Led by Sir Nadhmi Auchi, GMH Group marries astute financial investment with philanthropy to create a business network that always seeks to deliver a positive local impact
Over the last 40 years or so, the General Mediterranean Holding (GMH) Group has transformed into a multi-billion-dollar asset-based multinational corporation with a paid-up capital equivalent to $510m. The group follows a strict philosophy of ploughing profits back into the organisation.
The GMH Group has had a significant investment in banks. It was the largest independent shareholder in Banque Paribas, where each acquired 50% of Banque Continentale Du Luxembourg. As well as banking, the group was involved in aviation, the manufacturing of generic medicines (200+ licences) and owning the civil engineering company Soludec SA.
The GMH group now has presence in 22 countries, with some 11,000 personnel. The group is led by Sir Nadhmi Auchi, whose philanthropic raison’ d’être is to counter the sometimes negative way Arabs are portrayed in the West, and to bridge the gap between British Arabs and their host community. He presides over the not-for-profit Anglo Arab Organisation, incorporated in England and Wales.
The group’s objective is the diversification and consolidation of its activities via investments and organic growth. Much of GMH’s business is in the hospitality and leisure sector – it owns or manages 24 hotels, some of which are under Le Royal Hotels and Resorts brand. It also operates in manufacturing, real estate, land development, asset management, international trade, pharmaceutical, publication, and power generation.
Sir Nadhmi Auchi rose through the ranks to become Director of Iraq’s Oil Ministry’s Planning and Development. In 1973, he struck out to start his own business focusing on international trade which eventually became a very successful business. With a flair and acumen for business, Auchi soon saw opportunities, and realised that it was time to operate internationally. Later In 1979, he started his own conglomerate business in Luxembourg. The new group went under the name of General Mediterranean Holding (now Société de Gestion de Patrimoine Familial), and initial capital was just $2.5m.
On GMH’s 20th anniversary, Sir Nadhmi received a framed print of Westminster signed by 130 politicians, including then Prime Minister Tony Blair, William Hague, and Charles Kennedy. In 2003 he was given a personal Coat of Arms by Queen Elizabeth II. He was the first Arab to receive an honorary Freedom of the City of London.
He was made a member of the Order of Knight Commander in a ceremony in St John’s, Antigua and Barbuda, in recognition of his contribution to charitable, humanitarian and inter-religious endeavours. The Royal Order of Francis l – the highest award of the Knight’s Grand Cross – was delivered to Sir Nadhmi at a ceremony in London. His other honours include, Officer of the Order of the Tunisian Republic, the Grand Cordon of the Order of Independence of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George, the Pontifical Order of Pope Saint Sylvester, the First Grade of the Lebanese Order of Merit, and a Commander of the National Order of the Cedar.
Philanthropic support includes donations to the Royal Society of Medicine, The Royal Eye Unit – Kingston Hospital, the Auchi Dialysis Centre-Hammersmith Hospital London, the Nadhmi Auchi fellowship programme at the American University in Cairo, as well as ambulances, medical equipment and clothing for disaster relief.
Moreover, organisations benefitting from donations by Sir Nadhmi, and often his stewardship, include the Children’s Heart Foundation, the International College of Surgeons, the Pakistan Earthquake Relief Commission, the educational Zindagi Trust, the Graham Layton Trust, Kingston Cancer Hospital, and the British Red Cross. Sir Nadhmi was vice-chair of the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University from 1996 to 2000.
He is not alone in his achievements among the GMH fold, the boards and principal subsidiaries consist of prominent and accomplished individuals from the world of finance and commerce, and are all leaders in their respective fields.
Main image: The 78 is a 13 million sq-ft mixed use development in Chicago.