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Thursday, 18 October 2018

What we’re tracking on 18 October 2018

It’s a slow news morning in Egypt and global markets alike. The biggest news here at home as we slide into the weekend is the prospect of better terms on oil and gas contracts. Globally, the conversation is dominated by the Khashoggi affair and Canada becoming yesterday the second country in the world to legalize pot.

** #5 A search committee is vetting potential CEOs to lead Egypt’s first sovereign wealth fund and will soon have a short list, a source close to the search tells us. “The position needs careful consideration to guarantee that the CEO builds and leads a strong independent institution” that helps Egypt make the best of its assets and resources, the source said. Meanwhile, the executive regulations for the law governing the SWF are being finalized and should be ready for cabinet review by the beginning of November, we’re told.

A ray of sunshine for EM as earnings season in American unfolds: A better-than-expected earnings season in the US drove global equity markets yesterday, Reuters reports. Asian and European shares each recorded gains throughout the day, with easing Saudi-US tensions and the improvement of Turkey’s currency situation improving sentiment. “The more cheerful mood also favored emerging-market currencies and took steam out of the safe-haven yen. The latest investor survey by BofA Merrill Lynch found fund managers now considered emerging-market currencies the most undervalued ever against the USD.”

The Khashoggi Affair: Turkey isn’t easing off the gas as it keeps pressure on Saudi Arabia — and mends fences with United States. Turkish intelligence officials leaked highlights of what they claim are audio recordings of dissident Saudi’s journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s final moments. The recordings reportedly reveal that Khashoggi “was dead within minutes, beheaded, dismembered, his fingers severed,” an unnamed Turkish official tells the New York Times. “Within two hours the killers were gone.” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in KSA to help contain the affair, and rumors had surfaced earlier this week, suggesting Saudi was about to admit Khashoggi was killed during an interrogation gone wrong. President Donald Trump said the US has asked for a copy of the recording “if it exists,” according to the FT. As we noted yesterday, an investigation led by former NYT Cairo bureau chief David Kirkpatrick found that nine of the 15 suspects implicated by Turkey “worked for the Saudi government, military or security services.”

IMF boss Christine Lagarde is the latest to pull out of a Saudi’s “Davos in the Desert,” the Financial Times reports. The Wall Street Journal says Saudi Arabia is now “relying on its regional allies to salvage” the conference. Axios has an epic list of the business leaders who have pulled out.

Canada became only the second country in the world to legalize pot yesterday, where happy would-be tokers found long lines and supply chain kinks — and shares in cannabis producers closed down as analysts said the likely upside of legalization had already been priced in. Heck, a former Canadian prime minister even joined the board of directors of a US weed grower, the Financial Times reports. Read more in the Globe & Mail or the Wall Street Journal.

The best business advice we’ve read in ages is encoded in a piece on artificial intelligence. It boils down to this:

  • Can the CEO understand in five minutes or less how we add value? “If there is not an exceptionally clear business case for the pitch, then it is almost certainly not worth pursuing.”
  • There’s a certain type of project so important that the CEO has to be driving. Anything less is a recipe for failure, and the art is in picking the right projects.

The piece is also spot-on if you have an interest in AI and “big” data, whether you’re a CEO, an entrepreneur or an investor. Read Artificial intelligence: Winter is coming in the Financial Times.

Your weekend must-read: Could an ex-convict become an attorney? I intended to find out.A moving, visceral, thought-provoking and well-written piece by a Yale law grad. What more do you want in a Friday-morning read?

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