Egypt Tries Undoing Mubarak Deals

Activists are trying to undo many of the old regime’s asset sales
A local developer may lose its 120,000-home Madinaty project outside Cairo Photograph by Shawn Baldwin/Bloomberg

As Egypt struggles to revive an economy battered by last year’s uprising against Hosni Mubarak, private lawsuits are attempting to overturn the sale of state assets during his rule. The court actions present the new government with a dilemma: It’s trying to attract foreign investment while addressing the demands of a population that stages protests and strikes almost weekly. Many protesters demand the return of former state companies to the government, or a renegotiation of the prices of old deals. “I pity them,” says Hisham Fahmy, chief executive of the American Chamber of Commerce in Cairo, of Egypt’s new rulers. “They’re coming on the shoulders of a popular movement and, being the government, they owe it to the public to make sure there is social justice, and that’s hard to balance.” Potential investors are clearly concerned about the safety of investments. Foreign direct investment for the latest fiscal year was down 84 percent from its 2007 peak.

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