- Egypt will complete the construction of the planned ICT university in the new administrative capital’s so-called “knowledge city” by the end of 2020. The university is billed as the first in the MENA region to be fully dedicated to ICT.
- The Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) left interest rates unchanged at its meeting on Thursday. Noting that last month’s inflation figures have been the deciding factor in its decision to leave rates on hold. Inflation increased for the third consecutive month in January, ticking up slightly by 0.1 percentage points to 2%. This remains within the central bank’s 9% (+/- 3%) target range.
- Egypt Ministry of Finance (MoF) has tapped Credit Agricole, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, and HSBC to market the first sovereign green bond issuance in Egypt and the MENA region. Credit Agricole and HSBC were also hired as “structural advisors,” which appears to be a new role the ministry is including in its advisory team.
- The cost of living in Saudi Arabia increased in January 2020 as declines in housing rents as well as utilities costs have started to ease. The country’s consumer price index (CPI) for January 2020 recorded 0.4% increase compared to January 2019.
- The Central Bank of UAE announced that the country’s foreign currency balance increased to 400 BN AED (108.9 BN USD) in January 2020, an increase of 3% compared to 394.73 BN AED (107.4 BN USD) in December 2019. This increase is due to the increase of balances and deposits held in banks abroad.
- UAE banks have laid off 930 employees, with local banks closing down 49 branches in Q3-2019. Due to consolidation in the sector and cost-cutting measures, the number of bank employees decreased from 36,448 in Q2-2019 to 35,518 in Q3-2019, according to The Central Bank of the UAE.
- According to S&P Global Ratings report, the overall credit profiles of rated banks in Kuwait should remain stable in 2020, barring any unexpected increase in geopolitical risk or a major fall in oil prices. The report projected that the economy will expand by a modest 5% in 2020.
- Kuwait budget deficit reached 800 MM KWD (2.6 BN USD) during the first 10 months of 2019/2020 which accounts for 2% of the country’s GDP in 2019. The main factors contributed to the growth of deficit include the decline in oil prices which lead to an excess in supply and weak global demand, as well as the increase in public spending.
- Kuwait inflation rate increased by 68% y-o-y to 115.3 points in January 2020 compared to 113.4 points in January 2019, according to Kuwait Central Statistical Bureau (CSB). The telecommunications sector was the key contributor to the consumer price index (CPI) growth by 4.40%, while prices of the housing services sector advanced by 0.86%.
- Egyptian President Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi stated that Egypt seeks the success of negotiations regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and aims to balance interests between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan. He stressed that Egypt foreign policy is based upon mutual respect, non-intervention in other countries’ domestic affairs and cooperation between people.
- New franchise regulations designed to increase transparency and encourage entrepreneurs to invest are expected to be implemented in Saudi Arabia within a few weeks. The franchiser will be required under the new law to disclose all relevant information, including employee numbers, profits and losses, and the number of its outlets that have closed.
- Prosthetics company Orthomedics Egypt is looking to offer 49% of its shares in an IPO on the EGX in 2022. The IPO proceeds would be used to finance a planned 20 MM EGP factory in Katameya, the output from which would be earmarked for exports to Africa. No further details on the planned transaction were provided.
- The initial public offering (IPO) of Emerald Real Estate Investment has been oversubscribed by about 7 times. Investors have placed orders for 61.97 million shares. In January 2020, the listing committee of the EGX decided to list Emerald’s stock with an issued capital of 250 MM EGP distributed over 250 million shares.
Note: Weekly values are calculated on Thursday of each week.
- The Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris is in negotiations to acquire a 51% stake in the state-run Shalateen Mineral Resources Company. This move is part of Sawiras plans as he previously expressed his interest to invest in the mining sector in the North African nation. The Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority owns a 35% stake in Shalateen, while the National Service Project Organization (NSPO), the National Investment Bank (NIB), and the Egyptian Company for Mineral Resources hold 34%, 24%, and 7% of the company’s capital, respectively.
- Speed Medical has signed an agreement to acquire Ismailia-based medical labs chain Safwa later in 2020. Speed is targeting adding 30 labs and outpatient clinics this year at an investment cost of 160 MM EGP (10.27 MM USD). The company’s board recently approved raising issued capital by 211% to 82 MM EGP (14.24 MM USD) as part of a plan to move from small-cap NileX, where the company is currently listed, this quarter.
- Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG) signed a contract with the Egyptian General Company for Tourism and Hotels (EGOTH) that will see TMG subsidiary Icon establish the planned Four Seasons-branded hotel in Luxor under a PbPP framework. The 200-room hotel is expected to cost up to 5 BN EGP (96.32 MM USD).
- Egyptian e-payment company Fawry has transferred the ownership of the 99% stake held in the company by PSI Netherlands Holding to indirect shareholders. The International Finance Corporation, the Egyptian American Enterprise Fund, and Link Holdco are among the list of investors who now directly own stakes in the company. EFG Hermes acted as the broker for the 3.6 BN EGP (231.18 MM USD) transaction.
- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has loaned Saudi dairy firm Almarai 100 MM USD for new investments in Egypt and Jordan. An undisclosed sum will go to the company’s Egyptian subsidiary Beyti to help it increase production capacity of its dairy and juice products in order to expand exports by 10% during 2020.
- Citi and Deutsche Bank have started talks with other banks to sell 9 BN USD in debt Dubai raised to take full control of DP World and refinance borrowings of Dubai World.
- As part of the deal, DP World will borrow 5.15 BN USD to fund a dividend to Dubai World, which is the sole shareholder of PFZW, helping it meet outstanding obligations to lenders.
- The Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) distributed 10% of the profits to shareholders, including 5% in cash and 5% of bonus shares, after the bank reported a net profit of 5 MM AED (148.3 MM USD) in 2019 which an increase of 7% compared to 510.4 MM AED (138.9 MM USD) in 2018.
- Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) will stop the production of Ultem polymers in its mega production complex in Cartagena, Spain, in 2020. The move is part of the strategy to optimize global operations noting that SABIC is the world’s fourth-biggest petrochemicals company.
- Zain, the leading digital service provider in Kuwait, received three international certifications from Cisco, the global leader in telecommunications and networks technologies which aims to offer the latest and most advanced technology solutions as per the highest international standards.
- PepsiCo, a global food and beverage company has renewed its 25-year partnership with Kuwait-based Americana Group, enabling PepsiCo to continue its product offering through Americana’s restaurant brands.
Sports and Culture
- Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum held a ceremony honoring the "Arab Hope Makers" initiative that has raised donations 360 MM EGP (88 MM AED) for the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Foundation in Aswan and honored Magdi Yacoub as well. Moreover, Sheikh Mohamed announced that Emirates Airline has pledged its support to help build the Magdi Yacoub Heart Centre in Cairo, to provide treatment for cardiovascular patients in Egypt and the Arab world at no cost.
- Real Madrid was defeated 1-0 by Levante last Saturday, dropping off the top of the La Liga standings, and their problems deepened as Eden Hazard got injured four days before their Champions League showdown with Manchester City. Levante forward José Luis Morales won the game with an unstoppable strike in the 79th