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Monday, 15 March 2021

What we’re tracking on 15 March 2020

The flood of M&A news continues unabated this afternoon, folks, and we have a price range announcement on the Taaleem IPO to boot. Chapter and verse on this and more can be found in this afternoon’s news well.

SOUND SMART: The fact that Taaleem is being allowed to do a price range announcement is a big deal. In the wake of the flap over the IPO of Sarwa Capital back in 2018, the Financial Regulatory Authority limited companies to issuing only a fixed offer price ahead of the start of trading. That limited the ability of investment bankers to explore investor appetite within defined band before pricing a company’s shares.

HAPPENING NOW- Proposed changes to the Bankruptcy Act are one step closer to becoming law after the House gave initial approval to the amendments, which open more avenues for struggling borrowers to settle with lenders before filing for bankruptcy. The law passed in a plenary session this afternoon, Youm7 reports. The changes now make their way to Maglis El Dawla (the State Council) for one last legal review before getting a final vote, after which they will need to be ratified by the president. Alongside giving struggling companies access to loans from certain authorized banks to help avoid bankruptcy, the changes also allow creditors to vote on whether their debtors can continue operating, be placed into administration or liquidate their assets, among other things.

Also approved by MPs today: A recent agreement with the French Development Agency to support teaching French in public schools.

CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s issue of EnterpriseAM:

  • Outdoor concerts and plays are okay nationwide, but churches in Qena are closing down through 3 April as covid-19 spreads in the governorate. Meanwhile, the hope is now that the first 6 mn of 8.6 mn AstraZeneca jabs we’ve ordered will arrive by the end of the month.
  • Egypt will be back near pre-pandemic growth rates by next year, according to the latest report by the African Development Bank, but challenges remain.
  • The Sisi administration is pushing ahead with for an EGP 100 bn program to offer 30-year financing at a subsidized rate for low- and middle-income earners who want to buy a home.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD: It’s interest rate week. The US Federal Reserve starts a two-day meeting of its Federal Open Markets Committee tomorrow. Observers see the Fed leaving rates on hold through 2023, though some are anticipating a hike as early as 2022. The UK and Norway are also expected to leave rates unchanged — despite rising borrowing costs — at their central bank meetings this week, while EM economies including Turkey and Brazil are seen raising rates to rein in inflation and prop up their currencies. But rate increases could hurt EM economics with a high foreign debt bill, with developing world debt rising to more than 250% of borrowing countries’ combined GDPs last year

The Central Bank of Egypt meets on Thursday, with all 12 analysts we spoke with for our regular poll saying they think the Monetary Policy Committee will leave rates on hold, accounting for a possible uptick in inflation due to a commodities boom and potential EM outflows as investors are lured away by rising US treasury yields.

SIGN OF THE TIMES- The pandemic is turning CEOs into vaccine activists in a bid to return to the office, with some granting paid leave and financial incentives to employees who get the jab, Bloomberg reports. In many US states, an employer can fire an employee for refusing to comply with a vaccine mandate, but the UK government has stated that while it’s up to businesses to determine immunization policies for their workforces, insisting that staff get jabbed could be discrimination, the BBC reports. As the legality of requiring vaccination is challenging, CEOs of major companies like Nestle, Danone and Unilever are opting for persuasion instead, using the company-wide townhalls to promote vaccination.

Some corporate chieftains are taking a harder line: United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said he wanted to make vaccination a requirement for the company’s 60k employees, and that other companies should follow suit, CNBC reports. UK-based handyman firm Pimlico Plumbing has said “no jab, no job” on new contracts, the BBC reports.

HAPPENING TOMORROW- Talk about blockchain, AI and more with TEDx speaker Patrick Schwerdtfeger at an AmCham event that will look at how the business community can reposition in a world undergoing rapid technological change. You can register for the event here.


Photopia’s Cairo Photo Week 2021 is up and running until 20 March. The photo festival features 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. 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.

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 UAE is following our FRA’s lead as it mandates that every listed company have at least one female director, according to The National. Just 28 of 110 listed companies in the UAE have women on their boards — and women account for just 3.5% of all serving board members, according to data from Aurora50. Our FRA mandated that all EGX-listed companies have a woman on their board by the end of 2020. 65% of companies were in compliance.

More asset managers are sounding the alarm on greenwashing oil firms, including Lauri Vaittinen, the CEO of newly the created USD 29 bn asset management arm of Mandatum, who told Bloomberg the firm will opt out of buying ESG products sold by corporations that aren’t clean across their balance sheets. Vaittinen’s comments come a week after the EU imposed new regulations to crack down on greenwashing — meaning companies that promote misleading claims about ESG credentials in a bid to attract investors.

Electric vehicle startups are forecasting record-setting revenue growth, with top players now listed on global stock markets or in the process of going public by merging with SPACs, writes The Wall Street Journal. EV makers Faraday Future, Arrival Group, and Fisker have all disclosed plans to surpass the USD 10 bn revenue mark within three years of launching sales and production — compare this to Google needing eight years to reach the same figure. The EV frenzy has been fueled by the shift away from gas-powered cars, and Tesla’s success only added to entrepreneurs’ confidence. The lofty valuations have caused some analysts to say the forecasts are unrealistic and need “haircuts.”

Crypto could be banned in India as the country gears up to discuss a law that would ban the currency and fine anyone found trading or holding crypto assets, a senior government official told Reuters. The bill would criminalise possession, issuance, mining, trading and transferring crypto assets in a potential blow to the red-hot asset class. Holders of cryptocurrencies would be given up to six months to liquidate their positions. Roughly 8 mn investors hold around USD 1.4 bn in crypto-investments in India, experts tell CNBC. The move would make India the first jurisdiction to full-out ban crypto currency; even China bans only trading and mining, not possession.


(All times in CLT)

Abla Fahita, Egypt’s favorite puppet, makes her Netflix debut today in the show Drama Queen. Season one of the show finds Abla falsely accused of a crime and separated from her daughter Caro and her son Boudi. The show marks the character’s first scripted series following her popularity in Abla Fahita: Live from the Duplex. Tap or click here to see the official trailer (watch, runtime: 2:16).

The Grammys took place last night. The largely virtual event was hosted by Daily Show anchor Trevor Noah and is being celebrated for showcasing female talent as artists including Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion and Taylor Swift cleaned up at the show. Beyonce snagged her 28th Grammy, tying her with Quincy Jones for the most-awarded singer.

Among those taking home hardware last night:

  • Everything I Wanted by Billie Eilish won record of the year while No Time to Die won best song written for visual media.
  • Taylor’s Swift’s Folklore won album of the year.
  • Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia was given the award for best pop vocal album.
  • Megan Thee Stallion won best new artist.
  • Bubba by Kaytranada won best dance/electronic album.
  • Stay High by Brittany Howard was awarded the best rock song trophy.
  • The New Abnormal by The Strokes won best rock album.

You can check out the full list of nominees and prizewinners on the Grammy website. The New York Times has coverage, while Rolling Stone thinks you should watch Megan Three Stallion and Cardi B perform “WAP” for the event.

Football has died down a bit after yesterday’s flurry of matches. National Bank will face off with Al Ittihad at 5pm in the Egyptian Premier League. Abroad, you can catch Wolves against Liverpool at 10pm in the English Premier League, while Barcelona play Huesca in La Liga at 10pm.


Get ahead of Mother’s Day with these cool food options: Gourmet has put together a special cookie decorating kit for Mother’s Day that comes with an assortment of icing, sprinkles, and cookies shaped to read I ♥️ MOM. You could decorate them and give them to mama as a surprise or make it a bonding activity you can do together. Gourmet’s Instagram page (@gourmetegypt) has some decoration inspiration you can use to get creative. Meanwhile, Sunrise Tray has perfectly put together Mother’s Day trays so you can serve mom breakfast in bed along with that “World’s Best Mom” mug you just picked up. Choose from their tray menu or customize your own, but you need to place an order three days in advance.

PSA- Egyptian mother’s day is on Sunday, 21 March. The day is observed on Sunday, 9 May in Canada and the United States. Are you a Brit? You’re already a day late — give Mom a ring now, as yesterday was mother’s day.


(All times in CLT)

It’s poetry night at El Sawy Culture Wheel, with Mohamed Ali, Mohamed Samir and Mina Nader set to recite and sing their poems at 9pm.

The Darkroom Cairo is holding an astrophotography workshop in Baharia Oasis this weekend, from 19-20 March focusing on how to make images of the night sky using film photography. The event is organized in collaboration with El Heiz observatory and you will have to bring your own film SLR camera and tripod; film will be provided.

A gala at Abdeen Palace on 20 March will include professional portraits by Beit El Sura founder Ahmed Hayman, a tour around the palace, and a food reception that includes live music. You can check out the event on the Instagram page of Events around Egypt, which is organizing the gathering on behalf of the Tourism Ministry.


Can big companies still create a startup culture? The Startup Way by Eric Ries lays out a system of entrepreneurial management that he says will allow businesses of all sizes and from every industry find a path to sustainable growth and long-term impact by changing the firms’ culture.

🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Expect daytime highs of 25°C and lows of 12°C tomorrow, according to our favorite weather app.

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