Dubai's Nakheel confirms departure of CEO

Chris O'Donnell 'decided to leave' after five years; to be replaced by CFO until further notice
The Palm Jumeirah (Getty Images)
By Andy Sambidge
Wed 08 Jun 2011 08:27 PM

Nakheel said on Wednesday that its CEO Chris O'Donnell had left the company "after completing his contract terms".

Chief finance officer Sanjay Manchanda will replace O’Donnell as an acting CEO until further notice, the struggling Dubai-based master developer said in a statement.

O'Donnell, an Australian who joined the developer in 2006, said he had decided to leave Nakheel following five years spent with the company, the statement added.

"The Board of Directors of Nakheel wish Mr O’Donnell all the best in his new endeavours," Nakheel said, without saying when O'Donnell finished his job at the company.

O'Donnell has overseen a traumatic time in Nakheel's history during which the developer behind Dubai’s palm-shaped island was the biggest casualty of the emirate’s real estate crash, halting work on a number of offplan projects.

Nakheel’s inability to meet its obligations left it with billions of dirhams in unpaid bills to contractors and suppliers and helped trigger Dubai’s debt crisis in 2009.

Last month Nakheel said it aims to achieve 95 percent agreement among its trade creditors and issue the Islamic bonds required to finance its debt restructuring by the end of the second quarter.

More than 90 percent of trade creditors have agreed to a plan that would see Nakheel pay off its bills through a 40 percent cash payoff with the remaining 60 percent issued in the form of sukuk shares with an annual return of eight percent.

In March, the developer said it had made cash payments of $1.25bn to its trade creditors under its plan to restructure $10.8bn in debt. Nakheel confirmed in April it had stopped selling real estate units in Dubai.

O'Donnell joined Nakheel from the Investa Property Group, where he was managing director for six years.

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