What we’re tracking on 4 April 2020
Good morning, friends, and welcome to a very busy news morning. We have nine days left until the start of Ramadan, so expect a brisk week as folks look to wrap up projects before the Holy Month.
Happy Easter to those of you celebrating this morning. Western churches including the Roman Catholic Church mark Easter today, while the nation’s Coptic Christians will celebrate on Sunday, 2 May.
Egypt is getting tons of global press this morning thanks to the relocation of royal mummies to in a parade last night to the Museum of Egyptian Civilizations in Fustat from their home at Tahrir Square’s Egyptian Museum.
*** CATCH UP QUICK with the top stories from Thursday’s edition of EnterprisePM:
- The EGX listing committee signed off on Macro Group listing 577 mn shares tomorrow ahead of the start of trading on 19 April.
- Women held only 13% of board seats in Egypt’s companies in 2020.
- Global IPO activity had its best first quarter in history.
THE BIG STORY INTERNATIONALLY- Something (almost) went down in Amman: Several senior officials — including several members of the royal family — were arrested by the Jordanian government yesterday, which said it was acting to protect the “security and stability” of the country. The country’s former crown prince and half brother of King Abdullah, Hamza bin Hussein, has been placed under house arrest, while Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, another member of the royal family, and former finance minister Bassem Awadallah have both been arrested. The Washington Post reported that as many as 20 people have been detained.
Egypt expressed its “full solidarity and support” for the king against attempts to destabilize the country.
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-
Unesco director-general Audrey Azoulay is in town for her first official visit to Egypt, which she kicked off by attending yesterday’s parade marking the relocation of 22 royal mummies to the Museum of Egyptian Civilizations in Fustat (more on that below). Azoulay will visit a number of sites in Cairo and Aswan and will wrap up her visit tomorrow.
A fresh round of GERD talks are underway in the DRC: Foreign and irrigation ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are in Kinshasa for three days of talks that are aiming to get the negotiating process back on track, according to the Associated Press. The Democratic Republic of the Congo — the current chair of the African Union, which is mediating the negotiations — called for the talks, according to Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, which said ahead of the meeting that it is looking for a legally binding agreement for filling and operating the dam. The talks began yesterday and wrap up tomorrow.
Keep your expectations low: The three countries have been unable to agree on how to move forward with the talks. In recent weeks, Sudan has proposed bringing in the US, EU and UN to mediate alongside the AU, an idea that was quickly dismissed by Ethiopia, which prefers to continue with the AU-led process. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi last week delivered one of his starkest messages yet to Ethiopia, warning that it will not be permitted to take “a single drop” of Egypt’s water as it prepares to go ahead with the second filling of the dam’s reservoir in a few months’ time.
HAPPENING THIS WEEK-
Egyptian Iron and Steel’s mining spinoff should be going live on the EGX sometime this week as the parent company prepares to go into liquidation. Sources told the local press last week that a liquidator will also be appointed this week to kick off the process which is expected to take up to two years.
Amendments to the VAT act will be in the spotlight when Finance Minister Mohamed Maait meets this week with the House Planning and Budgeting Committee, committee head Fakhry El Fekky told Al Mal. The committee has a raft of amendments to the law to discuss, including applying the 14% tax to the rent and purchase of commercial and administrative properties, imposing VAT on crackers and some sweets, and removing the tax on imports of strategic commodities.
Heliopolis Housing will issue today the conditions booklet for the contract to develop the Heliopark real estate project in New Cairo. Companies have until 16 June to submit their bids for the 1,695-feddan project.
Look for a busy week ahead in the news, as key monthly indicators trickle out:
- PMI figures for March will land tomorrow;
- Foreign reserves figures should be out this week;
- Inflation data for March will be out on or around Saturday, 10 April;
- Further afield, interest rate day falls on Thursday, 29 April when the central bank meets to discuss policy rates.
The S&P 500 broke the 4k barrier for the first time ever on Thursday as investors reacted to the Biden administration’s USD 2 tn infrastructure plan, Bloomberg reports. Equity futures extended gains on Friday after the latest jobs report showed that the US economy added 916k jobs in March — the largest monthly increase in seven months. Exchanges in the US and Europe were closed on Friday for the Easter holiday.
European markets will remain closed tomorrow for Easter Monday while exchanges in the US reopen for trading.
CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
The Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group begin tomorrow and run through next Sunday, 11 April. This year’s virtual meetings will bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, private sector executives, representatives from civil society organizations and academics. The topics up for discussion include the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, aid effectiveness, and the global financial system. Some events will be open to the public and can be streamed live from the World Bank’s platform.
The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry is hosting a webinar that will take a deep dive into the Madbouly government’s program to create a national ID for all residential and commercial properties and to digitalize the country’s building permit system. The gathering runs Tuesday, 6 April from 4pm to 5:30pm and you can sign up here.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is due in town on 12 April to discuss the latest developments on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, signaling Russia could be looking to play an active role in mediating the impasse, according to TenTV’s Al Mashhad (watch, runtime: 1:28). Lavrov’s planned trip comes after expectations that Russian President Vladimir Putin would visit Egypt sometime in March did not materialize.
“Summer hours” will come into effect for stores and restaurants as of 17 April. This means retail shops can close at 11pm (instead of 10pm during the winter), while cafes and restaurants can stay open until 1am (instead of midnight currently). We have more details on the winter vs. summer hours here.
Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.