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FB Roundup: Nassef Sawiris, Shari Redstone, Patrick Drahi

FB Roundup: Nassef Sawiris, Shari Redstone, Patrick Drahi
In this week’s FB Roundup, Nassef Sawiris redomiciles his family office to Abu Dhabi; Shari Redstone is reportedly in talks to sell her media empire stake; and Patrick Drahi is under pressure to sell assets at auction house Sotheby’s.
By Glen Ferris
Nassef Sawiris

Nassef Sawiris redomiciles his family office to Abu Dhabi
Following in the footsteps of entrepreneur and investor Christian Angermayer, billionaire hedge fund manager Sir Christopher Hohn, Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio, and many more, Egypt’s wealthiest person Nassef Sawiris is moving his family office to Abu Dhabi.

The son of Orascom Group founder Onsi Sawiris and the younger brother of Egyptian communications and gold billionaire Naguib Sawiris intends to redomicile his NNS Group in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), “one of the fastest growing international financial hubs in the Middle East,” according to Bloomberg.

Pending regulatory approval, NNS Group, “aims to build significant stakes in a concentrated number of companies, primarily in Europe, the Middle East and North America,” the company said.

“I am delighted to announce our long-term commitment to the UAE and ADGM, in particular,” said Sawiris, who has a net worth of $7.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, thanks to investments in sports apparel firm Adidas and English football club Aston Villa, amongst others. “The importance of the UAE to the worldwide financial ecosystem makes NNS believe the transition of its key activities to the UAE will contribute to the further development and growth of its portfolio and core activities.”

Shari Redstone

Shari Redstone reportedly in talks to sell her media empire stake
American media tycoon Shari Redstone is said to be considering the sale of her stake in National Amusements, the parent company of MTV, CBS and Paramount.

It is understood that National Amusements has held talks with David Ellison’s media and entertainment company Skydance to buy out Redstone’s stake in Paramount. 

As reported by The New York Times, the 69-year-old Redstone, “who waged a bitter battle with her one-time allies to retain control of the company, now appears to be seriously considering relinquishing it.”

According to persons close to Redstone, “She has held out for years amid broader headwinds facing the traditional media industry but is exploring her options now that a serious suitor has expressed interest. Redstone’s holdings are facing some economic pressures, including long-term debt obligations and the unreliable advertising market for media companies like Paramount.”

Paramount was bought decades ago by Shari Redstone’s father, Sumner Redstone, and has since grown into a global concern with a streaming channel, movie studio and CBS broadcast network forming part of its portfolio.

According to The New York Times, Redstone, who owns a controlling stake in National Amusements, “began holding conversations about a deal earlier this year with parties including technology firms like Amazon, Apple and Netflix, according to two people familiar with the matter.”

Patrick Drahi

Patrick Drahi under pressure to sell assets at Sotheby’s
French Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi is discussing selling a minority stake of his holdings in the famed auction house Sotheby’s in an attempt to save his European telecoms firm Altice from further losses.

Drahi has owned Sotheby’s since 2019, having bought it for $3.7 billion through his private family office. However, he is now ‘reluctantly’ considering a sale after “Drahi announced in August that Altice was looking to sell assets to cut its $60 billion debt mountain racked up during years of frenetic acquisitions in France, the US, Portugal and Israel,” according to The Financial Times.

The telecoms billionaire has reportedly asked banks, including Lazard and Morgan Stanley to explore asset sales. 

The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), which “held unfruitful talks with Drahi a year ago about buying a Sotheby’s stake via a potential capital increase”, is said to be interested in a potential purchase. 

It’s not the first time the art-collecting Qatari royal family have expressed an interest in buying an auction house. As reported by The FT, “in 2010, the then emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said he would be interested in bidding for Sotheby’s rival, Christie’s, which is owned by the Pinault family.

“Various members of Qatar’s ruling family have become some of the world’s most active art collectors — and sought-after clients for auction houses. Gas-rich Qatar boasts a collection shown across a broad range of museums, from modern art to Islamic antiquities, overseen by the emir’s sister, Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad al-Thani.”

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