World's 100 Most Powerful Arabs 2014
Wed 26 Mar 2014 03:56 PM
Mohammad Abu Ghazaleh

Company: Fresh Del Monte

Designation: Chairman and CEO

Country: US (Palestine)

When Mohammad Abu Ghazaleh decided to buy US tropical fruits giant Fresh Del Monte in 1996, eyebrows were raised.

Not only was the firm saddled with $300m in bad debt, it also suffered from its association with UK-based Asil Nadir, whose Polly Peck conglomerate had bought the business shortly before the tycoon fled for Cyprus. After Polly Peck collapsed, Fresh Del Monte was bought by Mexican businessman Carlos Cabal, who also became a fugitive in his own country after accusations of embezzling $700m from his own banks. However, Abu Ghazaleh set a new tone for ethical behaviour at the firm, taking time out to visit each of Del Monte’s worldwide locations and spearheading a turnaround in performance. Despite worldwide economic problems in the past few years, Fresh Del Monte’s bottom-line profits and profit margins have improved every year since the end of 2010. However, last year, the firm reported $3.7bn in sales, with a net loss of $37m, pulled down by a $147m loss in a difficult last quarter.

Fresh initiative

Abu Ghazaleh is spearheading a turnaround in Del Monte’s performance.