Business: The Pitiless Pashas

Fashionable hostesses in Cairo and Alexandria always knew better than to invite Mohammed Farghaly Pasha and Aly Yehia Pasha to the same party. Bitter personal enemies, they were also business rivals and the biggest cotton exporters in Alexandria. But last February, Farghaly and Yehia evidently struck a business truce. They began buying Ashmouni (medium-staple) cotton futures (Egypt's biggest cotton crop) on the Alexandria exchange until they had invested more than $63 million in 140 million pounds of cotton.

A fortnight ago, the cotton pit in the antiquated bourse on Alexandria's Mohammed Aly Square exploded with the news that the two pashas owned...

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