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Wednesday, 23 October 2019

What we’re tracking on 23 October 2019

Public schools and universities are closed today because … we’re having weather. Cabinet said overnightthat schools in Cairo, Giza and Qalyubia governorates are closed today as the city bails out the streets after yesterday’s torrential rains and amid expectations of further showers today.

Expect a chance of rain today, a shower tomorrow and up to 6 mm of rain on Friday — as well as 1-4 mm of rain split between this coming Saturday and Sunday, warns or favourite weather app. The National Meteorological Authority has warned of “unstable weather” through Saturday.

PSA- EgyptAir customers caught up in the weather-related delays yesterday will be able to re-book their flights without paying fines, Al Mal reports.

The big story of the morning: Ethiopia is rattling its saber. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi landed in Sochi yesterday to co-chair the Russia-Africa Summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to an Ittihadiya statement. The big event of the gathering (sitting here in Cairo) is a sit-down expected between El Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who ratcheted up tensions yesterday as he said his country could “mobilize mns” to fight if Egypt took military action against the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. We have chapter and verse in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Leaders from more than 50 African countries will gather in the Black Sea resort town today to discuss strengthening economic ties with Moscow. The summit will feature panel discussions on issues ranging from Russian-African cooperation in energy, trade and infrastructure investment to collaboration in science, technology and digital security.

El Sisi has already held his first meeting: The chairman of Russian car company Gaz told the president yesterday that his company is keen on expanding its operations in Egypt’s auto market, according to an Ittihadiya statement.

Keep an eye out for an announcement regarding the the USD 7 bn Russian Industrial Zone (RIZ) in Egypt during the summit. Some 55 Russian manufacturers have expressed interest in setting up shop in the zone, which is expected to produce USD 3.6 bn-worth of products by 2026.

Sahar Nasr was in Georgia for the Silk Road Forum to promote investment in Egypt — and where she lavished praise on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, according to a cabinet statement, but is on the agenda in Sochi alongside her cabinet colleague CIT Minister Amr Talaat. Amani Abou-Zeid (wearing her African Union hat) and Suez Canal Economic Zone boss Yehia Zaki are due in Russia, while Qalaa Holdings chief Ahmed Heikal is on a panel in Sochi this afternoon on investing in Africa.

Health minister reports to House committee: Health Minister Hala Zayed discussed developments in her sector in a meeting yesterday with the House of Representatives’ Health Committee, according to the local press.

The Munich Security Conference Core Group Meeting will be held in Cairo on 26-28 October, Ahram Online reported yesterday. The meeting will bring together senior foreign policy decision-makers from around the world to discuss regional security issues. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will both be in attendance, alongside the Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and a handful of African leaders.

Other key dates to pencil into your agendas this week and next:

  • Cairo Water Week kicked off earlier this week at Al-Manara International Conference Center in New Cairo, under the title “Responding to Water Scarcity.” President Abdel Fattah El Sisi welcomed on Monday delegations in town to attend the conference, which will wrap tomorrow.
  • The Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference will take place at the Hilton Heliopolis today and tomorrow.
  • A B2B conference for German and Egyptian companies will take place on Monday, 28 October in Cairo. Click or tap here to register.
  • The US Federal Reserve will meet on 29-30 October to review key interest rates.

Aramco aiming to IPO before the end of the year: Saudi Aramco will try to list on the Saudi stock exchange before the end of the year, after doubts over its valuation caused it to delay a transaction that had been expected this week, sources tell Bloomberg. The state oil giant will make an official announcement of its listing plans in the coming weeks, the people said. The company is reportedly looking to lean more on local and regional investors after foreign investors balked at its USD 2 tn valuation.

Over half the world’s banks are failing to keep pace with their costs through returns on equity,McKinsey said in its annual review of the industry, released earlier this week. This puts them in a weak position to cope with any prospective financial downturn and means they risk “becoming footnotes to history,” as new entrants to the market change consumer behavior, the report warns. The consultancy urges banks to invest more in innovation — an area to which they collectively allocate only 35% of their IT budgets — to develop technology, as well as outsourcing operations and strengthening their position through mergers, Bloomberg reports.

WeWork’s board has accepted a multi-bn bailout offer from its largest investor, SoftBank Group, sources tell the Financial Times. The Japanese tech conglomerate will inject USD 6.5 bn into the work space company, and will give ex-CEO Adam Neumann almost USD 1.7 bn to step down from the board and drop his extra voting rights. The plans would value the company at just USD 8 bn, a stunning fall in value from the USD 47 bn valuation given in the last investment round.

Making the international headlines this morning:

  • Russia replaces America in northern Syria security vacuum. Russia and Turkey have agreed a formal ceasefire accord that will see troops from both countries patrol the northeastern Syria border as Kurdish militia withdraw, the Associated Press says. The units will fill the vacuum left by the US military, which is in the process of pulling out of the northeast of the country.
  • Trudeau in coalition talks after failing to win parliamentary majority: Canadian PM Justin Trudeau is trying to gain support from the left-leaning New Democrats after failing to win a parliamentary majority in the general election on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
  • Is Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam finally on the way out? The Financial Times reports that officials in Beijing are drawing up plans to replace Carrie Lam as Hong Kong’s chief executive with an interim leader. Sources say that the plans — an effort to stymie ongoing protests, now in their fifth month — would see a successor appointed by March to serve the rest of her term, which ends in 2022.

KUDOS- Zulficar and Partners won the International Financial Law Review’s award for national law firm of the year in Egypt. Matouk Bassiouny & Ibrahim (the Dubai outpost of Cairo-headquartered Matouk Bassiouny) was named rising star law firm of the year, while Al Tamimi & Co also took home the awards for project finance and restructuring. Matouk Bassiouny’s Nadia Abdallah was also recognized as rising star of the year. Zulficar & Partners was also named most innovative firm of the year.

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