Egypt billionaire Sawiris family to invest "like never before"

Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:02am EDT
 
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By Edmund Blair

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, whose family controls the sprawling Orascom corporate empire, says 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 Mursi, 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 (OTMT.CA: Quote),

"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 Mursi 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 Mursi was given a push by the generals, hammering two of Egypt's main sources of foreign currency.   Continued...

 
Orascom Telecom chairman Naguib Sawiris speaks during a conference in Beirut June 2, 2010. REUTERS/Cynthia Karam