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Foundations for accountability

by Yasser Akkaoui

In my 13 years of publishing Executive, we have never put a story of a corporate transaction on the front cover. Oftentimes, we just assume the worst for those who, either deliberately or not, keep their books closed and mouths shut. They provoke our minds to run wild with ideas of fraud, cooking the books, backdoor dealings and bribery — business malpractices that must be at play. “What are they hiding?”, we ask.

Whether or not any of the above presumptions are true, they create a general distrust in Lebanon’s corporate world. Investors, both domestic and foreign, have grown wary and are looking elsewhere. Coupled with a crisis next door in Syria that keeps us up at night, Lebanon’s economy and its constituents are becoming exhausted.

But what if we implemented transparency and accountability into standard business practice — a willingness to disclose earnings and figures for the public to ingest?

The story of Khoury Home provides one such example. The directors of Euromena, the private equity fund that took over ownership of one of Lebanon’s prominent retailers gave us a rare opportunity to dive deep into the anatomy of their acquisition.

Through the Khourys, their employees and Euromena directors, we were able to piece together a case study of the challenges and successes that Khoury Home has faced in its evolution.

Such an exercise is not to chastise owners and shareholders for their errors — rather it allows us to examine and analyze the dos and don’ts, as well as the role corporate governance can play in family-owned firms. The Khourys suffered several setbacks in the last two years leading up to the Euromena takeover, and their decision to exit and hand the reins to a private equity fund may have saved Khoury Home.

Those that have something to hide will remain condemned to their opacity, but by examining case studies such as Khoury Home, we hope to imbed a new element that corporate Lebanon has been lacking for a long time: trust.

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Yasser Akkaoui

Yasser Akkaoui is Executive's editor-in-chief.

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