What we’re tracking on 12 November 2019
We don’t know whether to be grateful it’s already Tuesday, or to cry for all of the things that won’t get done in a shortened workweek.
Either way, the news this morning has us smiling: It’s a big day for business as the nation’s long-awaited sovereign wealth fund had a coming out of sorts yesterday: CEO Ayman Soliman told Bloomberg about a transaction that could see the SWF structure a transaction that will see it take a stake in the Siemens / OC / Elsewedy power plants and place the rest of the equity with international investors. The business community has long awaited the SWF’s first move, and this is a good start. The next step: Appointment of a financial advisor for the transaction as early as next week.
Also piquing our interest this morning: Bloomberg’s piece on the SWF name-checks us as the Middle East’s fastest-growing economy — and it looks like the government expects GDP to expand at a 6.4% rate in the next fiscal year. That’s better than the 6.0% rate expected this year, but down from an earlier projection of >7%.
Meanwhile, news of friends: Cleopatra Hospitals is eyeing what could be its first expansion outside Egypt, while Algebra Ventures and CVentures led a USD 1 mn series A funding round for Yodawy, Egypt’s largest online digital pharmacy benefits platform.
We have chapter and verse on all of this in this morning’s Speed Round, below.
A delegation from Chinese government’s influential consultative body wraps up its visit today. It has been in town to talk over Egypt’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, the local press reports. We have more on this in this morning’s Diplomacy + Foreign Trade, below.
It’s interest rate week: The CBE meets on Thursday to review interest rates, with five of the six economists we surveyed last week predicting a rate cut.
Our friends at AmCham are hosting the US-Egypt Future Prosperity Forum a week from today. Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and US Foreign Commercial Service Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets & Director General Ian Steff will be among those speaking at the forum. Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla, Planning Minister Hala El Said, and CIT Minister Amr Talaat will also participate in sessions throughout the event. You can check out the full agenda here.
PSA- We’re looking at something of a late-fall heat wave, with daytime highs of 33°C today through Thursday before the mercury falls to 25-27°C through the end of the month, according to our favourite weather app.
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Adnoc to take on WTI and Brent by launching new crude benchmark early next year: The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and nine major energy companies are planning to set up a new exchange to trade the world’s first Murban crude futures contracts, CNBC reports. Adnoc will partner with the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) to establish the market as soon as early 2020 in a move designed to challenge the dominance of the two main light crude benchmarks, WTI and Brent. BP, Shell, Total and Petrochina are among those joining Adnoc in the venture.
Also for the oil and gas types among you this morning: Low oil prices and the growth of renewables are helping push African governments to relax terms in bids to make E&P activity more enticing, Reuters reports.
Regionally: Lebanon’s central bank says it has the liquidity to keep the market awash in greenbacks and has no plans to impose capital controls or give haircuts to account holders, Bloomberg reports. And Saudi Arabia has made good on a promise to give permanent residency to some foreigners.
Also worth knowing about this morning:
- Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba took in a record USD 38 bn on Singles Day yesterday — the largest single shopping day in the world. (CNBC)
- The run of negative press continues for Uber: Uber founder Travis Kalanick dumped around 20% of his stake in the ride-hailing app (about USD 547 mn worth) after the expiration of his lock-up period, and CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is under fire after having compared the murder by Saudi operatives of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to mistakes the company made developing self-driving cars.
- US stocks finished in the red yesterday after The Donald poured cold water on suggestions he was backing away from his trade war with China. Trump over the weekend denied agreeing to lift tariffs on some Chinese goods. (Associated Press)
Spending too much time at work isn’t just bad for you — it costs the global economy bns of USD, according to research from Rand Corporation (pdf). According to the report, individuals who are physically inactive “report, on average, a larger amount of working time lost due to presenteeism.” What they mean is simple: Too many of us are in the office far longer than necessary to get the job done. If we were more efficient in the workplace and worked longer hours as a result, we’d not just have more time in which to be physically active — we’d potentially live longer and be sick less often.
One in three of us lead sedentary lives, costing the world bns in lost GDP growth and seeing governments and people alike paying bns on healthcare that wouldn’t be necessary if we were all just a little bit more physically active.
Better still (for us as … individual human beings): The right kind of exercise can boost your memory and lower your dementia risk, even if you don’t start exercising until you’re older.