Naguib Sawiris, Egyptian business mogul, announced to Reuters that he is looking into an investment opportunity in Telecom Italia but may be discouraged if the Italian government states its preference to Telefonica, the Spanish telecom company.
In an e-mailed statement to Reuters, Sawiris said that he is interested in a “potential investment in Telecom Italia,” but might not pursue it further “in view of (Italy’s) … alleged preference for Telefonica reported in the Italian press.”
Sawiris might have been referring to the reports made by “Il Messaggio”, an Italian newspaper, which stated that the Italian government prefers the merger with Telefonica over Sawiris’s.
Although Naguib Sawiris has been eyeing the new Italian investment, he is yet to show any interest in the Egyptian market.
In February 2012, France Telecom said it had reached a preliminary accord to buy out most of Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris’ stake in their jointly owned telecom operator Mobinil.
Last December, he sold ONTV, the Egyptian television network, to the French-Tunisian financier Tarak Ben Ammar.
In a statement, made earlier in July 2013, Sawiris told Reuters that Morsi sought to reign in and contain a number of Egypt’s leading businessmen and companies through the imposition of stringent new tax laws due to their position as members of the country’s opposition.
Trouble between the Sawiris family and the former Egyptian government started when the Egyptian Tax Authority (ETA) submitted a tax bill demanding Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) to pay EGP 4.7bn in relation to the sale of Orascom Building Materials Holding (OBMH) to Lafarge SA in 2007. As a result of the tax dispute, Nassef, the youngest son of Onsi Sawiris along with his father were banned from travelling.
The tax authority and Naguib Sawiris’s family reached a settlement in May, deciding that OCI should pay taxes amounting to EGP 7bn over five years, with an initial payment of EGP 2.5bn.
OCI was the largest trading company in the Egyptian bourse until it was delisted from the benchmark EGX30 index, July 2013, after the Netherlands based global nitrogen fertiliser producer OCI NV, successfully acquired 97.44% ownership.
After the Morsi regime was ousted last July, the elder son of Onsi Sawiris, told Saudi owned Al-Arabiya news network “my family and I are seeking to pump more investment into Egypt now than at any other point in our nation’s history. We will invest in any new projects we can find, whether they be factories or any other form of employing our nation’s youth.”