Galfar (Brunei) facing bankruptcy, Muscat Daily review.

Seasons greetings everyone, it's been a nice and relaxing past few days with the Christmas celebrations and people starting to get ready for New Years Eve. However, I expect that the chaps at Galfar were not having a particularly good Christmas.

Once again, a huge story impacting a local company here, and not a peep of it in any of the papers here. I've done my review of the new local paper, Muscat Daily, and I will have to get around to that later on in this post. But it must be said - Why did none of the local papers run this story? Are the journalists even aware of it?

Galfar's Brunei operation, Galfar Pembinaan & Perusahaan (B) Sdn Bhd, are being sued by 13 companies for a total of US$ 25,000,000. That's a lot of cheese!

The news release is posted below, and here is the source.

Court Records Show Company Owes $25M In Total

Bandar Seri Begawan - Brunei's biggest bankruptcy since Amedeo Corporation went on the block has been put in motion yesterday with a court action against Galfar Pembinaan & Perusahaan (B) Sdn Bhd, one of Sultanate's largest construction companies.

The first to throw the stone against the troubled company, according to an advertisement in the Borneo Bulletin yesterday, is Freme Travel Agency Sdn Bhd, which has sued Galfar for $97,344.53. According to Brunei Supreme Court documents, there are 12 other companies given notice to be present at a winding up proceedings against Galfar. They are owed $25 million in total by the once star performer, court records show.

The largest creditor is Bank Islam Brunei Berhad (as is cited in court documents) to which Galfar is indebted to the tune of $15 million. Others besides the second largest, Baiduri Bank Berhad ($7 million), are mainly building material suppliers and other service providers. A firm called BK Global International Bhd is owed $1.8 million and the rest are smaller figures.

The advertisement of Galfar's bankruptcy petition posted in the Borneo Bulletin yesterday by solicitors, Messrs Sankaran Halim, says that Freme Travel's petition against Galfar is directed to be heard on January 30 next year before the Brunei Supreme Court.

Galfar, a leading construction company in the country involved in various large government projects, is basically a joint venture between local and Oman interests.

A search of the official records reveals the local partner is Haji Roney bin Haji Roslee @ Haji Roni bin Haji Rosli who holds 900,000 shares in the company. The rest, 3,000,000, is held by Sheikh Salim Saeed Hamed Al Fannah Al Araimi and the late Mohamed Rashid Al Araimi. They hold 699,999 shares each, records show.

An Indian national who has business interests in Oman, Dr Haji P Mohammed Ali controls 700,002 shares. The company came to Brunei from Oman well over a decade ago and soon established a name for itself but got into difficulties in recent times until it faced its current problems.

Now the survival of the company is in the courts and in the next move its multiple creditors will make.
The sad state of the company comes in the year that brought with it its full share of calamities both financial and otherwise.

Now I wonder if any of this will effect the local company here? The Muscat express way is still not finished, their tender for the MC3 package at the airport (That's the Passenger Terminal Building, Arrivals and Departures area, aka, "The Airport" as most regular folks would know it) was no where near competitive, and so the smart money would be on them not winning the Contract for the airport.

I just read the Undercover Dragon's blog, and he just posted the story on Galfar too. Beaten to it by a matter of minutes!

Now, Muscat Daily, the new English language paper here, has been circulating for a few months (since Oct 10 2009 I think).

Here is my brief review of the paper to date:

Registering for a subscription. This proved to be quite challenging. The first person I spoke to on the hotline seemed incapable of understanding me, and it was quite apparent that the poor girl did not speak English as a first language, and evidentially struggled with the language quite considerably. Not the best first impression I had, considering that the paper is targeted at an English speaking audience. Eventually, after calling again, and for a third time - I got my details taken. Then, about 2 weeks after that, someone turned up at the address to collect the money for the subscription, and then, about a week after the subscription dues were taken, I finally got my first paper, on 6th December, nearly 2 months after the launch. The registration process could certainly be improved!

Layout & aesthetics. I quite like the layout of the paper, it's very standard and regular. I know that the first 6 pages every day will be the National news, followed by Regional and World news (which I dont really read all that much). And then my favourite bit of the paper (after of course the national news) - the Op-Ed section. I presume this is a clipping of articles posted to the Associated Press that are republished with permissions. But it is enjoyable to read some real journalism in the paper, and interesting articles too. I find the National news is quite an entertaining read, but something that slightly piqued my interest was a column that has started in the Local news section entitled: Muttrah Mutterings. Cheeky bugger, can't even come up with his own unique column title!

I find that the World news section seems to contain a lot of India-related news, but then again, I guess the lions share of the English readers are probably of Indian decent. However, it's been said of the Times of Oman, that it should be renamed the Times of India, and I'm going to say the same applies to the World section of Muscat Daily. I doubt this will not change though. Advertising is what makes the printing press go round. To highlight this: Page 16 of Muscat Daily today (Monday December 28): All 7 stories on the page are related to India. My point here is that there is also not a single advertisement on the page, or the one next to it, the start of the Sports section. Just a comment.

The sports section is brilliant. I like to see what's going on in the NBA and the NHL, and no other paper here is covering this stuff - so thumbs up for that, but lets have some coverage on the Toronto Maple Leafs some time soon please! :) The soccer coverage is also right up to date. For example today carried the write-up of the Manchester United - Hull game last night (Man U won it 3-1) - the game ended about 9pm? 9:30? last night, and yet, it made the press for today. Good effort there. It must be hard to carry a lot of news on local sports, yet somehow they do manage to do it, and I'm following the OCCI basketball cup with some interest.

The business section is also a good read, and I find it somewhat amusing that the horoscopes and time wasters (those games) are contained within this business section. What does the editor, Mr Saleh Zakwani, think that all the people that are interested in the business section do? Want to do crosswords?! Another obvious question is why are the Government Tenders contained within the Local news, and not the Business section? Seems a bit odd to have it in the main paper. Perhaps that's just me that thinks that.

And that's about it. I'd say its the best English Language paper of the 4 currently available here in Muscat, and it's very handy getting a copy of The Week on Wednesday as well, it saves me having to actually hunt for a copy.

le fin.
Galfar (Brunei) facing bankruptcy, Muscat Daily review. Galfar (Brunei) facing bankruptcy, Muscat Daily review. Reviewed by Sythe on Monday, December 28, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. honey, page 16 is a India page - haven't you noticed - every issue has it. i guess these guys just don't call it india and thank god they don;t have three pages for it. by the way they are sending 90,000 indians home - what will times of oman(india) do????

  2. haha Muttrah Mutterings! Take it as a compliment I suppose ;)

  3. I heard today that Galfar (Oman) were on a big western expat recruitment drive, I seem to remember that they sent most of them home not so long ago. Would I be untoward in saying that Galfar's planning (both staffing and construction) leaves a lot to be desired??

  4. The Galfar thing won't be good for Galfar here if they fuck it up in the only other Sultanate in the world - Brunei - and a country where Shell is a well connected major player, as Shell are here in PDO...

    But, given the above, I'm sure they can avoid a winding up/bankruptcy. It's only $25mln and they could borrow that easily here. Filing that sort of threat under English Law is a common way for suppliers to get their bills paid from a 'slow' payer they've tired of lending money too.

  5. PS

    I thought exactly the same when I read "Muttrah Mutterings"... LOL

    Some media types roam the blogs, esp the more recent and most edgy such as the week and their offshoot Muscat Daily. They take a few items when the topics are safe, while pooh-poohing the bloggosphere [IMHO] in line with their own imagined Gov. Opinion suck-up-maximisation slant...

    But things media wise in Oman are at least on a very slight improvement trend...

  6. And today, on the front page of the business section...... coverage of the Galfar Brunei story! It only goes to reinforce what you just said Dragon...

    And even in the sports section the Toronto Maple Leafs got a mention... haha!

    At least the people at Muscat Daily are responsive to suggestions!

  7. Correction just issued by Galfar Oman, saying they had no longer any connection to the company in Brunei, and the Omani shareholders sold to the local partner "some time ago" (no clarification).

    Muscat Daily must be going Doh! Why did I listen to those pesky blogs!!! Or, in another view, we make a great team...

  8. :)

    I wonder if we can convince the papers to run a story on the UFO sightings in Sohar the other day....?

  9. Why isn't the Muscat Daily online?

  10. I subscribed to MD and will be getting my first issue ... ummm.. today? I think. I enjoy the columns written by Omanis. More real.

  11. @ Sunnoch: Good question, I meant to write about that in my review - presumably it's a cost v benefits thing, and will come in time.

    @ Nadia: Muscat Daily is circulated in the Dhofar? Really?

  12. Sythe,

    We get it obviously. We're not THAT isolated! However, subscriptions have been tricky. The subscriptions dude has been going around companies/offices looking for subscribers. There's no 'desk' for subscriptions like they have at City Centre in Muscat. But it's better than nothing, eh? I received my first copy yesterday. I quite reading Omani newspapers 4 years ago and ended up reading the UK Telegraph/ Globe & Mail/ New York Times. However, I feel that it's my duty to give Muscat Daily a try since they seem to be trying to break out of the horrible media disease that has spread in Oman (every article is a royal decree - flowery language, no content)

  13. Nadia - I know what you mean with the papers having no actual news in... too many press releases and flowery bits as you so accurately put it :P

    They're still there in the Mct Daily, but there's also some good articles there, but it's always got a Northern feel to it - never any news south of Sur or West of Sohar.....


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