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Wednesday, 10 July 2019

What we’re tracking on 10 July 2019

It’s interest rate day tomorrow: There was a consensus among the nine economists we spoke to this week that the central bank will leave rates unchanged when its Monetary Policy Committee meets tomorrow. All agreed that the bank would wait until at least September before cutting rates due to the inflationary effects of last week’s fuel and electricity subsidy cuts. Reuters’ poll published yesterday produced similar results, with 14 of 15 respondents predicting a hold. The central bank last cut rates in February, when it reduced the overnight deposit and lending rates by 100 bps to 15.75% and 16.75% respectively.

A lone dissenting voice: “We expect a big drop in annual CPI, which could increase the real interest rate to about 5-6% as of June numbers, in our view, leaving some room for a 100 bps cut,” Naeem Brokerage’s Allen Sandeep told us yesterday, but said that an unexpectedly high inflation reading today could switch his forecast to a hold.

Inflation figures for June are expected out today, setting the stage nicely for the week’s blockbuster event tomorrow. Annual headline inflation unexpectedly rose in May to 14.1% from 13.0% in April, while core inflation fell slightly to 7.8% from 8.1% over the month.

Egypt is “concerned” with Turkey’s plans to explore for oil and gas in Cyprus’ territorial waters, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The ministry warned that the move is “a continuation of unilateral measures that serve to increase tension in the Eastern Mediterranean region.”

Maait talks Egypt’s reforms, growth on CNBC: Finance Minister Mohamed Maait took some time out during the first day of the 2019 Paris Europlace International Financial Forum to talk to CNBC about the progress Egypt is making on economic growth, regional stability, and bureaucratic reform (watch, runtime: 01:50).

The Antiquities Ministry will launch this month the tender for the management and operation of the Grand Egyptian Museum, government sources tell the local press. The tender will be open to the five companies and consortiums who qualified to participate, and will grant the companies a three-month window to submit their bids by October. The ministry will select and announce the winning bid before the end of the year. An Egyptian-Italian, Egyptian-American, Egyptian-French, and Egyptian-French consortium and an Emirati company have all qualified for the tender. The USD 1 bn museum is set to open its doors to the public next year.

It’s Elmohamady’s turn to plead for forgiveness: Egypt’s national football team captain Ahmed Elmohamady wrote an apology on social media for crashing out of Afcon against South Africa on Saturday. The apology wasn’t well received, though, with many fans blasting the captain for his defense of Amr Warda and a gesture he made after scoring in a group stage game.

Speaking of our Afcon flop, was the EFA’s resignation ordered? The Egyptian Football Association’s president and board members were apparently not intending to resign after the game on Saturday, but were instead pressured by the government to do so, sources said, according to the National. Authorities were acting to contain public anger, especially as the government hiked fuel and cooking gas prices a day before the loss, the newspaper writes.

Private equity activity may be down but it’s still going strong. A new report from data analysis firm Prequin looking at the global PE industry says that despite a global decline in buyouts, exits, and venture capital agreements during 2Q2019, funds are still performing well and posting strong double digit returns overall. The total number and value of venture capital agreements fell by more than 1k to 3,263 agreements during the quarter, primarily driven by a slowdown in investment in China. The value of buyout agreements fell by more than 25%, reaching USD 75 bn from USD 102 bn during the quarter.

Investor appetite is still substantial and competition is becoming more intense, with around 4k (and counting) PE funds at market. The field is absolutely dominated by the largest funds, 5% of which are targeting nearly two-thirds of all capital sought. The PE industry raised significant capital through relatively few fund closures, the report finds, with total fundraising for 2Q standing equal to 1Q at USD 109 bn.

An increasing number of mutual funds are offering investments in pre-IPO companies to small investors. Investments by mutual funds in pre-IPO businesses were up USD 8 bn in 2015 from USD 16 mn in 1995, which clearly shows investor appetite, the Wall Street Journal reports. Getting in on the action comes with its own set of risks, though, not least of which is the difficulty of actually assessing a pre-IPO company’s impact on a fund’s overall performance.

Virgin Galactic to go public later this year: Sir Richard Branson is planning to take his space unit Virgin Galactic public through a merger with former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya’s special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings, according to the Wall Street Journal. The latter will invest c. USD 800 mn for 49% of the Virgin, valuing it at a little over USD 1.6 bn and making it the first publicly traded commercial space flight company later this year. The proceeds will give Virgin sufficient funds until it starts turning profits.

Trump, Darroch saga continues: Donald Trump has been lambasting the UK’s ambassador to the US Kim Darroch since diplomatic cables leaked on Sunday showed that the latter regards the Trump administration as “inept, hobbled by infighting, and unlikely to improve,” reports the Associated Press. Trump slammed Darroch as a “wacky ambassador” and a “pompous fool” in a series of tweets after Prime Minister Theresa May stood by her senior diplomat.

Drake will finally be able to spam the world’s poorest countries with album ads to his heart’s content: Spotify has announced a new ‘Lite’ version of its app that targets people living in developing economies with slower mobile networks and limited data plans, Bloomberg reports. The Android app has been released in 36 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, and will be available for free via an ad-supported service while the premium, no-ad version will be charged at the standard price.

So you think you can dance? Sorry to burst your bubble, but we’re almost certain you have nothing on Snowball the cockatoo and his 14 distinct (and unique) dance moves — which scientists now believe are actually highly creative, choreographed routines.

New Cairo: 34 years in 20 seconds. The Guardian features New Cairo in its ‘Cities from Scratch’ series of time-lapse satellite images.

PSA- The Harvard Business School admissions team is coming to Cairo for the first time to host an information session for prospective MBA students on Wednesday, 17 July at the Greek Campus at 5:00 pm CLT. Did you attend HBS? The admissions team also wants to connect with alumni, and will host a separate reception exclusively for alumni before the presentation. To RSVP, email

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