12 Jan 2021


Fawry Set to Be Among New EGX30 Shares in Jan Shake-Up

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Fawry is expected to be added to the EGX30 index in the Egyptian bourse's semi-annual index review this month, according to analysts.

Along with Fawry, Arab Company for Asset Management and Development (ACAMD), Arab Cotton Ginning Company (ACGC), Porto Group, Arabia Investments Holding (AIH), CI Capital Holding, El Wadi for International and Investment Development, Egyptian Company for Construction Development (Lift Slab Misr) and Odin Investments are expected to be added to the EGX30.

Meanwhile, SODIC, Edita Food Industries, Credit Agricole Egypt, Cleopatra Hospital Company, Juhayna Food Industries, Orascom Development Egypt (ODE), Cairo for Investment and Real Estate Development (CIRA) and Oriental Weavers are expected to leave the EGX30.

The semi-annual index reviews are carried out by the Egyptian bourse at the end of January and July. Usually, decisions made in the review go into effect at the start of the following month.

Fawry's net profits soared 90.4 percent year on year to EGP 145.2 million ($9.3 million) in the first nine months of 2020, up from EGP 76.3 million, after the company's profits in the first six months of the year more than doubled to EGP 85.9 million, compared with EGP 36.5 million.

As of yesterday, Fawry's market capitalization stood at EGP 27.1 million ($1.7 million) and its shares at EGP 38.26 each, having gained 492.3 percent since they began trading on the stock market at EGP 6.46 each in August 2019.

The company breached the $1 billion mark in market capitalization for the first time in August 2020, backed by the impact of the coronavirus, which has driven increased reliance on e-payment platforms.


Stock Market

Ghazl El-Mahalla Football Company IPO Tied to Team's Performance: Minister

The IPO date of Ghazl El-Mahalla Football Company will be tied to the team's performance in the Egyptian Premier League, Public Enterprise Sector Minister Hesham Tawfik told Masrawy.

Tawfik said that the move will motivate the players and is aimed at boosting the team's results.

He added that the date and details of the IPO will be determined by the bookrunner.

Last month, Tawfik said that the public enterprise sector ministry was reviewing a bid submitted by Prime Holding to manage the IPO, adding that it was expected to kick off in the first quarter of 2021.

Ghazl El-Mahalla club, who earned promotion to the top flight this season, lie twelfth in the Egyptian Premier League table. They won once, drew three games and lost twice in their opening six matches of the season.

In October, Tawfik said that the company's capital was estimated at EGP 150 million ($9.6 million), EGP 100 million of which would be raised from the IPO.

EGX30 Edges Up 0.58%

Egypt's blue-chip EGX30 index climbed for a second straight day this week, adding 0.58 percent to settle at 11,278.72 points amid a turnover of EGP 753.3 million ($48.1 million).

The EGX30's heaviest constituent, Commercial International Bank (CIB), rose 1.09 percent to EGP 61.93 ($3.95).

Telecom Egypt advanced 1.26 percent to EGP 12.09 ($0.77), Elsewedy Electric gained 0.67 percent to EGP 10.50, and Eastern Company increased 0.54 percent to EGP 13.08.

Talaat Moustafa Group saw no change at EGP 6.83 ($0.44), while EFG Hermes fell 0.7 percent to EGP 15.51.

The broader EGX70 EWI rose 0.47 percent to close at 2,189.76 points.

Net purchases by Arab investors hit EGP 87 million ($5.6 million), while net sales by Egyptian and foreign investors reached EGP 63.5 million and EGP 23.5 million, respectively.

Twitter Shares Down 6.4% After Suspending Trump's Account

Twitter's stock went down about 6.41 percent yesterday, a few days after it "permanently suspended" US President Donald Trump's account.

Even after Monday's drop, the social media platform's stock has shot up about 45 percent over the past 12 months.

Twitter's shares reached $48.18 yesterday.

Business

ENOC, ALDREES Join Race for NPC Acquisition: Report

Emirates National Oil Company Group (ENOC) and ALDREES Petroleum and Transport Services Company of Saudi Arabia are the latest two companies to show interest in acquiring Egypt's National Petroleum Company (NPC), Al Borsa reported.

It was previously reported that Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and TAQA Arabia, the energy subsidiary of Qalaa Holdings, had already been vying for the acquisition. 

According to unnamed sources cited by Al Borsa, one of the interested companies will be chosen this month to start due diligence.

The sources added that all options are on the table, with the investor to decide whether to buy a stake in NPC or 100 percent of its shares. 

Last month, Egypt's Sovereign Wealth Fund's (SWF) CEO Ayman Soliman said the fund is aiming to ready NPC for sale to investors before the end of the first half of this year.

Hadisolb EGM Greenlights Liquidation of Company's Helwan Factory

The extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of the Egyptian Iron and Steel Company (Hadisolb) has approved liquidating the company's factory in Helwan, Cairo.

The EGM also approved demerging its mining unit.

In December, the board of Hadisolb approved a horizontal demerger, where the demerging company will manage the company's factories, while a newly demerged entity will be in charge of its mining and quarrying activities.

Prior to the demerger, Hadisolb's shares had a nominal value of EGP 2 ($0.13). Under the demerger, the shares of the demerging company would have a nominal value of EGP 1.8, while the shares of the demerged company would be worth EGP 0.2 each.

Per the demerger, the demerging company would hold EGP 2 billion ($127.6 million) in authorized capital and EGP 1.8 billion in issued capital, while the demerged company would hold EGP 500 million in authorized capital and EGP 195.4 million in issued capital.

Public Enterprise Sector Minister Hesham Tawfik said in a televised phone call that when he took over the ministry at the beginning of 2019, he found a development plan for Hadisolb, the conditions for which were set in 2017.

However, the former minister had postponed its implementation and requested to update a study on the plan.

Tawfik said the liquidation was not announced until workers' compensation had been settled.

Hadisolb said that it incurred net losses of EGP 982.8 million ($62.8 million) between July 2019 and June 2020,

Hadisolb's EGM attributed the liquidation to increasing losses and the company’s inability to continue operating.

Hadisolb was established in 1954.

6 Companies Bid for Egypt Aluminum’s Car Wheel Rim Production Line Project

Egypt Aluminum (EGAL) has said that six consulting companies submitted technical bids to develop a feasibility study for a new car wheel rim production line, according to a bourse filing yesterday.

The six companies are China's Chinalco, Italy's Endeco, Germany’s Global Foundry Engineering, Consulting Engineering Group (CEGMAN) in collaboration with INI GENCEJV, the UK-based Farnborough Engineering Consultants (FEC) Limited and German firm Dastur Engineering International.

On Sunday, EGAL raised supply prices for traders for the third month in a row.

$7 Bn Invested in New Petroleum Projects, Refineries: Petroleum Minister

Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla yesterday said that new refineries and projects under implementation in Greater Cairo, Alexandria, Assiut and Suez have been pumped with investments of about $7 billion, according to a statement released by the ministry.

El-Molla added that refineries have an important role in securing the local market need for petroleum products, and that the ministry plans to continue developing them using the latest technologies.

This came as the minister presided over the general assemblies of public sector companies including Cairo Oil Refining Company, Suez Oil Processing Company (SOPC), Nasr Petroleum Company and Assiut Oil Refining Company via video conference, to approve their budgets for the next fiscal year.

Last month, the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) awarded grants worth $1.4 million to Amreya Petroleum Refining Company (APRC) and SOPC for feasibility studies to modernize their refineries. 

Earlier this month, Egypt signed nine new oil and gas exploration deals in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea worth over $1 billion with six global and local oil corporations, including Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Total. 

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Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris

Nassef Sawiris Increases Stake in Signature Aviation to 7.41% to Boost Private Jet Industry

Egyptian business tycoon Nassef Sawiris has increased his stake in London-listed Signature Aviation to 7.41 percent from 7.16 percent to support the private jet industry, according to a regulatory filing on Monday.

Sawiris investment vehicle NNS Holding purchased 2.14 million shares in the company at $5.47 per share.

Blackstone Group, the world's largest private jet operator, last week said that it is cooperating with billionaire Bill Gates on a potential bid of $5.17 per share for the company.

Sawiris is Egypt's wealthiest man, with a net worth of about $6.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Premium Card Launches 20-30 Individual Financing Card

Premium International for Credit Services (Premium Card) has launched its latest financial technology (fintech) product, the 20-30 Card, in partnership with Sarwa Capital Holding for Financial Investments.

The 20-30 Card is a credit card that allows holders to buy from a large network of merchants and offers them products and services online or directly from stores, with the cardholder paying in installments of between 20 and 30 months.

This project aims to provide Egyptian consumers with innovative installment programs.

The company is using innovations in the field of payment technology to allow customers to benefit from accurate and instant creditability queries, with the ability to cash in in real-time at the lowest interest rates while ensuring quality.

Heliopolis Housing to Witness $63 Mn Capital Increase Within a Year

State-owned firm Heliopolis Company for Housing and Development (Heliopolis Housing) is planning a capital hike of EGP 1-1.5 billion ($63.8-95.8 million) within a year at the most, to raise required financing as part of its complete overhaul.

The Ministry of Public Enterprise Sector said that this comes in addition to counting and maximizing returns on assets owned by the company in Heliopolis.

Work is currently underway to completely restructure the company and instate a new strategic plan and various expertise to help the company implement it.

In cooperation with the Holding Company for Construction and Development (HCCD), in May 2020 the ministry made changes to Heliopolis Housing's board of directors to include highly experienced members and an integrated team to advance the company and allow it to compete with private sector firms.

Last year, the Egyptian cabinet agreed to establish a service fund to provide the financing necessary to restructure affiliates of the Ministry of Public Enterprise Sector.

Mohamed Salah El-Din Appointed Pachin Non-Executive Chairman

The board of directors of Paints and Chemical Industries (Pachin) has appointed Mohamed Salah El-Din as its part-time, non-executive chairman, according to a bourse disclosure yesterday.

The board also appointed Amr Mahmoud Abd-Allah as the company's managing director.

Abd-Allah is the representative of Chemical Industries Holding Company (CIHC) at Pachin.

In addition, Salah El-Din and Sahar Mohamed El-Marsafy were named as Pachin's representatives on the board of directors of its resin factory in Obour City.

The Obour City factory was reopened at the beginning of April, following its closure in August 2019 due to an explosion. 

Science and Technology

Facebook Defends New WhatsApp Privacy Policy, Says Conversations Still Encrypted

Social network Facebook has said that messaging giant WhatsApp's new privacy policy, which has received criticism from users globally, will improve its offering and help serve users with more precisely targeted advertisements.

It also said that WhatsApp chats are still end-to-end encrypted, meaning neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can access users' messages or calls.

WhatsApp said the new policy will boost its integration with other social media platforms.

Facebook generated $21.5 billion in ad revenue in the third quarter of 2020.

The option for WhatsApp users to share data with Facebook has existed for years but will now become mandatory.

Turkey’s antitrust board yesterday launched an investigation into Facebook and its new privacy policy for WhatsApp.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s media office and the country’s defense ministry told journalists they would quit WhatsApp and use encrypted messaging app BiP instead.

Technology billionaire Elon Musk on Sunday tweeted encouragement to use messaging app Signal as an alternative to WhatsApp.

Rival platforms like BiP, Signal and Telegram are reportedly seeing a surge in downloads in the wake of the new policy.

"We continue to shatter traffic records and add capacity as more and more people come to terms with how much they dislike Facebook’s new terms," Signal tweeted.

WhatsApp announced that from February 8, it will have a privacy policy of its own, where users of the app in all countries outside Europe and the UK will be obligated to share their data with parent company Facebook or else lose access.

Europe and the UK will not be subjected to the new privacy policy, as EU laws can fine companies as much as 4 percent of global annual revenue if they breach users' data.

"It's important for us to be clear this update describes business communication and does not change WhatsApp’s data sharing practices with Facebook. It does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family wherever they are in the world," WhatsApp Head Will Cathcart previously tweeted.

Bitcoin Drops 13% to $35.6K

The price of bitcoin has witnessed a 13-percent decrease to reach $35,600. 

The drop comes after the cryptocurrency hit an all-time high last week at $42,000.

AvaTrade Chief Market Analyst Naeem Aslam described the increase in sales of the cryptocurrency over the past 24 hours as an overdue healthy correction. 

"Bitcoin prices are likely to find their support between $28K to $30K. This is not the time to panic but to look at this opportunity from a more optimistic lens as the bull run is not over yet, and it is still likely to make its journey to the upside," he said. 

The cryptocurrency gained over 300 percent in 2020, and 50 percent in the last month.

Education Ministry Partners With Bee to Collect Tuition Fees: Report

The education ministry has inked a contract with Bee Smart Payment Solutions to collect government schools’ tuition fees, Al Mal reported yesterday, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

The sources said that the services to be provided by Bee include payment of exam fees, installments and other student financial requirements through the e-payment app.

The ministry's move comes in line with Egypt’s digital transformation plan.

In November, Bee obtained a payment facilitator (PayFac) license from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) authorizing it to provide banking transaction services.

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Egypt Launches E-Marketing Platform to Promote Small Farmers' Products

The Promotion of Rural Incomes through Market Enhancement (PRIME) project -- funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) -- has launched an e-marketing platform for Egyptian small farmers' products, in cooperation with the Climate Change Information Center and Renewable Energy (CCICRE).

The e-marketing platform includes a mobile app, Shari, and a website for agricultural marketing, CCICRE Executive Director Fadl Hashem was quoted as saying by the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA).

Hashem said the platform aims to offer quick marketing to small farmers, facilitating communication between the farmer and the buyer, reaching the optimal price for each product by comparing market prices and eliminating middlemen.

PRIME aims to support small farmers and increase their incomes by improving their marketing capacity, said Agriculture Ministry Spokesman Mohamed El Qirsh.

It has established more than 238 marketing committees and over 200 associations concerned with developing the agricultural system, El Qirsh added.

Economics

CBE Has Room for 100-bps Cut in Q1 2021: Prime Holding

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is likely to continue monetary easing and still has room for a cut of 100 basis points (bps) in the first quarter of 2021, backed by the stability of inflation, said Prime Holding Senior Economist Mona Bedier according to local media reports yesterday.

She added, however, that monetary easing policies in Egypt depend on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, potential further restrictions to curb the spread of the virus and foreign investment inflows in government debt instruments.

Official statistics body CAPMAS announced on Sunday that Egypt's annual urban consumer price inflation declined to 5.4 percent in December, down from 5.7 percent in November.

Bedier said December's price inflation was not surprising and came in line with Prime's expectations.

Prime Holding's senior economist also expected annual urban headline inflation to decline to 5.1 percent in January.

Bedier said that this year's inflation rates will be higher than in 2020, recording 6.3 percent, but will remain within the range of the CBE's revised targets.

In December, the central bank set a new inflation target at an average of 7 percent (±2 percentage points) for the fourth quarter of 2022.

On the other hand, NAEEM Brokerage said that annual inflation rates in December were higher than its expectation of 4.8 percent.

NAEEM Brokerage added that the significant decline in monthly inflation rates came as a result of an increase in the supply of vegetables following the sharp decline in exports on the back of the second wave of COVID-19.

Beltone Financial previously expected the CBE to keep interest rates unchanged in its upcoming February meeting, but predicted a 50-bps cut to occur in the first quarter of 2021, and a 100-bps cut this year in total.

Beltone previously said that the CBE's monetary easing policy will be reversed in 2023.

It also expected inflation in Egypt to average 4.8 percent in the current 2020/2021 fiscal year, with dollar-inflows hitting $18.5 billion.

The CBE's monetary policy committee (MPC) will hold its first meeting of the year on February 4.

The CBE slashed interest rates by a total of 400 bps in 2020, with an emergency 300-bps cut made in March and followed by two consecutive cuts of 50 bps each in September and November.

HC's head of macro and financials, Monette Doss, and the head of macroeconomic analysis at EFG Hermes, Mohamed Abu Basha, previously forecasted a 100-bps (basis points) slash in interest rates in 2021.

Doss, like Bedier, predicted the cuts to take place in the first quarter of the year.

UK-based economic research agency Capital Economics also previously said it expects the CBE to cut the overnight deposit rate by a total of 100 bps during 2021, leaving it at 7.25 percent by the end of the year, backed by talks with the IMF -- which is expected to give the green light to further monetary easing -- and a subdued inflation rate.

CBE Has 'Considerable Room for Continued Cuts': Analyst

Fahd Iqbal, head of Middle East research at Credit Suisse, has said that the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has "considerable room for continued cuts," regardless of whether it opts for a cut in its coming monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting in February.

Iqbal told Bloomberg that "if we do not see a cut in this meeting, then it simply raises the chances for the next one."

While Credit Suisse did not announce an official forecast on the outcome of the coming central bank meeting, Iqbal highlighted the fact that the CBE has embarked on a monetary policy easing cycle.

Egypt has carried out large rate cuts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic but maintains one of the highest real rates in emerging markets, backing the central bank's ability to carry out further cuts, Iqbal added.

Separately, Iqbal said that he is not as enthusiastic on equities investment as on treasury bills (T-bills), adding that the former lacks the liquidity needed to give it momentum despite positive factors.

"If you look at the fundamentals, you look at how growth has been developing, you look at valuations, you look at the quality of companies, you look at the structural growth trends in Egypt, all of it adds up to a very compelling story, but it simply does not follow through in actual performance" due to weak liquidity, Iqbal said.

Egypt's External Debt Hits $125 Bn in Q1 FY2020/21

Egypt's external debt registered $125.4 billion in the first quarter of the current fiscal year 2020/2021, according to the Central Bank of Egypt's (CBE) website.

In the fourth quarter of the elapsed fiscal year, Egypt's external debt stood at $123.5 billion.

Long-term external debts, which accounted for 90.2 percent of Egypt's external debt in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, rose by $390 million quarter on quarter to $113 billion, compared with $112.6 billion.

Short-term external debt, which accounted for the remaining 9.8 percent of all external debt, hit $12.3 billion, compared with $10.9 billion.

Meanwhile, government external debt, which accounted for 58.3 percent of Egypt's overall external debt, rose by $3.8 billion quarter on quarter to $73.1 billion, compared with $69.35 billion.

Long-term government external debt rose from 69.35 billion to 71.1 billion, while short-term government external debt rose from zero to $2 billion.

Last month, Planning Minister Hala Al-Saeed said that Egypt registered 0.7 percent growth in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, compared with 5.6 percent in the same period last year.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia Most Attractive Markets in MENA for Private Equity Investments in 2021: NBK Capital

Egypt and Saudi Arabia represent the most attractive markets in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region for private equity investments in 2021, while for the technology sector the key market is the UAE, NBK Capital Partners Senior Managing Director Yaser Moustafa told Reuters on Monday. 

"This is likely to be somewhat of the golden age of private capital investing in the region," Moustafa said.

He also expected this year to be the best so far for direct investment in MENA as valuations are down and regional economies are bottoming out, leaving fewer competitors.

He said there are now fewer than the 50 competitors present when NBK Capital began operations in 2006.

"The investments we make this year will yield the best returns we’ve ever had," he added.

NBK Capital Partners, backed by National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), has returned $700 million to its investors over the last ten years and has made 17 successful exits.

The company sees opportunities in the region in education, healthcare, food and beverages, consumer services, industry and technology.

NBK Capital Partners manages $1.2 billion in assets.

Abraaj was the largest direct investment fund in the region before its collapse in 2018, due to investor concerns about the management of its $1 billion health care fund.

M&A Transactions With MENA Involvement Drop 47% to $70.3 Bn in 2020: Refinitiv

The value of merger and acquisition (M&A) deals with any involvement from companies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region dropped 47 percent year on year to $70.3 billion in 2020, Zawya reported citing a statement from Refinitiv, a global provider of financial market data.

About 550 deals accounted for $52 billion of all M&A deals in MENA, while the exact number of total deals was not revealed.

About 39 percent of total M&A deals in MENA were in the financial sector, followed by the energy sector with 26 percent and industries with 11 percent.

The UAE was the most targeted nation with 46 percent of total M&A deals announced in MENA, followed by Saudi Arabia with 40 percent. Egypt came in third place with only 4 percent, up from 2 percent in 2019.

Meanwhile, inbound M&A in the region hit a record high of $24.1 billion, with 260 deals announced, marking a 41 percent increase in volume.

In June, Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco bought 2.1 billion shares, or 70 percent, of Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) for SAR 259 billion ($69.1 billion), representing one of the largest deals in the global chemical industry. 

US Federal Reserve Expects Rise in Interest Rates Within 2 Yrs

US Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic has said that interest rates could rise within the next two years, as the economy witnesses a quick recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

"I do think there is some possibility that the economy could come back a bit stronger than some are expecting … I'm prepared to support pulling back and recalibrating a bit of our accommodation and then considering moving the policy rate," he said during a virtual Q&A session before the Atlanta Rotary Club.

"But I don't see that happening in 2021. A whole lot would have to happen to get us there. Then we'll see into 2022. Maybe the second half of 2022 or even 2023 where that might be more in play," Bostic added.

Bostic also said that economic growth depends on how quickly US citizens are vaccinated and how the pandemic is contained.

In December, the Fed kept short-term interest rates near zero following its policy meeting.

Egypt News

Egypt to Sign Final Contract With AstraZeneca Today or Tmrw: Minister

Egypt will sign a final contract for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine today or tomorrow at the latest, Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed said yesterday in a press conference.

"The Minister of Finance and I will sign the final contract today or no later than tomorrow. We signed the first contract on December 4, and now we will sign the compensation contract," Zayed said.

The minister added that the vaccine is currently being registered by the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA).

The supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the Egyptian market will start immediately after EDA approval is received, she added.

Zayed previously said that AstraZeneca will start supplying Egypt with its COVID-19 vaccine doses in the third or fourth week of January.

Egypt has secured 20 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine.

The minister said that Egypt will also negotiate with various other companies, adding that negotiations are currently underway with Pfizer to obtain its COVID-19 vaccine.

In addition, Zayed said that there has been a 12 percent decrease in the daily average of new coronavirus cases since the beginning of the month, compared with the last week of December.

She added that the rate of suspected cases in hospitals has decreased by 15 percent and the recovery rate has increased by 5 percent.

The minister said that the country has seen 50 percent fewer deaths in the second wave of the virus than during the first wave.

Egypt Reports Fewer Than 1K New Coronavirus Cases for Third Consecutive Day

Egypt has reported fewer than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for a third consecutive day, with Monday seeing 961 new infections to bring the country's total to 150,753 since the outbreak began in February 2020.

The health ministry reported 52 new deaths, taking total fatalities to 8,249.

The ministry said that 312 patients were released from isolation and quarantine hospitals on Monday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 119,212.

Presidential Adviser for Health and Preventative Affairs Mohamed Awad Tag Eldin said in a televised phone call that the decrease in Egypt’s COVID-19 infection numbers in recent days is not deceptive.

He added that Egypt's COVID-19 situation is currently fluctuating but the infection rate has not yet reached its peak.

Film critic Tarek Al-Shenawy yesterday announced that journalist Moufid Fawzy has tested positive for the coronavirus.

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Foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, France and Germany during a press conference (courtesy of Egypt's foreign ministry)

Sisi, FMs of Jordan, France, Germany Stress Two-State Solution in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the foreign ministers of Jordan, France and Germany have stressed the importance of a two-state solution in order to achieve peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said it was important to reach a permanent and comprehensive settlement in the Palestinian issue that would result in peace and stability.

He added that the officials' meeting was aimed at finding a common vision between their four countries to activate the peace process in the Middle East.

Shoukry stressed adherence to decisions of international law as essential to reaching a solution consistent with the vision of the international community.

The countries welcomed the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) decision to resume cooperation based on Israel's commitment to previous bilateral agreements.

The foreign ministers confirmed their full commitment to all efforts to achieve lasting peace in the Middle East in accordance with international law and relevant UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

Navy Receives 1st Egyptian-Made Gowind-Class Design Stealth Frigate From Alexandria Shipyard

Egyptian Navy Commander Ahmed Khaled yesterday attended a ceremony marking the naval fleet's receipt of the first Egyptian-made Gowind-class design stealth frigate, named Port Said, from the Alexandria Shipyard Company.

The frigate was manufactured wholly in Egypt by the Alexandria Shipyard Company in cooperation with France’s Naval Group, according to a statement released by the Egyptian armed forces.

The construction of the new class of frigate posed a challenge, with the vessel "able to execute various combat actions" and also equipped with a "comprehensive combat monitoring system against ships, planes and submarines," the statement read.

Egypt's Wheat Reserves Sufficient for 5 Months: Cabinet

The Egyptian cabinet has said that Egypt's wheat reserves are sufficient to last five months, while its vegetable oil reserves are sufficient to last 4.7 months.

In a statement, the cabinet added that the country's sugar reserves are sufficient to last until the end of October.

The government has fresh meat contracts for the next two years and poultry contracts for a 12-month period.

Sugar production is expected to increase this year due to a 119,000-feddan (123,503-acre) rise in the planted area for beet to reach 560,000 feddans, from which 1.7 million tons of sugar will be produced, reducing an existent gap between production and consumption.

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly met with Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali Moselhy to check the availability of strategic goods. He stressed the need to hold available stock of various goods, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ministry of Interior Investigates Tanta Prisoners' Escape

The Ministry of Interior has opened an investigation with the security forces of Tanta General Prison into the escape of three prisoners from the facility.

Initial investigations showed that the three defendants had been sentenced to death variously for murder and the trafficking of drugs and weapons.

They excavated the walls of the prison over a period of three months, after which they disabled the surveillance camera and fled through the hole in the wall and over the roofs of adjacent houses. 

Investigations indicated that the escape happened yesterday morning.

World

Virus Roundup: WHO Says Herd Immunity Will Not Be Achieved in 2021; Britain Witnesses Its Worst Weeks

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that despite the increasing availability of coronavirus vaccines, herd immunity will not be achieved in 2021.

Among the factors preventing herd immunity being achieved this year are limited access to the vaccine in developing countries, potential mutations of the virus and skepticism about the vaccine's efficacy. 

Herd immunity is achieved when so many people become immune to a virus that it is no longer able to spread. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned of the possibility of tougher precautionary measures if people fail to follow the current lockdown rules. 

"We’re going to keep the rules under constant review … Where we have to tighten them, we will," he said. 

Britain is witnessing the worst weeks of the pandemic as coronavirus-related deaths and new cases hit record highs, according to its chief medical officer, with the overall toll reaching 81,000 deaths and 3 million cases. 

The new variation of the virus has infected one in every 20 people in parts of London. Britain is carrying out its largest ever vaccination program, with around 15 million people targeted to receive a first dose by mid-February. 

Meanwhile, the UK's transport ministry said that starting today, travelers coming to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland from the UAE will have to remain in self-isolation.

Johnson said that the UK is at a dangerous moment in terms of the spread of COVID-19.

Similar to Britain, mainland China reported its biggest daily jump in newly reported coronavirus cases in over five months. It recorded 103 new cases, the country's highest figures since July 30. 

Japan will expand its state of emergency due to the coronavirus to Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo by the end of the week. 

A state of emergency has already been imposed on Tokyo and surrounding areas, effective until February 7. Japan has over 289,000 coronavirus cases and 4,067 deaths. 

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has approved the use of the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in the Palestinian territories. 

The Palestinian health minister said that he had granted emergency approval for the vaccine. 

The first shipment is expected to arrive in February, with the remainder to arrive by the end of the first quarter of 2021. The country is also set to receive doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in March. 

Despite Israel becoming the world leader in vaccinations per capita, Palestinians have yet to receive their first doses of the vaccination. 

Pfizer and BioNTech have raised their coronavirus vaccine production target by 50 percent to two billion shots for this year, in response to global demand and taking into account a label change that allows six doses to be given from each bottle instead of five.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has declared a medical state of emergency in Lebanon to confront the spread of the coronavirus in the country. 

Aoun said that the virus has gotten out of control due to people refusing to follow precautionary measures.

Acting US Homeland Secretary Head Chad Wolf Resigns

Acting US Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf yesterday stepped down from his position.

His resignation came a few days after he said he planned to remain in the job.

Wolf said Pete Gaynor, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), would become the new acting homeland security secretary.

Wolf earlier criticized US President Donald Trump over last week's riot at the US Capitol.

"We now see some supporters of the President using violence as a means to achieve political ends," Wolf tweeted, calling the situation "unacceptable."

Arab Markets
Egypt EGX30 11,278.72 +0.58%
KSA TASI 8,869.47 +0.59%
UAE ABU DHABI ADX 5,237.48 +1.19%
UAE DUBAI DFM 2,698.68 +0.91%
World Markets
US Dow Jones IA 31,008.69 -0.29%
NASDAQ-100 13,036.43 -1.25%
S&P 500 3,799.61 -0.66%
UK FTSE 100 6,798.48 -1.09%
Germany DAX 13,936.66 -0.80%
France CAC 40 5,662.43 -0.78%
Japan Nikkei 225 28,186.75 +0.17%
China HANG SENG INDEX 28,032.42 +0.44%
Currencies
US Dollar 15.60 15.70
Euro 18.96 19.08
Sterling 21.02 21.14
Saudi Riyal 4.16 4.18
UAE Dirham 4.25 4.27
Kuwaiti Dinar 51.31 51.77
Swiss Franc 17.50 17.62
Commodities
Oil Brent USD/bbl. 55.62 -0.07%
Wheat USD/bu.Mar 2020 634.75 0.00%
Gold USD/t oz. 1,849.65 +0.31%
Gold Egypt LE/ oz. 1,849.92 +0.10%
Silver Egypt LE/ oz. 25.13 25.13

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