MANAMA, (Reuters) – Bahrain’s Gulf Finance House (GFH) said on Wednesday Chief Executive Ahmed Fahour had quit after just five months, a setback for the loss-making bank’s efforts to restructure and find new revenue streams.
GFH said in a statement Fahour had been appointed by the Australian government as managing director at Australia Post and current Group Deputy Chief Executive Ted Pretty had been appointed acting CEO.
“It was a surprise, and sudden,” Pretty told Reuters in a phone interview.
Fahour was appointed chief executive in late July and oversaw a $300 million rights issue in October, and GFH is now planning to build new revenue streams in asset management, investment and commercial banking.
Like a number of Bahrain-based investment houses, GFH has posted losses since the end of a regional property boom late last year swept away its business model of raising financing for large infrastructure and real estate projects.
Pretty said Fahour’s departure would not negatively affect the bank’s implementation of its new strategy, as it had completed its capital-raising exercises and had mapped out its targeted growth areas.
“We’re going into 2010 having taken all the tough decisions,” he said.
Pretty also said GFH had decided to cancel a $100 million convertible murabaha, an Islamic financing tool, it placed with Macquarie Group, as it considered its liquidity situation adequate.
GFH announced the deal in August but has since also placed a $100 million convertible with Deutsche Bank and sold off non-core assets.
“We thought, ‘Do we really need the 100 million?’, because it is expensive money,” he said.
Pretty, who joined GFH in October from Macquarie Capital, said GFH and Macquarie were still planning to cooperate in offering investment banking advisory services.