Sunday, 29 July 2007

Can you guess the company? (fictional)

Officially, we are a listed company on a GCC bourse; our activities are clear although we have a $500M portfolio in the local stock market which contradicts our stated activities. Our board and shareholding structure is dominated by a single family (or two) which could also be the government (technically still a family). Our CEO seldom appears in the media or grants interviews and even when he (naturally a “he”) does so the interview is vague so that one can just about make out broad hints and innuendos that the local journalists would ponder upon before deciding to approach a junior level employee quoting him as an “unnamed source”. Our business plans change with the seasons and we are always open to go beyond our mandate and entertain any idea that we may be presented with especially if it came from abroad. We are either in the process of claiming to be or have already claimed to be an Islamic Shariah compliant firm even though we hold bank accounts that are historically and currently taking interest (aka usury) not to mention our varied equity portfolio that is as Shariah compliant as Casino Du Liban (which we may or may not hold shares in by extension through another firm). Our portfolio also includes our main market competitors as well as underperforming stocks that we will never disclose to our shareholders as it violates the concept of discretion. We do not allow investors access to our financial controller or accounting team as is the case in Europe, Asia and North America to safeguard the company’s secrets. We count in our board (ex)government ministers as well as major businessmen (hamoors) and/or their sons that may or may not be serving on our competitor’s boards even though conflict of interest is out of the question. We could occasionally sponsor the family members of our management team in events that have very little to nothing to do with our activities. We will take out full page adverts for occasions and news items that cost thousands of dollars in the local press that bear no relation to our scope or area of interest and would do so in instances that range from birth, death, marriage (but not divorce), graduation to triumph in sports to gain favors in the hope that it would win the contracts that we so long for from the concerned person. Our financial statements that do not adhere to international standards will be delivered as late as possible to ensure minimum exposure of financial data. Our board members who naturally own a majority stake in the company decide on our policies and take all decisions that our minority shareholders will be informed of in the next AGM as they enjoy the expensive open buffet that we have specially ordered to keep them busy during question time. In the week before we announce stellar financial results our stock price might randomly jump by several percent which will naturally result in rumors of insider trading, an accusation that we shall flatly deny. Our board members who don’t all attend the AGMs will look stunned and offended in case an audience member (aka shareholder) asks or persists in asking questions about the soundness of our policies and decisions. Hence they will only take questions from journalists and audience members that they know and are comfortable with. We shall not disclose the names of the biggest shareholders in the firm partly because the hamoors hold them in more than one family member name to avoid any suspicions and for ease of offload during theoretically closed windows trading days. We may acquire foreign companies in surprised and extravagant announcements that could cost us (and our shareholders) large premiums because it is far too challenging for us to start our own operations as mandated by our business plan.

Every few years we may choose to go through a “re-branding” process that will cost us millions of dollars because our board has decided to. For the sake of efficiency we may give contracts to family members of our board or management team that do not go through a bidding process. Indeed we are listed, but we might as well not be.

Who are we?

We are your GCC listed firm.


Anonymous said...

LOVE it!!!

I A R said...

Laughed my ass off!!!!

Daliah79 said...

Think your posting brings up many bold and insightful points Sultan, and highlights a number of struggles that I face as a journalist in the Gulf. Inexplicable stock market movements that allude to insider trading, a lack of complete and publicly available financial statements (particularly in Saudi Arabia) and evasive executives with little media training are struggles we face on a daily basis. However, I have to say, you are harsher than I would be when taking a general look at Gulf Arab firms. Many listed firms in the Gulf are transparent, or becoming moreso, and are increasingly open to scrutiny and change, especially as foreign investors, global analysts and discerning journalists demand more insight into their businesses. There is a long road ahead -- as journalists we are often chastised for highlighting facts and figures that paint a negative or critical picture. But this is changing, the picture is not entirely bleak. Shedding some more light on what companies are doing to change and specifically proposing solutions on what they could implement would create for a more compelling argument..

B. said...

Hahaha Wonderful :P

Dude you just made me start my own Blog,, check it out please

secretdubai said...

Brilliantly funny and sadly still very accurate for many companies here.

Khaled AD said...

Straight to the point ... came here after reading the article in arabian business ... this only gets better!