Sawiris aims to revive indebted Wind Hellas

Kuwait – Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris said yesterday the global financial crisis is creating investment opportunities in the Persian Gulf emirate of Dubai but not in Greece due to the Greek government’s unfriendly stance toward international investors. Both the Dubai and Athens equity markets have taken a beating recently, as investor fears over their respective governments’ failing to meet borrowing requirements drive share prices lower, making company valuations cheaper. Sawiris, who owns Greek telecom company Wind Hellas through his investment vehicle Weather Investments, said he believes investors could «take advantage» of the crisis in Dubai, adding, however, that this is not the case in Greece where authorities must learn to treat investors «fairly and honestly.» «Dubai is extremely unbureaucratic, investor-friendly and modernized. These are the requirements you must have,» he told Kathimerini English Edition on the sidelines of an economic conference. «If we find a Greek government like that, we will consider expanding in our investments.» Questioned on his strategic plans for Greece, Sawiris said he is concentrating on «reviving Wind Hellas.» The tycoon, who has invested in countries including Italy and Nigeria, has reportedly provided the Greek telecom company with a 125-million-euro injection as part of a 3.2-billion-euro debt-restructuring plan. He said that an uneven playing field in the Greek telecom market supports OTE, the country’s largest player, and is threatening jobs in the sector. «In the past, we believed that the regulatory environment in Greece was completely biased toward OTE. We believe that this has not changed,» he added. Based on market share, Wind is Greece’s third-largest mobile phone operator, competing against OTE subsidiary Cosmote and Vodafone.

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