Egyptian billionaire Samih Sawiris is set to acquire Austrian businessman Dietmar Gunz’s shares in the German FTI Group, the third largest tour operator in Europe, thereby becoming the group’s sole owner according to German newspaper Die Welt on Monday.
Sawiris previously acquired 30 percent of the group’s shares in 2014.
Managed solely by Gunz, the group owns 33 hotels containing more than 7,200 tourist rooms, and claims to control 101 million square meters worldwide.
The group sounded the alarm like many other industries due to travel restrictions forcing it to return 65,000 tourists and halt flights because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The FTI Group received a loan from Germany and Bavaria State’s federal government to secure its 12-month-financial obligations as the outbreak spreads across Germany.
“The Egyptian billionaire [Samih Sawiris], 63, is a leading figure in Germany’s tourist market, and owns tourist activities in seven countries, owned by Orascom Development Holding AG, headquartered in Switzerland,” Die Welt reported.
Sawiris’s companies have constructed luxurious hotels in Switzerland, and hotels, tourist resorts and anchorages in Egypt, Montenegro and Oman.
“Sawiris has made significant contributions to reviving the tourism industry around the globe, and the billionaire’s plans to place Andermatt village in the Swiss Alps on the global tourism map and ‘reinvent’ the resort was welcomed by Switzerland”, the UK newspaper Telegraph writes.
In 2019, Samih Sawiris acquired the German subsidiary of the global tour operator and travel company Thomas Cook through his Raiffeisen Touristik (RT) Group after Thomas Cook, one of the world’s oldest travel and tour companies, announced its collapse in September 2019.
Samih, who was ranked 26 in “Africa’s 50 richest list” released by Forbes in 2015, is head of Orascom Development based in Egypt, which owns hotels in the UAE, Switzerland, and Oman, with plans to expand to Montenegro and Morocco.
Samih also owns shares of about 10 percent in OCI N.V., a producer and distributor of nitrogen products and methanol headquartered in the Netherlands. OCI N.V. began as a construction company founded in the 1950s by Samih’s father, Onsi Sawiris, according to the company’s website.