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Tue 2 Jun 2020 02:54 PM

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Covid-19 may have accelerated IPO for Fine Hygienic Holding, says CEO

The Jordan-based company has more than doubled its profit over the past two years, according to James Michael Lafferty

Covid-19 may have accelerated IPO for Fine Hygienic Holding, says CEO

The coronavirus has created a better environment for the MENA region’s largest hygienic tissue producer to go public, according to CEO James Michael Lafferty 

There’s nothing like a health crisis to boost the tissue world’s finest. 

Covid-19 has been good to Fine Hygienic Holding as the company’s plans to go public on the London Stock Exchange in 2021-2022 may happen earlier than initially expected. That’s according to the Jordan-based company’s CEO James Michael Lafferty. 

Speaking to Arabian Business, he said the coronavirus has created a better environment for the MENA region’s largest hygienic tissue producer to go public.

“Yes in fact it (coronavirus) may have accelerated it (the IPO) … in this crisis where most companies are struggling... In [this] kind of environment, there are limited options for investors to where they can put their money. We’ve been told time and time again, if you were public right, now the whole world would be buying your stock, because you’re one of the companies which, between the masks and your core business, you’re booming.

"So the IPO is not only on schedule but it’s conceivable - there’s no guarantees and timing is everything - but it’s conceivable that we might try to advance… We’re getting ready we’re doing everything we can to be ready and when the time is right that’s when we’ll make that decision,” he said.

While Lafferty said it’s "almost callous to say a disease that's impacting all of humanity is good for business,” he said Fine has witnessed tremendous growth as a result of the pandemic, particularly thanks to its early move into mask manufacturing, and has more than doubled its profit over the past two years.

"We launched masks on February 1, when everybody thought we were stupid for launching masks. Even my own salespeople would say, we can’t sell this. Now we’ve sold millions and we’re one of the world’s leaders in reusable masks."

"The business has been very strong. We had a record Q1. We’ll probably have a record Q2 which will probably break the record in Q1. And so all in all we’ve done well.

“We are rapidly going towards $1 billion annually in sales and on a profitability basis, we have more than doubled our P&L [accounts]. It’s been tremendous growth; it's not even common in the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) space to see the kind of growth we’ve experienced in the past 2 years,” he said.

Fine, which acquired Dubai’s natural food and beverage company Nai Arabia in a $10 million deal last year, is also looking to acquire local disinfection companies to complement its business, Lafferty said.

“We’re looking… to acquire local disinfection companies [in Dubai] that we can integrate into our business. We’ve got 5 or 6 small entrepreneurial acquisitions that could fit into our footprint, in the works right now. I’m not saying all 6 will happen... but we’re looking at a bunch of those right now,” he said.

“We paid for that $10 million for our stake in [Nai] so certainly anything in that range is within our means to go for, so $10m, around that ball park."

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