x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Aramex chief steps down after 26 years

Fadi Ghandour, the founder of Aramex, is to step down as chief executive of the Dubai-listed logistics group after 26 years at the helm.

Fadi Ghandour, Founder and CEO of Aramex International. AP Photo/Nousha Salimi
Fadi Ghandour, Founder and CEO of Aramex International. AP Photo/Nousha Salimi

Fadi Ghandour, the founder of Aramex, is to step down as chief executive of the Dubai-listed logistics group after 26 years at the helm.

"There is no better time than this 30th anniversary of Aramex, capping an astounding journey of challenges and achievements, to propose that you and I are ready for yet another leap," Mr Ghandour said yesterday.

Day-to-day operations will be handed over to Hussein Hachem, the head of the group's Middle East and Africa regions, while Mr Ghandour will become the vice chairman.

Aramex, which competes in the Middle East with Deutsche Post's DHL and United Parcel Service, was founded in 1982 in Jordan and New York by Mr Ghandour and William Kingson. It today employs more than 12,300 people in 353 locations in 60 countries.

Mr Hachem joined the company 20 years ago and was responsible for re-establishing its operations in Kuwait after the 1991 Gulf war. As the chief executive for the Middle East and Africa, he leads the largest revenue-contributing region for Aramex.

The company, listed on the Dubai Financial Market, first went public in 1997, trading on the New York Nasdaq until 2002, when it went private again until 2005. It posted a 4 per cent increase in fourth-quarter profits last year to Dh57.2 million (US$16m) compared with the same period in 2010.

Aramex shares have gained 2.2 per cent this year after dropping 13 per cent last year. They closed 1.1 per cent higher in Dubai trading last Thursday, giving the company a market value of Dh2.69 billion.

Mr Ghandour made the official announcement that he was stepping down at the company's annual conference in Dubai.

"Looking at you and the team that has been helping me make Aramex the fantastic place it is today, I know that I have fulfilled my promise and that the day-to-day running of the company, under the leadership of Hussein Hachem, is in very capable hands," he said.

Aramex is the only Middle East-based company ever to list on the NY Nasdaq. In recent years, its aggressive expansion and acquisition strategy has taken it to South East Asia, mainland China and Africa.

Last month it said it was contemplating acquiring debt to fund future expansion. It said its potential targets were in Turkey, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Thailand.

"With our acquisitions last year our cash went down, but being a company that has very little debt, our debt capacity is quite substantial," Mr Ghandour told Bloomberg News on March 26. "If we do an acquisition over a certain size we will have to tap the debt market. It will be something between $50m and $100m."

Aramexexpects to generate about 50 per cent of its revenue from the Arab world this year compared with 65 per cent last year.

dblack@thenational.ae

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