Wednesday, 5 May 2021

TONIGHT: New covid restrictions; Egypt to receive 4.9 mn vaccines this month; Trump-mania is back; Is Arsenal getting a new owner?

BREAKING- Madbouly announces semi-lockdown measures ahead of a five-day Eid break: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly just announced that all stores, malls, cafes and restaurants and public gathering places will be shuttered at 9 pm every night starting from tomorrow until 21 May. All conferences, concerts, and events for the public have been cancelled all day for the next two weeks. He did not make changes to the current policy on prayers at mosques and churches. The move comes as a precautionary measure as daily covid infections have risen to 1,090, the highest since January.

Public parks, beaches will be closed during the five-day Eid break: Madbouly also officially announced that Eid El Fitr holiday will be from Wednesday, 12 May to Sunday, 16 May. But if you were planning on going to the beach or park, best change them, as these will be closed during the holidays.

Meanwhile, Egypt will receive a total of 4.9 mn doses of covid-19 vaccines this month, Health Minister Hala Zayed said during a cabinet meeting today, according to a statement. The earliest of these will be a shipment of 1.7 mn doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine next week as well as another 1.7 mn shipment of the same vaccine by the end of the month as part of the Covax program. We’re also expecting 1 mn doses of Sinopharm to arrive during the month over two deliveries and 500k doses of the also-Chinese Sinovac vaccine. Egypt is still waiting for Sputnik and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to arrive, and will begin locally manufacturing the Sinovac vaccine starting next month.

IN OTHER VACCINE NEWS- WHO tuts against Sinopharm’s safety, but confident in its effectiveness: The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that it had “very low confidence” in the safety of the Sinopharm vaccine with experts worried about the risk of serious side-effects, according to Reuters, which snuck a peak at the WHO report. The organization is confident, however, in the effectiveness of the vaccine and its ability to prevent the disease. Clinical trials proved the Sinopharm vaccine to be 78.1% effective after two doses, just slightly below the 79% noted by Egypt’s health regulators.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- A listing drizzle coming? Integrated Diagnostics Holding (IDH) could potentially be the second company to list in Egypt this year after the EGX Securities Registration Committee this morning approved its plans to list 5% of its shares on the Egyptian bourse. This comes off the heels of education management company Taaleem’s listing last month. We cover the story in greater detail in the Speed Round below.

ALSO HAPPENING NOW- Reconciliation talks are underway in Cairo between Egyptian officials and a Turkish delegation led by Ankara’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal. The talks — which according to Asharq aim to make headway on some of the biggest sources of tension between the two countries such as Libya and the Ikhwan — will wrap tomorrow.

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

  • How many petchem complexes can we fit in Ain Sokhna? More than one apparently, after the government signed off on a USD 7.5 bn refinery that will operate alongside Carbon Holdings’ planned USD 11 bn Tahrir facility.
  • Ever Given remains in chains: An Ismailia court has rejected Shoei Kisen’s appeal against last month’s seizure of the Ever Given container ship, meaning the mega-vessel will remain in Egypt until at least May 22, when a second hearing is scheduled.
  • More fighter jets, please: Egypt will receive 30 Rafale fighter jets from French defense firm Dassault Aviation after inking a USD 4.8 bn agreement.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Surprise, surprise. King Cheetos is back, and the media is losing it: Removed from most social media, Donald Trump has taken matters into his own hands, creating a website that will publish content “straight from the desk” of the former US president, reports BBC. Trump’s senior advisor Jason Miller had hinted at a social media platform that would be launched, but says this website is not it and that he would have “additional information coming on that front in the very near future.”

Trump’s attempt at the spotlight comes as Facebook’s oversight board just now announced that he’s staying off the platform, after being suspended four months ago after the Capitol riots, according to a statement. While Twitter has banned Trump indefinitely, Facebook could still go back on the decision as the board has “ not specified the appropriate duration of the penalty.”

Bibi could be on his way out: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s mandate to form a coalition government after a deadlocked March election result expired today. Netanyahu missed a midnight deadline for putting together a new coalition government, the Associated Press reports. This opens the possibility for the Israeli president to task opposition leader Yair Lapid with forming a government, ending the reign of Israel’s longest serving prime minister.

** So, when do we eat? We sit down for iftar at 6:35pm this evening, and will have until 3:31am to wrap up our sohour.

CORRECTION- GIZ Egypt won’t provide funding to VC fund managers selected for its recently announced VC University training program, the organization said (pdf) today. We picked up news from other media outlets yesterday that reported that the program will provide EUR 100 mn to the three to four fund managers with the ticket size per fund averaging EUR 25-30 mn each. But in a corrective statement today, GIZ Egypt said that it will provide only technical training and no funding, and is currently working out the small print of the programme, launched in partnership with Endure Capital and Changelabs. The government’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency will act as observers. GIZ will later announce more details on the program and application process.


PMI figures for April are out tomorrow at 6:15 am CLT. Non-oil private sector conditions worsened for the fourth consecutive month in March, with the gauge dropping to 48 from 49.3 the month before, but optimism reached new highs as the vaccine rollout continues to pick up steam.


Africa-based startups have until 26 May to sign up for the French government-sponsored AFD Digital Challenge, an annual startup competition (pdf) by the French Development Agency (AFD). This year, the competition involves startups finding solutions to curb the carbon impact of economic activities or promote sustainable economic activity and the use of natural resources. The 10 winning startups will receive an “acceleration pack,” a package of technical and financial support worth EUR 20k.

The Gouna International Squash Open 2021, a PSA event, will run 20-28 May with 96 men and women competing. The event has the backing of our friends at CIB.


Private equity group Apollo has agreed to the USD 5 bn purchase of Yahoo and other Verizon media assets, leaving the latter to shift its focus towards the rollout of 5G networks, according to a Verizon press release. Verizon, which had purchased Yahoo and AOL for USD 9 bn, will retain a 10% stake in the new media company, which will also be called Yahoo. The company said it would focus on expanding its broadband services, after it “achieved lower than expected benefits from the integration of … Yahoo and AOL.” The value of the sale is a bargain compared to the USD 44.6 bn offer from Microsoft that Yahoo refused 15 years ago, as the software giant had then seen Yahoo as its main competitor for software dominance. However, Yahoo’s trailblazing business has dwindled in recent years due to lower audience and a heavy dependence on advertising, writes the FT.

The UAE’s list of “talented” expats being offered citizenship is getting longer: The high-profile list of new UAE citizens includes Sir Tim Clark, president of Dubai’s Emirates airline, Tony Douglas, CEO of Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways, and Michel Salgado, a former Real Madrid footballer, reports the Financial Times. Founders of tech startups have also been deemed talented such as those behind Careem and UAE passport holders can travel around the Gulf states without a visa and acquire property anywhere in the territory. The UAE changed its legislation in January to grant citizenship to foreign residents for the first time in efforts to increase spending in the country and sustain property prices.

BlackRock comes under fire for ‘greenwashing’, again: Rights groups are turning their heads to BlackRock for not openly pressing Indonesian palm oil producer Astra International where BlackRock is the third largest shareholder, over illegal land grab practices and poor environmental standards, the Financial Times reports. BlackRock had joined a chorus of investor protests at P&G in October of last year pressuring the consumer group to clean up its value chain over accusations that Astra subsidiary Astra Agro Lestari was seizing land from local farmers. P&G asked it’s Indonesian supplier to investigate Astra Agro Lestari. BlackRock is the second largest shareholder in P&G, and has minor direct holdings in Astra Agro Lestari.

BlackRock was just called out in March as the second highest “dirty thirty” fund, in a report compiled by 29 NGOs. The report found the 30 largest asset managers held a combined USD 512 bn in coal assets despite committing to the Paris Climate Agreement. In 2020, the world’s largest asset manager was found to have supported only 6% of environmental proposals filed by shareholders, despite CEO Larry Fink’s pledge to put sustainability at the heart of investment strategy and dumping coal assets.

Spotify co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek is hoping to take over Arsenal Football Club, with plans to submit a EUR 1.8 bn bid this week to club owner Stan Kroenke, reports Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol (watch, runtime: 04:23). Ek has the support of Arsenal stars Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira. Ek is reportedly a huge Arsenal fan and has an alternative vision for the future of the football club to make it more challenging in the Premier and Champions Leagues. Ek first floated his interest in buying the team on Twitter two weeks ago after plans to create the Super League collapsed. Arsenal’s fans, who have seen the fortunes of the club twindle under Kroenke’s stewardship, have since been protesting for the current club owners to leave.


The latest in action movies: Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse on Amazon Prime. The film is a spin-off of the popular Jack Ryan series and the latest film based on a book by the late writer. Michael B. Jordan plays the character John Kelly, a Navy SEAL who goes rogue after his pregnant wife is murdered in retaliation for his work investigating the Russians. Kelly of course decides to avenge his wife’s death and begins to go after the killers. He finds himself in the middle of a super-convoluted conspiracy that questions his beliefs and leaves him with no one to trust. While this all sounds like the premise of any other action flick, The Washington Post is not a fan, just read the headline to figure that out.

Chelsea and Real Madrid will battle it out today at 9pm to decide who will face Man City in the final of this year’s Champions League. The tie is finely poised after the sides drew 1-1 in the first leg last week, which was played in Madrid. Man City beat PSG 2-0 in the second leg of the semi-final tie last night, handing them a decisive 4-1 aggregate win.

The Egyptian Premier League has on a few matches tonight at 9:30pm: Ismaily is going up against El Gouna, Ceramica Cleopatra is playing against Al Mokawloon, Aswan is up against Al Masry, and finally, Misr Lel Mekassa and El Gaish will go head-to-head.


If you haven’t already, add Think and Grow Rich to your bookshelf. Written by Napoleon Hill in 1937, the book was a game changer in how to look at and manage wealth in order to achieve financial freedom. Hill used the stories of Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and other wealthy entrepreneurs of his time to pull together a series of techniques and principles he called the Law of Success philosophy. While the book’s concepts are still somewhat valid and the piece of literature is still viewed as the “Granddaddy of All Motivational Literature”, a revised version for the 21st century was released. Writer Arthur R. Pell applies the same frameworks of thought to the modern-day success stories of Bill Gates, Mary Kay Ash, and Sir John Templeton and shows that the path to being wealthy hasn’t changed all that much.

???? TOMORROW’S WEATHER- We’re looking at two days of 40°C coming up, with nighttime lows of 22°C on Thursday and 23°C on Friday, our favorite weather app tells us.

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