What we’re tracking on 26 December 2020
Good morning, friends, and welcome to the final week of 2020. We hope those of you who celebrate had a wonderful weekend with family and friends.
The accelerating second wave of covid-19 dominates the news agenda here at home, overshadowing the Central Bank of Egypt’s decision to leave interest rates on hold heading into 2021. We have chapter and verse on both stories in the news well, below.
Abroad, Christmas weekend has so far been fairly quiet, with the big news being the fact that we may finally have a UK-EU Brexit trade agreement as Britain looks set to avoid the prospect of a hard Brexit after reaching a trade agreement on Thursday evening with the European Union. The news ends months of drawn-out negotiations, according to statements from London and Brussels. The agreement won’t introduce new tariffs or quotas on goods, but will impose new rules of origin requirements and health and safety specifications. It also imposes border controls and takes away the right from UK citizens to work, live, or study in the EU without a visa.
The European Parliament will sit down tomorrow to “provisionally” give the agreement a thumbs-up. Bloomberg has a rundown on the agreement’s key points.
Speaking of the EU: The Egypt-UK post-Brexit trade agreement will come to effect on New Year’s eve. The agreement could prompt new UK investment in Egypt, including in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, oil and gas, manufacturing, agribusiness, healthcare and education sectors, UK Trade Envoy to Egypt Sir Jeffery Donaldson said last month.
** This morning’s edition is our final “normal” issue of the year. We’ll be back in your inboxes tomorrow with abbreviated issues that cover the top three or so stories each day — and that give you the rundown in the year that was in covid, debt capital markets, startups, macro, investment, M&A and equity capital markets. For each, we channel our Carnac the Magnificent with a look ahead to what you might expect in 2021.
We wrap up the year on Thursday with a special Your Wealth issue on how much the times have changed in health, education, travel and more.
THANK YOU to every single one of you for allowing us the honor of writing you each weekday morning. 2020 has, uh, been a “challenge” — your kind words have been a huge part of helping us get through it.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-
Our friends at Cira are shooting to become the third company in Egypt to issue corporate sukuk this week. The company expects to wrap the EGP 600 mn sale by New Year’s Eve as it awaits regulatory approval, we’re told. The sale follows Talaat Moustafa Group’s EGP 2 bn offering in April and Sarwa Capital’s EGP 2.5 bn sale in November. We have all you need to know about Cira’s issuance here.
PSA #1 – We have ugly weather in store today to round out an ugly year: Expect to see heavy fog this morning in the capital city and across the Nile Delta, North Coast, and Canal cities, while other areas are in for some rainfall, according to Egypt’s Meteorological Authority.
PSA #2- You’re going to be charged transaction fees on withdrawals from ATMs other than your bank’s as of Friday. The Central Bank of Egypt looks set to bring the fees back into force after having extended until the end of the year a waiver it had introduced in March to push traffic to digital channels.
PSA #3- Are we getting Thursday off? Banks with Jan-Dec fiscal years are typically closed on 1 January to close their books. With New Year’s Day falling on a Friday, we’re waiting to see whether the central bank (and, as a consequence, the EGX) order Thursday off instead — or whether bankers will be trudging in to work this weekend.
CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
EGX-listed companies better have at least one woman member of their board of directors at the office NYE party. Under FRA regulations, listed companies must have at least one female board member by the end of the year. When we checked earlier this month, almost half of EGX30 companies still had all-male boards.
Car owners have until the end of the week to get RFID electronic stickers on their vehicles.
The government is loosening attendance restrictions for the Men’s Handball World Championship 2021, allowing 30% of seats to be filled at the event which will be held in Egypt from 13-31 January 2021, reports Ahram Gate. The Health Ministry has decided that a “bubble” system will be in effect — think: the NBA — meaning all players, coaches, organizers, media personnel, and other attendees will not be allowed to interact with outsiders to the bubble and will undergo PCR tests every 48 hours. The event will see 32 teams travel to Egypt and will be played in four venues in Alexandria, Cairo, Giza and the new capital.
The bubble system seems like it will be the norm for sporting events in the coming period as The Egyptian Olympic Committee announced that all sports tournaments held indoors must comply with the system or be suspended.
Also next month, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is looking to get one final state-sponsored vacation to the region, with Egypt among the countries he plans to visit.