Abinet Gebremeskel, a close confidant of Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi (Sheikh) for over three decades, has left the MIDROC Ethiopia Group in all but clear circumstances. Abinet says he had resigned from his responsibilities as a CEO of the Group a couple of weeks ago, a claim dismissed by Jemal Ahmed, who took over the reins from him.

“Abinet has been sacked by the owner [Al-Amoudi],” Jemal told Fortune.

The reason for Abinet's "dismissal," according to Jemal, was the mishandling of responsibilities at the MIDROC Group.

Abinet had served as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MIDROC Ethiopia for one year before he left on July 8, 2021. The Group underwent a management restructuring last year after the former CEO, Arega Yirdaw (PhD), was dismissed by Al-Amoudi. Abinet had been assigned to oversee a network of companies Al-Amoudi owns under MIDROC Ethiopia Group, including hotels, construction firms, real estate, and a pharmaceutical company.

The management shakeup happened two years after the Saudi Arabian government released Al-Amoudi from almost three years of detention as part of an alleged anti-corruption sweep, which also led to the detention of tycoons, high-level officials and members of the royal family.

Abinet was one of the key figures within the Al-Amoudi circle trusted with the vast wealth and companies in the absence of the tycoon. The two have had their amity for 35 years, first met in the United States in the 1980s. Abinet looked after Al-Amoudi's social affairs for long before being formally appointed to manage MIDROC Construction in 2014. He was also a board chairperson of Sheraton Addis Hotel for decades.

Abinet confirmed his relationship with MIDROC has been severed and claims that he had resigned from his responsibilities.

A power of attorney Al-Amoudi had given to him was revoked on July 15, 2021, while the same status provided to Jemal remains in effect.

“I've got the full power of attorney from Al Amoudi," says Jemal. "The Chairman's office is under me."

Repeated attempts for further comments from Abinet were declined.

“He was sacked due to mismanagement and the abuse of trust,” Jemal told Fortune.

Neither was Jemal forthcoming to disclose further details on what might have caused the rift between Al-Amoudi and Abinet. Abinet was Jemal's benefactor, helping him make it to the inside circle of Al-Amoudi. He was appointed as the CEO of Horizon Plantations Ethiopia Plc, one of the subsidiaries of MIDROC Investment Group, which had acquired a tyre company once owned by the state in 2011. Jemal was subsequently promoted to manage the vast coffee estate MIDROC acquired from the state.

Put under Horizon Plantation, Bebeka and Limmu coffee plantations have a combined 20,000ht of land under cultivation.

Jemal is now the CEO of MIDROC Investment Group, a conglomerate of 35 manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and trade companies with a combined turnover of eight billion Birr and 65,000 employees. With Jemal taking over the companies formerly under the supervision of Abinet, MIDROC Ethiopia is undergoing another restructuring.

“The group is restructured, and all the companies that Abinet used to lead under the MIDROC Ethiopia Group are now under MIDROC Investment Group,” Jemal confirmed to Fortune.

An American citizen, Abinet owns a 15pc share in the National Oil Ethiopia Plc (NOC) and a 40pc share in Bole Towers Plc, a building on Africa Avenue, close to Wello Sefer. Al-Amoudi (70pc) and Tadesse Tilahun (15pc) own the remaining shares in NOC, while Al-Amoudi owns the 60pc of Bole Tower Plc.

The oil company and the property on Africa Avenue are left tying Abinet with Al-Amoudi, for now.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 31,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1109]

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