What we’re tracking on 28 December 2020
It’s t-minus four days until 2021 and New Year-itis is in full effect if the unprecedented volume of out-of-office replies we’re receiving after we dispatch each morning’s edition is anything to go by.
The big news at home this morning: The merger of two of the nation’s largest healthcare players — EGX-listed and Actis-backed Cleopatra Hospitals Group and privately-held Alameda Healthcare Group. We have the details in an epic M&A Watch, below.
Also: The Madbouly government is stepping up restrictions to try to tamp down the second wave of covid-19 and is in advanced talks to both secure stocks of read-made vaccine and the right to manufacture at least one domestically. We have the rundown in this morning's Covid Watch, below.
We’re one step closer to a post-Brexit trade agreement with the UK: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi ratified yesterday a trade agreement with the UK that could unlock 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. The agreement goes into effect on New Year’s Eve.
The move follows last Thursday’s historic UK-EU Brexit agreement, which should receive a “provisionally” approval from the European Parliament when they meet today. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has had to concede that the agreement “perhaps does not go as far as we would like” over access to EU markets for financial services, the Guardian reports.
CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
EGX-listed companies must have at least one woman member of their board of directors by 31 December “to avoid any action by the FRA.” It is unclear what those actions may be, but we suspect we may find out soon enough, as almost half of EGX30 companies still had all-male boards when we checked earlier this month. The FRA’s decree is here if you need to catch up.
Will Thursday be a day off? We should be hearing any day now from the central bank (and the EGX) if Thursday is a banking holiday, as New Year’s Day falls on a Friday. Banks with December-January fiscal years are typically shuttered on 1 January to close their books.
Speaking of banks: A reminder that transaction fees on withdrawals from ATMs outside your bank’s network will be hit with transaction fees as of Friday. The levies had been suspended earlier during the pandemic.
We find ourselves agreeing with Amr Adib twice in one issue (see below). So maybe we haven’t had enough coffee yet? Still, the voluble talkshow host hit the nail on the head last night in calling on the Interior Minister to extended 31 December deadline for all cars to be fitted with RFID stickers. Amr says our usual last-minute-itis will see El Moroor packed to the gills, spreading covid in the process, if there’s no extension (watch, runtime: 8:25)
Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.
FROM OUR TBR PILE-
Looking for something to work your brain cells while on vacation this week? We suggest:
- The secret to longevity? 4-minute bursts of intense exercise may help.
- The fallacy of ESG investing: Win-win arguments promoting both better bottom lines and better social returns are illogical
- Why we can’t stop longing for the good old days: Neurology and nostalgia help explain why people have always worried that the world is going downhill.
- Covid-19 propelled businesses into the future, ready or not. Spurred by the pandemic, business changes that normally might have taken years unfolded in months. Now, shifts that began as temporary fixes are likely to become permanent.
** We’re kicking off our special Year-in-Review editions this morning, where we’re going to have abbreviated issues that cover the top three or so stories each day followed by a rundown on the year that was in covid, debt capital markets, startups, macro, investment, M&A and equity capital markets.
In today’s issue: We begin with the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic (the most appropriate place to start) and how Egypt handled it on the policy front. We follow that with a look at the borrowing the government has had to do to fight the pandemic and break down the state of debt capital markets in 2020.
Did you miss parts 1 and 2 of our Blackboard Year-in-Review, our look back on the state of education in this really nutty year? We have recaps below.
In the mood to listen to something instead? We also have links to short teasers from season one of Making It