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Arabtec press conference: As it happened

Arabtec Holding, whose strategy is being questioned by investors after the resignation of the chief executive Hasan Ismaik, declined rapidly during what was a dramatic month for the Dubai Financial Market. But with its stock back up nearly 15 per cent today and analysts casting doubt on the viability of its future projects, we bring you the latest news on the company from its 2pm press conference in Abu Dhabi.

We have reporters Lucy Barnard, Shereen El Gazzar and Frank Kane on the scene.

3.25pm: The press conference ends without anyone really feeling that any major questions have been answered. It is clear that the board has taken Ismaik’s sudden departure to refocus the company back to being a contractor and to concentrate on core business. However, we still do not know why Ismaik left Arabtec, what will happen to his stake in the company or who paid for it. Thank you all for joining us.

3.05pm: The question and answer session is over, but stay with us for more reaction.

2.50pm: Our man Frank Kane gets cut off from asking further questions, but Frank is assertive.

2.45pm: Riyad Kamal, founder of Arabtec and former chief executive, has not been approached with regards to the CEO position.

2.40pm: Al Qubaisi’s advice to shareholders is to “study the company very well”. He adds that investors should do some “fundamental analysis to feel the capability of the company”. As reporters grill him about transparency issues, he denies any corruption and says an auditor is there, plus the necessary compliance. He remains calm and says Arabtec is ready to be transparent but he doesn’t have a crystal ball to forecast the stock price.

2.35pm: “I understood that Mr Ismaik bought the shares in the past but decided to put them together ... all the people knew this ... we are confident that there is no impropriety at Arabtec.”

2.32pm: The management are supporting all of the shareholders with information. A new CEO will be announced soon.

2.30pm: In what is a question and answer session, the debate is becoming somewhat heated. Al Qubaisi says he expects analysts to look at the projects and value them at a fair price.

2.27pm: It was not only Arabtec that caused the recent mini-crash of the DFM, we are told. “I disagree with you that Arabtec is the reason behind the market crash,” says Al Qubaisi.

2.25pm: Arabtec “will not delist.” “I expect by the end of July to announce the quarter results. The results will be positive.”

2.22pm: Arabtec are “in a restructuring phase”. The main focus of the public will be the core business - construction, not oil and gas.

2.20pm: There will be no cancellations at all, we are told.

2.15pm: “Egypt is a very important strategic project for us, soon there will be good news ... Aabar signed a non-binding MOU over Egypt, we are in a good alliance and will continue,” says the chairman.

2.10pm: The chairman says he cannot talk about Hasan Ismaik or the shareholders, but says Aabar is committed to Arabtec. Aabar is looking at increasing its stake but a target cannot be given.

2.05pm: Bloomberg News reports that the UAE markets regulator is investigating the stock volatility in June. “If any wrong doing is discovered, then the SCA will take suitable legal action and put in place adequate preventive measures in that respect,” Securities & Commodities Authority says in an emailed response to earlier questions.

2.01pm: The chairman welcomes all and says we’re here to clarify some points in relation to Arabtec. First, Aabar still owns 19% of the company, there will be no changes in the future projects.

1.57pm: Effort has been made to brighten the mood with freshly cut flowers in the meeting room. Arabtec group general council Wassel Issa Al Fakhoury says on the sidelines that things at Arabtec are “very good” and the recent crisis is “all rumours”.

1.55pm: From the Arabtec panel the following people are attending: Mohamed Al Mehairi, Khalifa Al Mehairi, Mohamed Al Fahim, Khadem Al Qubaisi, Wassel Al Fakhoury, and Mohamed Al Suwaidi. Chairman Al Qubaisi will chair the meeting.

1.53pm: It will be conducted in Arabic with no time for translation we are told.

1.51pm: The press conference is taking place in a meeting room at the Ipic building on Muroor Road. Plenty of media are in attendance, including the BBC.

1.45pm: A remarkable turnaround for the DFM today. It’s currently up nearly 8 per cent, with Arabtec up 14.93 per cent.

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