What we’re tracking on 22 October 2018
What’s next? A license to obtain licenses? The House of Representatives seems set to go on a licensing and regulation spree as MPs kicked off their first general assembly of the fall legislative term yesterday. Our elected representatives sent to committee a bill that would introduce new licensing requirements for physicians (and tweak med school curriculum by placing new emphasis on clinical experience). Meanwhile, a private-member’s bill would make it necessary to obtain a license to practice the world’s second-oldest profession: advertising and marketing. The news came as the Supreme Media Council announced yesterday temporary licensing requirements for news websites. We have chapter and verse in Speed Round, below.
Stock market slumps on delay in privatization program: The benchmark EGX30 closed down 0.9% yesterday on paper-thin turnover as just EGP 399 mn worth of shares changed hands. (For those keeping track at home, that means turnover was 43% percent below its already-anemic 90-day average.) Reuters said the drop is a reaction to news that the government has decided to postpone its privatization program until 1Q2019 at the earliest. “The news of the offerings’ postponement is certainly one of the reasons for the (index’s) fall today because there was a confirmation for the offering and a set timetable,” said said Naeem Brokerage’s Ibrahem Elnemr. Sources told us earlier this week that the Madbouly Cabinet was completely committed to the program, but had decided to postpone it until there’s clarity on where sentiment is heading after the global emerging market sell-off. Officials may also use the time to tweak the list of companies that will be on offer. Eastern Company was meant to pilot the program with a 4.5% stake sale this month.
A US business delegation with nearly 50 participating companies is arriving in town tomorrow for a three-day visit to look into prospective avenues for new business in Egypt. AmCham, the US Chamber of Commerce, the US-Egypt Business Council, and the Egypt-US Business Council will hold ministerial panel discussions on Wednesday, 24 October and Thursday, 25 October featuring Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and nine other members of cabinet. Read the presser on the delegation here (pdf).
Egypt will receive a fifth USD 2 bn tranche of its USD 12 bn extended fund facility from the IMF at the end of December, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told Youm7. An IMF delegation has been in town since Thursday to review the country’s progress on economic reforms.
CIT Minister Amr Talaat will present his ministry’s plan to the House Communications Committee today, Rep. Ahmed Badawi said, according to Al Mal. Talaat’s priorities are reported to include improving quality of telecom and internet services in Egypt and fostering entrepreneurship and human capital development.
Khashoggi killing prompts Saudi stock sell-off: Foreigners sold around USD 1.07 bn of Saudi stocks last week in “one of the biggest selloffs since the market opened to direct foreign buying in mid-2015,” according to Reuters. The sell-off was sparked by the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who Saudi Arabia admitted was killed at its consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi’s death has made investors wary of “being linked to the country,” says the Financial Times, which puts outflows at USD 650 mn last week. The Tadawul closed up 0.2% yesterday, Bloomberg reports.
We’re not alone: “Global equity rout derails IPOs from Spain to Hong Kong, India,” Bloomberg writes atop a quick recap of who is going to market and who’s pulling back amid volatility in global equity markets. The one bright spot? Thailand, which is bucking “the global pessimism gripping emerging markets as it takes on its two largest initial public offerings of the year, one of which could tie for its biggest public equity float on record,” the FT explains.
Are we looking at a grim 2019? “The outlook for global growth in 2019 has dimmed for the first time, according to Reuters polls of economists who said the U.S.-China trade war and tightening financial conditions would trigger the next downturn…A majority out of nearly 150 economists said the top two triggers for the next global downturn were a further escalation of U.S.-Sino trade tensions, and tightening in financial conditions driven by a deep sell-off in global equities or a rapid rise in government bond yields.”
The antidote? Beer. Or so we expect Mikkel Borg Bjergso would say. The former teacher quit his day job and in just five years built a global brewing empire, “opening bars from San Francisco to the Faroes and spawning a growing lifestyle brand.” His latest business partner? Rick Astley. Yes, that Rick Astley. If you love entrepreneur success stories as much as we do, you need to read the Financial Times profile: The king of beer: how a former teacher created a global brewing empire.
You think we have bureaucracy? You’ve never discovered a skull in your backyard. In Canada. Kafka has nothing on the province of Ontario, Ian Brown reports for Toronto’s Globe & Mail.
TIME CAPSULE- We hit peak ‘grunge’ 25 years ago this week (we’re using single quotes around the word as it never was a monolithic sound) as Nirvana released In Utero and Pearl Jam its sophomore effort Vs. within a few weeks of each other. The Washington Post has an oral history to mark the anniversary, but anyone truly passionate about the “Seattle scene” will want to turn to Mark Yarm’s classic Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge.
PSA- The mercury is going to be solidly in the 32-33°C range in the capital city through Thursday with overnight lows of 23°C before things cool off again at the weekend, according to the meteorological authority and our favorite weather app.