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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8926
    JPY
    USD
    116.68
    GBP
    USD
    0.6871
    CAD
    USD
    1.3751
    INR
    USD
    67.653

    Rates may not be current.