Egypt's government is making plans to withdraw 23 million square metres of land on the gulf of Suez after business tycoon owners failed to develop their plots, the governor of Suez, Major Abdel Moneim Hashim, has announced.
"We have prepared legal memorandums about the legal position of the lands on the Gulf of Suez which are still undeveloped [by buyers] and have handed them to the prime minister," the Al-Shorouk daily newspaper quoted Hashim as saying.
The affected land, located to the north and west of the gulf, was bought from the state by four famed Egyptian businessmen at reduced prices, ostentiably to encourage investment and development. A Chinese investment firm later acquired part of one buyer's land via a resale and also stands to lose its investment.
The Egyptian owners named by Hashim are major players in the country's business community:
Mohamed Farid Khamis, the head of the Egyptian Investors Federation and chairman of Oriental Weavers, the largest rug and carpet manufacturer in the world
Naguib Sawiris, owner of Mobinil
Mohamed Abou El-Einein, head of ceramics-producers the Cleopatra Group
Ahmed Ezz, steel magnate and former chief whip of the dissolved National Democratic Party, currently on remand awaiting trial on corruption charges
Ezz sold some of his land to the Chinese investment firm but still owns a portion, according to Hashim.
"Ezz made a profit of over LE2.5 billion after selling 5 million meters at LE500 apiece -- land he himself bought at LE5 per metre,” the governor was quoted as saying.
In March, Mohamed Abou El-Einein said he would return 5 million square metres of land on Egypt's Mediterranean coast which he obtained at an artificially low price.