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4. The Sawiris family
\nIt has been another busy year for Egypt’s richest family. Naguib Sawiris, in particular, hit the headlines due to his efforts to create a local investment bank able to match the might of EFG-Hermes, the largest in the Middle East. Along with his firm Orascom, Sawiris bought Beltone Financial and is in the process of making a $127m bid to acquire CI Capital from Commercial International Bank. Not to be outdone, Nassef is also hard at work driving change at companies he invests in, with rumours suggesting a possible takeover of German sportswear giant Adidas (in which he already holds a 6 percent stake). As the CEO of Orascom Construction Industries (OCI), Nassef also announced a plan in February to dual-list the firm in Dubai and Cairo. Ever since Onsi, the patriarch of the Sawiris family, handed over the reins to Naguib (above), his eldest son, and two brothers Nassef and Samih, their fortunes have expanded rapidly. They expanded the Orascom conglomerate into a telecoms, construction, hotel and development business. Naguib launched Egypt’s first mobile operator, Mobinil, back in 1998.
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10. The Al Kharafi family
\nThe passing away of Jassem Al Kharafi, the Kharafi Group’s chairman, means there is a new man at the helm of one of the Gulf’s largest family concerns. Brother Fawzi Al Kharafi now runs the firm, which has an annual turnover of around $5bn and is already active in 25 countries. The group has been in the news recently over the potential sale of Americana, one of its most high-profile assets. The family is believed to be interested in selling off two thirds of the fast food giant, which has a market value of around $4bn, although the deal fell through in early 2015. The Kharafi Group has operations in 25 countries around the world, from Senegal to Botswana to Kazakhstan and the Maldives, and has more than 120,000 employees. The family business has always had strong connections with Egypt, from power stations along the Nile Delta to contracts at Marsa Alam International Airport. Run by Fawzi, Marzouk, Badr (pictured) and Faisal Al Kharafi, the company also has investments in a series of major Gulf blue-chips, including Zain.
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11. The Bukhamseen family
\nIn 1957, Jawad Ahmed Bukhamseen established Bukhamseen Holding in Kuwait and began what would become a multifaceted conglomerate. Initially involved in trade, real estate and construction, the family has spread into financial investment and banking, hospitality, travel and tourism, industrial production, media, and consultancy services in urban planning, civil engineering and major development projects in the country. It also has holdings in Kuwait International Bank, First Gulf Bank and Egyptian Gulf Bank.
\nThe company has overcome a recession in the early 1980s, the 1990-91 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, calls to go public, the 2008-09 financial crisis and the current period of low oil prices to still remain private and a significant contributor to the Kuwaiti economy, as the third largest conglomerate. It has also expanded to several new countries such as the UAE, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.
\nToday, Jawad’s four sons and daughter — Emad (above), Osama, Anwar and Raed — each occupy senior management positions within the company. CEO Emad Bukhamseen once said the company had been built on experience rather than education and the family prided itself on perseverance and honest business.
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12. The Mansour family
\nGrowth and risk have been at the heart of the Mansour Group’s ability to build a $6bn international conglomerate in two generations. Founded by Loutfy Mansour in the 1950s, the company is largely responsible for Egypt’s reputation for cotton, but it was decisions to move into some of the harshest and least obvious locations globally that have really brought exponential growth.
\nUnder the leadership of middle son Mohamed (above), Mansour Group now has operations from the smallest of islands to one of the greatest expanses on Earth. As Egypt’s second largest company by revenues, its operations span 120 countries, with 60,000 staff, and revenues are growing at 10-20 percent annually.
\nThe company is the fifth-largest distributor of Caterpillar products worldwide and the largest GM Motors dealer. It also has lucrative contracts in Egypt for McDonald’s, Chevrolet, Red Bull, UBS and Imperial Tobacco. The group also created Egypt’s largest supermarket chain, Metro, in 1998, and has in recent years built up its own private equity firm, Man Capital. Using the family’s cash dividends, the firm invests in sectors such as real estate development, hotels, banks, education, health, logistics, oil and gas, and telecommunications. Mohamed Mansour told Arabian Business last year that he would expand further into Africa, where he sees the greatest economic potential in the world right now.
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22. Issad Rebrab
\nAself-made man, Issad Rebrab started his professional life teaching accounting and commercial law, before kickstarting his industrial career in the 1970s. After stints in construction and steel sector, he went on to run Cevital, Algeria’s biggest conglomerate. The conglomerate manages not only one of the world’s largest sugar refineries, but also has interest in steel, cars, agriculture and refining. In 1998, Rebrab launched the project to create an industrial/ energy complex, Cap 2015, about 60km east of Algiers, together with a small town of 250,000 inhabitants with the ambition of generating 100,000 direct jobs and a further million indirect jobs.
\nHis involvement in Cevital comes after a challenging professional period when his operations in Algeria were attacked by terrorists in 1995. In recent years, Rebrab has begun looking outside Algeria and has been targeting distressed assets in Europe. He acquired French appliance manufacturer Groupe Brandt in 2014 and saved it from bankruptcy. Cevital has invested $200m building a Brandt plant in Algeria and Rebrab believes the country can compete on a global scale by targeting low-cost labour. “We have huge potential; we can make up for lost time very quickly,” he was quoted as saying by Forbes in early 2015.
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45. Fouad Makhzoumi
\n$1.6bn (new entry)
\nFouad Makhzoumi has been executive chairman of UAE-based pipe manufacturing and trading business Future Pipe Industries Group since 2003. He is also the executive chairman of parent company Future Group Holdings since 1982. The Lebanese-born billionaire was educated at the International College in Beirut and obtained degrees in chemical engineering from Michigan Technological University in the US. Under his leadership, the Future Pipe Industries Group has grown into one of the world’s largest producers of composite pipe systems with subsidiaries in four continents.
\nThrough Future Group Holdings, Makhzoumi also oversees a diverse portfolio of investments in sectors spanning engineering, industrial, research, real estate, security, information, multimedia and publishing. Together, these companies employ more than 5,000 people across the world. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy in 2013, and received the Socrates Oxford Annual Award for 2014 by the European Business Assembly in Vienna, among other accolades. In 1997, he founded the Makhzoumi Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that provides vocational training, healthcare and micro-credit to disadvantaged people in Lebanon.
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47. Aziz Akkhannouch
\n$1.4bn (new entry)
\nAziz Akhannouch is the majority owner of Moroccan conglomerate Akwa Group, formerly Groupe Afriquia, headquartered in Casablanca. Through its public-listed subsidiaries Afriquia Gas and Maghreb Oxygene it has interests in oil, gas and chemicals, and has other businesses spanning real estate, telecoms, media and hotels — the latter through Accor Group, which owns Ibis and Ibis Budget. Of the petrochemicals subsidiaries, Afriquia SMDC is Morocco’s main filling station operator with more than 400 AfriquiaGaz stations. Afrilub manufactures motor oil while Petrolog and Petrosud import and sell petroleum.
\nAkwa Group was founded by Akhannouch’s father. He took on a business partner, Ahmed Wakrim, whose son now oversees the day-to-day management of the group while Akhannouch serves as Morocco’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Akhannouch’s wife, Salwa Idrissi, is the granddaughter of Haj Ahmed Belfiqih, a Moroccan businessman who made his fortune in the Moroccan tea trade in the 1960s. She runs her own company, Aksal Group, a mall developer and owner of the Moroccan franchises for Gap, Zara, and Galeries Lafayette, among other fashion brands.
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50. Mohammed Ibrahim
\nTelecoms entrepreneur and philanthropist Mo Ibrahim founded Celtel, which operated in several sub-Saharan African countries until its sale to Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC), now Kuwait’s Zain Group, in 2005 for $3.4bn. Although Ibrahim remained on the board of Celtel, he set up the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which monitors the quality of governance in Africa, and the Mo Ibrahim Index, designed to evaluate nations’ performance. He is a member of the Africa Regional Advisory Board of the London Business School.
\nIbrahim was born in North Sudan and started out working at the country’s postal service. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alexandria but moved to the UK to get a master’s degree from the University of Bradford and a PhD in mobile communications from the University of Birmingham. While working as an academic at the University of Greenwich, he was asked to join BT as a technical director and engineer advising on the launch of the company’s first mobile service. In 1989 he formed his own company, MSI, with $50,000 in savings, and sold it a few years later for about $1bn. He lives in Monaco.