Mannai And Hermes Offer $445 mln Cash Bid For Damas

Mannai Corporation of Qatar and EFG-Hermes of Cairo have made a joint cash bid for Damas International, valuing the Jeweler at $445 million.

The offer of 45 cents per share is a 45 per cent premium to the jeweler’s closing price on the day before Mannai first announced its interest on January 10.

If the deal is accepted by all shareholders, Mannai, a Qatari conglomerate selling cars, home appliances and other goods, and EFG, the investment bank, will hold shares in Damas of 66 per cent and 19 per cent respectively and delist the company from the Dubai exchange.

The consortium has already secured support from more than the three-quarters of shareholders and the bid is expected to become binding within two weeks. The Damas board is recommending the deal to shareholders.

“Damas is a very attractive retail brand with a highly successful regional business. Our bid to acquire Damas is testament to its sound business model and promising growth potential,” said Alekh Grewal, chief executive of Mannai Corporation, in a statement.

In a bizarre twist in the offer, the bidders have also proposed that the Abdullah Brothers – the previous owners who brought Damas to the edge of bankruptcy – will be required to reinvest part of the money from their shares to form a collective interest of 15 per cent.

The move is part of a previous agreement by the brothers – Tawhid, Tawfiq and Tamjid – and their creditors. The Abdullah brothers were the owners of Damas before it became a public company in 2008.

The three men still owe Damas more than Dh600 million ($163.3542 million) and, separately, Dh1.2 billion ($326.7084 million) to banks, bringing their total obligations to Dh1.8 billion ($ 490.0626 million).

In May last year, Damas repaid Dh 200 million ($ 54.46 million) of loans to banks and completed a Dh 3 billion ($ 816.771 million) debt restructuring in which it is to repay Dh1.1billion ($ 299.4827 million) of loans over three years and receive working capital of Dh 1.9 billion ($ 517.288 million).

The move to de-list Damas would be the latest blow for the Nasdaq Dubai stock exchange, which launched with high hopes in 2005 but which has struggled to attract companies to list.

Besides Damas, the interior design company Depa is said to be actively considering a delisting from the bourse.

DP World, the other major company to have listed on the exchange, was admitted to trading the London Stock Exchange in a $11billion dual listing in June last year.