Egypt

A ship that blocked the Suez Canal for almost a week in March is being held in the waterway as canal authorities pursue a $916 million compensation claim against the ship’s Japanese owner, one of the vessel’s insurers and canal sources said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. The Ever Given container ship, owned by Shoei Kisen, has been in a lake separating two sections of the canal since it was dislodged on March 29, as the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) conducts investigations. Two SCA sources, who declined to be named, told Reuters a court order had been issued for the ship to be held.
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The blocking of the Suez Canal by one of the world’s largest container ships is likely to result in losses worth hundreds of millions of euros for the reinsurance industry, Fitch Ratings said, even as rescue teams were successful in partially refloating the vessel yesterday, Reuters reported. The 400-metre (430-yard) long Ever Given got wedged diagonally across the canal in high winds early last Tuesday, blocking the path for hundreds of vessels waiting to transit the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.
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The giant cargo carrier blocking the Suez Canal was finally on the move Monday afternoon, nearly a week after it wedged sideways, causing billions of dollars worth of damage to global trade, the Washington Post reported. A fleet of tugboats worked through the night to take advantage of a full moon that led to the highest tide all month, helping to lift the boat. As of Monday morning, the Ever Given had been 80 percent refloated, the Suez Canal Authority said in a statement.

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Egypt’s headline inflation accelerated at its fastest pace since December but remained below the target range, making rising global bond yields a more important factor in next week’s rate decision, Bloomberg News reported. The annual inflation rate climbed to 4.5% in February from 4.3% in January after two consecutive months of deceleration. On a monthly basis, consumer prices inched up 0.2%, the state-run statistics agency CAPMAS said Wednesday in a report. Egypt’s central bank is due to make its next interest-rate decision on March 18.
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Egypt held interest rates, putting monetary easing on pause for another month as the coronavirus keeps global markets on edge, Bloomberg News reported. The deposit rate will remain at 8.25% and the lending rate at 9.25%, the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee said Thursday in a statement. Ten of 13 economists surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted the decision. The second wave of the pandemic and containment steps “continue to weigh on the near-term outlook,” the MPC said.

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Egypt’s central bank has extended two debt relief initiatives for another 6 months which were launched earlier to help companies and tourism firms struggling as a result of the coronavirus’ impact on the economy, Bloomberg News reported. In a statement released on Jan. 3, the regulator said that the move affects companies with bank debt of less than 10 million Egyptian pounds and tourism firms with debts of more than 10 million pounds. The initiative entails removing the names of these firms from blacklists, removes asset restrictions and halts legal action.

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Cleopatra Hospital Group, the biggest Egyptian private hospital operator by number of beds, agreed to buy Alameda Healthcare Group’s assets in the country in one of the largest African health-care transactions this year, Bloomberg News reported. The board of Cleopatra has approved the planned purchase, according to a statement yesterday. Cleopatra plans to partially fund the deal by issuing convertible loan notes to Alameda controlling shareholder Fahad Khater. The deal could value Alameda at about $450 million to $500 million including debt.

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Banque du Caire, one of Egypt’s state-owned banks, was days from announcing its long-anticipated initial public offering in March. Then coronavirus scuttled the plan to float up to a quarter of its shares on the Egyptian Exchange, the Financial Times reported.

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Egypt expects its domestic reforms to spur private investment whether or not it agrees on a non-financial International Monetary Fund program, a decision that will be made “soon,” Planning and Economic Development Minister Hala El-Saeed said, Bloomberg News reported. “Now is the time for the private sector,” said El-Saeed in an interview in London late Monday, while at a U.K.-organized conference to boost investment in Africa.

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Egypt’s government debt surged to around $339 billion in the year to end-December, the central bank said on Tuesday, but economists say the borrowing remains within relatively safe limits, Reuters reported. The government’s foreign debt rose by 16.6 percent to $96.61 billion while domestic debt increased by 20.25 percent to 4.108 trillion Egyptian pounds ($242 billion). Economists say much of the foreign debt is relatively easy to roll over because it is owed to friendly lenders such as Gulf governments or the African Development Bank and the World Bank.

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