Breakfast Wrap: Tunisian Mafia, Egypt’s $15 billion Energy Bill

“The revelations about these assets show the involvment of a Mafia with branches abroad,” said Tunisia’s minister for state property, Selim Ben Hmidane yesterday of the wealth of Tunisia’s deposed regime.

Tunisia’s ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali apparently possessed more than $13 billion in assets, a government commission formed to look into his wealth has found,  Al Ahram quoted a Tunisian news agency as saying.

The head of the confiscation committee said they had identified 398 holding companies, as well as several other assets, belonging to the ex-president and his relatives.

This figure appears to be fairly representative of Ben Ali’s corporate corrupt empire, but speculation over the wealth of toppled regimes is widespread and often nonsensical.

Some had claimed former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his family had at least $70 billion in wealth.

THAT WOULD MAKE MUBARAK THE RICHEST MAN IN THE WORLD, according to this Forbes list, which puts Mubarak ahead of Forbes’ number 1 richest man in the world, Carlos Slim Helu, a Mexican billionaire worth $69 billion.

[caption id="attachment_670" align="aligncenter" width="580"] The World’s Billionaires, top 5 by Forbes. No Egyptians feature in the top 100[/caption]

There is no Egyptian in Forbes top 100, unless you include Mubarak… who is apparently number 1…

Costly Energy Addiction

In a rare revelatory moment for Egypt’s president Mohammed Morsi, he said that the nation’s bill for importing fuel tops $15 billion.  That is a huge number, particularly considering it produces about 600,000 barrels a day, with a retail value of about $18 billion annually.

Egypt has been running out of cash fast to fund its desperately needed energy imports.

The results of an oil and gas bid round launched in September 2011 by state-run Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) will be announced soon, almost seven months since the closing date, an EGPC official told Reuters yesterday.

There had been rumours that the amount offered in these bid rounds was too high for EGPC to pay, causing the delay.  But, an EGPC official (probably lying through his teeth) said:

The delay has been mostly due to the time it takes to evaluate the bids and also because we have to have all the necessary approvals from various bodies of government for newcomers

Egypt’s tourist numbers are in and they’re not so bad! 

The number of tourists coming to Egypt in the first half of 2012 climbed 26.8% to 5.2 million, versus a year earlier, according to the government statistics agency, CAPMAS.

It’s still not quite the 6.9 million visitors that came to Egypt in the first half of 2010, the nation’s golden year for tourism.

Qatar Islamic Bank plans to issue a dollar-denominated Islamic bond, or sukuk, under its recently approved $1.5 billion sukuk programme.  This type of bond sale which targets cash-rich, emerging-market investors.

About half of the Middle East’s $24.3 billion of bonds sold in the first six months of 2012 were sukuks, according to the data provider Dealogic.

The Wall Street Journal has a good explainer on why sukuk’s are popular and how they work.

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