Now, Franceâ€™s Lafarge has bought OCIâ€™s cement operations in a 14.9 billion dollar deal, and in return Nassef gets an 11.4 pct stake in Lafarge plus two seats on the companyâ€™s board of directors.
Analysts say OCI wants to focus on construction and infrastructure, but â€“ as you can never quite separate business from politics in the Middle East â€“ Iâ€™m wondering whether the Sawirisâ€™ truly believe the Middle Eastern cement boom is over or whether weâ€™re rather seeing a long-term strategy of the three brothers to move part of their assets away from Egypt (and the Middle East).
Their relations with the ruling family donâ€™t seem to be as strong as in the case of other Egyptian business tycoons (which means the impact of Mubarakâ€™s death will not be as strong), but I guess weâ€™ll have to wait for the full picture (on this one as on so many other things) until the Pharao has moved on to another life.
In any case, the proceeds from the sale will be paid out to shareholders as special dividend â€“ i.e. mostly to the Sawiris themselves.
Iâ€™m wondering what the brothers are up to with so much cash.