By Andy Sambidge and Alex Delmar-Morgan
EXCLUSIVE: Investors committee chief says change will give firm 'renewed focus'.
Investors in delayed projects planned by Hydra Properties have welcomed the company shake-up that has seen Sulaiman al Fahim replaced as CEO.
The real estate company has faced a barrage of complaints from investors in Hydra Village, a residential development near Abu Dhabi International Airport, which is two years behind schedule.
On Wednesday, it was announced that al Fahim would become a member of the company’s board of directors, with Hydra’s Ali bin Sulayem, of parent company, Royal Group, replacing him as chief executive.
The move, which came just two weeks after Royal Group insisted al Fahim would remain as CEO, was welcomed by investors.
Paul Grant, chair of Hydra Investors Committee, told Arabian Business in an email statement: “Dr Fahim is a young man of huge potential, flair and entrepreneurial energy who has made Hydra what it is today.
"However Hydra has found itself in difficulty with its investors who have real and legitimate grievances regarding lack of construction, lack of financing and serious doubts regarding Hydra’s commitment to them.
“If it is to find its way out of its present difficulty Hydra needs renewed focus. We believe the Royal Group, and the appointment Ali bin Sulayem as the new CEO, will provide this. We also believe that as a director Dr Fahim still has a contribution to make."
Last month, Arabian Business revealed how Al Fahim had signed an agreement to buy Portsmouth, a Premier League club, a deal that is going through the due diligence process at the moment.
One of al Fahim’s last actions as Hydra CEO was to hand a string of concessions to homebuyers on its flagship project, Hydra Village.
Customers who had put down 50 percent installment would receive a payment break until early 2010.
At a meeting with angry investors earlier this month, it was also announced that late payment fees would be scrapped with immediate effect.
New CEO, Ali Bin Sulayem, told investors at the time: "We are going forward to complete our projects and there is no reason to fear that we won't do that. We are feeling the economic situation but Abu Dhabi is strong."
The meeting was the latest twist in a protracted dispute between the developer and investors, who have complained of imposed price hikes of units, construction delays and changes to master plans at Hydra's developments in Abu Dhabi.
Young al Fahim must be nursing a bruised ego as everyone makes nice noises about why he was moved upstairs. He failed completely to turn the tide of investor and public opinion and Hydra is today scrambling for a new spiel. The new CEO might have a honeymoon period, but it will be a short one, as it is clear that something is fundamentally wrong with the business model.
It's basically a polite way from the Hydra Investors Committee of saying Hydra are far better off without Al Fahim. The company is a long way behind where it should be at the moment. Hopefully things will now start to improve.
Regardless of who the CEO of Hydra is, they need to establish a reputation based on delivery of projects and customer service. No amount of advertisments and PR can substitute these requirements. Without such a reputation, I don't think anyone in the future will touch Hydra with a barge pole.
Congratulations To Al-Fahim his new position as a member of the board of directors, this position is appropriate for Al-Fahim, who is now busy with the many positions that he is in charge of such as the Ambassador Extraordinary to United Nations or the president of the Arab Union for the development of real estate transactions in addition to the acquisition of the English club Portsmouth.
Construction hasn't really even started on a meaningful level, and what is being done is not a proper structure. Investors should beware of this.
Mr. Al Fahim probably thought he was doing a favour by being in the limelight for things completely unrelated to the core business of Hydra. THat real silly program Hydra Executives and then the "MoU" for buying Portsmouth.The deal is no where close to actual completion. He was also sidelined when he announced his desire to buy Kaka and Ronaldo after buying Manchester CIty. This Country needs real leaders with experience and substance.
What happens to customers that had mortgages approved for hydra projects and after a year and a half later we are told by the bank that there is no MOU with Hydra properties anymore ? Any decent developer would of returned the money invested to the customers by now ,both Hydra properties and the finance company Aseel have deceived hundreds of people ,majority of customers we just want a way out of our investment with this fraudulent company.Do no change the CEO ...give me my money back.