Just days after his joint bid for a stake in the Cairo-based investment bank EFG-Hermes was rejected, Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has told CNBC he is looking at other opportunities in Egypt as well as a fall listing for ItaliaOnline.
"I trust my country, I'm very optimistic about Egypt," said Sawiris, who is also chairman of Orascom Telecom and Media.
"People could make a lot of money if they come now."
Speaking to CNBC in Paris, Sawiris was upbeat about future investments in the country despite regional unrest, adding that he sees opportunities in industrial agriculture, waste recycling, services and transportation.
Mr Sawiris merged Orascom Telecom with VimpelCom of Russia four years ago and since then has been looking to broaden his investments. He also has a holding in Italian internet service provider ItaliaOnline.
"I have an IPO in Italy, ItaliaOnline in September or October," says Sawiris. "I'm also looking at a major acquisition of a local company in Egypt and I'm studying alternative energy."
While praising the government of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi for introducing controversial cuts in fuel and energy subsidies, Mr. Sawiris told CNBC the country's new 10 percent tax on capital gains had come too soon and had been poorly implemented.
"It's like if you're sick you're not going to and run a marathon," says Sawiris. "Our stock market isn't really in the best shape, you have a new political system. We don't need scary tax laws that will scare investors."
While Egypt's Finance Minister, Hany Kadry Dimian, has indicated the country plans to create an international framework that would avoid seeing taxpayers slapped with double taxation, Egyptians will now face income taxes on their commercial activities abroad whether they reside permanently in the country or not.
"What are these rules are going to do – everybody is going to move out – who is going to move out? The big guys and the entrepreneurs so what you have is a loss of total revenue," Sawiris tells CNBC.
"It seems to me and there is a feeling now that the rich have become very rich and they need to participate. But charity never builds an economy – and even to say I'm nationalistic, I'm going to donate, that's good but not enough. What is important right now is to show that you are willing to put your money in your country – build better housing for the poor, better schools – can be done better by the private sector – it's what they do – better than governments."
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