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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8033
JPY
USD
117.19
GBP
USD
0.6372
CAD
USD
1.1634
INR
USD
63.622

Rates may not be current.