According to attorney Iglal El-Wakel, the Egyptian Supreme Court rendered an opinion in favor of the American owned National Cotton Company (NCC) against the Egyptian government. Accordingly, NCC is entitled to an award of LE100m (about $30m) as compensation for damages suffered as a result of investing in Egypt.

NCC is an affiliate of Champion Holding Company of Greenwich, CT, owned by Mahmoud Wahba, an American citizen of Egyptian descent. The Egyptian court awarded compensation to NCC because government agencies prevented NCC from exporting about 500,000 kantars of Egyptian long staple cotton owned by NCC at LE700 per kantar.

This government prohibition forced NCC to sell its entire inventory to government owned spinning mills at LE325 per Kantar instead of exporting it at LE700 per Kantar. El-Wakel said: ''The damages were over LE300m, but the court was limited by a maximum amount. We are considering additional legal remedies to recoup our entire loss. The court's opinion recognised that the company was in a no win situation. NCC was prevented from exporting the cotton it owned, NCC was also prevented from storing that cotton for more than one month.

"After one month, the only choice for NCC was to sell the entire cotton inventory to government-owned spinning mills at a huge loss. There are no privately-owned spinning mills in Egypt. This action amounted to expropriation by the government mills of NCC cotton violating Egyptian laws and the foreign investment agreements between Egypt and the USA."

Mr. Wahba stated that, "This is good news for us and for Egypt itself. It vindicates us and at the same time assures all foreign investors in Egypt of the safety of their investments. Egypt is in a state of transition to a market economy from a socialist economy and is in need of foreign investment. I encouraged that for a long time and still do. The problem is not with the leadership of Egypt. The problem arises from the managers of government-owned enterprises and institutions who benefit from the socialist tradition and will not easily surrender their monopoly power even if they defy the country's leadership."

Mahmoud Wahba is a former professor of management and former consultant to the United Nations and several Middle Eastern governments (including President Anwar El-Sadat). He is a founder and the first chairman of the Egyptian American Business Association, a New York-based group of influential investors in Egypt. Mr Wahba has founded several companies in the US. Recently he founded Alphastar International, which provides Direct-To-Home satellite TV and SkyCrossing, which offers two-way satellite Internet broadband to residential users globally.