreement] which illustrates the growing financial sophistication of supranational institutions. … The AfDB has bought insurance on a USD 1 bn portfolio of loans from a group of investors led by Mariner Investment Group through a so-called synthetic securitisation, in which the hedge fund does not acquire the assets but will take on USD 152 mn of default risk in exchange for returns in the low double digits.” (Financial Times)

In miscellany this morning:

  • Tesla faces investigation over take-public tweets: The US Justice Department is investigating electric car maker Tesla over CEO Elon Musk’s claim last month that he had lined up funding to take his company private. IROs: Do you follow your CEO on Twitter or El Face? (Reuters)
  • In other news from Planet Elon: A Japanese bn’aire is going to be the first space tourist as he flies around the moon on Elon Musk’s SpaceX. (CNBC)
  • High times: With Canada about to end prohibition on pot, Coca-Cola is debating whether to get into the cannabis drink business. (Financial Times)

FINANCIAL CRISIS ANNIVERSARY- Even casual readers will want to read the Financial Times’ series on the financial crisis a decade later. Skip today’s installment from the chairman of UBS (it’s an insipid take that argues we need to take steps now to be ready for the next crisis). But the series as a whole is solid — and is due to end with what will likely be a must-read headlined What are the new risks? Bookmark the series landing page and have a look on Friday.

Particularly awesome: FT columnist John Authers latest piece is a roundup of the best reporting on the 10-year anniversary as written by the salmon-colored paper’s global competitors.

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