Amid a rare dusting of snow, a few dozen money managers and investors filed into London's May Fair Hotel on Jan. 14 for a conference on investment opportunities in Egypt. For some in the audience, the sales pitch was personal. Wealthy exiles from postrevolutionary Egypt were being courted by representatives of the country's Islamic government, including Hassan Malek, a leading businessman in the Muslim Brotherhood. "Most of these investors, they own large projects in Egypt," says Malek, head of the Egyptian Business Development Association. "Their coming back mostly would be a sign of reassurance to others who might want to invest their money."
Struggling to trim a 12.5 percent jobless rate and kick-start an economy that's growing less than 2 percent, Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi covets the cash, Davos-caliber Rolodexes, and management savvy of the capitalist clique that surrounded former President Hosni Mubarak. Players such as Yassin Mansour of the Mansour Group and Hamed El Chiaty of the Travco tourism company, could give Egypt a lift just by arriving at Cairo International Airport.