What we’re tracking on 9 February 2021
Good morning, friends: We have two big pieces of news to push you over that midweek hump, including word that we may be able to register as early as next week for our covid-19 vaccinations and a surprise USD 3.75 bn state eurobond offering yesterday. We have chapter and verse on both stories in this morning’s news well, below.
THE BIG BUSINESS STORY GLOBALLY: US stocks closed at fresh records yesterday as investors hoped that a new round of stimulus will give a boost to the flagging economy, shrugging off recent Reddit-induced volatility in the process, the WSJ notes. (Reddit, meanwhile, has seen its valuation double to USD 6 bn after recently raising USD 250 mn in late-stage funding.)
- State-owned banks may be eyeing private-sector investment banks. Banque Misr is looking to raise its 24.7% stake in CI Capital by an undisclosed amount. The EGX-listed investment bank’s shares jumped 9% on the news. And HC Securities told us they had not received an acquisition offer from Banque du Caire. HC later issued a statement (pdf) confirming there’s no offer to speak of. It’s not the first time the state has gone fishing in private waters: Look no further than the acquisition of Pharos by NBE’s Ahly Capital and of Arabeya Online by NI Capital.
- Fawry has plans to make as many as two acquisitions this year — more than a half-dozen startups are on the list of potential targets, CEO Ashraf Sabry said. Fawry shares climbed 2.2% on the news yesterday.
- Shares of GB Auto are up 140% from their EM-selloff low last March. We asked analysts what’s driving the recovery in our daily market report, Go With the Flow.
EnterprisePM also includes a roundup of where to spend your time and money each evening and is delivered to your inbox around 3:45pm CLT Sunday-Thursday.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-
It’s the second and final day of reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah at the Arab League. We have more on the first day of the Egypt-backed meeting in Diplomacy, below.
Proposed amendments to the Traffic Act are on the House of Representatives’ docket today. The result could be new fees on private, diplomatic, and public-sector vehicles depending on engine size to help finance the new smart transport system.
Former US President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial officially begins at the Senate today despite a last-ditch effort by his lawyers to avert a trial. Trump’s lawyers tried to argue yesterday that impeaching a former president is unconstitutional — an argument that will apparently be “a central theme of their defense,” according to the Wall Street Journal. House Democrats serving as impeachment managers promptly rejected the attempt to throw out the trial. The Financial Times and the New York Times also have the story.
COMING SOON- The government is preparing to submit its back-to-school plan to the covid-19 crisis management committee ahead of the end of public schools’ mid-year break on 20 February.
PSA #1- Now might be a good time to kick your smoking habit to the curb, as Philip Morris International raised prices yesterday of its Marlboro, Merit, and L&M-branded cigarettes. Al Mal has the new price list.
PSA #2- Today is the last day for students in Egypt looking to get into private domestic universities to upload their educational certificates on the Higher Education Ministry’s online university application system.
What could possibly go wrong? US asset manager VanEck is launching a “social sentiment” exchange traded fund that will invest in stocks that are talked up on social media, the Financial Times writes, as the GameStonk debacle brings “an old idea that failed” back into the limelight.
Not Elon’s love of BTC, of course… Tesla has invested USD 1.5 bn in bitcoin and plans to start accepting it as payment, it announced in an SEC filing yesterday. The carmaker said it was buying into the digital currency to help “diversify and maximize” its returns. (At least it didn’t go with dogecoin, right?) BTC leapt to a new all-time high above USD 42k following the announcement. CNBC and Bloomberg have more. Meanwhile, Coindesk has picked up on an RBC report that suggests Apple should launch its own crypto exchange.
SMART POLICY- We need to harden our infrastructure against hacks, starting with making sure tech people have the resources they need to patch and upgrade existing systems. Egypt has spent bns in recent years building infrastructure — roads, bridges, tunnels, desalination facilities, water treatment plants, electricity generation capacity, you name it — sufficient to (a) catch up with decades of under-investment and (b) support the future growth of the economy and our population. But what happens when a contractor uses cheap digital infrastructure in something critical like, say, a water plant? You find a hacker messing with the level of chemicals in your water supply, that’s what happens. The latest cautionary tale is out of Florida, of course.
CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
Inflation figures for January will be released tomorrow.
The International Conference on Global Business, Economics, Finance and Social Sciences gets underway today at Ramses Hilton Cairo.
Egypt is hosting an arm of the World Conference on Science Engineering and Technology, which runs from tomorrow through Thursday at Luxor’s Hotel Pavillon Winter.
The Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization will be hosting a MENA x CEO panel on venture capital and entrepreneurism in the region. The gathering headlined “Investor Perspectives from New York to North Africa” takes place on 17 February. Lots of friends are among the panelists, including Global Ventures Managing Director Amal Enan, HOF Capital Managing Partner Onsi Sawiris, AAF Management General Partner and CFO Omar Darwazah and AUC Entrepreneurship Professor Ayman Ismail. Tap or click here to register.
Property owners in violation of the building code have until the end of March to settle with the state, which has granted the fifth extension since originally setting an end-of-August deadline. The government has collected some EGP 17 bn in reconciliation fees so far, Local Development Minister Mahmoud Shaarawy told the House Local Administration Committee yesterday, according to Al Mal.
Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.
CONDOLENCES- Mohamed Mostafa Sheta, chairman and managing director of Alexandria Mineral Oils Co (AMOC), has passed away, the company said yesterday (pdf). Starting his career in 1999, Sheta worked in Egypt’s oil sector for more than two decades, including a 12-year spell at the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation where he worked until his appointment at AMOC in November 2020.