Sponsored briefing: Running a people business

Sponsored briefing: Running a people business

You have been chair of Paul Hastings’ City office since October 2018. What have been your personal highlights of how the firm has developed in London?

Arun Birla (AB): I’ve enjoyed seeing our practices grow, and not just from a client or revenue perspective, but also in other aspects that are particularly important to me – diversity and inclusion, wellness, and on the social mobility front. We’ve built on all those elements – clients, revenues and integrating new partners, alongside what some people might call the softer things, but I don’t like that term. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Running a people business”

Sponsored briefing: Angola – getting back in the game

Sponsored briefing: Angola – getting back in the game

Morais Leitão’s Claudia Santos Cruz on recent legal developments and the future of the Angolan oil industry in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic

For a brief period in 2009, Angola was Africa’s largest oil producer with production reaching two million barrels per day. Current production is around 1.37 million barrels per day. This reduction is generally attributed to a general reduction in production; low oil prices and more recently Covid-19 pandemic effects. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Angola – getting back in the game”

Sponsored briefing: Closing a project finance transaction in Mozambique during a worldwide pandemic

Sponsored briefing: Closing a project finance transaction in Mozambique during a worldwide pandemic

The world shut down in 2020, but the largest project finance in Africa could not stop.

The discovery of vast quantities of natural gas off the coast of northern Mozambique in 2010 was the starting point for the Mozambique LNG Project, which led to a $20bn final investment decision in June 2019. In September of that same year, Total (the second-largest LNG player in the world) announced that it had closed the acquisition of Anadarko’s 26.5% operating interest in the Mozambique LNG Project and that the project was finally ready to move on to the next stage. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Closing a project finance transaction in Mozambique during a worldwide pandemic”

Sponsored briefing: Privatisations in Cabo Verde and Angola – the new El Dorado?

Sponsored briefing: Privatisations in Cabo Verde and Angola – the new El Dorado?

Both Angola and Cabo Verde have recently announced important privatisation programmes involving companies active in key sectors in the two countries’ economies.

In Angola, the programme involves 195 companies and assets and was originally planned to be concluded in 2022. Several tenders have already been launched or implemented and 14 companies/assets have already been privatised. The goal was to privatise 51 companies by the end of 2020 but because of Covid-19 the process was suspended. However, the process is now resuming slowly. Consequently, there will be investment opportunities from now on. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Privatisations in Cabo Verde and Angola – the new El Dorado?”

Sponsored briefing: Piloting maritime law in Egypt

Sponsored briefing: Piloting maritime law in Egypt

Hisham Eldib and Nada Eldib of Eldib Advocates on how the firm’s core values and network of offices align with Africa’s ever-growing infrastructure

We would like to take this opportunity to express our firm’s keenness in co-operating with Legal Business magazine and being recognised among other esteemed law firms as well as the maritime and transport society in Africa. Eldib Advocates was established in 1875; we are a full-service law firm operating across Egypt and regionally with four offices nationally, in Alexandria, Cairo, Port Said and Suez, and three regional desks, covering Libya, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. Being a player in the legal field for over 145 years, our experience spans beyond local market industries to those of international markets, rendering legal services to a wide range of national and multinational corporations; in addition, to having an established network of affiliates across Africa, the Middle East and further worldwide. Our mission is to deliver innovative business solutions and result-oriented counsel to our clients existing at all stages. We always aim to effectively articulate our clients’ options and the risks involved in any venture and hope to guide them to making the most appropriate decisions to secure themselves and their businesses. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Piloting maritime law in Egypt”

Sponsored briefing: Challenges facing the cement industry in Egypt

Sponsored briefing: Challenges facing the cement industry in Egypt

The cement industry is one of the oldest industries in Egypt, with more than a century of experience, and a total of 18 plants throughout the country. For decades, the cement industry was one of the most profitable business in Egypt, with EBITDA margin above 30%. Following the Arab Spring in early 2011, the cement industry is facing two main challenges, the increase of the production cost and capacity as outlined below.

1. Increase of the Production Cost

a) Egypt’s cement producers used to run their plants on gas as a main source of energy. However, after the Egyptian revolution in 2011, the gas price went significantly high from US$2 per mBtu to US$6 per mBtu, which consequently entailed the increase of the production cost.

As an alternative, the biggest cement companies started to invest in coal and petroleum coal as a source of energy, in order to reduce the production cost. The immediate impact was the heavy investment in coal mill, regardless of the environmental impact.

The coal is mostly imported, with difficulties related to the instability of the international market price, and the freight that can be delayed, as we recently witnessed the Suez Canal blockage crisis. In addition, in late 2016, the Central Bank of Egypt decided to fully float the Egyptian Pound and the latter lost half of its value.

b) In 2014, Law No. 198 of 2014 on the Mining Wealth was issued, as amended (the Mining Law), and has drastically increased the value of the minerals and raw materials, which are essential to the cement industry. The increase reached more than 500 times the prices previously paid by the producers.

The legislator, in application of the principle of non-retroactivity of the law, explicitly stipulated that all existing contracts concluded under previous laws shall remain in force under the provisions of such laws till the expiration of the relevant licence, when the provisions of the Mining Law will prevail. The first paragraph of Article 3 of the Articles of Issuance of the Mining Law states that:

‘The quarries licences that were issued prior to the effective date of the New Mining Law as well as the terms thereof shall remain and continue to be valid and in force. However, upon renewing the said licences; the provisions stated in the New Mining Law, regarding the annual rent, royalties and research and exploitation licence fees, shall be applied.’

Furthermore, the Egyptian State Council’s General Assembly of Advising and Legislating Sections issued an advisory opinion, confirming that the increase in the value of the annual rent and royalty, introduced by the Mining Law, shall not apply on ongoing contracts, unless the parties agreed otherwise or upon renewal of the duration of the contracts.

As a consequence, the cement companies having ongoing valid contracts started to negotiate the raw materials’ cost with the competent authorities, namely the governorates, in order to reach a reasonable price for all parties involved. Unfortunately, most of said companies failed to reach an agreement thereon and some were forced to escalate the issue before the Investment Dispute Resolution Committee at the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI).

In addition, Law No. 193 of 2020 has transferred the management and exploitation of the quarries to the Egyptian Company for Mining Management and Exploitation of Quarries and Saline, an Armed Forces related company.

2. Increase of the Production Capacity

In 2014, a new player joined the industry. The Egyptian government started to invest in cement plants, in order to supply the needs of the government for national projects and infrastructures and decrease the cement price.

Today, the state-owned cement companies represent around 25% of the Egyptian production capacity.

These new state-owned cement companies contributed to an over-capacity of the Egyptian cement market and therefore heavily impacted the cement price, which has dropped since then.

Unfortunately, the increase of the production cost of the cement, as explained above, had an impact on the competitiveness of Egypt in the industry and export of cement to nearby countries, essentially because the production cost in other countries is lower, as is the case in Turkey, playing today one of the leaders of the cement market in the region.

Therefore, the option of exporting the over-capacity abroad is not even considered by the Egyptian producers.

Following several meetings between the Minister of Industry and Trade and the Cement Association, the Egyptian government considers the possibility of decreasing the gas price and also decreasing the market production capacity to reach 65% of the current capacity, pro rata to each producer’s share in the market, and increasing the cement price.

However, to date, the Egyptian government did not issue any decree to resolve the said challenges and the cement producers are frustrated for the lack of any concrete decision therefrom. Many are considering decreasing their investment in Egypt and others are considering filing a case before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) against the Egyptian government.

For more information, please contact:

Frederic Soliman
Managing partner
Soliman, Hashish & Partners

E: f.soliman@shandpartners.com
T: +2 0122 0800 290

www.shandpartners.com

Sponsored briefing: Flexible and stable: The growing appeal of offshore SPACs

Sponsored briefing: Flexible and stable: The growing appeal of offshore SPACs

Conyers’ Neil Henderson, Anton Goldstein and Matthew Stocker on the resurgence

Special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) enjoyed a resurgence in 2020 as an alternative to traditional IPOs. Now, as 2021 begins, investors continue their search for efficient ways to deploy capital and generate attractive returns in the Covid-19 era of low interest rates and market volatility. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Flexible and stable: The growing appeal of offshore SPACs”

Sponsored briefing: Are we on the cusp of an evolution in the legal sector, when collaborative ways of working between firms will become the norm?

Sponsored briefing: Are we on the cusp of an evolution in the legal sector, when collaborative ways of working between firms will become the norm?

Covid-19 has disrupted almost every sector of the economy. Dr Peter Allinson, chief executive of Davitt Jones Bould, asks whether the pandemic has acted as an accelerant to fundamental shifts already at play in the legal profession, and offers his perception of a growing spirit of collaboration in the industry

While the last 12 months has seen as much disruption as any of us have witnessed in our careers, it remains true that the legal profession is used to weathering adverse business cycles. My observation, drawing on many years’ experience, is that the most resilient firms are those that have a strong sense of who they are, what they do best, and truly where their core business is. If that is the case, then they can ride out the worst of the ‘boom and bust’ and avoid the need to treat their people as a ‘disposable’ item. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Are we on the cusp of an evolution in the legal sector, when collaborative ways of working between firms will become the norm?”

Sponsored briefing: Ukraine – successful heir of the Soviet empire or a self-made kid on the block?

Sponsored briefing: Ukraine – successful heir of the Soviet empire or a self-made kid on the block?

Being one of the most powerful industrial countries of the former USSR with a unique geographic location and the biggest territory in the heart of Europe, stretching from Europe in the West towards Russia in the East, Ukraine has entered the independence era with high expectations and significant industrial and scientific potential.

A robust logistics network, including a web of railway, connecting the most remote parts of the country, seaports, energy (including hydro and nuclear), unique defence and air-space companies, large agricultural companies – these are just a few sectors to mention, which have decisively shaped the future of the Ukrainian economy. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Ukraine – successful heir of the Soviet empire or a self-made kid on the block?”

Sponsored briefing: Life sciences market in France: Early access of medicines reform for 2021

Sponsored briefing: Life sciences market in France: Early access of medicines reform for 2021

LexCase’s Diane Bandon-Tourret and Esther Vogel on the newly restructured early access mechanism for medicine products in France

The French Social Security Financing Law (LFSS) for 2021 restructured the entire early access mechanism for medicine products. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Life sciences market in France: Early access of medicines reform for 2021”