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    09-May-2019

Gov’t says repurchase of RJ stakes came to honour an old deal

 

The Jordan Times

 

 
 
AMMAN — When the government purchased most of former Lebanese prime minister Najib Miqati’s 8.8 million shares in Royal Jordanian (RJ), it was upholding a deal dating back to 2015, an official source said on Wednesday.
 
The agreement was that the government would buy the shares of both the Social Security Corporation and the Miqati-owned company, Mint, he added.
 
Now Mint has transferred the shares to the government at a total value of JD15.8 million, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
 
The source underlined that a decision to restructure RJ and increase its capital has contributed to stimulating the airline’s profitability.
 
In 2017, RJ registered JD460,000 in net profit, compared with JD24.6 million in losses in 2016, according to Petra.
 
The Lower House late in March referred a parliamentary committee’s report on RJ to the Jordan Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission (JIACC) for an investigation into the national carrier's accumulated losses. 
 
In its final report on RJ, the Lower House’s Public Services and Transport Committee recommended that the JIACC investigates the airline’s aircraft purchase, sale and operating lease agreements, in addition to a number of financial and administrative issues.
 
All the committee’s recommendations were adopted by the Lower House, including the appointment of a new board of directors to run RJ “in light of the current board’s inability to solve the company’s present and past imbalances”.
 
MPs also requested that RJ be subject to monitoring by the Audit Bureau, with a call on the government to grant “reasonable” exemptions to the national carrier.
 
The Lower House also cited that RJ operates 45 per cent of services at Queen Alia International Airport.
 
The committee also recommended terminating the services of RJ President and CEO Stefan Pichler and the appointment of an “experienced Jordanian capable of enhancing the company’s competitiveness”.
 
In February, the government posted a clarification on the “Haggak Tiraf” (in English, “your right to know”) online platform, saying that a five-week investigation by the JIACC found that the procedures applied in the restructuring of the carrier by the government of former prime minister Abdullah Ensour were all “sound”.
 
The government said that news circulated on social media, claiming that the JIACC found that Ensour had transferred JD200 million of public assets to support the shares of his friend, Miqati, were “just rumours”.
 
The government said that Prime Minister Omar Razzaz received the JIACC’s report on January 27, and referred it to the Lower House.
 
 

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