Breakfast Wrap: Citadel Capital’s $4 billion Push, Egypt Inflation Lowest in Two Years, QInvest Cuts Jobs

It was a busy day yesterday for Egypt’s business community, as another big business conference in just a few months was held to entice foreign investors back to Cairo.

But before we get to that, cast your eye on this “Formal Apology” made to Bank of America /Merrill Lynch, from Egyptian bank EFG Hermes on behalf of one of their analysts.  This was an email sent yesterday to clients:

Dear all,

We sincerely apologize to Bank of America – Merrill Lynch (BAML) and our / their clients for a note titled ‘Recent Saudi Weakness: Summary Of Local Chatter’ sent by our sales desk in Dubai. The note, written by a junior employee of EFG – Hermes in Saudi, failed to highlight the source of the information or that the material was prepared by BAML and not his own. It is with the utmost sincerity that we apologize to BAML and our clients for this embarrassing oversight.

Best Regards,
EFG Regional Trading Team

Not just journalism that attracts plagiarism…

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Yesterday, the country’s prime minister Hisham Qandil tried to woo investors saying he wants the country to become a mecca for investments and officials are determined to boost confidence to revive an economy battered by last year’s unrest that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Here’s a round-up of the most important news (with some gossip behind of the scenes of the Euromoney conference):

Egyptian private equity firm Citadel Capital said the company plans to invest $4 billion or more in Egypt over the next three years and has an eye on infrastructure and energy-related projects.

Ahmed Heikal, chairman of the firm said at a business conference organised by Euromoney: “I met a number of government officials and we think we are ready to invest a significant amount of money, probably higher than the $4 billion over the next three years”. 

A chat with some reporters later revealed that some of Citadel’s staff were downplaying this $4 billion investment, saying it is not necessarily as much as $4 billion, and it is money worth of projects, rather than direct investment.  

(Mr Heikal also blamed media scrutiny for some of the country’s business problems, but we won’t take that personally).

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Egypt’s biggest bank, National Bank of Egypt, also said it may tap the markets for an Islamic bond, or sukuk, and expects a fall in non-performing loans to boost full-year net profit, Zawya Dow Jones reported yesterday.

But offstage Tarek Amer, chairman of NBE, said the bank is conducting non-deal roadshows for its international bondholders in Asia next week.

Basically, this means a large meeting or conference is put together for the purpose of meeting potential clients without a specific agreement being discussed or agreed upon.

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Today the fun continues at the conference.  Egypt’s central bank said it is comfortable with the current level of the Egyptian pound and does not target any particular rate for the currency.

Nidal  Assar, a sub-governor at the bank said this morning: “We are comfortable with the current currency valuation” adding the bank only intervenes in the currency “whenever we feel there is an excessive speculation on the market”.

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Egypt’s urban consumer inflation rate fell to the lowest level in two years indicating how the economy is struggling to rebound from its revolution last year. 

Urban inflation, the gauge monitored by the central bank, slowed to 6.2% from 6.5% in August, the official statistics agency said.

It is amid the country’s slowest growth in almost two decades.  Economic growth in Egypt fell to 1.8% in 2011, a 19- year low and international reserves have fallen to $15 billion, or more than 50% below their levels in the month before the start of the January 2011 uprising.

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Egypt is constantly trying to boost exports and shift emphasis away from imports.

Yesterday the country’s Industry and Foreign Trade Minister Hatem Saleh said Egypt is offering 100,000 metric tons of rice for shipment in October and November, state-run Middle East News Agency reported.

Egypt’s rice production in 2012 is expected to increase by 4 percent to 5.9 million tons compared with 5.67 million tons last year, according to data on the United Nation’s Food & Agriculture Organization’s website, Bloomberg reported.

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The hotly debated merger of what would become the Middle East’s largest investment bank is coming to a close.

A deal between Qatari firm QInvest and Egyptian investment bank EFG-Hermes is expected to be approved by the Egyptian regulator next week, with QInvest holding a 60% stake and EFG- Hermes’ main business lines of investment banking and brokerage.

Bloomberg reported this morning that QInvest is cutting as many as 13 jobs in its brokerage and asset management divisions, though this was put down to lenders cutting jobs as deal flow slows and banks seek to reduce costs, rather than anything to do with the merger.

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An arrest warrant has been issued by the Illicit Gains Authority against the former editor of Egypt’s state-run newspaper Al Ahram over corruption charges

Various reports say Ibrahim Nafie used his powers to obtain villas, mansions, and apartments in Alexandria, Sharm el-Sheikh, and Cairo, in addition to lands in Hurghada and Marsa Alam in Red Sea Governorate, and Shorouk City and 6th of October City in Cairo and Giza governorates.

Nafie served as editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram between 1979 and 1984.

From 1984 to 2005, Nafie combined the posts of editor-in-chief and chairman of the board of directors of Al-Ahram.

It is important to note that the Illicit Gains Authority has been criticised for being largely toothless, announcing several arrests or investigations but coming up empty.  




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