Tuesday, 21 September 2021

TONIGHT: The accidental startup issue + Global markets get a reprieve. Also: Al Ahly and El Geish face off for the Egyptian Super Cup.

Good morning, nice people, and welcome to another brisk afternoon for the news as we slide toward the end of hump day.

HAPPENING NOW- Global markets are not melting down after yesterday’s big selloff, but the EGX30 came under pressure in trading today. Egypt’s benchmark index closed the day down 1.9% (-3.2% year to date) after being hit by a second day of selling.

European shares are holding up well this afternoon, with stocks in major markets from London to Frankfurt and Paris all handily in the green after taking it on the chin yesterday in a wave of selling that analysts attributed to worries about the possible meltdown of real estate developer China Evergrande, which the financial press has taken to calling the world’s most-indebted company. (We have more on Evergrande below in The Big Story Abroad).

Futures suggest Wall Street and Bay Street will both open in the green later this afternoon. Apple (said to be working on iPhone features to help identify depression and cognitive decline), Uber (which has hiked its guidance) and Johnson & Johnson (whose booster shot seems to be 94% effective) are all on the rise in pre-market trading.

ALSO- The US Federal Reserve starts today a closely watched two-day meeting. Chairman Jay Powell’s remarks tomorrow afternoon (Eastern time) will be closely parsed for any indication that the Fed boss is backing away from plans to taper stimulus later this year.

Analysts at Goldman don’t seem to see higher interest rates anytime soon: Low rates should push investors towards long-term positions in high quality stocks, Goldman strategists wrote in a note picked up by Bloomberg. The strategists said that they favor shares with good margins and stable earnings over the longer term such as Tesla, Uber and Netflix, while short-duration stocks could outperform if rates rise.

THE BIG STORIES so far today:

#1- More regulatory scrutiny of the property market? The Housing Ministry is studying several new options to regulate the real estate market, including possibly appointing a financial auditor from the Financial Regulatory Authority or the Central Bank to submit quarterly reports on every company’s developments, according to an unconfirmed story in Al Mal.

#2- B2B e-commerce platform Cartona has closed a USD 4.5 mn pre-series A round led by a Dubai-based VC outfit Global Ventures, with the participation from Kepple Africa Ventures, T5 Ventures and a group of angel investors, according to a press release (pdf). Cartona was represented in Egypt by Venture by Shahid.

ALSO- Shiphaly, a Cairo-based platform connecting shoppers and travelers, raised what it said was a “six-figure” seed round from Saudi and Egyptian angel investors, led by Faisal Abdulsalam the founder of Purity, the company announced (pdf). The release did not specify a currency for the round.

^^ We’ll have more on both these stories in tomorrow’s edition of EnterpriseAM, which is very much starting to shape up as Our Weekly (Unanticipated) Startup Issue.

Egypt will be clad in black until Thursday to mourn the death of former Defense Minister Mohamed Hussien Tantawy, who passed earlier today at the age of 85, according to an announcement from Ittihadiya. Tantawy’s military service began in 1952 when he enrolled in the Military Academy. He commanded a battalion during both the 1967 war with Israel and the 1973 October War, and was later commander of the Republican Guard and of Egyptian troops committed to the 1991 war to eject Iraq from Kuwait. Tantawi was appointed defense minister in 1991 and promoted to field marshal in 1993. His brightest moment in the public eye came in 2011, when Tantawi became the country’s de factor ruler as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and helped ease the country into the post-Mubarak era. Tantawy was ordered into retirement by Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Check out obits in Youm7, Al Masry Al Youm and Ahram Gate.

Tantawy will be honoured with a military funeral later today. Top officials including President Abdel Fattah El Sisi are expected to attend, Al Ahram’s breaking news website reports. El Sisi said earlier today that Tantawi “led the country wisely in the most difficult circumstances and played a key role in protecting Egypt.”

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

  • 5 state companies could offer shares on the EGX by June 2022: Five state companies could offer shares on the EGX during the state’s current fiscal year, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said without disclosing more details. Look for that to include a mix of both IPOs and stake sales by already-listed companies.
  • Fawry acquires minority stake in social commerce startup Brimore: Fawry has acquired a minority stake in Brimore for EGP 15.7 mn as part of an upcoming series A funding round by the startup. Fawry did not disclose what that sake represents in percentage terms.
  • Bidayat and the SFE are looking to partner on innovation zone in Islamic Cairo: Rachid Mohmaed Rachid’s Bidayat will study the possibility of developing the historic Bab Al Azab area in the vicinity of the Cairo Citadel into an innovation zone that will support various SMEs, under the terms of an MoU signed with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt

THE BIG STORIES ABROAD- There are two on our radar this afternoon

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won re-election, but failed to secure a majority of the seats in parliament, meaning he will have to rely on other parties to pass legislation, writes the Wall Street Journal. With the vote counting still not wrapped up after Canadians went to the polls yesterday, Liberal candidates are leading or elected in races for 157 seats (the same count as before the election was called), short of the 170 required for a majority. Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives are leading or elected in 122 ridings, just one seat more than before the election writ dropped. Trudeau thanked Canada’s voters in a Tweet. Want to dive deeper? Head to Canada’s CBC or the Globe and Mail (a good paper that styles itself the country’s national newspaper despite scarcely a nod to news east of Montreal or north of Thunder Bay). The story is also front-page news in the Financial Times.

MEANWHILE- Embattled real estate developer China Evergrande is really on the ropes as ratings agency S&P said it is likely the company will default on its massive pile of debt. The company’s chief is trying to reassure staff and customers alike that they’ll be made whole, but the Financial Times is reporting that there appears to be fraud afoot, saying execs claim the company “used bns of USD raised by selling wealth management products to retail investors to plug funding gaps and even to pay back other wealth management investors.” Ponzi scheme, anyone?

ALSO- Lawmakers in Libya have voted to withdraw confidence in the government of national unity, Bloomberg reports. Details are scant — expect more color to emerge in the coming hours.

FOR TOMORROW-

IMF + EBRD webinar: Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik will speak during a webinar hosted by the IMF and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) tomorrow at 3pm CLT. The gathering is running under title of “State-owned enterprises in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia,” with Tawfik set to speak on the role of the state in the economy alongside five other panelists including the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia head Jihad Azour and the EBRD’s head of external relations Alan Rousso. Check out the agenda here.

🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Conference season continues next week with ITDA’s DevOpsDays Cairo 2021, which is being organized together with Software Engineering Competence Center, DXC Technology, IBM Egypt and Orange Labs. The event will take place on Wednesday, 29 September. Other events include:

  • Egypt Projects 2021 construction expo, which will take place at the Egypt International Exhibition Center on 30 September-2 October.
  • The Cairo International Fair, which will take place on 30 September-8 October at the Cairo International Conference Center.

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.


☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- One more hot day before autumn settles in: Expect temperatures of 38°C during the day tomorrow, with the mercury falling to 22°C at night, our favorite weather app tells us.

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