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Sunday, 4 July 2021

TONIGHT: New nationwide building code enacted. + Suez Canal Authority reaches agreement on Ever Given. ALSO: Wall Street wants Gen Z in the office.

It’s a busy Sunday back from the three-day weekend, ladies and gentlemen, with a number of regulatory, macro, and business news guiding the conversation in the local press today.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- Ezdehar, Sanad Fund look to exit GlobalCorp: Private equity firm Ezdehar and the German development bank KfW’s Sanad Fund are looking to exit their 90% stake in leasing and non-banking financial services firm GlobalCorp, after achieving their ROI targets, according to reports in the local press. Interest is coming from EU-based investors, apparently. We dive deeper in the Speed Round below.

New building codes designed to curb illegal construction will now be applied across all cities in Egypt after the government rolled them on a trial basis in a number of cities last May. Construction licenses will only be handed out to projects that meet new requirements including limits on building heights that vary with street width. Masrawy has the full list of requirements.

The new measures are designed to curb unlicensed construction, and follow a six-month construction ban the government imposed last year along with a campaign against wildcat buildings that resulted in bns of EGP in fines collected and settlements reached in the past year.

HAPPENING NOW- It looks like we have confirmation that the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has reached an agreement with the owner of the Ever Given to compensate for last March’s six-day blockage of the waterway. Both the SCA and the ship’s owners asked the Ismailia Economic Court during hearings held today to stay proceedings until Sunday as they’re close to seeing eye-to-eye, according to a court decision seen by Youm7.

The two sides could ink a final agreement “within days,” after which the court will issue an order to release the ship, which has remained in the Bitter Lake since being seized by the SCA in April, said Hazem Barakat, a lawyer representing the ship’s Japanese owner Shoei Kisen. This came after press reports emerged over the weekend that Shoei Kisen and its insurer UK P&I Club preliminarily agreed to pay USD 540 mn for damages the ship caused earlier this year, paving the way for an end to a dispute that rumbled on for three months as the two sides traded accusations.

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

  • Our first corporate green bond sale gets the all-clear: CIB has kicked off Egypt’s first corporate green bond issuance, which has been in the works for nearly a year, after getting the go-ahead from the Financial Regulatory Authority.
  • Egypt backs global minimum tax: Egypt has signed on to an OECD plan to impose a minimum global corporate tax rate of 15%, joining 129 other countries who like the idea.
  • The first batch of Made-in-Egypt Sinovac-Vacsera vaccine has been produced with Vacsera manufacturing the first 650k doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine last week.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Russia-linked ransomware group wreaking havoc on global business: REvil, a cyber-criminal group that came under the spotlight last month after reaping USD 11 mn from meat producer JBS SA, was just accused of blackmailing hundreds of large firms around the world through an attack on Kaseya VSA, a widely used software. In one of the largest scale hacking operations seen by experts, the group — believed to be operating out of Russia — managed to install so-called ransomware on nearly 40k computers linked to Kaseya. The malicious software it uses locks up those machines until bitcoin payments are made. Kaseya has since shut down its servers and urged clients to stop using its software on further notice. Picking up the story are: The Wall Street Journal | Bloomberg | The Financial Times

FOR TOMORROW-

The British Egyptian Business Association’s (BEBA) virtual education week kicks off tomorrow. Three seminars are planned through Tuesday. The first, taking place at 10am tomorrow, will discuss skills-based learning while the future of investment in education will be the topic on the table at 12:30pm the same day. On Tuesday, a talk on the digitalization of education in Egypt is scheduled for 12pm.

🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The Cairo International Book Fair is currently ongoing at Egypt International Exhibition Center today. The event will run through to 15 July.

The Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC) MENA is holding a webinar titled Energy Efficiency in the MENA region: Status and Outlook on 6 July at 3:30pm.

Later on in the month, CEBC will host Women Entrepreneurs in Cleantech in MENA vs Canada to feature women’s involvement in mitigating climate change on 28 July.

🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-

WFH isn’t suitable for Gen Z, Wall Street firms think, despite the fact that their profitability didn’t get affected amidst the pandemic, according to the Wall Street Journal. Top Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan are requiring their employees to go back to the office, especially young workers, claiming that mentorship and training are common attributes that the young generation is missing.

Bitcoin made itself easier to mine after China’s crackdown on crypto: Following Beijing’s move to clamp down on bitcoin mining, the token’s algorithm, which automatically adjusts when the number of online miners drops, made mining less difficult by a record 28%, according to CNBC. This took the time it takes to complete a block back down to a psychologically-satisfying 10 minutes, and means active miners now stand to get a larger slice of the pie. China has been ramping up its regulation of cryptocurrencies, and has banned financial institutions and payment companies from the business and shuttered mines.

Want to know more about how bitcoin mining works? Check out our recent two-part explainer on the practice (here and here).

England is deeming face masks a “personal choice” starting from 19 July as it ends its third covid-19 lockdown and starts eliminating precautionary measures, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News (watch, runtime: 01:14). Despite warnings from doctors about the dangers of losing the masks mandate, England will allow people to practice caution based on their own “personal responsibility and judgment”. More details on what restrictions will be terminated will be announced this week, but people briefed on the matter point to removing restrictions on mass gatherings, reopening nightclubs, and ending the one-metre social distancing rule, reports the Financial Times.

📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-

WARNING, PLEASE AVOID- Peter Jackson’s most self-indulgent, Hollywood money-grab is now on Netflix: The most unnecessary movie trilogy of the modern era (The Hobbit series) is now on Netflix if you really, really, really have time to kill. The film series in order includes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Squeezing an IP to the pulp: While we’re all fans here of Tolkien and his amazing books, it is actually much, much quicker and better to simply read the novel. This was clearly the studio and Peter Jackson looking to milk Tolkien’s IP licence for all it is worth, as they added new plots and twists to an already perfect story from our childhood.

The Egyptian Premier League is on tonight, with Al Mokawloon playing versus El Gaish at 5pm, Pyramids versus Enppi at 7pm, and Al Ahly versus Smouha at 9pm.

The Euros went down full force over the weekend: We now have our four semi-finalists after exciting displays at the round of eight over the weekend. Switzerland made a gallant attempt against three-time champions Spain, once again getting to penalties but failing to follow through. Meanwhile, Italy came out a goal ahead in a 2-1 win over Belgium, Denmark made it through to the next round after beating Czech Republic, and England breezed through Ukraine with a 4-0 victory.

Who’s going to the semi-finals? Itay is playing against Spain at 9pm CLT on Tuesday, while England is going up against Denmark at 9pm CLT on Wednesday.

🥐EAT THIS TONIGHT-

More Sahel eats: Cooling down on the beach isn’t complete without an ice cream cone in hand, which is why we’re so excited that one of our favorite ice cream joints has opened up shop in North Coast this summer. Sno Gelato is parking its colorful ice cream trucks in Marassi’s The Alley, Lavista Bay, and Mountain View, but Cairo peeps can also get a taste by visiting its store in Maadi. They have all the classics, as well as more playful flavors such as Reese’s, dulce de leche banana, Greek mastic, tiramisu, and orange chocolate. You wouldn’t want to miss out of their brownies, cakes, and cookies, which are great gifts to bring to any Sahel gathering.

🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-

Access Art Space is hosting an artist talk at 7pm tonight. The event will feature Fatma Abodoma and Agnes Michalczyk, who will talk about their co-exhibition ‘Unseen’, which aims to portray women’s issues.

💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-

Train your inner voice to be nicer: Celebrated as one of the best books of the year, Chatter by psychologist Ethan Kross explores how our inner voice influences our lives and decisions. It argues that we all have an “inner voice” that can oftentimes be our biggest critic, rather than our cheerleader. As a result of those not so positive silent conversations, we can find ourselves in a worse physical or mental state. In the book, Kross looks at real-world case studies where the critical voice caused changes in behaviour as acute as a pitcher forgetting how to pitch. From the words we use to think about ourselves to the conversations we have with others, the tools needed to make these voices work in our favor are readily accessible and easy to implement. While we can’t find Chatter at our local bookstores, you can get the book through Kindle or Audible.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- We’re regretting coming back from Sahel… Cairo will see the mercury rise to 39°C before falling to 23°C at night, according to our favorite weather app. Meanwhile, in the lovely Sahel, the daytime high is 31°C — pretty great weather for the beach.

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