In 2007, the Mannai Corporation, one of Qatar’s oldest and largest family trading businesses, listed on the Doha exchange. The move converted the company into a model for Qatar’s private sprawling holdings to become public shareholding companies, a trend that is deepening in the country.
Many of these same businesses, with names now becoming increasingly familiar such as Alfardan Group, Al Jassim Group, Al Jaidah Group and Al Sulaiti Group, supported the country’s economy long before the arrival of oil and gas revenues. Over the past decade, they have grown along with Qatar’s rapidly expanding economy, in many cases moving into the international arena or about to do so. Consequently, they are also playing an indispensable role in pushing the diversification of the country’s economy forward, and as such, toward realizing the goals of Vision 2030 to reduce Qatar’s dependence on its hydrocarbon industry.
The groups have been successful in bringing the world’s most well known brands to Qatar. Alfardan Group deals with BMW, Ferrari, Bentley and Rolls Royce; NBKS, or the Nasser Bin Khaled Group, has attracted Mercedes Benz and Harley Davidson; Al Jassim has brought in Burger King and Applebee’s; and the list of global names now available in the country goes on.
Converting from family businesses into global, transparent and accountable local, regional or multinational companies with world-class business standards, these same companies are employing the aid of well known international companies such as J.P. Morgan, which recently opened an office in Doha, to guide them through the transition.
The bank has been involved in a number of landmark transactions in the country, including the State of Qatar’s $7 billion triple-tranche bond offering and Qatar Telecom’s $1.5 billion dual-tranche bond offering. J.P. Morgan was also an advisor on Qatar Real Estate Investment Company’s merger with Barwa Real Estate Company.
Some, like Qatar’s Jaidah Group, which has over a century of trading experience under its belt, are choosing not to go public, even as they undergo deep transformations within the corporation. Initially established at the end of the 19th century by Ibrahim Youssef Jaidah, the company dealt with exotic imports from places like Iran, India and Yemen.
Jaidah Motors and Trading Company was founded some 50 years later by current chairman Jassim Jaidah. In the nearly five decades since then, it has forged partnerships with major international manufacturers, helping the group to emerge into a world-class professional company while maintaining its grassroots family business values. Today, the group has significant interests in the automotive industry, heavy equipment, industrial supply, energy, technology and furniture.
Mr. Jaidah’s son and chief development officer for the group, Mohamed Jaidah, says that one of the main reasons the company has yet to go public is that it is financially able to grow businesses at the rate necessary.
“One of the first things is that we are not exclusively dependent on ROI – return on investment – and creating shareholder value as the case would be with a publicly-listed company. We can take decisions and if we envision something for the long term, we can actually allow ourselves to take a hit in the initial years before seeing any ROI.”