Hussein Salem, an Egyptian partner of Israeli businessman Yosef Maiman in the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG), which has long term agreements to supply natural gas to Israel, has been caught in Dubai with $500 million in cash in his possession, according to agency reports this morning.
It was reported yesterday that Salem and his family had fled Egypt because of the turmoil in the country. Arab media report that Salem himself went to Dubai, while his family left for an unknown destination. Salem is considered close to the Egyptian regime, particularly to President Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal Mubarak, who has reportedly left Egypt for London.
Salem owns 28% of EMG, which has supplied gas to Israel since June 2008.
Salem is one of the most mysterious business people in Egypt, and as far as is known he has never been interviewed in the Western press. In Egypt I he is known as the owner of a hotel chain, and as the confidant of Mubarak and his family. His business tie with Maiman was formed when they were partners in the construction of a refinery in Alexandria at the end of the 1970s.
Maiman sold his holding in the refinery at the beginning of the decade because of internal; criticism in Egypt, and started to focus on the export of natural gas to Israel. When EMG was founded in 2000, Salem owned 65%, Maiman owned 25%, and the Egyptian government owned the rest. Yesterday morning, in an official press release, Maiman said that exports of gas to Israel by EMG would continue as usual.
In July 2007, Salem sold 12% of EMG to Sam Zell and David Fisher of the US at a valuation of $2.2 billion, and four months later sold 25% to the Thai national oil company PTT at a valuation of $2 billion. The rest of the shares in the company are now owned by Maiman (20.6%), Israeli institutions (4.3%), and the government of Egypt through government gas company EGAS (10%).
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 31, 2011
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