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Wednesday, 17 February 2021

What we’re tracking on 17 February 2020

Good afternoon, friends. How cold is it outside? Enough so that we feel like this idiot must have. And the high winds in the People’s Democratic Republic of Maadi do not help at the moment. Holy sandstorm, Batman.

THE BIG STORY THIS AFTERNOON? Lots and lots of M&A news, most of it in healthcare. We have chapter and verse in this afternoon’s Speed Round, and ask in Parting Shot if we really know what we’re getting ourselves into as the House inches toward giving the Egyptian Competition Authority the right to approve or reject M&As.

*** CATCH UP QUICK- The top stories from this morning’s edition of EnterpriseAM:

  • Cabinet is preparing a three-year budget and fiscal outlook it plans to unveil in March as it starts working on the 2021-2022 state budget.
  • Who was in charge of drafting this non-compete? Adwia’s former owners look to re-enter the market after flipping their first company to a consortium led by EBRD and CDC last year.
  • The Biden White House is looking to redefine its relationships with key Mideast partners.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD heading into the final hours of the workday: Bloomberg notes that the UAE could slap price controls on chicken and milk as crop prices climb, while Reuters is leading with an exclusive claiming that “Congressional Democrats have begun discussions with the White House on ways to crack down on Big Tech,” with social media companies particularly in the cross-hairs. “The planned ‘e-yuan’ could boost Beijing’s surveillance state and create competition for private fintech groups,” the Financial Times says in its Big Read today.

Speaking of which: We had an explainer about central bank digital currencies earlier this week.


MUST-READ for IR professionals (and Canucks) What do you do when you miss your quarterly guidance and are vilified in the court of public opinion for running a storied national brand into the ground? Declare you’re “democratizing the earnings call” by hosting a “people’s earnings call” in the form of an “open kitchen” on an elitist, invite-only chat app, of course.

Only climate nerds will read this to the end. Which is a shame, because every single person who has input into how businesses of all sizes spend money or plan out their strategy should read this epic interview with Bill Gates on why the ‘miracles’ of solar and wind energy won’t save us from climate change — and the breakthroughs that just might. Yeah, we know, the dude who foisted Windows on us all is getting a lot of ink this week, but his new book is that important.

Then go read about how much fun we’re going to have as we clean up the planet after having torched it with fossil fuels the past century and a half. Presuming we don’t fry the environment first.

Routine fascinates us enough that we devote the last word every Thursday to someone’s morning / WFH routine — so imagine our delight when CNN took a deep dive into President Joe Biden’s daily routine. It begins with early-morning coffee with his wife, then a 9am kickoff in the Oval Office and a 7pm walk back to the residence with binders under his arm.

We don’t miss travel. Not us. And we definitely haven’t started a countdown until the last day of school — in December — in the hope that we’ll be able to board a plane that day for our first vacation outside our borders in nearly two years. Nope. Not us. No, ma’am. But if we were longing to travel, we’d probably enjoy reading this package from the Economist on the future of travel, dubbed “Return of the Wanderer,” wherein we learn that covid-19 could shake up air travel for the better, that business travel may never fully recover — but that tourism will (please, God), and that the industry is going to be more exotic than ever.

A word of advice: Be ready for the unleashing of pent-up demand. Thom Hogan, one of our favourite photo bloggers is leading his next safari / workshop in 2022 and warns “if you're really interested in international travel in the 2022-2023 time frame, you're going to have to consider taking a risk and booking now. Once the floodgates of travel re-open, all the postponed tours are going to be sitting there eating up much of the availability, and I expect demand will exceed supply in many places.” The catch? Deposits are likely going to be non-refundable, so you’re going to want to buy travel ins. given the times in which we’re now living. (Hogan is particularly worthwhile reading if you’re at that peculiar intersection of business dweeb, photography nerd and gearhead — ie: kinda like us.)

But hey, not traveling? It’s good for our species’ carbon footprint, right?

Oh, and speaking of the Economist: They’re a bit late to this whole SPAC thing, but they’ve done it with style. Still not sure what a SPAC is? We’ve got you covered.

SIGN OF THE TIMES- Pizza babka is on track to be Instagram’s next big thing. You can “thank” this guy, Eater writes. (There are no words.)

PSA- A heartbreaking Twitter thread everybody should read if you’re uncomfortable around folks who display autistic behaviours.


Join a discussion on how to get innovation out of labs and classrooms and into hands of businesses just like yours. The Zoom webinar runs tomorrow starting at 1pm and will include a dive into the incentives business needs to establish joint ventures with universities to commercialize research. The talk is being organized by the USAID-funded Sustainable Services Activity for MSMEs in collaboration with the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT) at the Ministry of Higher Education. Sign up here.

Photographers and gear nerds have a week and a bit to go before the 25 February launch of this year’s version of CP+, the high-profile photo show that’s been reduced to an online-only event this year. Look for announcements from Canon and Nikon, though what exactly is hard to predict this year: Component shortages and a contracting market have pundits speculating that Canon just kicked back plans to unveil a new camera, saying it will instead settle for a development announcement. Nikon is expected to say something about a Z8 or Z9 body — something further up the value chain than its current Z 7ii — and make clear the timeline for its next lenses. Sony (Alfa 1) and Fujifilm (GFX100s) have already made major announcements this year, so it’s not clear what they might be bringing to the table).

MEANWHILE- Look for an announcement tomorrow from Nikon about a new firmware update to improve eye autofocus performance on the Z 6ii and Z 7ii, Nikon Rumors suggests.

AUC has announced the jury panel for Visions Cairo Film Festival which will take place between 21 and 29 March at AUC’s Downtown campus. Festival president Malek Khoury heads the jury, which includes DOP and film director Mohsen Ahmed, film editor and Higher Institute of Cinema professor Rahma Montasser, stage director, actor, and founder of AUC’s theatre department Mahmoud El Lozy, cinema and theatre actress and Al Warsha Theatre Troupe founder Hanan Youssef, and film set designer Fawzi El Awamri. The festival will see some 85 short films screened by filmmakers of varied levels of experience and backgrounds.


Investor perspectives from New York to North Africa, a panel on venture capital tonight at 7:30pm CLT featuring Onsi Sawiris (HOF Capital), Amal Enan (Global Ventures), Omar Darwazah (AAF Management) and Ayman Ismail (AUC), moderated by Marco Viola. Sign up here.

Netflix is out with a new original interactive film Animals on the Loose that you and your family can enjoy. Featuring Bear Grylls from the Man vs. Wild series, animals escape from a sanctuary and you must pursue them and secure their protective habitat. The film can extend for 45-90 minutes, depending on the choices you make.

Online artists platform Talk to The Brush is holding a Facebook Live session with comic artist Deena Mohamed at 9pm. Mohamed is the creator of Al Qahera and Shubeik Lubeik which you can purchase in Arabic on Mahrousa.

Day two of the resumed Champions League will see Juventus play against Porto and Sevilla play against Dortmund, both at 10pm CLT.

The Premier League also has two matches on today. Burnley will hit the field against Fulham at 8pm CLT, while Manchester City and Everton will face off at 10:15pm CLT. Meanwhile, La Liga will see Levante and Atletico Madrid play at 8pm CLT.


You’ve got barely 12 days left to experience Ovio’s Belgian chocolate month. This year Ovio is using Callebaut chocolate for a menu that includes a “magic chocolate ball,” Brussels chocolate pancakes, and croquembouche. You can also enjoy chocolate month at home by ordering an assortment of the Belgian chocolate for delivery. Locations in Maadi, Cairo Festival City, Galleria 40, and The White by Waterway. Delivery: 19801 or hit up our friends at Elmenus.

KUDOS- Las Vegas is getting a taste of Omm El Donia’s cuisine after entrepreneur Iman Haggag opened Egyptian restaurant POTs, writes Egyptian Streets. POTs made it into Yelp’s list of top 50 places to eat in Las Vegas last year and is now focused on serving vegan food. Zooba’s success in New York inspired Haggag to open her own place. We talked to Zooba Founder Chris Khalifa about his business and his expansion abroad in an episode of our podcast Making It (listen, runtime: 44:10).


Taha El Korany’s latest exhibition, Over A Head, is on at Ebdaa Art Gallery (Google Maps), featuring colorful creations depicting large groups of people painted with an overhead perspective.

Cairo Jazz Club in Agouza is holding an anti-Valentine’s party today at 8pm. Cairo Jazz Club 610 (the second branch in Zayed) will feature Ahmed Sheba today at 9pm CLT.


Satirist Bassem Youssef has written a children’s graphic novel titled The Magical Reality of Nadia — inspired by the experiences of his younger daughter Nadia. When character Nadia moves from Egypt to the USA at six-years-old, she has to navigate the ups and downs of friendships, racism, and even some magic. The graphic novel was co-authored by Catherine R. Daly and published by Scholastic.

Learn to connect between art and science: World-renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote a final collection of essays before his death that looks at the intersections and crossovers between the arts and sciences through his own eyes and experiences. The River of Consciousness is described as a book to help you cleanse your mental palate and learn to make more connections. The Guardian is out with a review.

???? TOMORROW’S WEATHER- There’s a chance of a sprinkle this evening with an overnight low of 9°C. Tomorrow’s outlook includes a mix of cloud and sun with a high of 15°C.

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