In the driving seat

Meet the movers and shakers at the helm of some of Bahrain's best and brightest firms.
In the driving seat
By Andrew White
Thu 23 Sep 2010 10:40 AM

In the past decade, Bahrain has seen its economy soar by 70 percent, its exports have risen by 116 percent and nationals have seen a 54 percent hike in their pay packets. Meet the movers and shakers at the helm of some of Bahrain's best and brightest firms.

Peter Kaliaropoulos
CEO
Bahrain Telecommunications Co (Batelco)

The CEO of Bahrain Telecommunications Co - or Batelco - has had a busy year. The introduction of a third telecom operator to Bahrain in March saw Batelco's profits tumble 20 percent in the second quarter. Still, despite a tough environment the operator still managed to increase its client base to 7.3 million and post first half group revenues of $453m.

With competition increasing in Batelco's domestic market, Kaliaropoulos is looking overseas to new markets such as South East Asia and Africa for growth. The telecoms giant has earmarked up to $2bn for acquisitions, in a bid to grow its hold on foreign markets.

Talal Al Zain
CEO
Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company

As CEO of Mumtalakat, Talal Al Zain controls the purse strings of the country's $9bn sovereign wealth fund and decides how best to invest the country's oil revenues.

The fund's portfolio of investments spans a range of sectors, including national carrier Gulf Air, the Bahrain International Circuit, the National Bank of Bahrain and a 36.7 percent stake in telecom operator Batelco. The fund posted a ful-year loss of $487.2m loss in 2009, compared with a $184.3m loss in the year-earlier period. Al Zain, however, is confident 2010 will see it back in the black.

Steve Harrison
International advisor to the CEO
Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB)

Over the last decade, Bahrain's Economic Development Board (EDB) has been credited with helping to increase the country's GDP by a huge 70 percent, its exports by 116 percent, employment by 39 percent and wages by around 54 percent. As international advisor to EDB's CEO, Mohammed Bin Essa Al Khalifa, Steve Harrison has played a significant part in putting the Gulf state on the map.

Adel El Labban
Group CEO
Ahli United Bank

For the first half of 2010, Ahli United Bank reported net profits of close to $136m. While this was a decrease of five percent on the same period last year, it was a solid result in difficult economic times for Group CEO Adel El Labban. Little surprise, then, that El Labban was Bahrain's highest ranking entry in the recent Arabian Business' list of the Gulf's Most Efficient CEOs. This year, AUB has continued to make its mark in foreign markets, signing deals in Egypt and Syria.

Esam Janahi
Chairman
Gulf Finance House

One of the main founding members of Gulf Finance House, Janahi successfully led the organisation as CEO until 2007, when he was elected chairman. With 21 years of financial experience, he serves on the board of several different companies and is a regular speaker at the World Economic Forum.

Under his leadership, GFH has undertaken energy projects in Qatar, Libya and Kazakhstan, a series of financial harbours in Bahrain and Tunisia and - its largest undertaking - the $10bn Mumbai Economic Development Zone. This year has seen GFH struggle to restructure its operations, however; the company ended the first half with a loss of $47.7m.
Mona Almoayyed
President, Bahrain Businesswomen's Society
Managing director, YK Almoayyed & Sons

As the head of Bahrain's businesswomen's society and managing director of the family business, Almoayyed has taken multi-tasking to a new level. Aside from her corporate responsibilities, Almoayyed also actively supports a slew of charitable organisations.

One of the causes closest to her heart is the fight to improve the rights of workers. Almoayyed is an active player in the Migrant Workers Protection Society, and has offered significant support to a shelter for abused migrant workers.

If that weren't enough, the Bahraini businesswoman also heads up her family firm, YK Almoayyed & Sons, and sits on the board of several public companies, including the Bahrain Maritime & Mercantile International.

Abdulla Ali Kanoo
Chairman
Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo Group

When founder Haji Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo took over the small family firm in 1890, he could not have imagined how successful the group would become.

Today, the YBA Kanoo Group is one of the Gulf's most prominent firms, with concerns in shipping, travel and tourism, retail, IT and oil and gas, to name just a few.

At the helm is Abdulla Ali Kanoo, one of the region's most respected business leaders; his counsel is sought on a wide range of issues by policymakers and private business leaders alike.

He remains at the front of some of the group's largest deals, and in July signed a $35.8m agreement for the financing of the Kanoo Tower in Manama.

Nemir Kirdar
Founder, Executive chairman and CEO
Investcorp Bank

With 40 years experience in the banking sector, Iraq-born Nemir Kirdar began his banking career in New York in 1969. Following two years of credit training, he covered the dynamic markets of South East Asia and Japan for Allied Bank International.

Kirdar, who joined Investcorp for its launch in 1982, has played a key role in pushing the investment firm into the black. Despite the economic storms, the bank posted a net profit of $102.2m in the twelve months ending June 30,2010; a dramatic rebound from the $781m loss posted in the year-earlier period.

Laurent Schmitt
CEO
Aluminium Bahrain

As the firm behind Bahrain's 850,000 metric-tonne smelter, Aluminium Bahrain (ALBA) has had a good year under the steer of CEO Laurent Schmitt. The state-linked firm posted first half profits of $200m and, Schmitt has said, is on track to exceed its internal profit targets this year.

With profits on its side, ALBA in June said it plans to covert itself into a public joint stock company, to allow it to compete in international markets.

Schmitt was appointed Alba's new CEO in January 2009 and heads up a board which includes representatives from Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund and the world's largest petrochemicals maker, Saudi Basic Industries Corp.

Abdul Rahman Jawahery
CEO
Gulf Petrochemical Industries Co (GPIC)

As boss of one the region's largest downstream companies, Abdul Rahman Jawahery answers to a triumvirate of heavyweight shareholders: the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), and Petrochemical Industries Co (PIC), Kuwait.

Founded in 1979, the company is at the forefront of the regional petrochemical scene, and is one of the largest regional manufacturers of basic petrochemicals and fertiliser. On top of his duties at GPIC, Jawahery is also the chairman of the technical committee for the international fertiliser association, and a board member of the Arab Fertiliser Association.

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