Egypt's Sawiris to diversify Orascom, invest $500 million in Egypt

Sun Mar 15, 2015 10:19am EDT
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By Stephen Kalin and Michael Georgy

SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) - Top Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris said he was ready to invest $500 million in Egypt and was diversifying his telecoms business into infrastructure, energy and transportation, sectors which need major funds in the country.

Sawiris, a billionaire from a powerful Coptic Christian family, said the investment conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh had been a success but that the government would need to make efforts to follow up with investors.

"We all know the minute the decisions go down to our famous and most regarded bureaucrats you see one sign only: stop. They need to have a pusher, and the minister of investment is a pusher," said Sawiris, 60, chairman and chief executive of Orascom Telecom, Media and Technology (OTMT.CA: Quote).

He said the government should form a committee to firmly thrust the investment agenda forward and help revive Egypt's economy, laid low by four years of political turmoil triggered by the 2011 revolt which toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

"My advice... is the prime minister should initiate a small office headed by the investment minister with some drivers who continue the dialogue with the investors who committed to the projects in this conference," said Sawiris.

Egypt clinched investments worth billions of dollars from top global companies such as General Electric (GE.N: Quote), BP (BP.L: Quote) and Eni (ENI.MI: Quote) at the conference, which ends on Sunday.

Gulf Arab allies also pledged $12.5 billion.

Sawiris said Orascom Telecom would diversify into new sectors including infrastructure, logistics and energy projects alongside its core business.   Continued...

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, chairman of Orascom TMT Holding, speaks during the Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) in Sharm el-Sheikh, in the South Sinai governorate, south of Cairo, March 14, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh