120 family businesses attend key conference
Manama, March 4, 2008
More than 120 family businesses were represented at the fourth Annual 'Middle East Families in Business' conference.
The two-day event, which opened at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa yesterday, attracted family business representatives from as far afield as Europe and from all over the Arab world and is the biggest event held so far.
Regional business leaders and international experts are leading the conference to address issues crucial to the success and smooth-running of the many family-owned businesses through a combination of lectures, workshops and consultations with professional family business advisers.
The event is being chaired by prominent local businessman Yusuf bin Ahmed Kanoo Group managing director Khalid Kanoo.
'I think family businesses need conferences like this to address what family businesses need,' he said.
'It is a way of introducing family business to outside experts who can make a major contribution.'
He said that associations, like the Family Office in Bahrain, which was sponsoring the event, was not able to get involved in solving problems for families but was able to advise on specialists, from the US, UK and the Middle East who could make life easier for a family business if it was facing troubles.
'It could be a problem about cousins falling out or about a business that has a desire to go public,' he said.
'Our association's role is to support and advise where they find the correct specialist to make things happen.'
The event - which is by invitation only and held in a closed environment to preserve confidentiality - is supported by Bahrain Financial Services Development, part of the Economic Development Board, and the Bahrain Family Business Association.
Management of family businesses presents particular challenges - how to ensure the health and longevity of the business; the provision of adequate succession policies; the development of a robust inheritance and wealth management plan; as well as the decision on whether or not to outsource the management function.
'As the managing director of a family business, I understand that working with relatives changes the dynamics, ' said Kanoo.
'This conference will get to the heart of the matter by tackling those issues, which make our businesses different and will give us the tools to compete on an equal footing with other non-family-owned enterprises.
'We need to have well-structured business plans, as much as any other company does, and that is another key topic that the conference will address,' he said.-TradeArabia News Service