Qatar-led group takes control of Damas International

Qatari conglomerate Mannai and Egyptian investment bank EFG Hermes have gained control of leading jewellery chain Damas International after securing support from most shareholders for the consortium’s $445 million offer.

By Issac John

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Published: Fri 27 Apr 2012, 10:52 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 11:29 AM

The consortium has received acceptances representing 78.37 per cent of Damas’s share capital for their $0.45 per share offer, which in effect gives it enough support to complete the deal, according to a statement on the Nasdaq Dubai bourse on Thursday.

In March, Damas’ board agreed to the $445 million takeover deal.

Following this, five Damas board members resigned, including executive chairman Ibrahim Belselah. The new members include Alekh Grewal, Mannai’s chief executive, and Karim Moussa, a managing director in private equity at EFG Hermes.

The bidders earlier stated that Mannai would hold a 66-per cent stake in Damas and EFG Hermes 19 per cent, with the remaining 15 per cent retained by the Abdullah brothers. Under the terms of the bid, it was also proposed that Tawfique Abdullah, Tawhid Abdullah and Tamjid Abdullah, the current majority shareholders of Damas, will be required to reinvest part of their proceeds from the sale of their 52 per cent stake to retain a 15 per cent stake in the company in line with an earlier agreement with creditors.

Damas shares have nearly doubled in value this year to $0.435, surging after its major shareholders the Abdullah brothers — Tawfique Abdullah, Tawhid Abdullah and Tamjid Abdullah — in early January said they were looking to sell some of their holdings. The jewellery group, which has been troubled by scandals and losses for almost three years, had been trying to recover from a reversal of fortunes after reaching an agreement with lenders for restructuring its $817 million debt.

The scandal-marred group’s troubles showed no signs of abating ever since the Dubai Financial Services Authority, or DFSA, imposed fines on its three founders in 2010 for “unauthorised transactions,” and banned them from the Damas board and any other company in the Dubai International Financial Centre for up to 10 years.

The action against them was initiated after they were found to have withdrawn Damas funds for their own personal use without disclosing it to the board. A DFSA investigation had found out that the Damas board did not exercise appropriate governance. Qatar’s Mannai, whose operations span the oil and gas, automotive, travel and logistics sectors, will become the majority owner of Damas, and will delist the jeweller from Nasdaq Dubai.

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