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Monday, 8 March 2021

What we’re tracking tonight on 8 March 2021

IT’S A BIG NEWS DAY here at home as we slide into the final hours of the workday, with word that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is bidding to take private LSE-listed ADES International Holding, the top regional oil and gas services outfit that grew out of Egypt. Meanwhile, Banque Misr says it has no intention of upping the price it is willing to pay for financial services player CI Capital. We have chapter and verse on both stories in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.

HAPPENING NOW- Some 400k people in Egypt have signed up to receive the covid-19 vaccine so far, Health Minister Hala Zayed told reporters on the sidelines of a conference today, Youm7 reports. Priority right now is for seniors and younger folks with underlying health conditions; citizens, foreign residents and refugees can register to get the jab.

You can register to take the vaccine here and can choose to file your paperwork in English or Arabic. The rollout started up last Thursday with the Sinopharm and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs. Sinopharm is taken in two jabs administered 21 days apart, while folks getting the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine take a second dose after a three-month period.

IT’S A PARTICULARLY CRAZY DAY abroad, with at least three stories vying for your attention:

  • Oil looks like it’s going to stay up in the USD 70 / bbl range after an attack on an Aramco facility by Yemen’s Houthi rebels (more in Speed Round, below);
  • Turkey really, really wants to be friends with Egypt and GCC countries, Erdogan’s spokesman told Bloomberg in an exclusive interview (more in Speed Round, below);
  • GE is closing in on the USD 30 bn sale of its aircraft leasing unit to Ireland’s AerCap. The story leads the front pages of both the Wall Street Journal (which broke the story) and the Financial Times this afternoon.

What’s so big about the GE sale? It would be the latest in a string of moves by the once iconic industrial conglomerate to restructure and streamline its operations following an epic corporate meltdown. The aviation unit is the largest remaining piece of what was once GE Capital, an operation that at one time rivaled US banks, but almost tanked the company in the 2008 financial crisis. GE already parted ways with its biotech business in a USD 21 bn agreement with Danaher in 2019, and its lightbulb business in 2020. GE shares more than doubled in the past six months driven by improving financial results, but the stock price is still down roughly 75% from it's all-time high in 2000.

CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from this morning’s edition of EnterpriseAM:

  • At what price a transaction? CI Capital thinks Banque Misr’s offer to acquire up to 90% of its shares is underpriced.
  • The 8.6 mn AstraZeneca jabs we’re expecting should arrive within the next few weeks, a bit later than originally projected.
  • Egypt is among the countries that would benefit most from new IMF special drawing rights.

YOUR STATUTORILY REQUIRED COVID STORY for the afternoon: The EU’s vaccine regulator is still skeptical about Russia’s Sputnik V, urging member nations not to authorize its emergency use while the bloc’s regulator continues its rolling review, according to Reuters. Sputnik has already been approved by member nations Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, and Brussels said it could begin further talks if four countries request the vaccine.

Here at home, the EDA authorized Sputnik V for emergency use last month. The approval came after Health Minister Hala Zayed said large shipments of vaccines would start arriving by the second half of the month, partly consisting of Sputnik V, but we haven’t yet heard concrete updates. The private sector could also be making purchases after Prime Speed Medical signed an initial agreement for 10 mn doses late last month. As many as 45 other countries have given the jab the green light, including the UAE, Iran and Tunisia.

What does the evidence say? Leading medical journal Lancet out of the UK found Sputnik V has a 91.6% effectiveness rate.

But Russia isn’t being an angel when it comes to vaccine politics, the US government claims, according to a Wall Street Journal report that alleges a “Russian disinformation campaign aims to undermine confidence in Pfizer and other covid-19 vaccines.”


Photopia’s Cairo Photo Week 2021 kicks off this Thursday and runs through 20 March. The photo festival will feature over 100 activities including workshops, panels, photo challenges, exhibitions, portfolio reviews and photo walks throughout the week, all led by more than 80 local and international photographers. Genres including fashion, food, portraits, documentary and photojournalism are all in the spotlight. You can check out the event program on Photopia’s website, there’s plenty to look at on the group’s Instagram feed @cairophotoweek, and both physical and virtual tickets are available here.

Also on Thursday: The next iteration of Le Marché, an anchor of the annual expo scene, takes place 11-14 March at the Egypt International Convention Centre, with over 300 local and international brands set to showcase their wares. Full details and digital catalogue on the show’s website.

The Cairo Fashion & Textile Expo trade show is set to open at the Cairo International Convention Center on Thursday, running through 13 March.

Higher education fair EduGate kicks off tomorrow and will run until Thursday at the Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski on the Ring Road. Participants include universities, colleges and training institutions as well as scholarship and grant providers. There’s also an online-only version taking place 18-20 March.

AUC Press’s Mad March book sale will be ongoing for the rest of the month. The sale is open to the general public every day from 10am–6pm CLT at AUC Tahrir Bookstore & Garden.

The next Gouna Film Festival is set to run 14-22 October in person, with covid-19 mitigation measures in place, organizers said yesterday.


Ready your TV sets, the PlayStation 5 will officially launch in Egypt “soon” according to a teaser from PlayStation Arabia’s Twitter feed, which stopped short of providing a timeline. The console has been available available on Souq for a while now at a hefty markup — EGP 15k for a box that’s going for c. USD 400 (a little over EGP 6k) in the US right now. Sony has been struggling to maintain PS5 stock around the world amidst a global chip shortage affecting electronics and cars worldwide. There’s no mention if Egypt is becoming an official region on the PlayStation store.

How would you invest USD 1 mn right now? We can all be forgiven with thinking about a post-covid future now that more than 300 mn covid jabs have been administered, with hundreds of mns more to follow. With optimism in the air, Bloomberg asks six experts how they would invest USD 1 mn today. The panel’s suggestions range from infrastructure stocks, manufactured housing and angel investing in startups, to more unusual and fun options like a vintage Mercedes, soccer jerseys, and music royalties.

…and while we’re on royalties, music back catalogs are turning into a red-hot asset class. In December last year, Bob Dylan sold his entire catalog to Universal Music for an estimated USD 300 mn. In January of this year, Shakira did the same thing with Merck Mercuriadis' LSE-listed Hipgnosis Songs Fund. Already this year, Hipgnosis acquired rights to catalogues by Jimmy Iovine, Lindsey Buckingham and Neil Young — and already owns select songs by Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Beyonce. Bloomberg’s Odd Lots explores the fast-growing demand for this asset class with independent music valuation expert Alaistar Moughan (listen, runtime 44:00).

India is raising the stakes in the EV game: Ola Electric, a subsidiary of one of India’s largest startups, is planning a USD 330 mn mega-factory on the outskirts of Bangalore that aims to produce 10 mn vehicles annually by the summer of 2022, the company’s co-founder tells Bloomberg. Ola Electric is backed by Kia, Hyundai, as well as investment firm Tiger Global Management and Japan’s Softbank. The news comes as Egypt looks to an EV future as Infinity builds out a national charging network and former state-owned zombieco El Nasr looks set to start producing EVs in a joint venture with Dongfeng.


(all times CLT)

Netflix has released a self-titled biographical documentary about football star Pelé, which follows the 12-year period in which Pelé won three World Cup titles and went from young superstar in 1958 to national hero in 1970. The film is set on a backdrop of tumultuous political times in Brazil which adds to the plot and moves the story along to the ending we’re all familiar with. Check out this review by Sports Pro.

Disney’s latest film Raya and the Last Dragon is out on Disney+, following the main character Raya who teams up with the last remaining dragon to restore harmony to the world and end the threat posed by a plague that turns everyone into stone. Raya is a movie about learning to trust one another, letting go of stereotypes, and uniting for the greater good. The film has also hit cinemas nationwide in case you want to make it an outing. Want to know more? Check out these reviews by NPR and The New York Times.

Not much kora for you all today: The Premier League will see Chelsea and Everton face off tonight at 8pm, while West Ham and Leeds will hit the field at 10pm. Real Betis take on Alavés at 10pm in La Liga, while Serie A has Inter Milan playing Atalanta at 9:45pm.


Make pizza at home tonight with an easy meal kit: If you’re a fan of pizza, you’ll be a fan of Vinny’s Pizzeria, which serves pies in several forms and flavors. You can stick to the classic thin crust or pan pizza, or you can try out their pizza cake and choose how many levels you’d like your cheesy monstrosity to be. The restaurant has begun offering “make your own” pizza kits for folks who know their way around an oven. The kit makes two pizzas and includes dough balls, sauce, and cheese along with other ingredients based on the kit you order.


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Cairo Jazz Club in Agouza is celebrating International Women’s Day with Femmes on Decks, which will see three female DJs — Joella Jackson, Maie, and Akladios — spin the turntables tonight at 8pm. Meanwhile CJC in Zayed has a salsa night at 7pm with instruction from Soul Motion Studio.

The Contemporary Image Collective (CIC) is hosting the short film festival De Sync tomorrow at 7pm. The theme this year is “between words and intentions” and will feature films by Menna Ekram, Islam Kamal, Ahmed Elghoneimy, and Fardia Zahran as well as a discussion moderated by director Heba Yousry.

Demi Gallery in Zamalek is showing works by sculptor Ahmed Askalany that explore what famous pieces would have looked like if they had been created elsewhere and under different conditions in an exhibition aptly named “What If?”.


Your work is only as good as how well it is marketed, which is why Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday aims to reveal to creatives of all stripes — authors, entrepreneurs, musicians, filmmakers, fine artists — how a classic work is made and marketed. The book puts forth a foundational set of innovative principles as well as interviews with some of the world’s greatest creatives, to help readers gain perennial success on whatever endeavor they have at hand.

???? TOMORROW’S WEATHER- The thermometer is set to hit the 30°C mark tomorrow in the capital city and will fall to 18°C at night, our favorite weather app tells us. The entire week looks like it might be somewhat warm, the mercury easing back to a daytime high of about 24°C on the weekend.

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