Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris isn’t someone you would call your typical gold bug. The chairman of Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding S.A.E. predicted in an interview this week that that gold will surge up to $1,800 an ounce as the “overvalued” stock market hits the skids.
Putting his money where his mouth is, Sawiris, Egypt’s second-richest man, is investing half his $5.7 billion net worth into gold.
“In the end you have China and they will not stop consuming,” Sawiris said. “And people also tend to go to gold during crises and we are full of crises right now. Look at the Middle East and the rest of the world and Mr. Trump doesn’t help.”
President Donald Trump is aiding Sawiris in one way, though: If a North Korean peace deal can be reached, the Egyptian’s investments there may finally pay off. After 10 years of waiting to repatriate all his profits easily and control his mobile-phone company, Egypt’s second-richest man says an accord would let him reap some of his returns.
“I am taking all the hits, I am being paid in a currency that doesn’t get exchanged very easily, I have put a lot of money and built a hotel and did a lot of good stuff there,” said Sawiris, who founded North Korea’s first telecom operator, Koryolink. The North Korean unit’s costs and revenues aren’t currently recognized on the financial statements of Sawiris’ Orascom Telecom Media & Technology Holding SAE.
Sawiris over the years has been pressured by “every single Western government in the world” for his presence in the country hit by international sanctions for its nuclear threats, he said, but he considered himself a “goodwill investor.” His advice for governments and to Trump ahead of his expected meeting with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un: Don’t bully him, and promise prosperity in exchange for concessions on nuclear.
A successful meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-In last week cleared the way for Trump to meet with the North Korean leader to discuss his nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs. The date and the place haven’t been set. An agreement — elusive for almost seven decades — would open the door for Sawiris to restore his investments there and possibly make new ones.
“I know these North Korean people. They are very proud, they will not yield under threat and bullying. You just smile and talk and sit down and they will come through,” he said.
Watch the full interview: