Egyptian billionaire and former Mubarak minister Mohamed Mansour knighted by British prime minister

Egyptian billionaire and former Mubarak minister Mohamed Mansour knighted by British prime minister
The Egyptian-British businessman and former Mubarak regime minister is one of the Conservative Party's largest donors and will become Sir Mohamed Mansour.
4 min read
29 March, 2024
Mohamed Mansour came to London from Cairo in 2010 and is a top donor of the governing Conservative Party [GETTY]

An Egyptian born billionaire and former Mubarak government minister has been awarded a knighthood by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak,  sparking criticism and accusations of 'cronyism' from detractors.

Mohamed Mansour, who served as transport minister under military ruler Hosni Mubarak and donated £5m to Sunak’s Conservative party last year, has been awarded the honours in a surprise list announced by the prime minister on Thursday. 

The opposition Labour Party has accused Sunak of granting peerages as rewards to party donors, highlighting Mansour's significant contributions and his role as the ruling Conservative Party's senior treasurer last year.

The Egyptian-British businessman will receive a 'bachelor knighthood' awarded in a formal ceremony by King Charles which will see him become 'Sir Mohamed Mansour'. It is considered one of the nation's highest accolades and recipients range from businesspeople, politicians, to sports stars and actors.

Traditionally awarded at year's end, Sunak's Easter announcement of new honors has spurred speculation of its timing before the expected general election later this year.

Along with Mansour, four Conservative party MPs and film director Christopher Nolan and producer Emma Thomas were also honoured. 

Downing Street sources pushed back on the accusations and said that Mansour's record of charitable work and public service were the contributing factors in his recognition. He has reportedly supported The King’s Foundation and a memorial project for those who died of Covid in the UK.

Mansour, 76, is a naturalised UK citizen and is estimated to be worth $3.2 billion, according to Forbes. His £5m donation to the Conservative party last year was the largest in more than 20 years.

He told the Financial Times Rishi Sunak is "a very capable prime minister" during an interview last year.

In 2016, Mansour reportedly donated £600,000 to the Tories through his company Unatrac, while he was controversially made a senior treasurer of the party last year.

The opposition Labour Party on Thursday accused the prime minster of disrespect and had previously called for the Tories to retract the large sum considering Mansour's controversial reputation.

Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said: "This is either the arrogant act of an entitled man who's stopped caring what the public thinks, or the demob-happy self-indulgence of someone who doesn't expect to be prime minister much longer".

Mansour spent four years in the cabinet under the autocratic regime of Hosni Mubarak who was president of Egypt for 30 years, until he was ousted in nationwide protests during the Arab Spring in 2011.

Hard line military ruler Mubarak transformed Egypt into an institutionalised police state, noted for its oppressive tactics, state sponsored killings, and widespread torture and arrests during his rule.

Considered one of Africa's wealthiest businessmen, Mansour runs the family firm Mansour Group which was established in Cairo by his father Loutfy in 1952.

It has since become a sprawling conglomerate as the primary distributor of US companies such as General Motors, Caterpillars and Chevrolet in Egypt and several African countries. His brothers Yaseen and Youssef hold shares in the family group and are also billionaires.

After he quit government, Mansour came to the UK and set up private equity firm Man Capital in London in 2010 which is run by his son Loutfy.

In 2023 he bought Californian football club San Diego FC and published an autobiography titled ‘Drive to Succeed’.

Mansour's time in the UK and his association with the Tory party has been controversial. Last year it was reported by The Mirror that during the tenure of Boris Johnson’s premiership, Mansour had hosted parties where super-rich VIPs could gain access to high profile government ministers, including current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. 

He also came under scrutiny when it emerged that Mansour's Unatrac firm that previously donated to the Tories was forced to cease dealings with Russia, after it was found to have been supplying machinery to the Russian oil and gas industry after the invasion of Ukraine.