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Monday, 31 May 2021

TONIGHT: More Israel-Palestine diplomacy; OPEC+ meeting tomorrow; WATCH: Apple TV+ docuseries on Rock N’ Roll; slightly better weather tomorrow; Two-child rule in China scrapped;

Good afternoon, ladies and gents. With this unbearable heat, we’re almost thankful that it’s one of the slowest news days of the year we’ve seen so far (Ramadan notwithstanding).

THE BIG STORY TODAY- The Financial Regulatory Authority has apparently come down hard on the EgyTrans, Paradigm Logistics partnership announced last week. The authority says PAradigm Logistics doesn’t yet own the shares it is proposing to swap with EgyTrans. This prompted EgyTrans to declare that Hassan Allam Utilities is its only suiter, so far. We cover the story in detail in the Speed Round below.

HAPPENING NOW- Yet another bid coming in for Alex Medical: TAT for Medical Services — a subsidiary of Alexandria Healthcare Investments — has made an offer for Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank’s (ADCB) 51.4% stake in Alexandria Medical, according to an FRA statement (pdf) out just before dispatch. TAT, which is applying for an MTO, is looking to EGP 45.53 per share, valuing Alex Medical at EGP 650 mn. This is the latest in a string of bids to acquire ADCB’s shares in Alex Medical, which include Cleopatra Hospital Group’s MTO offer to acquire 100% of the company at EGP 38.53 a piece, valuing the company at EGP 550 mn. Speed Medical announced yesterday that it is no longer part of a consortium bidding for 100% of Alexandria Medical.

In diplomacy news, Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel met with Hamas leaders today, as part of Egypt’s efforts to broker a lasting truce between Israel and Hamas, Reuters reports. Discussions centered around terms of extending the truce, with Hamas officials maintaining that any truce negotiations must be separate from a prisoner swap proposition raised by PM Netanyahu. Kamel was expected to announce plans by Egypt to build a housing development in Gaza as part of reconstruction efforts, the newswire said, but no such announcement had been made as of dispatch time. The meeting followed back-to-back meetings with Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. A 52 container shipment of humanitarian aid from Egypt arrived in Gaza today, Youm7 reported.

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

  • Lockdown-lite ends tomorrow: Retail shops can stay open till 11 pm, while cafes and restaurants can stay open until 1 am as of tomorrow, after the government’s covid-19 committee agreed to lift semi-lockdown measures imposed earlier this month.
  • We’re getting our very own digital covid passport: The digital certificates will be authenticated by the foreign and immigration ministries and will meet the requirements of countries that require proof of vaccination status as a condition of entry.
  • Net FDI could near pre-covid levels in FY2021-2022: Egypt is expected to land some USD 7 bn worth of foreign direct investments next fiscal year, just under the USD 7.5 bn recorded in FY2019-2020.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- An international accord on the corporate taxation of multinationals may not materialize before October, Bloomberg reports, quoting Secretary General of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Angel Gurria. Under the new tax agreement, global tech giants including Google, Netflix, Amazon and Facebook with cross-border business would pay more tax in countries where they operate. The announcement comes against expectations that agreements could be sealed at a meeting by the G7 this week and another by the G-20 in July, following the US’ shift in favour of the tax overhaul. But, the US may need more time to legislate, and “the final package could be taken to October when there is another meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors.

Egypt is working on its own plan to tax FAANGs, under proposed amendments to the VAT act to be phased in over two years that would see Multinational tech firms obliged to charge 14% VAT on e-commerce sales in Egypt.

FOR TOMORROW- OPEC+ will likely decide to continue to increase oil output when it holds its monthly meeting tomorrow, especially as other producers have been increasing supply at a slower pace than the coalition had penciled in, Bloomberg reports. The coalition of oil producing countries had announced in April that it would gradually increase supply through July, bringing back online some 1.1 mn bbl per day it had cut during covid-19 to temper the effect of falling demand on oil prices.


The FIG World Challenge Cup in Artistic Gymnastics for men and women will kick off in Egypt on Thursday and run until Sunday.


It didn’t take long for China’s two-child policy to become three: Chinese married couples can now have up to three children in a major policy shift from the previous two-child limit, reports Xinhua. The change comes after Beijing released census data last month that showed the population could be declining. The policy will be accompanied by “relevant supporting measures that will help improve China's population structure,” the Chinese press added, without elaborating. But many say the policy will not change their family planning, with 29k of 31k Chinese citizens polled by Xinhua saying they could barely afford two children, let alone three, writes Reuters.

And should their population get out of control again, China is also paving the way for individuals to start living on its Tianhe space station, reports CNBC. The Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft docked on the self-developed space station yesterday, carrying astronaut supplies including space suits and food. The Tianhe Space Station will rival the International Space Station and is expected to go into operation in 2022. China has been expanding its efforts in space exploration, but came under fire last month after losing control of a rocket that eventually (and thankfully) landed in the Indian ocean.


A new Apple TV+ docuseries explores the music scene of 1971, arguably the biggest year for rock and soul: 1971 saw some of the biggest music icons rise to fame including The Rolling Stones, Bob Marley, The Who, Joni Mitchell, and Aretha Franklin. The docuseries 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything looks at the impact of these tunes on culture and politics. The eight-part series uses archival footage and interviews to paint a picture of the interconnected nature of music and the pivotal historic events of the time, as musicians tried to inspire hope and change through their work. Vulture is out with a review.

Aswan is playing against Al Masry today at 7pm for a quarterfinal match for the Egypt Cup.

???? KUDOS- El Zamalek took home the trophy for the inaugural Basketball Africa League after defeating Tunis’s US Monastir yesterday with a score of 76-63, according to Africa News.


How to take the ‘noise’ out of judgement calls: Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement is the newest book by the authors Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein. The trio argue that a variety of environmental and subjective factors — which they characterise as noise — cause variability in judgements which should be identical, affecting everything from medicine, to law, to economic forecasting. Individuals and organizations often ignore this “noise” and the consequences can have great costs. The book aims to introduce simple remedies to bypassing bias and making better decisions and judgements at all levels.

???? TOMORROW’S WEATHER- We’re in for *slightly* better weather tomorrow, with daytime highs of 38°C in the capital city and nighttime lows of 20°C. The North Coast, on the other hand, boasts a lovely 29°C weather… just saying.

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