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Sawiris sees opportunities after Arab Spring

Sawiris sees opportunities after Arab Spring

Sawiris sees opportunities even in Algeria; May raise Telekom Austria stake to 25 percent; Says "fed up" after politically difficult year

January 24, 2012 1:49 by

Egyptian telecoms tycoon and political liberal Naguib Sawiris sees long-term business potential following the Arab Spring in Syria, Libya, Tunisia and even Algeria, where he has been at loggerheads with the government, he said on Monday.

“The region offers now new opportunities with this Arab Spring,” Sawiris said, adding that it would take time before such countries were fit to invest in.

“Nobody will invest as long as there is no stable government that has issued the necessary laws,” Sawiris told journalists on the fringes of the DLD digital industry conference in Munich.

“You need to know exactly what’s the game before you go into a big mess like that.”

Sawiris has been locked in dispute with the Algerian government over Algeria’s nationalisation of Djezzy, a unit of his telecoms company Orascom, but said he believed the nature of the country would change.

“I don’t think Algeria will remain like it is now,” he said.

Sawiris said he also remained interested in more mature markets such as Austria, where he jointly owns 20 percent of telecoms incumbent Telekom Austria, together with business partner Ronny Pecik, an Austrian investor.

He said the two may raise their stake to 25 percent, but no higher. “If we expand, we’ll expand to 25 percent.”

Sawiris, a co-founder of the Free Egyptians party, which advocates the separation of state and religion, said he was unsure what role he would continue to play in the rebuilding of Egypt, where Hosni Mubarak was ousted as leader a year ago.

He is a vocal critic of Islamist parties that have emerged in Egypt, but his party has struggled to make an impact in parliamentary elections that have been under way since November, which have dominated by Islamic parties.

Sawiris has also been charged with showing contempt for religion after tweeting a cartoon seen by some as insulting to Islam, a charge he denies.

“I’m fed up. It’s been a very difficult year for me,” he said. “I only want Egypt to be balanced.” (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Maureen Bavdek) *image from

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