Uproar in Egypt over hike in mobile recharging cards

The new logo of Telecom Egypt is pictured at their headquarters building in Cairo, Egypt, in this September 20, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 03 October 2017

Uproar in Egypt over hike in mobile recharging cards

CAIRO: Egyptians are angry over a government decision to ratify a 36-percent devaluation of mobile phone balance recharge cards.
“It’s completely unfair, that’s quite a lot,” a mobile user told Arab News after realizing that she received about 70 percent of the price of the purchased card in charging credit.
The decision, ratified by the state-run Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), came into effect over the weekend.
Since then, there have been boycott calls on social media against the telecom companies applying the increase.
The increase is not on the price of the recharge cards, but on the delivered value given from the company to the customer.
This means a recharge card costing 100 Egyptian pounds ($5.67) will give 70 Egyptian pounds of credit.
Justin Dargin, a Middle East expert at the University of Oxford, said the devaluation is part of government attempts to raise revenue and achieve budgetary stability following years of political instability.
“The devaluation of the mobile recharge cards operates as a de-facto tax, which inevitably would injure the Egyptian working class in much the same way as a regressive tax would,” he told Arab News.
“It’ll take a larger percentage of the income of the poorer segments of the Egyptian populace.”
On Sunday, some mobile users in Egypt were confused when they tried recharging their mobile balance and received the full value of the card, without the 36-percent devaluation.
Many thought the government had backtracked its decision due to public anger, but a source at a telecom company denied that.
“Adding the full credit has occurred in some prepaid cards which have not been updated with the new pricing, but all recharging cards will be updated during the coming period,” Al Masry Al-Youm newspaper quoted the source as saying.
The Association of Citizens Against Price Rises called for a boycott of mobile telecom companies in Egypt, asking users to refrain from buying balance recharge cards.
It accused the TRA of regulating monopolization because it obtains 2-percent profit from mobile service operators.
The price hike from Egypt’s top telecom operators Orange, Vodafone and Etisalat comes as landline monopoly Telecom Egypt launches WE, the country’s fourth mobile network, owned by the government.


Gulf Marine CEO quits after review sparks profit warning

Updated 22 August 2019

Gulf Marine CEO quits after review sparks profit warning

  • Tensions in the Arabian Gulf, a worrisome global growth outlook and uncertainty over oil prices have recently dampened investor confidence

DUBAI: Gulf Marine Services said on Wednesday Chief Executive Officer Duncan Anderson has resigned as the oilfield industry contractor warned a reassessment of its ships and contracts showed profit would fall this year, kicking its shares 12 percent down.

The Abu Dhabi-based offshore services specialist said a review by new finance chief Stephen Kersley of its large E-class vessels operating in Northwest Europe and the Middle East pointed to 2019 core earnings of between $45 million and $48 million, below $58 million that it reported last year.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that Anderson, who has served as CEO for 12 years, was asked to step down. Anderson could not be reached for comment.

The company, which in the past predominantly operated in the UAE, expanded operations and deployed large vessels in the North Sea and Saudi Arabia nine years ago and listed its shares in London in 2014.

Tensions in the Arabian Gulf, a worrisome global growth outlook and uncertainty over oil prices have recently dampened investor confidence.

The North Sea has seen a revival in production in recent years due to new fields coming on line and improved performance by operators following the 2014 oil price collapse.

Still, the basin’s production is expected to decline over the next decade, according to Britain’s Oil and Gas Authority.

“(The CFO’s) review has coincided with a pause in renewables-related self-propelled self-elevating support vessels activity in the North Sea, which will impact several of the higher day-rate E-Class vessels,” Investec wrote in a note.

Gulf Marine appointed industry veteran Kersley as chief financial officer in late May as it sought to halt a slide which has seen the company’s shares fall nearly 80 percent last year and another 23 percent so far this year.

The company said market conditions remained challenging and that it was still in talks with its financial advisors regarding a new capital structure.

“Management, the new board and the group’s advisors, have been in negotiation with the group’s banks on resetting its capital structure and progress has been made,” it said in a statement.

Last year, Gulf Marine said contracts were delayed into 2019 as the company was seen to be in breach of certain banking covenants at the end of 2018.

The company said it was still in talks with its banks and individual lenders with hopes of getting a waiver or an agreement to amend the concerned covenants.