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Egyptian billionaire Sawiris promises to keep Euronews neutral

February 27, 2015

Egyptian telecoms and media magnate Naguib Sawiris, who is set to take a majority stake in Euronews, pledged Friday not to interfere in coverage by the pan-European TV news channel.

The channel, owned by nearly two dozen European public broadcasters, is in talks with Sawiris for a capital injection of 35 million euros ($39 million) that would give him a controlling 53 percent stake.

Euronews has been “very strong as a neutral channel, nothing will change in that,” said Sawiris, whose fortune is estimated at $3.4 billion by the US business magazine Forbes.

Sawiris is the chief executive of Orascom TMT, which operates mobile telephone networks in a number of Middle Eastern and African countries plus Korea as well as underwater communications networks.

He also owns two Egyptian television channels plus a daily.

Sawiris said the development plans of the channel’s management will make Euronews, which he said is already considered as a European CNN, a much more valuable company.

“It is a challenge to bring it to that level without trespassing on the (independent) mentality, that is in my opinion extremely important because it gives credibility to the channel.”

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.