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Wednesday, 30 December 2020

What we’re tracking on 30 December 2020

Well, friends — we made it through 2020 together. Most of us here haven’t seen each other since early March, when we went fully WFH, and trust us: The honor of writing you all each morning is one of the things that has kept us going in this ridiculous year.

Thank you for starting your morning with us each workday, whether you do so on email or on the web.

Thank you for writing to us with story ideas, corrections and random musings — your notes keep us going and remind us daily that we’re writing to very smart, very engaged people who care passionately about business and the country in which we are all privileged to live.

And thank you to our advertisers, whose steadfast support allows us to continue producing Enterprise each day without charge. If you enjoy Enterprise, please give a tip of your (metaphorical) hat to the great people at CIB, Pharos, Sodic, Somabay, Orascom Construction and CIRA.

Today is our last “normal” issue of the year, and it’s a blockbuster for finance nerds as we look back at 2020 and ahead to what’s coming in ‘21 on three key fronts: equity capital markets, M&A and investment. We’re all going to sleep in a little bit tomorrow, but you’ll find the January 2021 issue of Your Wealth in your inboxes instead to keep you company. We’ll be back at our customary 6am on Sunday.


We are still none the wiser whether tomorrow will be a day off for banks. The central bank and EGX have yet to announce if Thursday is a bank 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. Look for an announcement this afternoon if there’s going to be one.

The Health Ministry reported 1,333 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 1,359 the day before — the first time our daily reported cases have dipped since 28 October. The ministry also reported 54 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 7,520.

No, we’re not getting another curfew (at least not yet). Cabinet denied yesterday that it is moving to re-impose the nighttime curfew after a recording of the curfew announcement from earlier this year went viral.

What’s really happening: Failing to comply with a covid restriction will get you a fine starting Sunday. The nation’s talking heads reminded viewers that people not wearing masks in public venues and on public transport will be ordered to pay a EGP 50 fine on the spot — and made sure to point to the rapidly rising case count (Ramy Radwan on Masaa DMC | watch, runtime: 4:40 and Lobna Assal on Al Hayah Al Youm | watch, runtime: 1:15).

SILVER LINING- The new covid-19 variant apparently does not cause more severe cases of the disease, nor does it have a higher mortality rate, a study from Public Health England found, according to the Financial Times. The study also didn’t find a statistically significant increase in the likelihood of reinfection from the new, more transmissible strain.

Meanwhile: China is struggling to get the world to trust its vaccines, Bloomberg writes. The big issue? A lack of transparency: “There has been little information about how Chinese vaccines have fared in final-stage clinical trials, with just the United Arab Emirates and China itself endorsing the vaccines for emergency use so far. Meanwhile, some U.S. and European companies have published data on the safety and efficacy of their shots and started to deploy them.”

Other news you may want to know about this morning:

  • Cairo and Alexandria’s public transport projects are getting a EUR 1.1 bn financing package from the European Investment Bank (EIB) after International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat signed the contracts for a portion of the funding yesterday, according to statements from cabinet and the EIB.
  • El Nasr Automotive and China’s Dongfeng are postponing signing the final contracts for their EV assembly partnership as they continue to work on ironing out the international arbitration clauses of the agreement, Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik said, according to Masrawy.

SIGN OF THE TIMES- Investment banks raked in a record USD 124.5 bn this year in fees for debt and equity sales, thanks to a bump from the pandemic, the Financial Times reports, citing Refinitiv data. Debt and equity both had a solid year “as companies looked to access capital markets to shore up their balance sheets in the face of pandemic-related uncertainty,” said Barclays analyst Jason Goldberg. Fees from underwriting IPOs alone soared to a 10-year record of USD 13 bn, buoyed by high-value companies such as DoorDash and Snowflake going public.

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