Nassef Sawiris, business tycoon and CEO of OCI N.V elaborates in an interview with Daily News Egypt on the company’s investment plans in Egypt, and how the company can contribute to overcome the challenges in the country
You’ve previously stated that OCI will seek investments in the energy and infrastructure sectors. Is the company eyeing specific projects?
There is focus on power as the country needs significant new power infrastructure investment to help reduce the deficit. As the country’s leading large-scale infrastructure contractor, we are able to bring decades of expertise in the construction and operation and maintenance of essential infrastructure projects. We have been involved in almost half the power plants that have been built in Egypt in the past decade.
What is the volume of investments the company is willing to invest in each sector?
Egypt is a core market for OCI. As a contractor, we have been a leading player for over six decades in the country, which has historically also been a home for our large cement and fertiliser investments. We are open to large-scale complex infrastructure and industrial investments that add value to our investors and to the country. The preliminary investment value of the announced coal-fired power projects with IPIC is over $3.5bn, and is indicative for the size and scale of the investments we are pursuing in Egypt.
Will the company target any projects in new and renewable energy?
We were a key contractor on Egypt’s first solar power plant (Kuraymat) and on several hydro-electric plants/barrages in Aswan and Luxor. Renewable energy is key to reducing the power deficit in Egypt and we are proud of our contribution in this sector.
What are the regulations that you believe need to change in order to attract foreign investments?
The rule of law is a key ingredient for an attractive investment climate in Egypt. More cooperation and dialogue between the investment community and government institutions including those such as the tax authority and a one-stop-shop for investors are necessary to meet needs for both investors and the country.
What encouraged the company to have a dual listing for Orascom Construction Ltd in Dubai and Egypt?
Egypt is a core country for OCI and we have been vocal about our return to Egypt after the ouster of the previous regime. We are encouraged by the push by the Egyptian regulatory authorities for listing rules that create a mechanism for dual listings and we hope to be among the first companies to benefit from these new rules.
Orascom Construction Ltd will have an initial public offering in February. What are the estimates for the value of this IPO?
We are planning to do a spin-off of our Construction Group and therefore the value will be ultimately determined by the investors. More details to follow in due course.
You previously stated that 75% to 80% of cost of establishing the coal-friendly power plant will be from long term loans. Has OCI started negotiations with any banks yet? If it did start, what banks are they and can we expect a contract signing soon?
We are having positive discussions with banks, but the process has only started recently and we will provide more information to the market in due course. It is however critical for all government institutions to rally around the facilitation of such projects which are a lifeline for Egypt going forward. A country’s infrastructure is crucial to support future growth and economic prosperity.
You also said that both the Egyptian and the Emirati companies are open for partnerships from European and Asian companies. Have any company approached you? If yes, then can you please provide us with some details on which company is it?
As a leading company, both as investor and provider of high-end engineering and construction services in Egypt, we are in continuous discussions with potential international partners that may add value to our projects on both the investment and contractor levels. Investors are quite bullish on Egypt and the potential opportunities it presents. We share this view.
What is the volume of investments the company is willing to pump to Egypt during the coming three years?
We are evaluating several potential investments that are on par with the size and importance of the announced coal-fired power plant with IPIC and will make additional announcements in due course. We are proud of being a leading investor and contractor in Egypt and aim to be at the forefront of the country’s economic resurgence.