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#253 Nassef Sawiris $6.33B

Random fact: Holds degree in economics from the University of Chicago.


Egypt's richest person owns 29 percent of OCI, a Geleen, Netherlands-based construction contractor and 27 percent of Dubai-based Orascom Construction, an infrastructure and engineering group. His other assets include stakes in the sportswear company Adidas and LafargeHolcim, the world's biggest cement maker.

As of July 23, 2017:
Last change -$70.7M (-1.1%)
YTD change +$1.18B (+23.0%)
Industry Industrial
Biggest asset ADS GY Equity
Citizenship Egypt
Age 56
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Nassef Sawiris's net worth of $6.33B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

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Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

Sawiris's most valuable asset is a stake in Adidas, the shoe and sports equipment manufactuer. He owns 5.7 percent of the Herzogenaurach, Germany-based company's voting rights through Cayman Islands-based NNS Holding, according to a Dec. 22, 2016 German regulatory filing.

He also owns 29 percent of publicly traded fertilizer group OCI, according to the company's 2015 annual report. Sawiris owns the shares directly and through the Netherlands-based holding company, Capricorn Capital BV. The billionaire's father, Onsi Sawiris, founded OCI's predecessor, Orascom Construction, in 1950, and owns 17 percent of the group. His older brother, Samih, owns about 7.4 percent of the company's shares.

The billionaire also owns a 4.8 percent stake in Jona, Switzerland-based building-materials company LafargeHolcim, which was created in a merger between Lafarge and Holcim in July 2015. He obtained his original stake in Lafarge in January 2008, after selling the cement division of Orascom Construction to the company for $12.8 billion. He holds the shares through Cayman Islands-based NNS Holding, according to the company's website and filings with the Swiss stock exchange.

He also owns 27 percent of Orascom Construction, according to a 2015 company statement. The business was spun off from OCI in March 2015. Shareholders received one share of Orascom Construction for every two OCI shares held.

The value of his cash holdings and other investable assets is based on an analysis of dividends, taxes, market performance and share transactions.


Birthdate: 1/19/1961
Family: Married, 4 children
Education: 1982, University of Chicago, Economics, Bachelor's Degree

Nassef Onsi Sawiris was born Jan. 19, 1961, in Cairo, Egypt, the youngest of three sons born to Yousiriyya and Onsi Sawiris. His father, the son of a lawyer, had founded a construction company in 1950. By the time Nassef was eight years old, it had become one of Egypt's largest contractors, building roads and waterways along Egypt's upper Nile region. The business was nationalized in 1961 by President Gamal Abdel Nasser, and renamed El Nasr Civil Works Company. Frustated at being reduced to an employee at his own company, Onsi moved to Libya, where he built a new general contracting company.

After the signing of the Camp David accords, relations between Libya and Egypt deteriorated and Sawiris moved back to Egypt, leaving the family business behind for the second time. Onsi founded a new company called Orascom Construction Industries. Through partnerships with international companies working on local projects, Orascom had grown to be one of the largest private builders in Egypt by the mid-1990s.

Nassef, who had attended high school at the German International School of Cairo, went to college in the U.S. and, in 1982, graduated with a degree in economics from University of Chicago. He rejoined his father and two older brothers at OCI, which by that time had diversified into communications and real estate. By the end of the decade, the company had split into three separate entities: Orascom Telecom, helmed by the oldest brother Naguib; Orascom Hotels and Development, headed by the middle brother Samih; and Orascom Construction, now led by Nassef. As CEO, he focused on expanding the business abroad and into a new sector -- cement and building materials -- a division he sold to Lafarge in 2008 for $12.8 billion.

That same year, he entered the fertilizer business with the purchase of Egyptian Fertilizer Company. Through the expansion of its own operations and acquisitions, Orascom's fertilizer operation grew to become the world's third-largest nitrogen-based fertilizer producer.

In January 2013, a consortium of investors led by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, invested $1 billion in Orascom Construction Industries to help the Sawiris family transfer the company's listing from the the Cairo Stock Exchange to NYSE Euronext Amsterdam. Sawiris said at the time of the announcement that the move was intended to facilitate future sector consolidation, mitigate Egypt country risk and help lower borrowing costs. The company, renamed OCI, started trading in Amsterdam on Jan. 25, 2013. Two years later, OCI spun off its construction business into a separate company, dual-listed on the Dubai and Cairo stock exchanges.

A Coptic Christian, Sawiris is married with four children.

  • 1976 Founds new contracting company, Orascom Construction Industries.
  • 1998 Becomes CEO of Orascom Construction Industries.
  • 1999 OCI lists shares on Egypt's stock exchange, raising $109 million.
  • 2007 Takes a 10 percent stake in building materials firm Texas Industries.
  • 2008 Sells OCI's cement assets to Lafarge for $12.8 billion.
  • 2008 OCI expands into fertilizer; buys Egyptian Fertilizer Company.
  • 2013 Transfers OCI shares from Cairo to Amsterdam.
  • 2014 OCI wins tax case in Egypt.