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Monday, 24 May 2021

TONIGHT: Gaza crisis resolution; Blinken ME tour to land in Cairo; RyanAir hijacking causes consternation; SPAC party hits EU; BTC meltdown continues

After a slow morning, we’re getting a flood of stories running the gamut of investment, to Egypt macro trends to covid, to plane hijacking (you heard right).

THE BIG POSITIVE STORY TODAY- Ittihadiya health advisor Mohamed Tag Eldin believes covid numbers should start to come down next week, suggesting that the dreaded third wave has peaked. Official infection and death numbers appear to back his assertion. This comes as the Health Ministry wants to shorten vaccination wait times. We have more in the Speed Round below.

THE BIG MACRO STORY TO WATCH OUT FOR- Rising US yields appear to have hit us hard in March, with the net foreign assets drop of 13.7% m-o-m in March to USD 17.70 bn we noted this morning suggesting a decline in ne portfolio investments for that month, analysts we spoke with told us today. We give their two cents on the decline in the Speed Round below.

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

  • It’s budget week in the House: The House of Representatives will be holding hearings this week on the allocations of government agencies in the FY2021-2022 budget.
  • But there’s still time for fintech: The House CIT Committee gave a preliminary nod yesterday to a draft law that would govern the fintech space.
  • Ever Given drama continues: The SCA has again lowered its compensation demands for the Ever Given’s blockage of the Suez Canal.

Regional diplomacy paying back dividends (or gas shipments, rather): Israeli gas exports to Egypt resumed after having gone on pause due to the Hamas-Israel conflict in Gaza, Delek Drilling — a partner on the Eastern Mediterranean Gas (EMG) pipeline between Arish and Ashkelon — said yesterday, according to S&P Global. Flows through the EMG pipeline, which has a section offshore Gaza, were restarted after an Egypt-brokered ceasefire agreement between both sides took effect over the weekend, ending the violence that began on 10 May. The escalation saw energy company Chevron temporarily halt operations at Israeli offshore field Tamar that supplies some gas to Egypt after reports claimed Hamas is targeting offshore gas installations.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Egypt in the coming days as part of a peacebuilding trip to the Middle East to build on the Israel-Gaza ceasefire, according to a statement by the US State Department. Blinken will visit Jerusalem and Ramallah first before heading to Cairo and finishing off with Amman, Jordan. Meetings have been scheduled for Blinken to sit down with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

The post-ceasefire meetings have already begun with Shoukry visiting both Ramallah and Amman today. Shoukry met with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi earlier today to discuss the Palestine-Israel conflict before heading to Ramallah where he sat down with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and pressed the two-state solution and promised that aid would be delivered.

And while we’re on US diplomacy, Ethiopia could be getting some smoke: The Biden administration is imposing visa restrictions against Ethiopian and Eritrean officials It holds these officials responsible for taking “no meaningful steps to end hostilities” and undermining the peace process in the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said yesterday in a statement. Further punitive measures might follow should the international community continue to not take action in the conflict that has sparked allegations of ethnic cleansing and fears of famine. This came after Ethiopia moved for the first time on Friday to accuse Eritrean troops of killing 110 civilians during last November’s massacre in the troubled Tigray region.


THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Belarus’s hijacking of a RyanAir plane by the Belarus government is topping coverage in the foreign press. A Belarusian fighter jet forced the RyanAir flight (which had 120 passengers on board) to divert to their capital city Minsk where authorities quickly came and took Roman Protasevich, a dissident journalist on the plane, according to CNBC. The original flight path should have seen it travel from Greece to Lithuania. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has since said that the West is jumping to conclusions and the situation “deliberately politicized.”

The European Union is not taking the stunt lightly, currently deliberating sanctions against Belarus over their crackdown on freedom of speech as well as the breach of international aviation rules. The sanctions could range from banning Belarus’s national carrier from landing at EU airports, declaring the country’s airspace unsafe, or imposing sanctions on individuals such as travel bans and asset freezes. Picking up the story are : The Financial Times | Reuters | BBC | Axios

The whole thing is flashbacks of the Great Egyptian Love-jacking of 2016, proving that in addition to being terrible at silencing the political opposition, hijacking a plane out of love is not an effective way to earn your ex’s heart back.

🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Day two of the British Egyptian Business Association’s (BEBA) Healthcare Virtual Week, is this Wednesday. The session will offer solutions on how to digitalize Egypt’s healthcare industry. The event starts at 12pm and you can register here.

BEBA will also hold a virtual conversation with Oil Minister Tarek El Molla on 7 June to discuss the sector’s achievements. You can register through this link.

The El Gouna International Squash Open 2021 is ongoing and runs until Friday. 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.

Meanwhile, 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 this Thursday. 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-

Is Europe hosting the SPACs afterparty? As special purpose acquisition companies are falling out of favor in the US, its sponsors are turning their gaze to Europe, Alex Webb writes for Bloomberg Businessweek. Those SPAC investors appear to be headed to Europe (particularly Amsterdam), where the number of listings grew between February and April. This time, however, SPAC backers appear to be conscious of past mistakes, especially when it comes to affording more investor protection and less oversized payouts to sponsors, Webb adds.

BTC is continuing its spiral downwards, after crypto miners were forced to halt operations in China after Beijing intensified its crackdown on BTC mining and trading, writes Reuters. Companies such as Huobi, HashCow, and BTC.TOP have suspended some or all services to clients in Mainland China, with Huobi saying it would focus its efforts abroad. China has cited fending off financial risks and mining using up energy and carbon neutrality goals as reasons for the country’s sudden aversion to crypto. However, the move has hit global crypto and stock markets, especially seeing as China is estimated to account for as much as 70% of the global crypto supply. BTC picked up a bit around dispatch, floating at about USD 38k.

📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-

Fast and Furious 9 (if you’re into that sort of thing) is currently in cinemas nationwide. Featuring bulked up lead duo John Cena and Vin Diesel, the franchise has decided to leave Earth’s racetracks and city streets to cut each other off in space (insert mega-eyeroll here). The possible last movie in the franchise tries to give each character a backstory, giving the film a ‘looking back’ kind of feel. It’s not the best, but it's a good goodbye and salute to the characters that have been a part of the fans’ lives (certainly not ours) for the past 20 years. Variety and Indie Wire have chimed in with their opinions.

With Premier League and Serie A coming to an end yesterday, it might be time to tune back into local leagues. El Zamalek is playing Al Masry tonight at 9pm in the Egyptian Premier League and you can also check out the earlier 7pm match featuring Ismaily and Misr Lel Makkasa.

💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-

The age-old myth of an altruistic Wall Street explored: How to hold onto ethics while working in the global finance scene is the main theme of Jean-Christophe de Swaan’s new book Seeking Virtue in Finance. The Princeton University professor acknowledges all the corruption that goes on in Wall Street and how the steep financial incentives are quick to tempt people to go rogue, but De Swaan poses an alternative way to ride up the ladder. He poses a framework to be successful at investing while also benefiting society and upholding humanistic values by giving examples of firms and people in the sector who have prioritized social values. The Financial Times says the book could help graduating finance students be “less vulnerable to being tainted after reading this”.

🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Expect daytime highs of 37°C tomorrow, with the mercury falling to 21°C at night, according to our favorite weather app.

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