Tuesday, 30 August 2022

THIS EVENING: Emergency measures to unblock Egypt’s ports + Al Sadr tells supporters to stand down amid clashes in Baghdad

Happy hump day, wonderful people. We have another relatively big news day here at home, courtesy of the government throwing out a lifeline to importers. We have our customary afternoon brief on the story below, but first:

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Take our Fall Reader Survey today and we’ll have the results for you in a couple of weeks — just in time to give you a sense of what everyone else is thinking heading into budget season.

How has 2022 been for your business? And how do you feel about what’s left of the year? Are you investing? Do you plan to hire new staff (or make cuts to your existing staff) now or in 2023? What’s the USD / EGP rate you expect to use for your 2023 budget? Where do you see your industry as a whole heading?

Let us know in our Fall Reader Survey. It won’t take more than a few minutes to complete — and we’ll be sharing the results with the entire community.

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THE BIG STORIES TODAY-

#1- The Madbouly government just announced measures to clear the logjam in Egypt’s ports: A package of emergency measures to release goods amassing at Egypt’s ports will be introduced in the “coming days”, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said this morning.

Among the changes: Goods awaiting the Form 4 customs document will be released and customs fines for late filing have been suspended.

Fighting fire: The measures are aimed at mitigating problems caused by the new requirement for importers to use letters of credit (L/C) which have made it almost impossible for them to get most goods into the country. Speculation has risen in recent days that the Central Bank of Egypt and the government are preparing to ease the restrictions and allow importers to use documentary collection for some types of goods.

#2- Is the chase for Alex Medical entering the end game? The Financial Regulation Authority has approved (pdf) a mandatory tender offer submitted by Tawasol Holdings and LimeVest to purchase 74% of Alexandria Medical Services. The consortium yesterday offered to pay EGP 47.67 a share for the stake, a bid that values Alex Medical at EGP 742.4 mn.

^^ We’ll have more on both of these stories in tomorrow’s EnterpriseAM.

MAKING HEADLINES IN THE REGION-

Iraq, where the death toll from yesterday’s clashes has grown to at least 23. Shia cleric Moqtada Al Sadr has called on his supporters to stand down after they stormed the presidential palace on Monday, sparking clashes with security forces that left at least 23 dead and 380 injured. In response to the violence, the UAE has suspended flights to and from Baghdad today, Iran closed its land borders and Kuwait advised its citizens to evacuate the country. Protests were sparked yesterday after Al Sadr unexpectedly resigned from politics following months of deadlocked negotiations to form a government with rival Iran-backed parties. (BBC | AP | Sky News | Reuters | Khaleej Times)

THE BIG STORIES ABROAD-

#1- The Musk-Twitter soap opera continues to get clicks: Tech b’naire Elon Musk has added fresh accusations by a whistleblower on Twitter’s failure to protect user data and security problems as a new reason to terminate a USD 44 bn bid to take over the company. The latest efforts by Musk to call out Twitter saw his legal team filing another notice that includes Twitter’s former chief of security, Peiter Zatko, allegations of “egregious deficiencies” by Twitter on privacy and security issues. (Bloomberg | CNBC | Wall Street Journal).

#2- The latest from Ukraine: The conflict is back on the global front pages as Ukrainian forces mount a counteroffensive to retake the country’s southern Kherson region seized by Russian forces. (NYT | Washington Post | Financial Times)

#3- Good news / bad news on Europe’s energy crisis:

The good news: Europe is nearing its gas storage goal two months ahead of its target, despite limited Russian gas supplies and surging gas prices, Bloomberg reported, citing inventory data. Gas reserves were up to 79.94% as of 27 August, compared with a 80% target by 1 November .

The bad news: Gazprom is tightening the screws on France’s gas supplies, announcing today that it will immediately reduce deliveries to French supplier Engie due to contractual disagreements, prompting a French minister to accuse Moscow of using energy as a “weapon of war.” The Russian gas giant will tomorrow cut flows through the vital Nordstream pipeline that supplies to Germany to zero for three days for what it said was unscheduled maintenance. (Reuters | Bloomberg)


HAPPENING NOW-

The Madbouly government is holding consultations on its privatization strategy with representatives from the food and hospitality sector. The government is holding workshops and consultations with stakeholders from different industries every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday on its privatization plans. You can find more details on the schedule of the meetings here.

PSA- It’s deadline day for:

  • Listed companies to file their 2Q financials;
  • Student applications for government non-profit universities.

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

  • Maait looks to shift the economic narrative with media blitz: Egypt plans to issue CNY-denominated bonds worth more than USD 500 mn and has updated some fiscal targets for FY 2022-2023, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said at a presser yesterday.
  • Chinese firms could be looking to build a massive solar panel parts factory: There’s talk of Chinese players coming on board to build a major industrial complex for manufacturing solar-panel components.
  • Solar energy company KarmSolar will sell a minority stake to investors via a capital increase as it looks to expand its presence in Egypt and across the region.

🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWEIF) is taking place in Cairo for the first time on 26-27 September, according to a press release (pdf). The hybrid event will bring together more than 60 African and global policy and business experts to discuss how gender integration can boost SME growth.

The Arab Pensions and Social Ins. Conference takes place on 28-29 September in Sharm El Sheikh. The conference will bring together state-run social ins. organizations and public and private pension providers to discuss widening coverage through region-wide pension reform.

PSA #2- Exporters have until 15 September to apply to join the fifth phase of FinMin’s export subsidy program, according to a statement. Cabinet has given its approval to pay a total EGP 10 bn out to exporters, with payments to be made on 1 October and 1 December. The program allows exporters to receive overdue subsidies in a single payment rather than in installments over four to five years, in return for a haircut.

Ration card holders now have until 30 September to register their mobile numbers to their cards, in a move meant to make it easier for the Supply Ministry to contact them, the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

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

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Expect a daytime high of 39°C tomorrow and a nighttime low of 24°C, according to our favorite weather app.

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