Taqa announces new chief operating officer with Edward LaFehr to depart

​Abu Dhabi National Energy Company said that its top manager is stepping down.

The company – known as Taqa – said that Edward LaFehr, who has served as chief operating officer for just over two years, would be replaced on an interim basis by Saeed Hamad Al Dhaheri, who was previously executive director in charge of business support.

Mr LaFehr had been Taqa’s executive in charge of its North American operations when he took the top management role after former chief executive Carl Sheldon left the company.


Mr LaFehr has had the brief of cutting costs sharply after Taqa made a series of ill-timed upstream investments in North America and elsewhere, which was exacerbated by the oil price crash that began a few months after he took over in 2014.

The company has also been trying to focus more on its pro­fitable core utility business, which includes its near monopoly of water and power supply in its home emirate Abu Dhabi.

Taqa officials did not comment on whether Mr LaFehr is leaving to take another job.

A statement released by the company said Mr LaFehr “is leaving the company to be closer to his family in the United States”.

Taqa said Mr Al Dhaheri, as acting COO, will report directly to the board, as Mr LaFehr had. The position of chief executive has been defunct since Mr Sheldon left the company.

“Mr Al Dhaheri is stepping in on an acting basis, which is part of our succession plan, which we have been developing over the past two years,” a Taqa spokesman said.

The company gave no further details about the succession plan or whether it will search outside for another top manager.

The main focus of the past two years has been a US$5 billion cost-cutting programme that has resulted in thousands of job cuts as well as a severe decline in its capital expenditure.

Last month, Taqa reported a loss of Dh608 million for the first quarter of this year, compared to a profit of Dh256m a year earlier, with the oil and gas division the cause of the decline while power and water held up.

Mr Al Dhaheri said via the statement: “I am excited to move ahead with our aim to develop a world class Mena-foc­used power and water business positioned for growth. Meanwhile we will continue to further increase efficiencies at our oil and gas businesses.”

Grant Gillon continues as Taqa’s chief financial officer and the company is expected soon to go to banks to refinance some of its large debt load, which stood at Dh64bn at the end of the first quarter.

Taqa’s largest shareholder is Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (Adwea), whose stake is 52.38 per cent. Adwea, to­ge­ther with other Abu Dhabi government entities, owns just over 75 per cent of the company, with the rest listed publicly and held by UAE shareholders.

amcauley@thenational.ae

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