COVID-19 is not the first crisis Samih Sawiris has faced as
chairman of Orascom Development Holding.
The Switzerland-based company has been developing hotels, homes
and leisure facilities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for more than 30
years. It now has 33 hotels with more than 7,000 rooms. In April, Orascom became
the sole owner of FTI Group, the third largest tour operator in Europe.
Speaking at Phocuswright Europe 2020 in September, Sawiris
says past challenges have taught him to always prepare for a downturn, and that
has served the company well during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“The first time I got into a crisis I practically lost the
company, and that was a good lesson because I had to bail the company out,” he
“I swore never again to get caught in such a situation.”
Sawiris explains how his company now includes a projection
for “a disaster year” in its business plan and then ensures it has enough money
to get through that down time.
“We entered this crisis with $180 million Swiss francs of
accessible cash to support the operations,” he says.
“Today we still have those $180 million, so in a way I think
the preparation for a crisis is really something we excel in.”
Hear more from Sawiris’ interview with Phocuswright research
analyst and Europe content specialist Dirk Rogl.
Executive Interview: Orascom Development Holding - Samih Sawiris - Phocuswright Europe Online 2020