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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Resigns

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7287
JPY
USD
103.22
GBP
USD
0.6027
CAD
USD
1.0991
INR
USD
60.191

Rates may not be current.