Tuesday 1st February 2011

Multinational companies throughout Egypt halted their business operations yesterday, many sending their expatriate workforce home until further notice.

The disruption to Egypt’s trade and production comes as Egypt’s opposition groups continued to host mass demonstrations aimed at ousting current President Hosni Mubarak. Companies opting to temporarily cease operations include Nissan, General Motos, Daimler, Akzo Nobel, Lafarge, Heineken, Shell and BP.

In the majority of cases expatriate employees have been requested to return home but local employees do remain in attendance in some corporations.

Talking to Reuters, a spokesman from Lagarge, the world’s largest cement producer, told reporters that the worsening political crisis in the country was having a profound impact on business operations:

"There is not really any economic activity in Egypt at the present time, so we have adapted our capacity to the situation," the spokesman said.

"Lafarge's production activities are temporarily suspended," he added, indicating that the operations could reopen when the situation is resolved.

The first flights evacuating expats from Egypt took off over the weekend amid escalating protests in the capital. People are being advised against traveling to Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Luxor and it is recommended that people who do not have an immediate need to be in any of these locations should leave immediately.

Meanwhile, expats who remain in Egypt are being warned to avoid contact with political gatherings and demonstrations as the unrest continues. A statement from the UK Foreign Office advises British expats to respect any instructions given to them by the local security authorities:

"There have been a number of violent demonstrations in Cairo and other locations across Egypt, including Suez, North Sinai, Rafah, the Delta region and some areas of Upper Egypt over the past week. The situation is unpredictable and may change quickly," the statement says.

"You should monitor the situation closely and stay away from demonstrations and large gatherings of people, public buildings or other sites which may become the focus of demonstrations, such as Tahrir Square in Cairo," it adds.

It is estimated that over 100 people have been killed as a result of the events of the past week and huge demonstrations continue throughout the country. Expatriates are being advised to obey the curfew that is currently in force between 1500 and 0800.

Read the full article: http://af.reuters.com/article/investingNews/idAFJOE70U09W20110131

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