TONIGHT: IDH shares trade; EFG on its way to universal bank; US stocks fall for fourth straight day; BTC under pressure; Friends is back? Iran nuclear accord back on;
It’s a big close to the work week as some of the most anticipated business stories of the month come to a head today.
THE BIG STORY TODAY- Integrated Diagnostics Holding (IDH) had its first day of trading on the EGX this morning. The LSE-listed consumer healthcare giant’s shares closed at EGP 18.40 on their first day of trading. Big congratulations to CEO Dr. Hend El Sherbini, CFO Omar Bedewy and Investor Relations Director Nancy Fahmy for a job well done. We have more in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.
We also have EFG Hermes, which took a big step today to becoming a universal bank by signing the contracts that would see it take a 51% stake in Arab Investment Bank. This would be the first successful privatization of a bank since 2006. More on this, too, in Speed Round (along with a link to our interview with CEO Karim Awad about how he’s led the firm’s transformation).
STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING and watch this before you read any further — it’s the real trailer for the Friends reunion special (watch, runtime: 2:10). As one of us said earlier today: “They got so old, which means we got so old.” Also: They’re still damn funny. The resident 13-year-old has already circled Thursday, 27 May on her calendar and is desperately trying to figure out how / where to watch it when it streams. Our suspicion, given it’s on HBO Max in the US of A, is that it will be on OSN in our neck of the woods.
The reunion will feature all six members of the original cast, but won’t be a new episode of Friends — it’s a gathering to discuss the filming and production of the sitcom, according to Vulture. Look for guest appearances from Tom Selleck, David Beckham, Lady Gaga, BTS, Cara Delevingne, Mindy Kaling, James Corden, Malala Yousafzai (why?) and Justin Bieber (even worse).
** CATCH UP QUICK on the other top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:
- Semi-lockdown extension: Stores, malls, cafes will have to shutter their doors at 9 pm until at least the end of the month, as per yesterday’s Madbouly cabinet directive. Schools will go into online learning, BUT beaches and parks will be open to the public.
- A civil service raise: Cabinet greenlit bringing the minimum wage increase to EGP 2.4k from EGP 2k for civil servants into effect at the start of the next fiscal year on 1 July. There’s still no word on a corresponding minimum wage for the private sector.
- Charter tourists must start paying for visas: Tourists entering the Red Sea, South Sinai, Luxor and Aswan governorates will now pay visa fees of USD 25 per person as of 1 May, after a Tourism Ministry initiative waiving entry fees expired.
HAPPENING NOW- Stocks aren’t melting down in Europe (major indexes from Paris and Frankfurt to Blighty are in solidly in the green) but it looks like it could be another rough day on Wall Street, which is girding itself for a fourth day of losses ahead of weekly jobless claims data due out later today, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Nasdaq and the S&P are poised to fall back from record highs as investors continue to fret that rising inflation will prompt the Fed to start thinking of tapering down bond-buying programs that have supported ultra-easy monetary policy and propped up stocks.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD- A ceasefire to end Israel’s attacks on Gaza could be announced in less than 24 hours, Hamas officials told CNN this morning. World leaders have been stepping up pressure to end the fighting as concerns grow over the gross humanitarian situation, but Israel hasn’t yet committed to formal truce. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday saying he is “determined to continue this operation until its objective is achieved” even after he was urged by US President Joe Biden to seek a “significant de-escalation.” Egypt is at the forefront of the push for a ceasefire.
Meanwhile, the European Union thinks Iran and the US may be close to reviving the 2015 nuclear accord, Bloomberg writes, citing a top EU official. A fourth round of talks between China, EU, Russia and the US came to a close yesterday in Vienna in a bid to lift Trump-era sanctions on Iran from 2018 — and it seems that all stakeholders are upbeat about reaching an accord.
Vaccinated folk, you may enter the EU next week: The European Union is reopening its borders to fully vaccinated tourists starting next week, as long as they passed their two-week immunization period and the jab they’ve taken is approved for use in the EU, the New York Times writes. EU-approved vaccines include AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer / BioNTech and Sinopharm. Those without jabs may only enter if they come from a country that is considered “safe” from a covid perspective — a list of which will be finalized on Friday. We’re not holding our collective breath for Egypt to be included on it. Hopeful? Yes. Holding our breath? No.
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
The El Gouna International Squash Open 2021 kicks off today and runs through 28 May. Fans will be allowed to enter the stands, with the first few match days without charge and tickets to be sold for the semis and finals. You can also watch the matches live on PSA Squash YouTube page. The event is supported by our good friends at CIB.
Can’t get enough of Egypt’s favourite racquet sport? The CIB PSA World Tour Finals will run on 22-27 June in Cairo.
Bibliotheca Alexandria is organizing a webinar to discuss safekeeping artifacts and heritage on Thursday, 27 May. Headlined “Fighting treasure hunting from Africa for the Americas: Protecting the history of the drowning world,” it will feature University of Edinburgh’s Arturo Rey da Silva. You can tune in live at 2:30pm from the Alexandria Center for Hellenistic Studies’ Facebook page.
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
From the dumpster fire that is our social media feed:
- Veteran CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman (a longtime resident of Cairo before his relocation to Jerusalem and one of life’s good guys) keeps calm and carries on while being man-handled by Israeli troops.
- UFO mania is once again sweeping the US of A, with 60 Minutes (normally a pretty damn reputable outfit) being the latest to fall for the tale of an “intelligence officer” who probably never ran the classified US government program he claims to have run. Science journos and real life astrophysicists are skeptical where mainstream news anchors are not. Y’all can go home to Q now.
- Miss Piggy is not alone in mourning the passing of actor Charles Grodin, who the resident 13-year-old recalls fondly from his turn in the Beethoven franchise. Obit here in the NYT.
For our fellow iSheep: Reviewers love the new iPad Pros and iMacs with M1 processors. We suggest you start with Marques Brownlee (watch, runtime: 16:16) or Rene Ritchie (watch, runtime: 12:45) on the iPad Pro or catch John Gruber over at Daring Fireball on the iMac. Couple their reactions with Bloomberg’s report that we can expect a big overhaul of the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Pro this year alongside a more powerful iPadOS 15 and we’re really looking forward to WWDC, which is rumored to be ready to run the first week of June. We agree with Gruber (and Brownlee and Ritchie) that iPadOS just isn’t powerful enough to take full advantage of the hardware packed into an iPad Pro … but that’s not stopping us from putting together this afternoon’s edition of Enterprise on one.
Bonus: Prolific leaker Jon Prosser saus the Apple Watch will get its first major redesign soon.
Not enough Apple for you? Check out this ridiculously cool video of a new software upgrade that allows one-handed people to still interact with an Apple Watch. The video (scroll down a bit) is just fantastic.
What’s next for BTC? The two leading cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ether, remain under pressure after yesterday’s slump, which saw them plummet over 30% in a single day, according to Bloomberg. This morning, the tokens saw another day of volatility, slipping back to weekly lows in Asian trading before rebounding later in the day. While Elon’s comments on mining’s energy needs and China’s central bank reiterating the coins can’t be used for payments triggered the downturn, the extent of the tumult can only be fully explained if we factor in market behavior, with a fierce sell-off being a catalyst for a full-scale “disaster,” on market watcher. Still, crypto “likely has more boom to come in the years ahead,” especially as only 2% of us use the coins at present, the same proportion of people who used the internet in 1996 before that interweb thing took off.
Get out of jail card? US companies want South Korea to release Samsung boos Lee Jae-yong from prison to help the world get over a chip shortage that’s hitting everything from computers and cameras to cars and washing machines, according to a letter seen by the Financial Times. A number of major tech firms are arguing that Lee could assist in US President Joe Biden’s USD 50 bn plan to resurrect the country’s self-sufficiency in chips, with the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea saying a “pardon of the most important executive of Samsung is in the best economic interest of both the US and Korea.” Lee is currently serving an 18-month sentence for bribery.
Internet Explorer is finally being laid to rest, with Microsoft announcing that the browser will be retired in June 2022 to focus on Microsoft Edge, according to a Windows blog post. While Windows 10 will still include Internet Explorer next year, all consumer versions will end support of the browser. Maybe now y’all will consider asking your IT department to stop demanding we support IE7?
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2014 action fest Sabotage is out on Netflix. A combination of realism and old-fashioned cop movie staples, the film tops many action films with a great storyline and well-rounded characters. Director David Ayer has created a career of showing the dark side of law enforcement in his flicks and this film is no exception. The former Governator leads a DEA team that manages to go up against a major cartel. However, after seized cartel funds go missing, the DEA goes under investigation and one by one the team members end up dead — possibly by one of their own.
⚽ El Zamalek is playing against Al Gaish tonight at 7pm in the Egyptian Premier League. El Gouna and Ghazl El Mahalla have a match at the same time, while later Al Masry and Al Ittihad will hit the field at 9pm.
🍔 EAT THIS TONIGHT-
Australia’s Jones The Grocer has made its way to Egypt, opening branches in New Cairo’s O1 Mall and Sheikh Zayed’s Galleria 40. The market and casual dining joint has also opened in Saudi Arabia as part of its plan to open 200 new stores globally in the next five years, according to The National. Pass by Jones The Grocer to get a selection of their gourmet cheeses, breads, or a cup of coffee from their famous carts. You could also sit down and order food from their cafe, which boasts some of the best and juiciest burgers and steaks we’ve ever had. Overall, the new addition to Egypt’s culinary scene is worth a drop by to get a taste of the new era of grocery shopping.
💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-
As most of our life remains online, it might be time to learn new body language techniques. Communication guru Erica Dhawan came up with just that in Digital Body Language, creating a guide to turn daily misunderstandings into comprehensible conversation that allows you to express yourself. Reading is the new listening and writing is the new empathy, Dhawan writes, and it’s these absurd new communication methods that we now rely on that necessitated a change in behavior. From large conferences, video meetings, and daily emails, the book explores the body language needed to build trust and understanding with other people in our digital world.
🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- We’re in for cooler temperatures starting Saturday. Tomorrow will see the mercury hit 38°C before dropping to 32°C and 33°C on Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures will stay in the mid-30s into half of next workweek.