Dubai: Following years of turmoil, the shareholders of embattled retailer Marka voted on Wednesday morning to liquidate the business, after a last ditch attempt at turning the company’s finances around failed.
Around 90 per cent of shareholders in attendance voted to file for bankruptcy, according to Khalid Bin Kalban, chairman of board.
The company, which listed on the Dubai Financial Market in 2014, has suffered consecutive quarterly losses since its IPO.
Marka’s share price plummeted by 90 per cent last year, as a result of the firm’s failure to stem its losses.
“Today, the shareholders voted to liquidate the company,” Kalban told Gulf News after the meeting had ended.
He said that a proposal would be put forward to the authorities, who would then be required to formalise the process. Kalban declined to provide a specific timeline for liquidation.
“It was a majority vote, up to 90 per cent of the present shareholders,” he said, adding that he had no fear of the board’s potential legal liability following the company’s collapse.
Marka, which operates brands such as Reem Al Bawadi and Real Madrid’s regional retail presence, had its shares suspended in April 2018 by the the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), pending a disclosure of its restructuring plan.
On Wednesday, Marka’s shareholders voted against a proposed restructuring deal, setting in motion the process of liquidation.
Kalban said the board had asked Marka’s shareholders to put money back in to the company so that it could resume business.
Despite voting to do so, he said, shareholders also added certain conditions that made it “almost impossible to achieve.”
These conditions included bringing in a strategic investor, and negotiating with the banks to reduce the firm’s debt.
“The company could not sustain its payments…if the money had come in earlier, even six months ago, we would not be in this situation,” he said.
The retail and restaurant operator widened its losses to Dh295.8 million in the first quarter of 2019, due to “goodwill and brand amortisation,” Kalban said.
Flatly denying that the board was in any way to blame for the company’s losses, the chairman told Gulf News that there was “no legal liability whatsoever.”
In response to a question about whether the shareholders might accuse the board of failing in their corporate governance, he responded: “No, of course not. We’re not at all concerned about that.”
Marka’s current board was brought in to oversee the company’s restructuring efforts.
Declining to blame the firm’s previous board, Kalban said that it was up to the shareholders to decide who should bear the brunt of responsibility for the company’s bankruptcy.
“I cannot say that. That’s up to the he shareholders to look in to the reports, to talk to the authorities,” he said. “I came in to manage an already existing situation.”
Regarding Marka’s franchise contracts with brands like Real Madrid and Morelli's Gelato, the chairman said that he did not know what would happen.
“That is a legal issue…once we get in to more details, we will know how that can prevail. It’s part of the company assets, so it’ll be liquidated, sold to third parties. There’s so many steps that can be taken.”