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Orascom plans to hold on to Besix stake, says CEO

Osama Bishai says Orascom is looking at how firms can create "great value" together

Besix worked with Alstom on the delivery of the $1bn Dubai Tram project
Besix worked with Alstom on the delivery of the $1bn Dubai Tram project

Orascom Construction's CEO Osama Bishai has said that the company intends to keep hold of its 50% stake in the Besix contracting venture.

Last year, there were reports that its former parent company OCI NV was looking to offload the stake, but Bishai said "under OCI NV the priorities are different".

Following the demerger of its construction arm and the listing of its shares in Dubai and Cairo, Bishai said that "Besix is part of this group".

"We believe Besix has been always a strategic partner for us as a contractor. We have been in joint ventures together since 1992. We are looking at great value that we can create together."

However, he also added that it would not dismiss "any idea on the table that would create more dividends or more value for our shareholders".

Belgium-headquartered Besix has built a substantial presence in the MENA region over the years. In the last 12 months alone it has completed the Dubai Tram, Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi and the King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah.

In the nine months to 30 September 2014 Orascom Construction witnessed a 33% increase in revenues to almost $2.2bn and its project backlog at the end of the period stood at $5.6bn, although Bishai said it had attracted a further $1bn worth of work since.

Around 43% of this comes from revenues in the US, including its work for Orascom's fertiliser business building a huge new plant in Iowa. The bulk of the remainder is through projects in the Middle East, with Egypt and Saudi Arabia its two most dominant regional markets.

"I remember in 2007 Algeria had a big portion of our business. I would not be surprised if in four years things change again."


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Construction Week - Issue 725
Jan 19, 2019