Watani rides out the first challenge

29-04-2018 08:26 PM

Youssef Sidhom

Youssef Sidhom

Problems on hold

I wish to express my deeply felt appreciation and gratitude to the shareholders of Watani Corporation for Printing and Publishing, the joint-stock company that issues Watani. Last Wednesday, 25 April, large numbers of them participated, in person or by proxy, in the extraordinary general assembly. They announced their overwhelming support of the paper’s mission by voting against dissolving the corporation. In so doing, they declared loud and clear their decision to carry on with the media mission Watani has shouldered since its foundation in 1958: a mission that is profoundly Egyptian as much as it is Coptic.
In view of the large financial loss incurred by the paper, Watani’s shareholders were invited to an extraordinary general assembly in order to vote on whether the corporation should remain in operation or should be dissolved. In case they decided on the former, they were required to vote on doubling the corporation’s capital.
Once a quorum was reached and all the legal preliminaries fulfilled, the assembly convened. The 2017 budget was discussed; it including the pile up of losses which called for notifying the shareholders, in their capacity as owners of the corporation, for them to decide on the future of the business. The discussions among shareholders reflected unanimous confidence in the media mission Watani has been undertaking during the past 60 years. The paper’s rich history extends beyond that of other Egyptian State-owned and privately-owned papers, with the exception of al-Ahram which has to its credit 142 years in the field of journalism.

It was obvious that the shareholders realise that Watani is no industrial or commercial business where profit and loss called the shots. Shareholders were mostly concerned about the paper’s media mission, and were eager to overcome all difficulties in order for it to go on fulfilling that mission. In the general sense, dissolving or liquidating a losing business is not always the wiser decision; owners might opt for finding other solutions such as infusing funds that could help save the business.
It is self-evident that every one of the shareholders present or represented in Watani’s extraordinary general assembly was keen on the continuity of the paper’s mission; the assembly unanimously voted against dissolving the corporation, and 96 per cent of the voters agreed to doubling its capital. Watani thus overcame the first challenge by a consensus favouring continuity of its mission.
The upcoming weeks will see an Initial Public Offering (IPO) for the increase of the corporation’s capital, as regulated by the law. The new offering will start with giving present shareholders the privilege to a stake equal to their current one; they are free to accept or decline. If they do not in this manner cover the IPO, those of them who desire larger stakes are allowed to buy as many shares as they desire. The IPO is offered to the public only if the current shareholders do not cover the targeted capital raise.
Earlier this month, I had written about the challenges facing Watani. [http://en.wataninet.com/opinion/editorial/watani-faces-the-challenge/23608/]
Since then I have been inundated with calls and messages from friends and admirers of the paper, who offered their support and endorsement, and expressed their keenness to help Watani overcome the challenges which confronted it. I deeply appreciate these warm, heartfelt emotions which add to the credit of love and credibility Watani managed to build over the years. I realise that this places a great responsibility on the shoulders of all the members of the Watani family to enhance the quality of work and to push the mission forward during the upcoming phase.
I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Watani’s shareholders, its friends and supporters inside and outside Egypt, and to the readers and advertisers who remain the cornerstone of the continuity of the Watani mission.

Watani International
29 April 2018

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