News / Economy

    Egypt Billionaire Sawiris Family to Invest 'Like Never Before'

    Orascom Telecom chairman Naguib Sawiris speaks during a conference in Beirut. (File)
    Orascom Telecom chairman Naguib Sawiris speaks during a conference in Beirut. (File)
    Reuters
    Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, whose family controls the sprawling Orascom corporate empire, said he and his brothers will be “investing in Egypt like never before” after the ousting of a president he accused of bullying opponents to his rule.
     
    Sawiris, a prominent Christian who was an outspoken critic of President Mohamed Morsi, told Reuters the Islamist leader's government had sought to co-opt executives or, as in his case because he was in opposition, hit his family businesses with exceptional taxes.
     
    The eldest of three billionaire brothers, Sawiris spent much of the past year in self-imposed exile, returning to Egypt in May after officials cleared Orascom Construction Industries (OCI), run by brother Nassef Sawiris, of tax evasion.
     
    The Orascom group of companies is one of the biggest private sector employers in Egypt - providing more than 100,000 Egyptians with jobs according to Sawiris, who now runs a new investment firm Orascom Telecom, Media and Technology,
     
    “My family and myself are going to be investing in Egypt like never before - any new projects where we can invest, any new factories that we can open, any new initiatives that will provide jobs for the young people of Egypt,” he said, although he did not give any specifics.
     
    “I am very very sure that Egypt will come back very strongly now,” he said in a telephone interview on Sunday from a yacht off the Greek island of Mykonos, where he was on vacation.
     
    The remarks by one of Egypt's top businessmen could help rebuild confidence in a nation buffeted by political turmoil for two and a half years. Bankruptcy was averted when Gulf states poured in aid after the army ousted Morsi on July 3, responding to protests by millions of Egyptians.
     
    Investors have been spooked and tourists have stayed away since an uprising brought down President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, who like Morsi was given a push by the generals, hammering two of Egypt's main sources of foreign currency.
     
    Back to work
     
    “There are two opinions, one that the people who went down on June 30 should go back to the squares, my point is we should go back to our work and build our country,” he said, referring to the date that marked the start of mass rallies against Morsi.
     
    After Morsi's ouster and with the economy on the ropes, Sawiris said he had lobbied government officials in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, which had held back aid to Egypt under Morsi, to offer swift support and help for the next few months.
     
    “It was not like I needed to convince them too much, they were already convinced,” said Sawiris, who made a fortune with Orascom Telecom, selling most of those assets to Vimpelcom in 2010 in a $6 billion deal.
     
    Shortly after the army stepped in, the UAE and Kuwait offered $3 billion and $4 billion respectively, to the government, partly to help boost its reserves. Saudi Arabia offered $5 billion.
     
    “If Egypt falls, or goes into turmoil, the whole Middle East goes down the drain. So they are defending also their countries also by helping Egypt,” he said.
     
    Sawiris, who helped found and finance the liberal Free Egyptians party that is part of a coalition that opposed Morsi, said Morsi's government had offered him the post of Cairo governor early in the president's term, but turned it down, seeing it as a bid “to buy me out”.
     
    Unlike his brothers, who have steered clear of public politics, Sawiris was a vocal critic and has stakes in a television channel and a prominent independent newspaper that have broadcast or published broadsides against Morsi's rule.
     
    “My family actually paid the price of my challenge,” he said, citing what he called an “unlawful” tax imposed on OCI as it was moving its listing from Egypt to the Netherlands.
     
    “They were bullying us. They were bullying me, they were bullying my family they were bullying ... any businessman who dared to stand in their way,” he said.
     
    Alongside OCI which has cement and fertilizer plants and an international construction business, a third brother, Samih Sawiris, runs Orascom Development Holding, operating tourists resorts and real estate projects in Egypt and Europe.
     
    Sawiris said international businesses should invest now, while many are still nervous about prospects.
     
    “I know it is going to be stable, so you always make the most of your money when you move first,” he said.

    You May Like

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8965
    JPY
    USD
    111.01
    GBP
    USD
    0.6830
    CAD
    USD
    1.3026
    INR
    USD
    67.196

    Rates may not be current.