Former Arabtec chief Hasan Ismaik plans to take Abu Dhabi investment group Marya public

The Marya Group, which is chaired by the former chief executive of construction firm Arabtec, plans to seek a listing on a “major” stock market after improving the value of its investment portfolio to more than US$1 billion, the Abu Dhabi investment company said.

The company makes equity investments into private and public companies in a variety of sectors, including education, health care, property and food and beverage processing firms, in the Middle East, European and American markets.

“Marya’s strategy is based on investing in a number of sectors that have been studied and carefully selected,” said Hasan Ismaik, the group’s chairman. “Its investment philosophy, underpinned by a strong culture of risk management, is one of making prudent investments in sectors that are both resilient and poised to benefit from the global growth in population, to achieve the highest possible sustainable results while maintaining a studied rate of risk.”


The company is investigating “strategic acquisitions and partnerships”, it said.

Investments listed by the company as its assets are mainly property-based and include plots at Saadiyat Beach Resorts and a residential community on Saadiyat Island; a proposed 60-storey tower overlooking Sheikh Zayed Road; and 207 serviced apartments in the Shams 1 tower in Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai.

The group also holds Mr Ismaik’s stake in Al Manara International jewellery chain, which is co-owned with Ahmed Sid­diqi and Sons, while Mr Ismaik’s investments in design consultancy Studio International and German football club 1860 Munich are listed on Marya Group’s website as “sister companies”.

Mr Ismaik has recruited an experienced team, appointing Samy Ben Jaafar, a former director of the UN’s Green Climate Fund and head of strategy at Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, as the group’s chief executive. Moataz Kandil, the former chief executive of HC Securities and Investment in Dubai, is the group’s chief investment officer, and former Tecom Group chief financial officer Todd Betts is the group’s CFO.

Mr Ismaik, who is from Jordan, joined Arabtec’s board in August 2012 and six months later he replaced the com­pany’s founder, Riad Kamal, as its chief executive. He then embarked on a transformation plan, creating a holding company and replacing most of its senior management. His plan for the company involved targeting higher margin work in energy and heavy infrastructure through a joint venture with Samsung Engineering, targeting potential mergers, creating an affordable housing business capable of building 55 villas per day and strengthening its mech­anical, electrical and plumbing and facilities management businesses.

The company doubled the size of its share base in an attempt to fund this strategy, raising Dh2.4 billion in July 2013, and in March 2014 Mr Ismaik signed an agreement with Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah El Sisi worth 280bn Egyptian pounds (Dh115.7bn) to build one million new homes in the country. However, four months later Mr Ismaik abruptly resigned from Arabtec.

The fallout since his departure has been dramatic. Few of his ambitious plans for the firm were ever implemented, many of his key hires were replaced and the Egyptian deal has yet to get off the ground.

Moreover, after posting six loss-making quarters in a row from the end of 2014 to March this year, the company gained approval in June to use Dh1bn of its reserves to settle accumulated losses and agreed last month on a new Dh400m loan from its biggest shareholder, the Abu Dhabi-government owned Aabar Investments.

Speaking to The National this week, Arabtec Construction’s chief executive, Raja Hani Ghanma, said the master plans for the Egyptian project had been completed and that Arabtec has operations in the country ready to deliver the work, but that it needed certain commitments from the Egyptian government to move the project forward.

mfahy@thenational.ae

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