Solidere, the company responsible for the development and reconstruction of the Beirut Central District, has appointed Jamal Itani to be general manager of operations in what the company’s representatives called an expansion of management capabilities. He was appointed by a management decision, not by the board of directors.
Solidere representatives, speaking with Executive on condition of anonymity, said Itani’s responsibilities will relate to technical and operational concerns and would not change the general management in any way.
Itani’s appointment was reported in Lebanese Arabic daily Al-Akhbar in early April before the decision was made official, leading to a wave of market rumors on the implications for the company.
In response to speculation that Itani’s appointment might signal changes at a general management level, the representatives argued that the title of general manager of operations was in line with the company’s designation of job titles and added that the company had similarly appointed a French national to the position of general manager for development several years ago.
In most countries it is either a standard requirement or common practice of listed companies to announce new appointees to upper management and disclose names of department heads and senior management echelons in statements or in their annual reports. In Lebanon, listed banks and many unlisted ones generally follow this practice. However, Solidere’s 2012 Annual Report did not provide information on management roles beyond affirming that the general management of the company is carried out by Company Chairman Nasser Chammaa and General Manager Mounir Douaidy.
Jamal Itani was president of Lebanon’s Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) between 2002 and 2004. In Spoils of Truce, a 2012 book published by Cornell University Press on the rebuilding of Lebanon between 1989 and 2005, Dutch academic Reinoud Leenders described Itani as a political appointee and confidant of slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The Solidere representatives, who are very knowledgeable about the company, said that they had no detailed information on Itani’s work experience other than he had worked with the CDR and was subsequently active in Saudi Arabia. No information was provided in regard to the qualifications and requirements for the position of general manager for operations on either the company website or by the representatives.
In response to a question about why the company did not issue a notice of the appointment to shareholders or inform the public to avert rumors, the representatives responded that this was not part of the company’s culture and emphasized that Solidere treated such decisions as “internal.”