Daily Israel Report

Egypt's Top Gas Mogul Flees Cairo

The top shareholder in the Egyptian gas firm that holds contracts with Israel has fled Cairo with dozens of other elite Egyptian and Arab families.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 1/30/2011, 7:23 PM / Last Update: 1/30/2011, 7:07 PM

The top shareholder in the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG) has fled Egypt, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Hussein Salem, a close confidant of President Hosni Mubarak and the controlling shareholder in EMG, which holds long-term sales contracts to supply natural gas to Israel, fled the capital over the weekend.

The company has a multi-billion dollar agreement the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC). Last month, a major agreement was also signed between EMG and Israel Corporation Ltd., Israel's largest holding company.

Salem was joined by dozens of other wealthy Egyptian and Arab business leaders who crowded aboard 19 private jets Saturday at Cairo Airport, an unnamed official told AP.

Most of the planes were headed for Dubai.

Salem owns 28 percent of EMG; he also heads a group of Egyptian investors who together with the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation own 75 percent of the firm. Israeli businessman Yosef Maiman owns 20.6 percent of the company through the Ampal-American Israel Corporation. Merhav MNF Ltd. and Israeli institutional investors own the balance, according to the Globes business news service.

Gasoline Prices Rise in Israel
In a separate but related development, gas prices in Israel are again on the rise, with vehicle fuel prices going up at midnight Monday, the second such hike this month.

Prices on average will rise 1.7 percent over their current levels. A a liter of 95 octane at the self-service pump will cost NIS 7.26. Full-service gasoline will cost an additional 12 agurot.

Officials blamed the price hike on the recent rise in the price of oil, and the weakening of the dollar against the shekel in recent months. However, Israel also ended 2010 with a much smaller deficit than expected last year, due in great part to larger revenues from rising gasoline taxes.

Israel's Cabinet also approved a national plan on Sunday to develop technologies aimed at reducing the global use of oil in transportation and to strengthen industries in the field.