Arabtec Construction chief executive steps down

The Dubai contractor did not provide a reason for chief executive Boyd Merrett's resignation

A unit of Arabtec Holding, the Dubai listed construction company, won two contracts worth Dh210 million in Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National
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The chief executive of Dubai contractor Arabtec Construction, Boyd Merrett, stepped down from the role, Arabtec Holding said on Tuesday.

Arabtec's group chief operating officer Wail Farsakh will take on the position following Mr Merrett's departure, the company said in a statement to the Dubai Financial Market, where it is listed. Arabtec did not provide a reason for the chief executive's resignation.

"Boyd Merrett, chief executive officer of Arabtec Construction, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the group has resigned," the company said. "Mr Wail Farsakh, group chief operating officer, will assume the responsibilities of chief executive officer for Arabtec Construction until further notice."

Arabtec, the contractor behind landmarks such as Burj Khalifa and Abu Dhabi's Louvre Museum, reported a 47 per cent slide in second-quarter net profit as costs and expenses increased. Net profit attributable to the owners of the company for the three-month period ending June 30 dropped to Dh26 million. Revenue for the period fell 8.7 per cent to Dh2.18 billion year-on-year. Costs in the second quarter reached Dh2bn and expenses widened to Dh92m.

Construction companies in the UAE, one of the top project markets in the GCC, have faced headwinds as the property sector slowed in the wake of a three-year oil price drop that began in 2014. Concerns about an oversupply of residential and commercial units added to the market weakness but analysts are forecasting a recovery on the back of a new immigration policy offering long-term visas for investors, the Dh50 billion Ghadan 21 initiative, Expo 2020 and changes to the freehold property law.

Arabtec is in talks to hire Swiss bank UBS as a financial adviser to assist in a potential merger with Abu Dhabi's Trojan Holding, as the two contractors look to scale up operations amid tough market conditions.

UBS will help Arabtec in "preliminary evaluation" for the combination of the businesses.

The value of mergers and acquisitions in the Middle East and North Africa reached $120.6bn (Dh443bn) in the first nine months of the year, up 160 per cent on the same period last year, according to data by Refinitiv.