Friday, 10 February 2023

Weekend— That’s right, folks. The weekend edition is back.

TL;DR

EDITOR’S NOTE

Happy Friday morning, everyone — and wow, is it good to be back. Once upon a time, we published a Friday weekend edition. It was super popular — but we mothballed it. The pressure of producing it with what was then a skeleton staff nearly killed us.

Now, with a bigger team and the luxury of a bit more time in our day, we’re back. The Enterprise Weekend Edition will land in your inbox on the first day of each weekend at 9am. That will be Fridays most weeks — or Thursdays on those days when the powers that be bless us with a long weekend.

The Enterprise Weekend Edition is brought to you in association with our friends at Hassan Allam Properties. Hassan Allam Properties (HAP) has since the 1990s been an exclusive boutique builder of intimate communities where families always come first. HAP draws on 80 years of development expertise to master the equation of private luxury and inviting hospitality, going beyond just building homes. The company boasts a wide, diversified portfolio of 10 first-class residential communities, mixed use developments, and vacation homes catering to families in pursuit of exclusive experiences and private seaside getaways throughout prime locations in Egypt. HAP has nearly 15k units developed or presently under development. Learn more on their website here.

The Weekend Edition is the perfect way to catch up with the week that ways — and to broaden your horizons just a bit. Each week, we promise:

  • A super-fast roundup of the week’s big stories. Miss a few days of EnterpriseAM or EnterprisePM because you were on the road, stuck in meetings, or on vacation? Our 500-word summary of the week’s news has got you covered;
  • To help you feel prepared for the week ahead with a look at what’s on the business, social and entertainment calendars for the coming seven days;
  • Unique how-to, where-to and how-much content that will raise the curtain on everything from which car to buy, to where to get custom tailoring, and how to travel abroad in the middle of an FX crunch.

And make sure to check out our new entertainment-focused calendar at the bottom of the issue, packed with ideas on places to go and things to do in the weeks ahead.

THE WEEK IN REVIEW

LAST WEEK IN 3 MINUTES

#1- IT WAS ALL ABOUT PRIVATIZATION, with Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly unveiling plans to sell stakes in 32 state-owned companies over the next year. The rebooted privatization program will begin during the current quarter and continue through to the end of 1Q 2024, Madbouly said, adding that the government wants to pull the trigger on at least a quarter of the share sales within the first six months of the program. The line-up spans a wide variety of sectors including banking, oil and petrochemicals, real estate, ins. and ports.

#2- OUR GULF FRIENDS WANT (BIG) PIECES of a few of our state-owned players. The Qatar Investment Authority still hasn’t reached an agreement to buy Telecom Egypt’s entire 45% stake in Vodafone Egypt. The hangup? TE is reluctant to part with more than 25%. A report this week suggests that’s left room for Abu Dhabi’s ADQ to mount a competitive bid. Gulf sovereign funds are also reportedly interested in acquiring an undisclosed stake in El Nasr for Fertilizers and Chemical Industries (Semadco).

THE CATCH- We don’t see strategic investors interested in small minority stakes, and most will want management control.


#3- IT WAS A MIXED WEEK FOR ECONOMIC NEWS.

The good: Non-oil exports rose 50% in 2022 and our current account deficit narrowed by 20% in 1Q2022-2023. Our foreign reserves inched up once again to USD 34.2 bn in January, while policymakers are considering a temporary waiver for the capital gains tax to mitigate the negative impact of the EGP’s devaluation on local investors.

The bad: inflation reached a fresh five-year high (more on that in Sunday’s EnterpriseAM edition) and pushed our non-oil private sector deeper into contraction territory for the 26th consecutive month in January.

The ugly: Moody’s downgraded our credit rating for the first time in a decade on the back of our “reduced external buffers and shock absorption capacity.”


#4- IT WAS ALSO AN INTERESTING WEEK ON THE M&A FRONT: BPE Partners’ B Investments finalized the sale of its entire 6.38% stake in TotalEnergies Egypt to TotalEnergies Marketing Afrique (TEMA), as a separate BPE Partners-backed vehicle’s also exited its 9% stake to TEMA. Meanwhile, Palm Hills’ second-largest shareholder, AAIB, is looking to sell its entire 12.7% stake in EGX-listed Palm Hills Developments to Emirati investment company Al Ain Holding, while International Company for Medical Industries will go ahead with an acquisition of a 72% stake in Mansoura-based medical textiles company Banff Non Wovens for EGP 23.4 mn. Finally, Sri Lankan conglomerate LOLC Group reportedly said it wants to acquire several unnamed local firms under a yet-to-be-established holding company in the near future.

#5- THE MADBOULY GOV’T LOBBIED FOR INVESTMENTS: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly discussed potential Croatian investments in the Suez Canal area with the country’s president, Zoran Milanović, while Planning Minister Hala El Said pushed Qatari business leaders to step up their investments in Egypt during talks in Doha.

WHAT’S HAPPENING NEXT WEEK-

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We expect there to be continued speculation on the rebooted privatization program in the local press as the Madbouly government gets ready to sell down stakes in eight companies over the next seven weeks. Remember: We think selldowns of state positions in already-listed companies and direct stake sales to strategics can happen anytime. But we don’t expect IPOs before May / June at the absolute earliest — September is a more likely timeframe.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will be in Dubai to attend the World Government Summit, which runs 13-15 February. Twenty heads of state will be in town for the Davos-like gathering, which will see policymakers from around the world discuss global trends in policymaking, according to Emirati state news agency WAM.

Petro-show next week: Oil and gas industry figures from Egypt and the region will congregate at the Egypt International Exhibition Center for the Egypt Petroleum Show (Egyps) starting next Monday. The three-day conference runs 13-15 February.

MPs are back next week: The House will reconvene on Sunday, 12 February.


📆 WE HAVE TWO CALENDARS NOW- Our Weekend Edition and EnterprisePM calendar (at the bottom of this email) include a full rundown interesting events coming up in Cairo, from art exhibitions to concerts and marathons.

Find our regular business calendar, which includes a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events and news triggers, in EnterpriseAM and on the web.

YOUR MOST CLICKED LINKS-

  • Privatization was on everyone’s minds, with our earlier report on PM Madbouly’s planned presser to unveil the state’s privatization program getting the most clicks.
  • A lot of you seem to be interested in attending Cirque Du Soleil in March.
  • Some of you were curious about Emirates NBD Egypt’s new CEO, Amr El Shafei.
  • Egypt’s 1Q 2022-2023 balance of payments report (pdf) got some attention.
  • The EGX’s annual report (pdf), which listed some of the companies that will be included in the state’s IPO pipeline.

AROUND THE WORLD IN SEVEN DAYS-

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It was a grim week in the international news, with the death toll from Monday’s twin earthquakes in Turkey and Syria surpassing 17k yesterday. In business news, a battle between Microsoft and Google — both of which unveiled their AI chatbots this past week — reached its crescendo when shares in Google parent Alphabet plunged after the company’s chatbot made a factual error in a promotional video at a company event.

Also getting attention last week: Tensions between China and the US continue to rise. The week kicked off with the US downing a suspected Chinese spy balloon — the flap prompted the US to cancel US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned visit to Beijing. Later, US President Joe Biden made several warnings to China in his State of the Union speech, drawing ire from Beijing.

🌞 YOUR WEEKEND WEATHER– Catch some sun today: It’s going to be a sunny day, with highs of 19°C, before it hits a nighttime low of 7°C. The sun will partly be covered by clouds tomorrow, with highs of 17°C and a nighttime low of 8°C.

THE ENTERPRISE GUIDE

Your guide to traveling abroad during an FX crisis

Traveling abroad soon? Here’s what you need to do to get FX: Traveling abroad is a challenge for most of us these days after banks began imposing limits on weekly and monthly international ATM withdrawals and foreign purchases thanks to the ongoing FX crunch.

Here’s how to manage the struggle to get hard currency ahead of your next trip, whether it’s for business, spring break or the next Eid.

For starters, know your bank’s rules ahead of traveling: Don’t complain to the nice people at Mastercard or Visa — every bank imposes its own limits, and those limits vary by your card and account type. You’ll also want to be aware of any fees associated with ATM withdrawals or purchases made abroad, and how your bank demarcates the limits (i.e. whether they reset their monthly limits at the beginning of each month, like HSBC, or on a rolling basis, like at CIB).

Here’s the breakdown of a few major banks’ ATM withdrawal and credit card purchase limits for FX:

  • Our friends at HSBC have a USD 1.5k monthly limit on ATM withdrawals abroad for debit and credit cards, while caps on purchases in foreign currency range between EGP 10-50k, depending on card type;
  • CIB’s monthly ATM withdrawal limits abroad are currently at EGP 2.5k for debit cards and EGP 2.5-10k for credit cards, depending on the card type (pdf). Its monthly caps on international purchases range between EGP 20-75k for debit cards, depending on account type, and EGP 25-100k for credit cards;
  • The National Bank of Egypt (NBE)’s ATM withdrawal limit ranges between EGP 2.5-10k for debit cards, depending on card type, and EGP 10-20k for credit cards. The monthly limits on international purchases range between EGP 10-62.5k for debit cards and EGP 10-100k for credit cards;
  • Banque Misr’s withdrawal limits for debit and credit cards range between USD 100-400, depending on card type. The bank’s monthly caps for international purchases range between USD 100-4k.

CIB, NBE and Banque Misr have also ramped up FX commission fees to 10%, up from 3% previously, for purchases made using debit and credit cards abroad. HSBC’s markup fees are currently at 8%, their customer service center tells us.

All that to say: You will need some actual FX to pay for a lot of your expenses abroad. The most you can carry with you during your travels abroad is USD 10k, or its equivalent in other currencies, according to Cairo Airport’s website and a Cairo Airport representative we spoke with.

Are you a foreign resident or visitor landing in Egypt? Make sure you check in with authorities if you’re bringing in more than USD 10k. You could face hassles leaving the country with more than USD 10k if you don’t register beforehand that you entered the country with that amount.

IF YOU HAVE USD IN YOUR BANK ACCOUNT- You can withdraw as much USD as you want, bank reps say. Need EUR instead of USD? They can change them for you too, one representative told us. Our pro tip: Make sure to call your bank a day or two before your visit to let them know you intend to withdraw a specific amount to make sure they can make that amount available in time.

DON’T HAVE USD IN YOUR BANK ACCOUNT? You need to jump through some hoops. Your bank will ask you for:

  • Your passport
  • A copy of your plane ticket and other proof of travel
  • The EGP amount you want to exchange into USD

Make sure to call your bank well ahead of time to sort out how many days they will need to get the USD ready for you to buy. Some banks (including CIB and NBE) will only sell you FX 48 hours before you travel, while others (like QNB) allow you to buy FX up to 10 days ahead of your departure date, according to representatives we spoke to.

Don’t expect to be allowed to buy a ton of USD: Most will sell you just USD 200-USD 1k, depending on your account tier, according to bank representatives from CIB, HSBC, NBE, Arab Bank, and QNB AlAhli. A bank clerk will then stamp your passport and write the exact amount you’ve received so that other banks are aware of the amount of FX you have bought, the representatives told us.

But be warned: Many banks won’t sell you USD if you already have USD in your account, according to bank representatives from HSBC and EGBank. If you have less than USD 1k in your account, you must withdraw your USD first and before they will sell you the balance.

WANT TO MINIMIZE YOUR FX OUTLAY?

#1- Get a travel agency to book your accommodations + pay in advance: This way, you won’t have to worry about maxing out your credit card limits before you even arrive at your destination. Remember to phone in and make sure the hotel has actually withdrawn the money, and not just put it on hold until you get there.

#2- Fly local: Book your flights via EgyptAir, which charges in EGP, so you don’t max out your monthly limit on your flight tickets.

#3- Consider low-budget destinations: Choose your destination wisely so that whatever FX you are able to drum up takes you a long way. Think of Zanzibar, Tanzania, or Sri Lanka if you’re looking for idyllic beaches and vibrant cultures. And you can never go wrong with the stunning, lively city of Beirut, Lebanon — where LBP is now at a record low of LBP 65k to one USD. For adventurous travelers, Albania and Nepal offer a lot of dreamy landscapes and thriving cultures to explore.

WHAT ARE YOU UP TO THIS WEEKEND?

📽 AT THE MOVIES-

Catch the terrifying tale of a murderous teen robot in M3GAN: Robotocist Gemma, who has designed a lifelike doll that can do pretty much anything a human being can, gives her eight-year-old niece a prototype of the doll to act as her play buddy, teacher, and co-guardian. What happens next is not for the faint of heart (watch trailer, runtime 2:27). A melange of comedy, horror and viral TikTok-esque dances, the film — while occasionally giving hints of social commentary on technology and modern parenting, according to the New York Times’ Jason Zinoman — never takes itself too seriously, making it a fun and campy watch.

WHERE TO CATCH IT- The movie is now showing in theaters across Cairo including Vox Cinemas, Galaxy Cinemas, and Plaza Cinemas.

WARNING- You may be tempted to go see the star-studded Babylon — you do so at your own peril: La La Land director Damien Chazelle’s three-hour ode to Hollywood, Babylon, has not had it easy — it flopped at the box office and was the subject of some pretty brutal reviews. One of our very own at the Enterprise HQ said it was so bad, she walked out of the film at the intermission. So if you still choose to go see the new ensemble film (we get it, it has half of Hollywood in it) then be forewarned: the film is said to have no play; to depend largely on the big Hollywood names carrying it; and to include some very graphic scenes (like an elephant defecating on the camera… in the first five minutes).

But if you’re a die-hard cinephile who wants to see Chazelle’s take on the transition period between silent films and talkies, then this could be for you (watch trailer, runtime: 02:25).

WHERE TO CATCH IT- You can find the film at Vox City Center Almaza, or at Zawya Cinemas today at 3:30pm.

📚 FROM THE BOOKSTORE-

Travel to a fantasy Cairo where wishes can be sold in Shubeik Lubeik: This debut graphic novel trilogy from Egyptian artist Deena Mohamed depicts a magical world where genies exist, and can make your dreams come true — but only if you’re wealthy enough to afford them. The story centers around three characters who are sold wishes at a Cairo kiosk at a steep price. The critically acclaimed trilogy received rave reviews from the Washington Post, the New Yorker, NPR, and others. You can read an excerpt of the English version here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR- The 28-year-old author of Shubeik Lubeik first went viral with her debut web comic — Qahera — in 2013. Qahera, like Shubeik Lubeik, is distinctly Egyptian and explores social issues through the eyes of its main character — an Egyptian Muslim female superhero. Since then, Mohamed’s work was recognized by tens of global publications and Shubeik Lubeik took home the awards for best graphic novel as well as the grand prize of the Cairo Comix Festival in 2017.

WHERE TO BUY IT- Pick it up from Diwan or order it from Amazon (US store)

🍴 HOT AND FRESH OUT OF THE KITCHEN-

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This French bistro in Arkan is as authentic as they come: Maison De Paris, located in Arkan Plaza’s new extension, is the closest we have gotten (so far) to proper French cuisine in Cairo. Besides being a perfect spot for a night out with friends (while also having the romantic air of a good date spot), this bistro’s signature “steak Cafe de Paris” dish perfects the classic steak frites platter, with a juicy and tender steak drenched in a light buttery sauce. If you’re not a fan of steak, opt for their delicious linguine with wild mushrooms or one of their pizzas (our personal favorite was the quatre fromages). End the meal with a classic French dessert — a creme brulee or a chocolate fondant.

💵 Per person: A bit more than EGP 1k, including appetizer, main course and dessert

🍻 Alcohol? No

🪑 Outdoor seating? Yes

🦽 Accessibility friendly? Yes

WHAT TO WATCH

If you cried for Wall-E, you’re definitely going to cry for this: Get ready to hold your box of tissues tight before you watch Good Night Oppy: a documentary directed by Ryan White that tells the story of the Opportunity rover that miraculously defied its life expectancy of just 90 days, and ended up spending 15 years on Mars. The documentary uses archival footage and fresh interviews with the team that made the mission happen to capture the magical energy that came with the 15-year period of time where Opportunity — or Oppy, as the NASA scientists called it — roamed Mars. While it’s beautiful to watch Oppy — an endearingly human-like robot-looking rover — defy expectations and make history, it’s the scientists’ passion and their emotional attachments to their invention that makes this a real tear-jerker.

WHERE TO STREAM IT- Amazon Prime.

WHAT TO LISTEN TO

Our relationships with time need to change: We call it “time management,” but journalist Oliver Burkeman challenges us to unpack that phrase in the latest episode of On Being with Krista Tippett, a spiritual and immersive award-winning podcast that unpacks the biggest questions around human life and existence. Burkeman wants us to rethink our relationships with time from something to conquer, to something slippery and at times beyond our control, and to acknowledge that there are limits to what we can do with it. We stumbled upon this episode while looking for time management solutions for our overscheduled lives, but were pleasantly surprised with the refreshing shift of perspective. (listen, runtime 50:45).

DIG DEEPER- Want to do some extra reading? Pick up a copy of Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. Or head over to The Guardian and scroll through the column he wrote from 2006 to 2020, titled, “This Column Will Change Your Life.”

WHERE TO STREAM IT- Apple or Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

SCIENCE AND TECH

Is the era of breakthrough scientific discoveries behind us? A recent study in scientific journal Nature found that disruptive science has been on the decline for decades, swapped out for more “iterative” research that builds on existing work.

The evidence? Look no further than the decline of novel patents, the paper suggests. Science writer and author of The End of Science John Horgan has suggested that the era of blockbuster discoveries is behind us — and that the number of potential discoveries we can make is inherently finite. But the paper argues that the current dead-end could be attributed to academia’s “publish-or-perish” culture, which tends to reward quantity over quality.

Not helping matters: The decline in company-led research and corporate research arms, a phenomenon which has left the onus of scientific discovery entirely on the shoulders of academic journals, the Financial Times writes.

THE ENTERPRISE ENTERTAINMENT CALENDAR

FEBRUARY

7 February-1 March (Tuesday-Wednesday): Zāt exhibition, Safarkhan Art Gallery, Zamalek.

8-18 February (Wednesday-Saturday): Cairo Photo Week, Downtown Cairo.

10 February (Friday): Amir Sharara, Benjemy and A.Salah perform at Cairo Jazz Club at 9pm.

11 February (Saturday): Second semester of 2022-2023 academic year begins for public universities.

11 February (Saturday): Candle-making workshop with the Melting Studio at 2pm, L’Appart, Maadi.

11 February (Saturday) AUC’s Alumni Folklore Group is back with Reviving the Art Vol. III at 7pm at Ewart Memorial Hall in the Tahrir campus.

11-14 February (Saturday-Tuesday): Art Cairo, the Grand Egyptian Museum, Giza.

16 February (Thursday): Afro Jazz Beginners Course with Mako Ruan from 7-8 pm, ‎Cairo Contemporary Dance Center.

17 February (Friday): TriFactory’s Saqqara Pyramid Race, Giza.

18 February (Saturday): Fun Nation’s standup comedy night at 9pm, Room Art Space New Cairo on Saturday 18 February at 9pm.

20-21 February (Monday-Tuesday): Omar Khairat performs live at 8pm on 20 and 21 February in the Main Hall of the Cairo Opera House.

24-25 February (Friday-Saturday): She Crafts bazaar from 12-8 pm, the Grand Nile Tower Hotel, Garden City.

MARCH

8-18 March: Cirque du Soleil’s OVO, Cairo international Stadium Hall.

23 March (Wednesday): First day of Ramadan (TBC). Maghreb will be at 6:08pm CLT.

APRIL

16 April (Sunday): Coptic Easter

17 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim.

22 April (Saturday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

25 April (Tuesday): Sinai Liberation Day.

27 April (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Sinai Liberation Day (TBC).

MAY

1 May (Monday): Labor Day.

4 May (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Labor Day (TBC).

JUNE

10 June (Saturday): Thanaweya Amma examinations begin.

28 June-2 July (Wednesday-Sunday): Eid El Adha (TBC).

30 June (Friday): June 30 Revolution Day.

JULY

18 July (Tuesday): Islamic New Year.

20 July (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Islamic New Year (TBC).

23 July (Sunday): Revolution Day.

27 July (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Revolution Day.

AUGUST

3 August (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

SEPTEMBER

21 September (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

26 September (Tuesday): Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (TBC).

28 September (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (TBC).

OCTOBER

6 October (Friday): Armed Forces Day.

NOVEMBER

2 November (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

DECEMBER

21 December (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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