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Sunday, 13 January 2019

What we’re tracking on 13 January 2019

You want to pack this morning with nasty weather in mind. Depending on who you want to believe, we’re looking at a cold (high of 16°C) and intermittently windy day that could bring with it a sand storm and / or rain.

The 2019 investor conference season gets underway this morning for blue-chip Egyptian companies. CI Capital’s MENA investor conference runs today through Wednesday in Cairo and then 22-23 January in New York.

We are likely to get a new antitrust act this week. MPs could vote as early as today on the proposed text of a bill that would give the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) expanded power to regulate commerce. The recently activist ECA has sought a mandate to review all M&A transactions worth north of EGP 100 mn and has of late issued public warnings to companies including Uber, Careem and Apple over what it claims could be anti-competitive practices. Cabinet signed off on the bill last week. A vote scheduled for early December was scrubbed when the House general assembly failed to reach quorum.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is in Jordan today for talks with King Abdullah, according to an Ittihadiya statement cited by Youm7.

Global markets snapped a five-day winning streak on Friday ahead of US earnings season, which gets underway this week. A wave of profit warnings, job cuts, worries about the Chinese economy and global trade tensions could all be weighing on sentiment, Bloomberg suggests.

Two big producers have just called USD 60 as the bottom for oil, Bloomberg reports. Oman’s oil minister sees oil trading at USD 60-70 / bbl this year, while Eni boss Claudio Descalzi sees crude at USD 60-62. Egypt recently walked away from a fuel hedging plan as oil was trading significantly below the USD 67 / bbl it had used to set its budget for the current state fiscal year. Crude has risen just over 20% from its low in December.

World Bank boss Jim Yong Kim is ditching the presidency of the global institution to take a gig with a private equity firm. Kim is stepping down three years ahead of schedule to take a job with Global Infrastructure Partners, a New York-based PE fund that has a particular interest in renewable energy and which sold a majority stake in Gatwick airport to Vinci las month. See more in the FT, WSJ, Bloomberg and the Economist. Kim steps down on 1 February.

Are we really going to see Ivanka Trump running the World Bank? The institution is traditionally led by an American, and the FT reports that names being bandied about in DC as potential replacements include former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, top treasury official David Malpass, USAID boss Mark Green and, yes, Trump.

Investment bankers won’t be getting much out of Slack: Slack is planning to go public via a direct listing, the Wall Street Journal reports, saying the workplace chat app (which powers thousands of companies around the world, including Enterprise) will follow Spotify in “bypassing a traditional IPO.”

Sound smart: “In a direct listing, a company bypasses the traditional underwriting process, which involves lining up investors ahead of time and selling shares at a set price, and instead lets the open market play a greater role in setting the price. No money is raised for the company. … For companies that can forgo the cash, the benefits include sidestepping hefty underwriting fees and avoiding lockups that prevent insiders from selling shares for a set period.”

In miscellany worth knowing about this morning:

  • From the department of the obvious: Emerging markets can’t escape the Fed’s balance sheet unwind. (Financial Times)
  • Big hedge funds that have invested in both tech and people are shining as smaller players come off their worst performance in years. (Financial Times)
  • Jeff Bezos is getting a divorce after 25 years of marriage.The Amazon founder and CEO is the richest man in the world, setting off all of the expected hand-wringing about prenups, influence on Amazon going forward and the potential for the world’s biggest divorce settlement. (Wall Street Journal | New York Times)
  • Saudi Arabia says it will sink USD 10 bn into a refinery in Pakistan, following up on some USD 6 bn it had pledged last year in an assistance package that included help to finance crude imports. (Reuters)

Must-read for tech-heads: The big hangup: Why the future is not just your phone, in the Wall Street Journal.

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