CCC construction arm president unfazed by global recession as he recovers from coronavirus

Samer Khoury says operational control of the group is being passed to three senior managers

United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi - May 24 - 2010: Samer Khoury, Executive Vice President Operations CCC, talk to the audience during the first panel session of the Arabian World Construction Summit at ADNEC.  ( Jaime Puebla / The National )

Samer Khoury, the president of Consolidated Contractors Company, the 17th-biggest international contracting group globally by turnover, and largest in the Middle East, is recovering from the coronavirus and is unfazed by a slowdown in the global economy as the company has a backlog of work.

“I had corona – it was mild, but it was difficulty breathing. I stayed 14 days in this house, in this room, I took medication and now I am recovering,” Mr Khoury said in a video message to employees on the company’s social media channels late Sunday.

“We have to help each other. We have to take care of the 100,000 employees working in the company and the 70,000 people living in our camps. We have to help the governments,” he said, adding that CCC had been providing quarantine areas and medical assessments, among other things.

Although the global economy is “most probably” heading for recession, Mr Khoury, president of engineering and construction at CCC, remained upbeat about the company’s prospects. He cited $500 million (Dh1.83 billion) worth of new contracts the company secured in the first three months of this year and expectations the contractor will land a further $500m by June.

“I’’m not worried, personally, because our bread and butter is oil and gas. Oil and gas maybe will be delayed a few months, six months, but eventually the world will [start working] again,” he said.

“The economy of the world will start picking [up] and these oil companies, whether national or international, in the Middle East or Africa, will start spending again and we will take a good part of that.”

On Friday, the International Monetary Fund's Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the global economy is now in a recession.

"The world is now in recession and ... the length and depth of this recession depend on two things: Containing the virus and having an effective, coordinated response to the crisis," she said.

Mr Khoury said CCC has to strike a balance between ensuring progress continued on its construction sites and keeping its employees safe.

“We have created a very clear response and emergency programme for every area, project, every camp,” he said.

CCC is an Athens-headquartered business that was founded by Said Khoury, Kamel Abdul-Rahman, and Hasib Sabbagh in 1952. The company had been facing challenging market conditions even prior to the coronavirus, with Mr Khoury telling The National in October he expected revenue in 2020 to drop to about $2.5bn, from $4.2bn last year as a lack of new contracts led to it placing about 2,500 of its 13,000 core staff on open leave.

CCC will unveil a new structure for the organisation this week, with the business being led by three long-term employees, Mr Khoury said .

The founders' families will hand over operational control of the business to three of its senior executives – group vice-president for sales, proposals and support Hani Rayya, Africa area managing director Jamal Bahlawan and acting chief financial officer Yousef Ghantous.

The three will “take CCC to the next level”, Mr Khoury said in the video message.