Egypt and Qatar on Tuesday held a meeting in Kuwait -- their first since an Arab Quartet reconciliation with Doha last month -- aimed at establishing mechanisms and procedures for bilateral cooperation.
Egypt's foreign ministry said in an official statement that delegations from the two countries met in Kuwait to discuss the necessary procedures to bolster cooperation between the two countries in support of their security, stability and development.
"The two sides welcomed measures taken by [both Cairo and Doha] since the signing of the Al-Ula statement as a step on the path of building confidence between the two fraternal countries," the statement said.
Tuesday's meeting comes one day after Qatar on Monday met with a delegation from the UAE in a similar move, also in Kuwait.
In January, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain ended a three-and-a-half-year rift with Qatar, announcing a full restoration of ties with Doha after the signing of a Riyadh-based reconciliation declaration.
A boycott was imposed on Qatar by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain starting in mid-2017, on allegations of supporting terrorism, which were denied by Qatar.
Since the Riyadh-announced agreement, air and travel links have resumed between the countries.
Egypt National Post Organization (Egypt Post) has announced the launch of a new system to manage logistics operations and the delivery of shipments using artificial intelligence (AI) technology, in cooperation with Softec Technologies.
Egypt Post Chairman Sharif Farouk said on Tuesday that the new system provides several benefits that would facilitate e-commerce, including a live tracking feature that allows clients to receive alerts through SMS or the Egypt Post application.
Under the new system, customers will be able to see the expected delivery date of their shipment through the app and communicate with delivery representatives, Farouk added.
They will also be able to access several digital validation options through SMS and QR code, including a digital signature and one-time password (OTP).
The launch of the system comes under the state's plan to support and develop e-commerce and implement the digital transformation and AI strategy, Farouk said.
Bitcoin dropped over 17 percent yesterday, falling below $45,000 only days after hitting an all-time high of $58,354.
The plunge marks bitcoin's biggest daily drop in a month, after investors became nervous about the cryptocurrency's record highs causing the liquidation of leveraged bets.
Despite the drop, bitcoin is still up about 60 percent this year.
"The kinds of rallies we've been seeing aren't sustainable and just invite pullbacks like this … It was an extremely overbought market," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk's comments over the weekend, when he said the price of bitcoin seemed high, have fueled his company's biggest decline since September. The company's shares dropped 8.6 percent on Monday, knocking $15.2 billion off Musk's net worth.
Facebook has said that it will restore Australian news pages within days, after reaching an agreement with the government on the first law in the world to force the social media giant to pay media companies for news content, according to a statement yesterday.
"After further discussions with the Australian government, we have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers. We're restoring news on Facebook in Australia in the coming days," Facebook stated yesterday.
Politicians around the world condemned the social media platform after it banned 25 million Australians from viewing and sharing news articles last Thursday.
"A decision to designate a platform under the code must take into account whether a digital platform has made a significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry through reaching commercial agreements with news media businesses," the Australian government stated yesterday.
"Final offer arbitration is a last resort where commercial deals cannot be reached by requiring mediation, in good faith, to occur prior to arbitration for no longer than two months," it added.
Last week, Canada vowed to make Facebook pay for news content and pledged not to back down on its decision if the platform shuts off the country's news as it did in Australia.
Vodafone Egypt has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the owner of smart payment service providers Masary and Bee, Ebtikar Holding for Financial Investments -- itself a subsidiary of B Investments Holding -- to acquire a 20 percent stake in the two companies, according to a statement by Vodafone yesterday.
This comes as part of Vodafone Egypt's plan to increase its investments in the Egyptian market and provide various digital payment services to its individual and corporate customers.
"We are seeking to increase investment in Egypt, and today we are taking an important step that is the beginning of a promising investment plan that confirms Vodafone's confidence in the Egyptian economy and market," said Vodafone Egypt CEO Mohamed Abdallah.
Masary and Bee will implement an expansion plan after the MoU to take advantage of Vodafone's presence in Africa, B Investments Director and Head of Investor Relations Omar El-Labban told Al Mal yesterday.
EgyptAir Holding will next week present a plan to its board for a merger of its subsidiary companies to minimize losses, company chairman Roshdy Zakaria said on Tuesday.
In exclusive statements to Al Borsa, Zakaria said that the plan is to merge the subsidiaries into four companies at most in an attempt to maximize revenue and reduce losses.
EgyptAir Holding has various subsidiaries covering airlines, ground handling, freight, maintenance and technical work, tourism, duty-free, in-flight services, medical services, supplementary industries and air express, according to data from the civil aviation ministry's website.
Zakaria said the company is not currently considering taking any new loans amid the ongoing pandemic crisis and continued travel restrictions imposed by several Arab and foreign states.
In January, Egypt's finance ministry provided an EGP 2 billion ($127.5 million) loan to help EgyptAir Holding face the financial repercussions of the pandemic, which has heavily hit the aviation sector globally since its outbreak in 2020.
The government will bear the loan's financing until the national carrier can return to 80 percent of its pre-COVID-19 capacity level.
Zakaria estimated EgyptAir Holding’s losses at EGP 600 million ($38.2 million) monthly in 2020, adding that current operation rates were estimated at 40-50 percent.
He added that the return of Russian tourism to Egyptian resorts would have a bigger impact on the country’s tourism sector than the aviation sector, as the resorts are serviced by charter flights.
Egypt's sovereign wealth fund (SWF) has begun considering franchisers among its list of potential buyers for the National Petroleum Company (NPC) -- also known as Wataniya Petroleum Company -- in an attempt to expand its options, SWF CEO Ayman Soliman told Reuters.
Soliman said that the SWF is looking to sell an 80-90 percent stake in Wataniya, which owns around 200 gas stations, while retaining the rest, adding that the fund hopes to finalize the sale by the end of June.
The buyer could hold the gas stations on a long-term leasehold basis, Soliman said.
Soliman named Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) as one potential buyer.
"As we went through the process, we discovered that there are other different models, such as in Europe, from what we understand, petrol stations are no longer owned by the companies themselves or the distribution companies themselves," Soliman said.
"They just franchise out the brand," he said, adding that "There are now specialized operators that deploy their own balance sheet towards acquiring the station, which widens the scope of potential investors.”
Wataniya and the National Company for Producing & Bottling Natural Water (Safi) -- both of which are owned by the National Service Projects Organization (NSPO) -- are planned to be offered to investors via private placement and IPOs, per a cooperation agreement with the SWF.
A second cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) produced at the Damietta liquefaction plant is to be ready within two days, and will likely be exported before the end of February, Youm7 reported yesterday citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.
On Monday, Italian oil and gas company Eni said that the first LNG cargo from the Damietta liquefaction plant had successfully been produced, calling the news an important step towards completing an agreement with Spain's Naturgy Energy Group and Egyptian partners.
The LNG cargo was the first to be produced by the terminal in eight years.
The Damietta gas liquefaction plant has an annual production capacity of 7.6 billion cubic meters but has been out of operation since November 2012 amid legal disputes.
The agreement between Eni, Naturgy and the Egyptian firms will allow the Italian company to increase its LNG market share.
HSBC yesterday said that it is planning to cut its worldwide office space by nearly half in the long term, as part of the bank's strategy to reduce costs in light of the repercussions of the continuing COVID-19 crisis on markets.
The bank's move indicates that the pandemic could mean permanent changes in work patterns at global banks.
HSBC aims to slash its office space by 40 percent in the long term, the bank said in an analyst presentation accompanying its full-year results.
Bank CEO Noel Quinn said that office buildings would be let go of as and when leases come to an end, and would not include HSBC branches or its headquarters in London's Canary Wharf.
"We are focused on those offices with support functions and head office activities when we talk about the 40 percent reduction," Quinn said, adding that retained buildings would be used more flexibly.
"We believe we’ll achieve it via a very different style of working post-COVID with a more hybrid model," he added.
"Take London, for example, we will have the building at Canary Wharf, this will be the primary office but the nature of working in the office will change."
HSBC's profits declined 30 percent to $6.1 billion in 2020, while revenues saw a 10 percent decrease to $50.4 billion.
Last month, the lender said that it is to close 82 branches in the UK between April and September this year.
It added that the move is due to customers' changing habits during the COVID-19 crisis, which has increased demand for digital services.
Delta Sugar's board of directors has approved a move to add the production of fertilizers, fodder and molasses-related products to the company's list of activities.
In a bourse filing, the company said that a disclosure report will be submitted to the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA), with the company's extraordinary general assembly to be invited to consider approving the new activities as soon as the report is published.
The company's revenues rose 37.2 percent year on year to record EGP 3.2 billion ($206.6 million) in 2020, compared with EGP 2.4 billion during 2019.
Orascom Development Egypt's (ODE) real estate sales rose 32.3 percent year on year to EGP 1.8 billion ($114.8 million) in the fourth quarter of 2020, up from EGP 1.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019, the company told the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) yesterday.
The company recorded real estate sales of EGP 6.2 billion ($395.6 million) last year, compared with EGP 6.9 billion in 2019, it added.
"El Gouna and Makadi Heights real estate sales benefited from the concentration of extended-stay from people during the lock-down," ODE said in the bourse filing.
"We witnessed an increase in demand on our real estate units since May 2020, and we were able to capitalize on that demand by continuing to boost our real estate offerings to cater to the different needs," it added.
ODE said that El Gouna continued to prove its status as Egypt's premier destination, witnessing a 10.6 percent increase in net real estate sales to EGP 2.4 billion ($153.1 million) in 2020, compared with EGP 2.2 billion in 2019.
Real estate sales for Makadi Heights also increased by 12.6 percent to EGP 450.4 million ($28.74 million) in 2020, up from EGP 400.1 million in 2019, ODE added.
Etisalat Egypt's revenues surged 22 percent year on year to EGP 17.8 billion in 2020, up from EGP 14.5 billion in 2019, local media reported yesterday.
The company reached 26.4 million subscribers in Egypt, an increase of 200,000 from 2019.
Etisalat Egypt's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) rose 41 percent to EGP 7 billion ($446.3 million) by the end of 2020, the reports added.
The company has previously said that it will invest EGP 5 billion ($318.77 million) on network upgrades in 2021.
ValU CEO Mohamed El-Feky has said that young people between the ages of 21-35 are the recipients of about 50 percent of the company's total financing transactions.
El-Feky said that ValU, an EFG Hermes company, welcomes younger customers, especially following Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) recommendations to encourage access to financing for young people.
The authority recently conducted a dialogue with a number of non-banking financial services providers with the aim of making these services available to young people aged 16-21, as part of its efforts to offer financial education and ensure that non-banking financial services are available to all.
El-Feky said that the closest available option to non-banking financial services for those aged 16-21 are consumer finance services, adding that ValU had previously addressed the authority with the possibility of offering its products to this age group.
Careem Egypt has said in a statement that demand for its Go Awfar transportation service has increased by 31 percent during the six months since its launch last August.
Careem Egypt General Manager Haitham Essam said that the company launched the Go Awfar service to provide the cheapest transportation service in Egypt's ride-sharing sector, as part of its efforts to reach as many people as possible.
Egyptian Minister of Military Production Mohamed Ahmed Morsi and representatives of Korean company Hanwha Techwin have discussed potential cooperation in military industrialization, including the possibility of exchanging expertise.
Morsi met with representatives of the surveillance firm during their visit to the ministry's pavilion on the sidelines of the third day of the International Defense Exhibition, IDEX 2021, in Abu Dhabi.
The company's representatives gave a presentation on its most prominent military equipment products.
Egypt's blue-chip index closed in the red on Tuesday, ending a two-day gaining streak since the beginning of the week.
The benchmark EGX30 benchmark lost 1.15 percent to close at 11,416.74 points, amid a turnover of approximately EGP 599.3 million ($38.2 million).
Its market bellwether, Commercial International Bank (CIB), saw its shares down 1.03 percent to EGP 61 ($3.89).
Nearly all of the listed shares ended trading in losses, with worst performing stocks including Orascom Financial Holding (OFH), which plunged 4.21 percent to EGP 0.33 ($0.02), Orascom Investment Holding, down 3.94 percent to EGP 0.24, and Fawry, which lost 3.71 percent to EGP 48.48.
Other stocks ending lower on Tuesday included GB Auto, which fell 3.41 percent to EGP 3.65 ($0.23), Heliopolis Housing, down 2.62 percent to EGP 5.58, and Ibn Sina Pharma, which dropped 2.58 percent to EGP 5.23.
The only stocks to end in gains were MM Group for Industry and International Trade, which jumped 5.44 percent to EGP 11.37 ($0.73) and Orascom Development Egypt (ODE), which rose 4.72 percent to EGP 5.11.
The broader EGX70 EWI index was down 1.45 percent to close at 2,370.25 points, while the EGX100 EWI lost 1.34 percent, closing at 3,391.09 points.
Foreign and Arab investors were net buyers to the tune of EGP 45.5 million ($2.9 million) and EGP 22 million, respectively, while sales by Egyptian investors amounted to EGP 67.5 million.
Those who are entitled to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Egypt will be able to register for an appointment starting Sunday, Health Minister Hala Zayed said on Tuesday.
In a press conference following the new delivery of China's Sinopharm vaccine by Beijing, Zayed said elderly citizens and those aged 40 and above who suffer from chronic diseases can register on the website starting next week.
The website will allow eligible citizens to provide three medical reports on their condition, with the website determining priority for vaccination, she said.
Zayed said an SMS will then be sent to the selected citizens detailing the time and place of their first vaccine appointment, with the ministry providing a follow-up card for the second dose, which will be administered 21 days later.
She said 40 centers have been designated nationwide for the vaccine rollout, adding that the ministry will expand the program to targeted groups as it continues to receive successive batches of vaccines.
Her statements came hours after China sent 300,000 doses of its Sinopharm vaccine to Egypt as a "gift" late Monday. Egypt approved emergency use of the Chinese vaccine in early January, and began the immunization program for its medical staff late last month.
Zayed said that the ministry’s scientific committee to combat the pandemic has identified receiving the Chinese Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines and the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine as priorities.
Egypt has contracted for 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines through an agreement with the Geneva-based GAVI vaccine alliance and several pharmaceutical companies, she said.
Around 8.6 million doses of vaccines, out of 40 million doses contracted with GAVI, will be sent to Egypt within days, the minister added.
Separately, Zayed said in a phone interview with ON E TV channel that fees for the coronavirus vaccine would not exceed EGP 200 ($12.75) for the two doses.
She said those who cannot afford the expense can file a report at designated ministry hospitals in order to receive a fee waiver.
Egypt and the US exchanged viewpoints on several regional and international issues, including Libya, the Palestinian cause and human rights, in the first call between the two countries' foreign ministers since President Joe Biden assumed office last month.
The Egyptian foreign ministry said that Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received a phone call from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday, where they discussed means of pushing bilateral ties and exchanged viewpoints on issues of common interest.
Shoukry expressed to Blinken his aspiration to build on what has been achieved in recent decades to develop bilateral cooperation between Egypt and the US in various fields.
He also stressed the importance of strategic relations between the two countries in continuing to further both of their interests.
"The phone call reflected the convergence of viewpoints over several regional and international issues … with the call discussing the latest developments in Libya and the Palestinian crisis and the necessity of continued joint cooperation for counterterrorism and other challenges and threats facing the region," the statement said.
The officials also affirmed the two countries' strategic partnership, based on mutual respect, common interests and the development of political, economic and cultural relations, as well as efforts by both countries in the field of human rights.
According to a press release by the State Department, Blinken highlighted the importance of the strong strategic partnership between the two countries, mainly in security and ongoing counterterrorism cooperation.
"The secretary raised concerns over human rights, which he emphasized would be central to the US-Egypt bilateral relationship, and Egypt’s potential procurement of Su-35 fighter aircraft from Russia," it added.
Tuesday’s phone call comes days after the US said its approval of an arms sale to Egypt was a "routine replenishment" of naval defense surface-to-air missiles.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced that the State Department had approved the sale to Egypt of up to 168 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Block 2 tactical missiles and related equipment for $197 million.
The proposed purchase would not prevent Washington from upholding a focus on human rights, the State Department said last week.
All state employees' payment cards will be replaced with Meeza prepaid cards by the end of 2021, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said yesterday.
The minister said that during February, March and April of this year, about 1.2 million state employee payment cards will be replaced with Meeza cards.
Meeza cards provide their holders with various services, including cash withdrawal, deposit and transfer through ATM machines, and payment of all government dues.
Maait previously said that state employees will also be able to get 30 percent of their monthly salaries in advance free of charge for six months, Maait said.
The in-advance percentage of the monthly salary can be used only for online shopping and paying through point-of-sale (POS) machines.
In October 2020, the finance ministry replaced about 28,000 state employees' payment cards with Meeza, bringing the total number of government employees using the latter to 31,000.
Egypt is encouraging citizens and state bodies to reduce the use of cash and rely more on electronic payments and other modern tools to save time, effort and money.
Concerns over the possibility of spreading COVID-19 voiced by the health and interior ministries have thrown midterm elections for the Syndicate of Journalists, slated for March 5, into uncertainty.
The syndicate's undersecretary and head of its elections committee, Khaled Miri, said that the Ministry of Health had objected to holding elections for fear of spreading the coronavirus and endangering the health of participants.
Egypt reported 633 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the country's total to 179,407.
The country registered 39 new fatalities from the virus yesterday, bringing the overall death toll to 10,443.
Some 500 patients recovered from the virus and left quarantine hospitals yesterday, bringing the total number of recoveries in the country to 138,683.
Police have arrested the owner of a boat that sank in Lake Mariout in Alexandria, as the death toll from the incident climbed to nine, including three children.
An additional six people were injured in the tragedy.
The owner will be questioned as part of the ongoing investigation into the drownings.
The public prosecution inspected the site of the incident and discovered that the boat had a fracture on its hull and another on its side.
According to investigators, all the victims were from a single family, and were out on a recreational trip to one of the islands in Lake Mariout.
The boat sank on Monday. Six people were initially pronounced dead, rising to nine yesterday.
Foreign holdings in Egyptian treasuries jumped to around $29 billion in a rebound after a massive hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Al Borsa reported an unnamed government source as saying.
The source said that foreign holdings are currently higher than pre-COVID-19 levels, with sovereign funds and leading financial institutions investing heavily in the Egyptian debt market, one of the most appealing to investors among emerging economies.
Last December, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said that foreign holdings in Egyptian treasuries jumped to over $23 billion.
Foreign holdings had fallen by over a double during the pandemic outbreak in March, tumbling to $9.5 billion as foreign investors exited emerging markets.
They further plummeted to their lowest at around $7.1 billion in May.
US agricultural exports to Egypt -- led by soybeans, grains, dairy and tree nuts -- jumped 23 percent to nearly $2 billion in 2020, despite the pandemic crisis, US Ambassador to Cairo Jonathan Raphael Cohen said at an online symposium organized by Egypt's Chamber of Commerce.
Egyptian agricultural exports to the US similarly increased 22 percent last year to $220 million, he added.
Cohen said that his government has invested over $80 billion in Egypt in the last 43 years.
"My team and I will continue our efforts to create and expand business opportunities between the United States and Egypt, and work with the Egyptian government to build an environment that attracts even more US investment," he said.
"As 2021 unfolds with new challenges and even greater opportunities, we look forward to working with our partners in the business community and the Egyptian government to make the most of them."
EU statistics office Eurostat has said that consumer prices in the 19 countries using the euro rose 0.9 percent year on year in January, their first increase since July last year.
The increase in the price of services and goods resulted in a rebound in inflation last month, following months of falling prices.
Volatile energy prices rose 3.8 percent and unprocessed food rose 1.2 percent on a monthly basis in January.
EU leaders will on Thursday approve keeping curbs on non-essential travel within the EU, despite the bloc’s executive on Tuesday asking six nations to ease their tight border restrictions.
Countries will agree that non-essential travel continue to be restricted due to the danger of spreading COVID-19 and its new variants, according to draft conclusions for the EU leaders' video conference on Thursday and Friday, seen by Reuters.
"Restrictive measures (regarding) non-essential travel may still be needed to contain the spread of the virus," European Council President Charles Michel said in a letter to the bloc's leaders ahead of the meeting.
This comes despite the European Commission on Tuesday asking Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary and Sweden to ease COVID-19-linked border restrictions due to worries about an extensive breakdown in the EU's free movement of people and goods.
The six states have been given ten days to response to the commission’s worries.
Meanwhile, an EU official told Reuters that AstraZeneca expects to deliver fewer than half of the COVID-19 vaccines it had agreed to supply to the bloc in the second quarter of the year.
The official said AstraZeneca told the EU during online meetings that it "would deliver less than 90 million doses in the second quarter."
Separately, the World Bank threatened to halt its $34 million funding program for coronavirus vaccines in Lebanon over suspected favoritism in the immunization program.
"Upon confirmation of violation, World Bank may suspend financing for vaccines and support for COVID-19 response across Lebanon!!" World Bank Regional Director Saroj Kumar Jha tweeted.
"I appeal to all, I mean all, regardless of your position, to please register and wait for your turn," Jha said.
The threat comes after reports that some parliamentarians had already received shots, while eligible citizens had not been given priority for the vaccines.
Meanwhile, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) approved a longer interval period between doses for the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.
"Based on recent studies from the University of Oxford on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and as per the recommendations of the WHO, DHA has approved a 10-week interval between the 1st & 2nd dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine," the DHA said.
Recent studies have shown higher efficacy and protection against the virus when the interval period between the doses is extended.
In Saudi Arabia, the education ministry said remote learning would continue till the end of the academic year.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has surpassed 112,615,687, with more than 2,494,482 deaths.
Golfer Tiger Woods, who is widely regarded as one of the best athletes of all time, suffered multiple leg injuries that required surgery after being involved in a serious car accident in Southern California.
Woods' sport utility vehicle went off the road and rolled over, with the 45-year-old requiring the "jaws of life" to pull him out of the badly damaged car.
"Tiger Woods was in a single-car accident this morning in California where he suffered multiple leg injuries. He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support," his agent, Daniel Rapaport, said in a statement.
Woods was golf's undisputed number one for a record total of 683 weeks. He won 14 major championship titles from 1997 to 2008 but his career has been derailed by injury and personal problems in recent years.
|UAE ABU DHABI||ADX||5,670.93||+0.17%|
|US||Dow Jones IA||31,537.35||+0.05%|
|China||HANG SENG INDEX||30,275.88||-1.16%|
|Gold Egypt||LE/ oz.||1,809.78||+0.19%|
|Silver Egypt||LE/ oz.||27.76||+0.20%|
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