Damas accepts $445m cash bid from consortium

29 March 2012

Mannai Corporation and EFG Hermes

UAE jeweler Damas has agreed a cash bid from a consortium comprised of Qatar conglomerate Mannai Corporation and Egyptian investment bank EFG Hermes.

The consortium has offered $0.45 per share, valuing the entire share capital of Damas at $445m. Mannai Corporation is to control 66 per cent of the jewellery retailer and EFG Hermes is to obtain 19 per cent.  If the deal is successful then the consortium will delist Damas from the Nasdaq Dubai and cancel trading of all its shares.

The Abdullah brothers, members of the founding family, will be required to reinvest part of the money from their shares to make up the remaining 15 per cent.

The bid document will be sent to Damas shareholders by 18 April and will be open for acceptance for 35 days. Approval will require shareholders comprising at least 75 per cent of the Damas share capital.  If the consortium manages to acquire 90 per cent of Damas’ shares, it will exercise its legal right to acquire the remaining 10 per cent.

Mannai chief executive officer Alekh Grewal described the bid as a “significant step towards Mannai’s international growth strategy”, in a statement.

Damas has been embroiled in controversy since the Abdullah brothers were found to have withdrawn cash from the company for personal use. They were subsequently banned in 2010 by the Dubai Financial Services Authority from holding board memberships of any Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)-registered company.

Part of the transaction payment will go towards paying some of the debt, which is in the region of AED1.8bn, but the cascade agreement is likely to stay in place.

“We will take a decision once the debt position has been fully reviewed and we will consider alternative funding arrangements for Damas after the transaction is completed,” says a spokesperson for Mannai.

It marks Mannai’s second acquisition in the UAE, the first of which was telecoms retailer Axiom Telecom back in July 2011.

Earlier this week, EFG Hermes announced it was in discussions with Qinvest, a Qatari Islamic Investment bank to merge some of their operations to create an investment bank to cover the Arab world, Africa, Turkey and South East Asia. The new venture would include securities brokerage, asset management and investment banking operations.

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