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Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris set to sell his majority stake in ‘struggling’ Euronews

The deal is expected to close in Q1 2022. 

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Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris.

Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris has announced plans to sell off his 88-percent stake in the struggling European television news network, Euronews, to the Portuguese firm, Alpac Capital. 

Although the deal amount has yet to be ascertained as of press time, Reuters reported that the investment firm Alpac Capital is interested in acquiring the majority stake in the business owned by the billionaire through his holding, Media Global Networks (MNG).  

The remaining 12-percent stake in Euronews is expected to be controlled by a consortium of public and local media houses, including Abu Dhabi Media Investment Company and France Television. 

The deal is expected to close in Q1 2022. 

Euronews is a France-based multilingual news platform launched on Jan. 1, 1993, with a presence in about 160 countries. It is currently headquartered in Lyon, France.  

The news platform used to be owned by a consortium of government-backed channels before the Egyptian tycoon acquired a majority stake. In 2015, Sawiris took over the company by acquiring a 53-percent stake in the firm. He consolidated his position by purchasing a further seven-percent stake in 2017 and an additional 28-percent stake in 2020, thereby raising his total equity position in the company to 88 percent. 

However, the company has recently been plagued by poor financial performance. According to Reuters, the company’s total sales plunged by 23 percent year-on-year to 58 million euro, no thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also recorded a net loss of 16 million euro in the period. 

Going forward, analysts predict that the company’s bottom-line will still be in red, although in a more moderate fashion. This was confirmed by the outgoing chairman, Michael Peters, who predicted that losses would be tempered in the current year to around 8 million euro. 

In this context, the Egyptian billionaire declared his intention to divest from the loss-making company. He said: “My driving ambition has always been to see Euronews succeed. We invested in the media because we saw its potential and we were proven right. I am proud of the milestone accomplished and delighted that the work put in at all levels of the company are being recognized.”

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Nigerian gaming tycoon Kunle Soname ventures into aviation

Soname is a Nigerian gaming tycoon and chairman of Bet9ja.

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Nigerian gaming tycoon Kunle Soname

Kunle Soname, a Nigerian gaming tycoon and chairman of Bet9ja, a Lagos-based betting platform, has taken delivery of the first two aircraft purchased under his recently launched airline company, ValueJet, as part of a move to begin regional flights after all necessary processes are completed.

On May 20, the airline’s fleet, which includes recently purchased aircraft (CRJ-900s with the registration, 5N-BXS and 5N-BXT), arrived at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

ValueJet is preparing the fleet for demo flights as part of the regulatory requirements set by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which is a mandatory regulatory exercise toward receiving an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from the NCAA.

The decision by Soname to enter the aviation industry is consistent with concerted efforts to make flight tickets more affordable for Nigerians and to create value for investors in an industry plagued by operational difficulties and a persistent rise in operating expenses.

According to available statistics, only about five percent of Nigeria’s population can presently afford a flight ticket, which ValueJet hopes to significantly increase through innovative fare pricing.

Soname emphasized Nigeria’s role as an African country in driving global trade. “Despite all of the industry’s current challenges,” he said, “Nigeria and Africa are well poised to drive economic growth with an effective aviation sector.”

“ValueJet is a visionary airline that is gradually positioning itself to efficiently facilitate growth opportunities across geographies,” he added.

According to ValueJet Managing Director Omololu Majekodunmi, the company’s recent move is the first of many in the industry. He went on to say that the firm’s recently purchased aircraft were chosen based on performance, safety, and comfort.

“ValueJet will deploy these aircraft for regional flight services once we have completed all mandatory processes and secured AOC approvals,” he said.

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Led by Egypt’s richest family, Orascom Construction sees profit drop 43.1 percent in Q1 2022

Nassef Sawiris owns 28.97 percent of the multinational construction group, or 33,825,323 shares.

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Nassef Sawiris.

Despite reporting a double-digit percent increase in profit in 2021 due to improved collections and liquidity management, Orascom Construction reported a profit of $15.3 million at the end of the first six months of 2021.

Orascom Construction is Egypt’s richest family-founded multinational engineering and construction corporation.

The leading engineering and construction behemoth reported a profit of $15.3 million in the first quarter of 2022, down more than 43.1 percent from the $26.9 million in profit reported in the first quarter of 2021, according to recently published financial results.

Despite a 20-percent increase in revenue from $816.6 million to $979.9 million, the group’s earnings power was hampered by a surge in direct costs above $880 million, combined with an increase in operating expenses during the period under review.

Osama Bishai, CEO of Orascom Construction, commented on the financial performance, saying: “We indicated in the previous quarter that we expected to experience challenges associated with the changing global economic environment.”

“As always, we continue to prioritize project controls, cost optimization, supply chain, and collections. Our new awards strategy is also unchanged as we continue to focus on high-quality projects across our geographies in sectors in which we are competitive,” he said.

The group was able to keep its project backlog at $5.5 billion by awarding $617.5 million in new contracts during the first quarter of 2022.

Despite the depreciation of the Egyptian pound, the backlog is consistent with the level achieved a year ago, as it was supported by high-profile infrastructure projects in Egypt denominated in foreign currency, as well as projects in other markets in the Middle East, Africa and the United States.

As part of its commitment to shareholders, the board proposed a $27-million dividend distribution to be paid in the third quarter of 2022. This is the group’s fifth consecutive year of dividend payments.

Orascom Construction is a leading global engineering and construction contractor, with active operations and investments in the Middle East, Africa, and the United States.

Egypt’s richest man Nassef Sawiris owns 28.97 percent of the group, or 33,825,323 ordinary shares, while OS Private Trust Company owns 51.8 percent of the Egypt-based contractor for the benefit of the Sawiris family.

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South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe, wife join world leaders at 2022 WEF Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland

Motsepe is a member of the WEF Board of Trustees.

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South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe. ©Billionaires.Africa

South African billionaire mining mogul Patrice Motsepe and his wife Precious Moloi-Motsepe have been confirmed as two of the 35 South African business representatives who will attend an event at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, tomorrow, which is partially dedicated to promoting South Africa as an attractive investment destination.

The event, “Preparing for Africa’s Growing Global Role,” was developed in partnership with the South African Broadcasting Corp.

The 2022 WEF Annual Meeting, which runs from May 22 to 26, is convening at the most consequential geopolitical and geo-economic moment in the past three decades against the backdrop of a once-in-a-century pandemic, COVID-19, and the continuing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Motsepe and his wife, a renowned medical practitioner, join South African Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana and International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor as top representatives who will offer ideas about how to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in Africa.

Other South African business leaders who will attend the WEF Annual Meeting this week include: Leila Fourie, group CEO of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange; Rene Parker, CEO of RLabs; Nicola Galombik, executive director of Yellowwood; and, Bronwyn Nielsen, founder and CEO of Nielsen Media and Associates.

According to a statement issued by the South African government, the event will also provide an opportunity for the government to share an update on South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan, promote the country’s economic reforms, and advance critical public-private partnerships to support its development goals.

Just last weekend, Motsepe, a member of the WEF Board of Trustees, passed Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa to re-emerge as Southern Africa’s richest Black businessman.

According to Forbes, Motsepe is back on top as Southern Africa’s richest Black billionaire, with a net worth of $3.1 billion as of press time on May 21, while Masiyiwa’s net worth has dropped to $2.7 billion.

Motsepe’s net worth has increased from $2.9 billion at the start of the year to $3.1 billion at the time of writing, owing to a 6.1-percent increase in the share price of African Rainbow Minerals, the South African mining and minerals company that he founded in 1997.

In addition to other assignments at this year’s WEF Annual Meeting, the billionaire will also speak on, “Sport as a Unifying Force,” alongside Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab, and FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

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