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Thursday, 25 June 2020

What we’re tracking on 25 June 2020

Welcome to Thursday, ladies and gentlemen. We hope the day passes productively and uneventfully — and that you’re all looking forward to a very relaxing weekend.

Two big stories eclipse all other headlines today: The IMF thinks the global recession will be worse than it first predicted and EFG Hermes has partnered with the the Sovereign Fund of Egypt to make a bid for the Arab Investment Bank and fully transform itself into a universal bank. We have chapter and verse on both stories in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

It’s interest rate day today. Our poll earlier this week showed consensus among analysts that the central bank will leave rates on hold for the third consecutive meeting. The CBE’s overnight deposit rate is at 9.25% and the lending rate is at 10.25%. The main operation and discount rates are both at 9.75%.

The IMF’s executive board will meet tomorrow to discuss Egypt’s request for a USD 5.2 bn standby facility, according to the fund’s calendar. Approval would bump up Egypt’s recent IMF borrowing to USD 8 bn after the fund last month disbursed a USD 2.8 bn rapid financing instrument.

The story to watch today: Asian shares are down sharply in early morning trading and futures suggest more of the same in Europe and the US later today after US stocks plunged yesterday amid fears that covid-19 was taking off in America. The trigger: Large states including Arizona, Texas, and California posting record numbers of new cases. The WSJ and the FT have more if you need to dive deeper. Is it any wonder that gold is hovering near an eight-year high? Not that we’re goldbugs…

The EGX30 closed up 2.6% yesterday on very heavy trading (about 74% above the trailing 90-day average), leaving the benchmark index down 21% year-to-date.

The antidote to the rollercoaster of negativity that is the market of late: Planet Startup, where we have a shoutout this morning to the brave folks who breezed through Flat6Labs’ demo day for investors like MSMEDA and the press yesterday. It takes guts to build a company — even more to pitch it online during a pandemic. Our friends at Flat6 have put the whole thing online, so you can watch here if you didn’t catch it yesterday (watch, runtime: 52:54) or check out the homepage for demo day here.

And speaking of entrepreneurs: Instagram is rolling out new requirements for small businesses and creators and will require them to “tag products on Instagram from a single website that they own and sell from.” The requirement goes into effect on 9 July for folks in Egypt. More in this press release (pdf).

PSA #1- The nighttime curfew ends on Saturday. Restaurants, coffee shops and houses of worship are set to reopen and retailers will be allowed to stay open until 9pm. Restaurants will have to close their doors at 10pm.

PSA #2- We are blessed with a midweek holiday next week as the nation is off on Tuesday in observance of 30 June.


The Health Ministry confirmed 85 new deaths from covid-19 yesterday, bringing the country’s total death toll to 2,450. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 59,561 confirmed cases of covid-19, after the ministry reported 1,420 new infections yesterday. We now have a total of confirmed cases that have since tested negative for the virus after being hospitalized or isolated, of whom 15,935 have fully recovered.

Six professional footballers tested positive for covid-19 just days after returning to the pitch for training ahead of matches restarting on 1 July, the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) said in a statement yesterday. All EFA personnel are currently being tested, the association said.

All courts across the nation will fully resume work starting Saturday, the Justice Ministry said yesterday, according to Youm7. The ministry has also decided to reopen its offices, including real estate registry offices and the ministry-affiliated forensic medicine department. A maximum of 20% of employees will be present at any given time, and will implement rotational shifts to avoid community spread. The decision comes after the government announced a partial reopening of the economy starting this weekend.

EgyptAir will resume flying to 29 destinations by mid-July, with 22 destinations available for booking on 1 July and seven more being phased in by 15 July, according to a statement. Did you book before 15 June? You need to reconfirm your flights.


DONATIONS- The nation’s banks, international organizations, and NGOs are the top financial donors to efforts to fight the economic and health impact of covid-19 according to this deck (pdf) put together by Meacoms. The top financial donor was the European Union with contributions totaling EGP 1.6 bn, while the top corporate donors were our friends at CIB followed by Banque du Caire. The food and beverage industry gets credit for in-kind donations of food, with the parent company of Pepsi and Chipy leading the league table with 2 mn meals, the analysis says. The top beneficiaries of financial donations were the government, the Tahya Misr Fund and the Egyptian Food Bank.


Chinese vaccine developer moves into final stage of testing in UAE: Chinese state-owned vaccine developer CNBG has secured approvals to begin the final stage of human trials in UAE, according to Bloomberg. CNBG is the first company out of China to enter phase three testing and one of the few to have hit that benchmark globally as the race to be the first to discover a vaccine quickens and covid-19 cases top 9.2 mn.

UK restaurants, hotels and pubs will reopen from 4 July as part of sweeping changes to end the country’s lockdown restrictions announced yesterday, the BBC reports.


Uncle Joe is crushing King Cheeto in the latest New York Times-Siena College poll. With five months remaining until American voters goes to the polls, Joe Biden has taken a commanding 14-point lead over the orange incumbent.

US considers ramping up trade tensions with Europe… The Donald may be staring down the barrel of an embarrassing electoral defeat, but he isn’t done flexing his muscles on trade. The US Trade Representatives yesterday said that Washington could bring in USD 3.1 bn in tariffs of up to 100% on additional goods imported from the UK, France, Germany and Spain, Bloomberg reports.

…as Europe mulls US travel ban: American citizens may be banned from traveling to European countries as the coronavirus continues to rampage across the US, according to draft EU rules seen by the New York Times.


Out today: The final episode of season two of Making It, our podcast on building a great business in Egypt.

Today’s interview: Omar Hagrass, CEO of Trella: After working as an expansion manager at Uber Eats, Hagrass was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug after learning how fragmented the trucking industry was. His research led him and his co-founders to launch Trella, an application that connects shippers and carriers directly through a booking system resembling ride-hailing services — eliminating the need for middlemen.

A digital trucking marketplace was born after he secured a USD 600k pre-seed round led by Algebra Ventures in early 2019. Trella then graduated from Y Combinator, acquired its Egyptian rival Trukto to become the largest digital trucking marketplace in Egypt, and launched its services in Saudi Arabia to act as a gateway for further expansion into the GCC countries.

The potential to solve a big problem with a good team raises investor interest, Hagrass told us. His goal? To turn the company into Egypt’s first unicorn.

Tap or click here to listen to the episode on our website | Apple Podcast | Google Podcast | Omny. We’re also available on Spotify, but only for non-MENA accounts. Subscribe to Making It here.

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