Finance chief suspended at Abu Dhabi conglomerate Al Jaber Group

Al Jaber Group, a family-owned Abu Dhabi conglomerate, has suspended its finance chief ahead of a disciplinary process as it faces another round of financial restructuring.

The company, which last summer signed a deal with creditors over about Dh15 billion of debt, said Sam Deeb, its chief financial officer, had been suspended.

“The Al Jaber Group announced that the group chief financial officer had been suspended, pending a disciplinary hearing,” the group said. A spokesman declined to elaborate.

Mr Deeb was appointed to the top financial job at the company a year ago, and led it through negotiations that culminated in the restructuring of its debt last June after four years of tough negotiations.

Just a couple of weeks ago, however, it emerged Al Jaber had approached creditors – including HSBC, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland – with a view to seeking better terms, with lower interest rates and a longer repayment period.

Banks are still considering whether to formally reopen negotiations.

“They [Al Jaber] were already beginning to find the repayment terms a little onerous,” one person familiar with the talks said. Al Jaber has interests in contracting, engineering and shipping, but found itself caught at the wrong stage of the business cycle in the aftermath of the 2009 financial crisis.

About half of the Dh15bn debt total consists of secured loans and overdrafts, while the rest of the debt was unsecured.

Al Jaber is also believed to have incurred losses on foreign exchange transactions in 2011.

Mr Deeb was hired in January 2014 from the Lebanese consumer goods firm Transmed, having previously worked for regional telecoms companies. The CFO position at Al Jaber has been the focus of much uncertainty, with four incumbents in the past two years.

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