At its meeting on September 25, the SFBT board of directors appointed Mustapha Abdelmoula as the new chairman and Elyes Fakhfakh as the new managing director. “This new leadership will ensure continuity in the management of the historic leader of the Tunisian agro-food industry,” said a company press release.
Who is the new head of SFBT?
In a press release issued last week, SFBT said that “before becoming prime minister and holding several ministerial posts (finance, tourism), Elyes Fakhfakh, an engineer by training, a graduate of ENIS and INSA Lyon and holder of a Masters in Management from the University of Paris-Saclay, built up a wealth of experience in the private sector. Fakhfakh has held a number of senior positions in multinational companies in France and Spain and was Managing Director of Cotrel, one of Tunisia’s leading fully exporting industrial companies. During his career in the private sector, Fakhfakh has also been behind the creation of several companies in various sectors. For the sake of completeness, it should be added that Fakhfakh left his post as prime minister in July 2020. A binational citizen, he had stood in the 2019 presidential elections but won only 0.34% of the vote. He was mainly prosecuted for conflict of interest, but was eventually cleared by the courts.
Operating income down 7.1%, but higher investments save the day
It seems that Fakhfakh has finally managed to rebuild his life outside the environmental sector in which he worked, and is now “putting his skills at the service of SFBT”, Tunisia’s largest company by market capitalization, “to take the group to a new level of growth and meet the challenge of a new phase of development”, according to his press release.
With a consolidated turnover of TND 1,330 million Tunisian dinars by 2022, the SFBT Group intends to consolidate its position, accelerate its growth and leadership and strengthen the synergies between its subsidiaries,” the statement said. In 2022, the net profit of SFBT, which has a market capitalization of over TND 3,120,975million, will be TND 232,468 million on total revenues of TND 821,140 million. As at June 30, 2008, the total revenue exceeded TND 361 million and the half-year profit exceeded TND 150.2 million. In fact, in the first half of 2023, operating income fell by 7.1% to TND 81.6 million, and what may have saved the day was investment income, which rose by 13.5% to TND 84.2 million.
The SFBT group produces and markets more than 10 brands of water, soft drinks and beer, as well as the famous Café de Tunis in the capital. It employs around 6,000 people and “has always been exemplary in terms of social responsibility”. With several certifications to its name, this flagship of Tunisian industry is strongly committed to community, civic and sporting activities,” according to the SFBT press release.
An appointment that has not gone unnoticed in social media
The late emblematic Hammadi Boussbiaâ was a fervent supporter of the capital’s Club Africain, while the new CEO Elyes Fakhfakh, who replaces Abdelmoula, is a fervent supporter of Club de Sfax, CSS, and was even behind the renaming of the Stade de Radès in the name of the late Hamadi Agrebi. On the other hand, the new CEO, Mustapha Abdelmoula, is from Sfax like Fakhfakh, but does not have the football bug and seems to be more familiar with private dining.
In any case, the appointment has not gone unnoticed on social media, with comments ranging from the most positive and cheerful to the most sarcastic, given that Fakhfakh is a well-known political figure from another era.
A company under scrutiny since June
Commenting on Fakhfakh’s appointment, Chairman Abdelmoula said that “after working with him for more than three months, I am convinced that Fakhfakh has all the qualities needed to successfully face the new challenges facing SFBT”. Fakhfakh added that “I will devote all my energy to consolidating its influence and continuing its development”.
Fakhfakh and Abdelmoula will undoubtedly first have to deal with the detailed tax audit notice sent to SFBT on June 30, which will cover the 2019 financial year and the various taxes to which the company is subject.
SFBT’s new management team will also have to work on improving the company’s share price. Listed on the TSE in October 1990 at a price of TND 36.5, it was only trading at TND 12.60 on Thursday September 28, 2023. But above all, to take up the financial communication, in the calendar from which to the stock exchange, it does not appear, which is not normal for a company listed on the stock exchange and whose share price has been falling since at least 2011!
It should be noted that this change in management may or may not lead to a change in remuneration. We know that the remuneration of the late Mohamed Boussbiaâ consisted of an annual salary of TND 76,800 payable over 16 months, a balance sheet bonus increased to TND 844,036 net in 2022, and a profit-sharing bonus based on the results of subsidiaries before reinvestment and tax, increased since 1990 to TND 1,062,376, giving a gross annual remuneration of more than TND 1.983.
And it is assumed that the new CEO, former Minister Elyes Fakhfakh, could receive the same remuneration as his predecessor, in the same spirit of continuity referred to in the press release.
It is also known, since it is mentioned in the company’s annual report as information on the rights of investors on the stock exchange, that Mustapha Abdelmoula’s remuneration is made up of an annual salary of TND 62,400, a balance sheet bonus that will increase to TND 620,498 net in 2022, and a profit-sharing bonus based on the results of subsidiaries that will increase to TND 572,049 from 2022, i.e. an annual gross remuneration of more than TND 1.254 million