By Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ….
UPDATE, 3/23/2020: In response to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, Sawiris stated in a Bloomberg TV interview on March 23 that he is increasing his investment in gold mining shares, since the cost of the production of one ounce of gold is lower than the price of owning the physical product.
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Naguib Sawiris, the 63-year-old Coptic-Egyptian billionaire, has used half of his $5.7 billion USD (approximately €4.74 billion) net worth to buy gold, according to an interview with Bloomberg TV on Monday, April 30.
During the interview, Sawiris stated his belief that gold will reach a price of $1,800 per ounce (at the time of writing, the spot price of gold is $1,305.11 per ounce). This would happen, he said, because of persistent international demand for the precious metal and because, in his opinion, the global stock market is going to crash.
“In the end you have China and they will not stop consuming. And people also tend to go to gold during crises and we are full of crises right now,” Sawiris said. “Look at the Middle East and the rest of the world and Mr. Trump doesn’t help.”
While certainly not an original observation, the extreme size of Sawiris’ gold buy and his investments elsewhere put him in a unique position regarding the observation of world affairs.
For instance, despite international sanctions and pressure from Western governments, Sawiris has invested heavily in North Korea over the last several decades. He is the founder of Koryolink, the largest mobile phone company in North Korea. Peace on the Korean peninsula, therefore, would enable him to recoup his company’s profits after 10 years of frustrated access (Koryolink’s financials currently are not listed among the cost and revenue statements of Sawiris’ company Orascom Telecom Media & Technology Holding SAE).
So it should come as no surprise that after accusing Trump of causing some of the economic chaos in the world that is driving up gold prices, the self-proclaimed “goodwill investor” took a moment during the interview to offer the American president some advice on dealing with the North Koreans in an effective manner.
“I know these North Korean people. They are very proud, they will not yield under threat and bullying. You just smile and talk and sit down and they will come through,” he said.
The recent meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has set the stage for an upcoming meeting between President Trump and Mr. Kim, though no particulars of that meeting have been set as of yet.
Sawiris recently also made news for his inclusion in Forbes Magazine’s 2018 list of the world’s billionaires, tying for #550 with a net worth of $4 billion. The difference between the Forbes total, which is updated after the end of the last trading day, and the total as given by Sawiris and Bloomberg, is not explained.
About Naguib Sawiris
Perhaps an unfamiliar name to the general public in the West, Mr. Sawiris is well-known across the Arab world. He is the oldest of the three Western-educated sons of billionaire Onsi Sawiris, the founder of Orascom Telecom in Egypt. His youngest brother, Nassef Sawiris, is the richest man in Egypt, with a net worth of $6.6 billion according to Forbes. Including middle son Samih, all four men are stakeholders in the various family businesses and investments.
Naguib Sawiris’ telecom businesses have long invested in regions of the world where other companies do not due to high perceived risk, such as Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea and Bangladesh. He also purchased the Italian telecom Wind Telecommunicazioni (at one time a part owner of Wind Mobile in Canada); when it merged with Sawiris’ Veon Ltd. in 2011, it was the sixth-largest mobile telecom company in the world.
The family as a whole has sought to diversify their holdings into such fields as finance and mining in recent years, with the result that the Sawiris are now major players in investment banking and also the biggest investors in the Egyptian mining sector. As part of a long-term plan to extend into Latin America and Eastern Europe, the Sawiris have holdings in Endeavour Mining Corporation, La Mancha Resources, and Evolution Mining.
Politically, the family’s history has been a reaction to modern Egyptian history. Onsi Sawirisleft Egypt due to frustration working under the socialist policies of the nationalist Gamal Abdel Nasser. He returned under the business-friendlier Anwar Sadat, and continued to thrive under the leadership of Hosni Mubarak.
Naguib Sawiris founded the Free Egyptians Party after the 2011 revolution that led to the overthrow of Mubarak. Nasser Sawiris moved his companies out of Egypt after a tax issue involving the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt in 2013.
The family looks forward to redirecting some of their investment capital back into Egypt itself after reforms supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) went into effect in 2016. these include the lifting of sanctions on Egyptian currency and the slashing of subsidies to domestic industries.
“In my family we are investing a lot right now because we see the opportunities. It isn’t patriotism or advertising or anything like that,” a frank Sawiris is quoted as saying.
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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-01/north-korea-is-a-bright-spot-for-billionaire-who-forecasts-crash (features full video of interview)