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Monday, 17 June 2019

What we’re tracking on 17 June 2019.

We’re particularly happy to kick off this morning’s Speed Round with a run of investment and M&A news. Domestic and cross border, big ticket and small — there’s no better way to start your day.

It’s shaping up to be a tech-heavy week: Fintech and ecommerce conference Seamless North Africa gets underway this morning at the Nile Ritz-Carlton (continuing tomorrow), while Cairo Technology Week will kick off at the Hilton Heliopolis and wrap up Wednesday. Meanwhile, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat is headlining the IDC CIO Summit 2019 for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey. The one-day gathering takes place tomorrow at the Marriott Zamalek

The House general assembly is off this week, but will be back next week to debate the FY2019-2020 budget. Committee-level meetings and hearings continue in the meantime. The House is scrambling to wrap up this session before it goes on summer break some time after 1 July; it will be back in session by the first Thursday of October.

Also this week:

It’s interest rate week in the US of A, with the US Federal Reserve widely seen as under pressure to get back on the easing train when its Federal Open Markets Committee concludes its two-day meeting on Wednesday. Pundits see the Fed leaving rates on hold now, but signaling that a rate cut could take place in July.

Central bankers will also be watching Sintra, Portugal, where the European Central Bank’s annual forum runs today through Wednesday. Tap or click here to visit the landing page for the gathering.

The Paris Air Show opens this morning. Just sayin’.

More demand for private equity as an asset class ≠ more fees for PE general partners. That’s the take-home message from the FT, which notes that limited partners are increasingly giving mainstream funds a pass in favor of hands-on direct investment in private companies or co-investing with fund managers. Among the draws: Being able to influence company strategy, a more stimulating environment for investors with a risk appetite, and zero fund management fees. Oh, and no exposure to bad actors such as Abraaj.

Factoid of the morning: Foreign investors now hold about 6.6% of all shares traded on Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul.

By far the biggest international story this morning are the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, which have continued to swell despite leader Carrie Lam’s u-turn on the contentious extradition bill. Protest leaders said that almost 2 mn people took to the streets yesterday to demand Lam’s resignation in what is becoming Hong Kong’s most serious political crisis since the UK handed the territory back to China in 1997. (Reuters | NYT | FT | CNBC | Bloomberg)

Other regional headlines worth knowing about this morning:

  • Israel will attend the US-led gathering on Palestinian economic development set to take place in Bahrain next week. (The Hill)
  • Military escorts in the Gulf? US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has promised to protect shipping lanes in the Arabian Gulf, days after two tankers were attacked off the coast of Iran. (Bloomberg)

In miscellany this morning:

  • Are we partying like it’s 1999 when it comes to the IPOs of loss-making startups? It’s complicated, argues Matthew Vincent in the Financial Times.
  • Meet the man behind the video game that your kid (or younger sister) can’t get enough of. The Wall Street Journal has a great profile of Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games — and publisher of Fortnight. Epic is a USD 7 bn company that Sweeney, 48, founded in his parents’ garage when he was 20.
  • America is stepping up cyberattacks on Russia’s electricity grid, the New York Times reports, prompting The Donald to declare the story is simultaneously (a) false and (b) treason.

Oh, and speaking of power outages: The electricity went out yesterday across Argentina and large swathes of Uruguay and Paraguay, a development that has Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, scratching his head.

Another foldable phone just bit the dust. Huawei has postponed the launch of its Mate X foldable phone, following in the footsteps of Samsung and its ill-fated Galaxy Fold.

Two more father-related stories for you this morning: Toronto photographer William Lam takes his ethnic Chinese dad back to Vietnam 60 years later. It’s a touching little photo essay to which any of us with immigrant parents (or as immigrants ourselves) will be able to relate. Not a dad yet and pushing 50? Read Old enough to be your father: What it was like becoming a dad in my 50s, also in the Globe and Mail.

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