Nassef Sawiris
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Visionaries - January 26, 2022

How African Billionaire Nassef Sawiris Made His Fortune

Find out how he got his start, helped build a conglomerate and acquired his most valuable asset.

Nassef Onsi Sawiris is Africa’s 5th richest person with a net worth of $6.29 billion. He was born to Onsi Sawiris, an Egyptian business magnate on the 19th of January, 1961, and is the youngest of three sons. 

Sawiris is a member of Egypt’s Coptic Christian religious minority and gained his early education from a German Protestant led school in Dokki, Cairo Metropolitan Area. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Chicago in 1982 and set out to explore the business world.

Finding Gold in the Construction Industry

Following the transfer of management authority from his father, Nassef Sawiris joined the Orascom group in 1982 and headed Orascom Construction. He became CEO following the incorporation of the conglomerate in 1998. Orascom Industries acquired 50% of Besix, a construction group in 2014, placing Sawiris on the board. 

He served on the boards of directors of the Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchanges between 2004 to 2007, as well as the Dubai International Financial Exchange DIFX from July 2008 to June 2010.

In January 2013, he became CEO OCI NV, one of the world’s largest nitrogen fertilizer producers, with plants in Texas and Iowa, when his conglomerate acquired the former parent company OCI SAE. In 2015, he was elected a board member of cement giant, Lafarge Holcim, having served on Lafarge SA’s board since 2008.

His Most Valuable Asset

In October 2015, Sawiris acquired a 6% stake in Adidas AG, this is considered his most valuable asset. He made an acquisition via his investment company in NNS Holding Sàrl Luxembourg. Sawiris took on a more active role in the sportswear company in 2016 when he was appointed supervisory director of Adidas AG, Herzogenaurach, Germany.

Sawiris become the Chairman of Aston Villa, following the purchase of a 55 per cent majority share by NSWE 2018, a business jointly owned and managed by Sawiris’ organisation NNS and American billionaire Wes Edens. After Aston Villa’s promotion to the Premier League in August 2019, NSWE purchased former  ChaimanTony Xia’s remaining shares, gaining complete control of the club.

In October 2020, Nassef Sawiris founded Avanti Acquisition Corp, a special-purpose acquisition company. In December 2020, he bought a 5% share in Madison Square Garden Sports, the owner of the NBA Knicks and NHL Rangers franchises, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

READ ALSO: How Africa’s Youngest Billionaire Mohammed Dewji made His Fortune

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