Arabtec CEO quits, plans stake sale

June 19, 2014 - 12:06:26 am

DUBAI: The chief executive of major Dubai construction firm Arabtec resigned yesterday after a tumultuous six weeks during which the company’s share price plunged as much as 50 percent and a major backer of the firm cut its shareholding.

The resignation of Hasan Ismaik, who was appointed chief executive in 2012, was to take effect after a company board meeting, an Arabtec spokesman said.

He declined to comment further but a source familiar with the situation said Mohamed Al Fahim, a board member from Abu Dhabi’s state-owned International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC), would become Arabtec’s acting CEO.

Forbes magazine said this month that Ismaik, 37, had become the first Jordanian billionaire — and the third-youngest billionaire in the Middle East —because of his holdings of Arabtec shares. It estimated his net worth at $1.4bn, adding that it was not clear where he had raised the money to buy the shares.

Arabtec, which saw its revenues jump 30 percent to $2bn last year and says it has about $59bn of projects in the pipeline, is politically important because it has become a tool of the United Arab Emirates’ economic diplomacy.

Earlier this year the company won a $40bn deal to build one million homes in Egypt over coming years.

In a brief interview with Al Arabiya television yesterday, Ismaik said he was leaving Arabtec because he wanted to look after his own business. He also said he would consider selling his Arabtec stake if he received an attractive offer.

Major questions surrounding Arabtec, including its future ownership and business strategy, were expected to be discussed at yesterday’s board meeting, but it was not clear whether they would be resolved.