My Zawya Story, 2nd Edition

In 2012, Zawya, a UAE-based business media company, was sold to Thomson Reuters for a 20 times cash return by Saffar, a low-profile private equity company. I am the founding chief executive of Saffar and became chairman of Zawya after we acquired it, between 2001 and 2011. This is my story of how I bought a bankrupt, London-based company with

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FGB-NBAD Merger: A Whimper or a Bang?

This article was meant to be about managing a merger. It turns out that this is hard to explain without first understanding the goal of the merger. There has been little information made public in terms of the thinking behind the FGB-NBAD merger, with some commentary from analysts. Here I will discuss various ideas on the merger.

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Mediocrity as a strategic goal for UAE banks?

For some time, and as mentioned in previous articles of mine, I have wondered how there could be over 50 banks in the UAE, around half of which are full operating banks, given a population of circa 8 million, over half of whom are blue collar workers not in need of banking services. Basic economic theory would suggest that competition

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Trump Applies Business Strategy to his Political Campaign

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Trump

Donald Trump’s political strategy is to apply basic business methods and it is working spectacularly. Some people are shocked by his success and this is due to their cognitive dissonance, they cannot accept that Trump, who they revile, can be so successful. This is exactly the same as the Microsoft detractors’ inability to accept over 20 years of Microsoft’s market

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Crisis Response Strategies

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Strategy

In a world of uncertainty management is constantly evaluating potential risks as they unfold and deciding how to respond. At one end of the response spectrum is what might be called the Anglo-Saxon Fast & Furious model: ignore all risks until they become an existential threat of such dire proportions that there is only one available response and it is blatantly

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Adaptive Strategy Construction

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Strategy

In a previous post, Deconstructing Strategy, I discussed some of the difficulties in developing a strategy. In this post I present a method that has worked well for me. The philosophy behind this method is based on the two ideas that the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, applies to business strategy and that strategies must adapt to new information and

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