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Wed 8 Jun 2011 08:27 PM

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Dubai's Nakheel confirms departure of CEO

Chris O'Donnell 'decided to leave' after five years; to be replaced by CFO until further notice

Dubai's Nakheel confirms departure of CEO
The Palm Jumeirah (Getty Images)
Dubai's Nakheel confirms departure of CEO
Nakheel CEO Chris ODonnell
Dubai's Nakheel confirms departure of CEO
By November 2008, Nakheel had laid off 500 — or fifteen percent — of its staff.

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.

EB 8 years ago

I wish Mr O'Donnell all the best for the future and hope that he is near retirement age and he has purchased a nice off plan retirement home which fails to get built and the developer doesn't give him his cash back, doesn't finish his home and doesn't answer any of his queries/calls with the truth.

Basel A-Shaban 8 years ago

I guess that is the only thing for the past 3 years that Nakheel has confirmed with certainty.

PL 8 years ago

like your comment EB. its a little harsh but thats the situation they have put us all in.

Red Snappa 8 years ago

Let's face it Mr. O'Donnell was more than quiet ever since the debt restructure swung into gear, I guess if you owe US$ 10.9 billion and wake up to the fact that you are unable to repay it everyday. There's no major commercial gain by staying on.
Anyway Nakheel has changed for ever, you can bet from now and well into the future they will not build anything exotic requiring remarkably expensive feats of civil engineering. If its visionary but there's no profit in it I would imagine its off the menu long term, the same for all the suspended developments too with prices continuing to fall now average 64 per cent below 2008 peak best case.

sam 8 years ago

I wonder how much is his compensation and final salary settlement...of course lets not forget his salary for the past six years in a CEO position and the houses he has in Dubai Nakheel...good luck may you spend it well ...not like to people who got fired or made redundant with no compensations ...

Lee 8 years ago

Will he be given Nakheel terms of 10% in a year then we promise to pay you the rest in 7 years?

Asif 8 years ago

Chris, I am still waiting for the swimming pool you promised over 3 years ago for my apartment in Discovery Gardens.

Critic 8 years ago

You are right. Their most exotic developments requiring adventurous feats of civil engineering never paid off... its the little ones like International City and Discovery Gardens that did. But then if Nakheel had to do their research right they would have realized this and not landed in a debt crunch.

Brett 8 years ago

One would suggest that much of the debt that Nakheel had / has was agreed to well before 2006 and that Mr O'Donnell was bought into the company as CEO not for his knowledge and experience in real estate but rather for his expertise in restructuring complicated financial deals.

A lot of people did very well, financially, of the back of Nakheel’s vision and anyone who purchased property from Nakheel did so – hopefully – with their eyes wide open to the pit falls of playing the property game – if you didn’t it’s your fault.

I’d suggest it’s time for you all to stop pointing fingers and start to take responsibility for your own decisions / actions / wins and losses.

allen conroy 8 years ago

I am curious if anyone has a solution to taking legal action against Nakheel, I signed my contract with an anticipated completion date of 31/12/2008, the contract allowed for a 1 year over run, so contractually the project should have been completed and handed over on 31/12/2009. It is now two and a half years late with no sign of any meaningful completion date. Despite numerous e mails, the Nakheel sales office staff remain hapless uninformed front line buffers preventing any contact with anyone in the company who has any 'managerial power' the JVT project office remains silent, the contractors are nothing more than a token and there are no updates coming out from Nakheel. My lawyers are of the opinion that action against Nakheel is unlikely to be successful in view of the 'special relationship they enjoy' despite being in complete violation of the contract, and having received 90% front end payment, Nakheel have never offered any apology nor any attempt to discuss any settlement.