Abu Issa Holding: Navigating the Qatar Blockade
The case follows Ashraf Abu Issa, CEO and chairman of Abu Issa Holding (AIH), as he contemplated the fate of his company's regional expansion. AIH was a Qatari diversified holding company, whose primary business was luxury retailing and distribution. Abu Issa had set his company on a path of aggressive regional expansion since 2012, rapidly opening new stores in neighboring countries, most notably Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In July 2017, he woke up to the news that Saudi Arabia along with the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt had imposed a blockade on Qatar, cutting diplomatic relations with the country as well as closing all movements of people, goods and money between their countries and Qatar. A year into the blockade the situation was rapidly deteriorating, Abu Issa was at a crossroads: Should he wait for the blockade to end? Or was now the right time to exit and focus on the Qatari market at home? If he chose to exit, could he find a new investor to buy the business at a discount? Or should he close his shops and move as much as their inventory and staff as possible to Qatar? If he chose to exit, what would be the best way to do so?