Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Death of Middle Eastern Billionaire Shakes Kuwaiti Stock Market

Kuwait’s Nasser Al-Kharafi who has a net worth estimated at $10.4 billion, died this past week-end of a heart attack in Cairo. The 67-year-old businessman chairs the Kharafi Group, one of the Middle East’s biggest conglomerates and a pillar of the Kuwaiti economy, with stakes in more than a dozen companies. The Kuwait stock market took a small tumble losing close to 1% of its value.

News of his death hit hard telecom company Zain Group, with shares dropping more than 3%. The Kharafi Group, which is the second largest shareholder in Zain, had been trying unsuccessfully for months to sell its stake to the UAE’s Etisalat. At one point, it even considered an offer from Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud to buy its Saudi operations, which would have cleared a regulatory hurdle for Etisalat.

The Kharafi Group also owns a stake in National Bank of Kuwait, the country’s oldest bank and one of the best managed in the region. Its star advisory board includes billionaires Naguib Sawiris of Egypt, Turkey’s Suzan Sabanci Dinçer, and India’s Mukesh Ambani, as well as Pimco’s Mohamed El-Erian.



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