By Fasika Tadesse
Mohammed Al Amoudi’s (Sheikh) vast assets in Ethiopia amount to only his second largest after those in Sweden, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The index shows that his assets in Ethiopia are valued at 1.2 billion dollars, which is close to five times higher than the assets he owns in Saudi Arabia, the country of his citizenship. The index put him on the 164th ranking worldwide with a net worth of 8.32 billion dollars. The report also shows that Al Amoudi holds 425 million dollars in cash.
His biggest assets are registered in Sweden, where he owns the entirely 5.1 billion dollars of shares in Preem, the biggest oil company in Sweden, with a refining capacity of more than 18 million cubic meters of crude oil every year. Preem, which has over 1,400 employees, has a service network of 570 fuel stations for private and commercial vehicles. It had a turnover of 7.6 billion dollars in 2017.
In Sweden, he also owns companies in oil exploration, home building, commercial real estate and various industrial businesses valued at 835 million dollars, according to the Index, a daily ranking of the world’s richest people that provides the net worth analysis on the world’s 500 richest people.
His Ethiopian assets include ownership of MIDROC Ethiopia, which operates 74 group and affiliate companies engaged in multifaceted business sectors. MIDROC Ethiopia, established in the 1990s, has two major wings – MIDROC Ethiopia Investment Group and MIDROC Ethiopia Technology Group, where 26 separate companies operate.
Al Amoudi is in every sector and industry, with investments in the construction, real estate, mining, hospitality, aviation, financial sector, oil business and agriculture among them. His companies also own shares in Dashen Bank and Nyala Insurance. The companies are also the second largest employers next to the government and hire thousands of employees under its group.
Born in 1946 and a father of eight, Al Amoudi is one of the dozens of high-profile Saudis detained at the Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel suspected of corruption in November 2017. The sweeping anti-corruption crackdown was spearheaded by Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince, who himself has recently been implicated in the murder of the Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi.
In May of this year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) expressed his optimism over the release of Al Amoudi.
“We have reached a 100pc agreement with the Crown Prince over the release of Al Amoudi,” said Abiy last May, during his return from Saudi Arabia. “During our talks with the Crown Prince that was extended even after midnight, he had agreed to hand Al Amoudi to us in the morning, but changed his mind the next day due to push backs from his family.”
“He asked us to give him more time. I’m sure Al Amoudi will be returning to his home in a short period,” Abiy said.
In August, during his first meeting with members of the media, Abiy said that Saudi Arabian officials had informed him of the postponement of the release of the business tycoon for some complicated proceedings.
“As he has Saudi Arabian citizenship,” Abiy told journalists, “we can’t push the government of Saudi Arabia any harder for the release of Al Amoudi.”
Now in his 14th month of detention, Al Amoudi has not appeared in Court. Last week Bloomberg reported that Al Amoudi will be facing trial in a Saudi court on a date yet to be confirmed.
Since his arrest, Al Amoudi’s net worth has climbed by six percent, according to the Index.
However, his businesses in Ethiopia have faced challenges recently. Three months ago the Addis Abeba City Administration repossessed 55ha of land from the company that were designated for 11 different projects, including the expansion of Sheraton Addis Hotel, Huda Real Estate and Hikma Cure Pharmaceuticals.
The city administration cited as reasons for repossession the fact that the land has sat idle with no development for years.
In May the Ministry of Mines, Petroleum & Natural Gas suspended the 10-year concession of Midroc Gold’s at Lege Dembi, Guji Zone in the Oromia Regional State.
The suspension came into effect following the heated controversy and protests from locals of the area alleging the company caused environmental pollution that led to death and physical injuries to local communities. MIDROC Gold officials vehemently deny this allegation.