Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris says he will never invest in Canada again after his company's takeover bid for MTS Allstream was rejected due to national security concerns, according to an interview with Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram.
"I am finished with Canada," Sawiris told the paper, and pledged not to invest "even a single penny" in the country following the rejection.
'I regret that we wanted to invest in Canada' - Naguib Sawiris, Chairman, Accelero Capital
Accelero Capital Holdings, an investment firm co-founded and controlled by Sawiris, announced its intention to buy Allstream, Manitoba Telecom Services' wireless division for $520 million. Last Monday, the takeover was rejected by the Canadian government due to national security concerns.
No further explanation was given for the rejection.
In a brief written statement, Industry Minister James Moore said "MTS Allstream operates a national fibre optic network that provides critical telecommunications services to businesses and governments, including the Government of Canada," but did not elaborate further.
"They don't have anything specific to say," Sawiris told Al-Ahram, saying the decision to reject Accelero's bid is "totally a farce because it's just unimaginable."
"It's totally unacceptable to have foreign investors waste their time and money, hold their capital captive, and then come up with a comment like that," Sawiris added.
The rejection came after a push by Ottawa to attract foreign investment into Canada's wireless sector.
2nd rejection for Sawiris
It's the second time Sawiris, Egypt's second-richest man according to Forbes, has attempted to invest in Canada's wireless sector.
When he was head of Egyptian telecom giant Orascom, Sawiris was one of the primary financial backers of Globalive's Wind Mobile when it launched in 2009.
At the time, there were stricter limits in foreign ownership in Canada's telecom sector, and Globalive was dragged into a legal battle over its financing.
In an interview with CBC News in 2011, he said he regretted getting involved in Canada's telecom industry in the first place, calling it unfriendly to foreign investment.
After the second rejection, Sawiris is turning his attention back to Egypt, where he told Al-Ahram he will begin investing despite recent political upheaval.
"I regret that we wanted to invest in Canada."