What we’re tracking on 9 June 2020
Good morning, friends — as you can tell from this morning’s tl;dr, it’s a packed issue today, so let’s jump right in.
Plenty of you are parents (and a handful are high schoolers — we love you guys). With the end of the school year upon us, we want you to tell us how you’re doing with e-learning, particularly given the Madbouly government said yesterday it is looking to extend distance learning into the new school year starting this fall. Options on the table include live broadcasts of all lessons for high-school students and a hybrid system with both classroom and home-based learning.
** TELL US WHAT YOU THINK. We’ve put together a quick survey asking parents and students how things are going on the e-learning front. We’ll have the results in an upcoming issue of Blackboard, our weekly education vertical. And as is our custom, we’ll draw the names of three respondents who will receive an Enterprise mug and a bag of our favourite coffee from our friends at 30 North. Tap or click here to take the survey. It’s quick and painless, we promise.
Meanwhile, three things that are making us go “Hmmm…” this morning:
#1- IPOs could be back on the menu as US markets claw their way back to pre-covid highs. US shares have now recouped their losses for the year, the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal report despite a pandemic, an economic crisis and ongoing protests against racism and police violence. Markets sage Mohamed El Erian isn’t rushing to buy into the “reopening rally,” telling CNBC that he’s “personally … uncomfortable” banking on a sustained rally leading to a marked recovery.
Into the gap wades insurance provider / fintech startup Lemonade, which filed for a USD 100 mn IPO yesterday (you can check out its filing here). And closer to home, Saudi grocer BinDawood says it will go public in the region’s first IPO since covid-19 hit.
#2- Will Hong Kong’s woes be good for Dubai? “The city’s status as the premier Asian destination for industry talent is at stake” as Beijing curbs Hong Kong’s autonomy, and that has fund managers and traders looking to the exits, the Financial Times reports. That momentum could grow as HSBC takes heat for having overtly backed Beijing’s move to impose a new security law on HK. Expect Singapore to benefit from any relocation, but there’s a play to be made here for Dubai, too.
#3- When will we hug? The New York Times has an answer, having asked “511 epidemiologists when they expect to fly, hug, and do 18 other everyday activities again.”
GERD talks resume today: Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan’s irrigation ministers will hold a virtual meeting today to resume negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to a statement from Sudan’s irrigation ministry, which arranged the meeting. Observers from the US, South Africa, and European Union Commission will also sit in on the discussions, which will focus on “procedural issues related to the role of observers and outstanding negotiating issues,” the statement says.
We’ll know more about July’s electricity price hikes later today when Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker holds a press conference to announce new electricity rates set to take hold on 1 July, Al Masry Al Youm. We have more in this morning’s Speed Round, below.
The IMF’s executive board will discuss by the end of this month or early July a USD 5.2 bn stand-by facility for Egypt, Masrawy writes, citing an unnamed Finance Ministry official.
EGP WATCH- The EGP gained nearly three piasters against the greenback yesterday, rebounding slightly after having returned to where it was seven months ago earlier in the week.
COVID-19 IN EGYPT-
The Health Ministry confirmed 34 new deaths from covid-19 yesterday, bringing the country’s total death toll to 1,271. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 35,444 confirmed cases of covid-19, after the ministry reported 1,365 new infections yesterday. We now have a total of 10,618 confirmed cases that have since tested negative for the virus after being hospitalized or isolated, of whom 9,375 have fully recovered.
The ministry is providing at-home treatment and medical care to some 9k people suspected to have contracted the virus to avoid crowding at hospitals, a senior ministry official said yesterday (watch, runtime: 7:03).
Amid the pandemic, we’re doing everything online: Fawry has seen a 250% increase in payment volumes since the beginning of the pandemic and is now serving more than 25 mn customers per month, CEO Ashraf Sabry told the local press.
Sister companies Uber and Careem have indefinitely suspended recruiting new drivers as demand has nosedived during the pandemic, Al Mal reports, citing an unnamed insider.
The Musicians Syndicate is pushing to get entertainment venues reopened at reduced capacities, according to Masrawy. Syndicate funds are starting to run dry as member contributions have come to a near halt in the absence of public performances, an official says.
Another 23 hotels will open after having earned permission from the Tourism Ministry, bringing the total number of hotels cleared to receive guests to 155, according to a ministry statement.
Rent relief for tourism sites: Restaurants at tourism sites, markets, museums and cultural heritage sites are getting a three-month rent holiday for June, July and August, according to a cabinet statement.
ON THE GLOBAL FRONT-
The World Health Organization is warning that the pandemic is still getting worse despite improvements in Europe and a gradual reopening of public life in many countries, according to the Associated Press. A total of 136k new cases were reported globally on Sunday in the largest single-day increase the outbreak began.
New Zealand now has zero covid-19 cases, according to the Associated Press. The country has gone 17 days since reporting a new case and all infected patients have recovered. NZ has fully reopened, but will leave in place border controls and quarantine requirements for new arrivals.
Saudi Arabia looks set to dramatically limit the number of people who will be allowed to perform the hajj this year as the kingdom’s covid-19 case count topped 100k, Reuters reports.
Global trade faces “ticking time-bomb” as labor crisis threatens shipping companies: Shipping companies could refuse to sail later this month due to concerns over safety on merchant vessels, the Financial Times reports. Up to 400k crew stranded by travel restrictions have been placed on emergency contract extensions, and industry leaders fear that many tankers will remain in ports when they expire on 16 June, as ship owners, unions and captains sound the alarm over safety.
EM currencies are surging now, but the longer-term outlook remains bleak, Barclays warns: Last week’s rally in emerging-market currencies is unlikely to last, even as the global economy reopens and the USD weakens, Barclays strategists wrote in a note picked up by Bloomberg. “The medium-term trajectory for EM FX is still lower and their curves are likely to steepen. Long-term fiscal sustainability will remain a challenge for some, even under optimistic post-Covid-19 assumptions,” the analysts wrote.
Oil giant BP is planning to cut 10k jobs — or 15% of its workforce — this year, in the latest indicator of the pressures brought on the industry by the pandemic, according to the Financial Times.
EGYPT BEYOND COVID-
Egypt Ventures green-lights impact investment strategy: The board of government-backed Egypt Ventures has approved a long-term strategy to focus investment on startups that align with Egypt’s Sustainable Development Goals, the VC firm said in a statement (pdf).