The Ethiopian Billionaire: Sheikh Mohammed Al Amoudi

mohammed-al-amoudi

Sheikh Al-Amoudi made his fortune in Saudi Arabia, but he remains intensely loyal to the country of his birth- Ethiopia.

Mohammed Al-Amoudi is literally a man of many parts; born in Ethiopia to an Ethiopian mother and a Yemeni father, Al-Amoudi grew up in Saudi Arabia, yet he is the largest individual investor in Sweden.

To date, Al-Amoudi still remains intensely loyal to his Ethiopian roots, and his multi-billion dollar investments in Ethiopia’s agricultural sector illuminate his devotion to the African country of his birth. But his fame and extraordinary fortune is not in Ethiopia, but in Saudi Arabia and Sweden.

When he was 19, Al-Amoudi migrated from Ethiopia to Saudi Arabia with his family. In Saudi Arabia, the young Al-Amoudi built a personal relationship with the Kingdom’s ruling family. As a result, in 1988 he cornered an important contract to build the Saudi government’s $30 billion nationwide underground oil storage complex. That contract cemented his fortune and instantly made him a billionaire.

Al-Amoudi eventually returned back home to Ethiopia in the mid-1980s and founded Mohammed International Development Research and Organization Companies (MIDROC), a diversified holding company which he used to gobble up gold mines from the government at a fraction of their real market value. Today, MIDROC Gold is Ethiopia’s exclusive gold exporter. One of its mines, called Legedenbi, has annually produces close to 5,000Kg of gold and silver.

Apart from mining, Al-Amoudi invested in several other sectors of the Ethiopian economy. He built the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa, which is the country’s foremost 5-star hotel. He acquired 70 percent of Ethiopia’s National Oil Corporation and founded Tossa, Ethiopia’s first industrial steel production plant, which is expected to produce at least 1.9m tonnes of steel per annum as from 2014.

Al-Amoudi’s other holdings in the country include a 69 percent stake in Addis Tyre, Ethiopia’s sole manufacturer of Tyres; Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc, which is developing 1,200,000 acres of Ethiopian land for the production of rice, sugar, wheat and other commodities.

The bulk of the Sheikh’s business success has also been built around Sweden. In 1994, Al Amoudi spent $750 million in acquiring Sweden’s largest integrated energy company, OK Petroleum, and subsequently renamed the company Preem Petroleum. He invested heavily in extending the capacity of its refineries, substantially increasing the number of its gas service stations around the country and acquiring more deep offshore assets.

In 1999, Al-Amoudi’s Swedish-registered investment company, Corral, acquired a controlling interest in two Moroccan oil refining companies- Samir and SCP. Al-Amoudi merged the two companies and further invested half a billion dollars in modernizing the plant. Today, Corral is the undisputed market leader in Morocco’s Energy sector, both in distribution and refining.

Al-Amoudi’s empire built around construction, mining and oil employs over 40,000 people in Sweden, and the man who many love to refer to as ‘The Sheikh’ has given away millions of dollars to philanthropic causes in religion, sports and education in Ethiopia, the United States and Saudi Arabia.

In July 2010, he financed the creation of the Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi Center for Breast Cancer Research at King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia. He is also one of the largest donors to the William J. Clinton foundation, and has fully funded the King Abdullah Institute for Nanotechnology at King Saud University.