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Wednesday, 15 January 2020

What we’re tracking on 15 January 2020

It’s a big news day, ladies and gentlemen:

  • Our ambitions to become the premier regional energy hub became real yesterday as Israeli gas started flowing across our border for the first time. The news comes ahead of tomorrow’s meeting of the East Med Gas Forum. The new group, which includes Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Palestine and Egypt, first convened in January 2019 to accelerate the creation of a regional gas market.
  • Bank Audi may be leaving Egypt after all, weighed down more by tumult in its home market of Lebanon than by its slow-to-close acquisition of the National Bank of Greece’s assets in Egypt;
  • Endeavour’s big bid for Centamin ended yesterday as the Toronto-listed gold miner backed by anchor shareholder Naguib Sawiris walked away from the fight.

We have all of that and more in this morning’s Speed Round, below.


The central bank’s new Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meets tomorrow to decide on interest rates. Analysts are almost evenly split, with four out of seven we polled earlier this week calling rate cuts of between 50-100 bps, and three expecting the MPC to hold. A similar survey by Reuters out yesterday has eight out of 11 analysts calling a cut. The MPC cut rates by 100 bps when it last met in November, capping a year of accelerated easing that saw 450 bps in cuts.

D-Day for GERD talks: It’s deadline day for the Egyptian, Ethiopian and Sudanese officials still haggling in Washington over the filling and operating timetable of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The countries pledged back in November to have put all their differences aside by 15 January, but recent statements have suggested that differences are still very much in play.

Germany confirms Libya peace conference to take place in Berlin on Sunday: Ceasefire talks in Moscow went nowhere yesterday after eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar refused to sign the document with the UN-recognized Fayez Al Serraj. We have more in Last night’s talk shows, below.

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BlackRock’s Larry Fink tells investors to choose the right side in the climate fight: The BlackRock boss’s face is all over the financial press this morning after he announced that his firm would take climate risk into consideration when making investment decisions. The CEO of the USD 7-tn fund wrote that climate awareness will cause a “fundamental reshaping of finance” and pledged to increase its sustainable funds and increase transparency over its voting and relationships with its companies. FT | Bloomberg | CNBC | NYT

Is Google about to get a little bit less creepy? That notion is front-page news today in the global tech and business press as the search giant said it would phase-out support for so-called “third-party cookies” — the creepy tool that for 25 years has allowed the global advertising industry to track you from one site to the next and serve you targeted ads as you go. See coverage in the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal or The Verge.

Carlos Ghosn and his wife are making waves with a long-form text and video interview with Reuters that’s getting wide pickup — and is the subject of yesterday’s The Daily podcast from the New York Times.

US banks post huge fourth-quarter profits: JPMorgan Chase broke its annual profit record in 2019 after it posted USD 8.5 bn in 4Q profits. The investment bank made a record USD 36.4 bn in net income due to surging investment-banking revenues in the final quarter. Meanwhile, Citigroup saw its profit rise 15% to USD 4.98 bn in the final three months of 2019, mainly due to its investment-banking operations. The Wall Street Journal has more.


Saudi Arabia’s next IPO to test the post-Aramco waters: Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Group, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest private healthcare operators, is planning an IPO next month to sell a stake of 15% of its share capital, according to Bloomberg. The listing should be a good indicator of investor appetite after Aramco raised more than USD 29 bn last December in the world’s biggest ever IPO.

Anghami mulls sale to OSN, raising capital with JPMorgan Chase to finance expansion plans: The streaming service could be acquired by Dubai’s Orbit Showtime Network and see its valuation reach USD 400 mn as it continues to grow in popularity in the region, according to Bloomberg, which cites sources close to the matter. It’s also considering hiring JPMorgan Chase to raise capital to fund an expansion, the sources added.

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Trump impeachment trial begins next Tuesday: The US Senate will name the democrat lawmakers to argue for the removal of President Trump on Wednesday, which will be followed by an impeachment trial next Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal quoted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as saying. The US president will name a team to defend him, including the White House counsel and Trump’s personal lawyer.

The US Treasury Department is no longer designating China a currency manipulator after Beijing made an “enforceable commitment” to stop competitively devaluing its currency, the Wall Street Journal reports. The agreement comes two days before the countries sign the first phase of last month’s trade pact. Fresh Chinese data reported yesterday showed exports rising 7.6% y-o-y in December, signalling a jump in global demand since last month’s rapprochement.


KUDOS- Zooba’s branch in New York’s Nolita district — their first location in the US — was named among the Infatuation’s list of the city’s best new restaurants. Our friends at the Egyptian street food chain opened the doors of the branch, for which they raised USD 4 mn, last September. The Infatuation’s Hannah Albertine also sang Zooba’s praises in an individual review, raving in particular about the cheese hawawshi (which is also a favorite of many of us here at Enterprise).

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