x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Barwa shares decline over trouble at the top

Qatari developer Barwa Real Estate appoints an acting chief executive to replace Mohamed Asad El Emadi, after causing much controversy following a series of layoffs in the company.

Mohamed Asad al Emadi has served one of the shortest tenures as a chief executive for a publicly listed company in the region.

Appointed on March 24, Mr al Emadi left Qatar's Barwa Real Estate on Sunday after layoffs at the company.

The Qatari developer said in a statement to the Qatar Exchange it had appointed Abdulla bin Abdulaziz Turki al Sabai'i, a former board member, as the acting chief executive with immediate effect.

The statement did not confirm whether Mr al Emadi resigned or was fired.

Barwa Real Estate last week laid off nearly 12 per cent of its staff - 80 Qatari employees and 90 non-Qataris - as Mr al Emadi was seeking to restructure the group across many of its subsidiaries.

"Mr al Emadi tried to make a lot of changes in a severe way," said an employee who asked not to be identified. "Not everyone agreed with him."

A number of senior executives at Barwa handed in their resignations this week in protest at the mass sackings.

The layoffs come at a time when many would expect the company to be hiring as Qatar launches an extensive infrastructure programme in preparation for the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

Barwa has declined almost 6 per cent since trouble within the company surfaced. Shares closed down 1.3 per cent at 33.75 rials yesterday.

Barwa is 45 per cent owned by the Qatari government. The company is a complex conglomerate with more than two dozen subsidiaries including in property and banks, and has a large holding of properties overseas in places such as Egypt, Russia and the UAE.

Barwa was hit hard by the financial crisis and was ordered by the government to merge with the property developer Alaqaria in 2009.

The developer did not issue a dividend when it reported earnings in February, even though it posted an 84 per cent increase in profits to 1.4 billion rials for last year.

halsayegh@thenational.ae