The CEO of Afriquia Gaz said the group saw its turnover drop by 50% in April.
Rabat – Managing Director of Afriquia Gaz Said Baghdadi said he is astonished at the findings of Forbes magazine, which listed the group’s owner Aziz Akhannouch as the eighth richest billionaire in Africa.
According to Forbes, the fortune of Aziz Akhannouch more than tripled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The magazine said Akhannouch’s net worth went from $1 billion in March to $3.5 billion in October.
Baghdadi shared articles containing his statement via LinkedIn, saying, “One cannot help but be distressed by the data reported by Forbes magazine.”
He said it is completely absurd to “put forward such risky and surreal figures, and to have fun in the midst of a crisis by disturbing millions and billions to the right and to the left.”
Afriquia Group is the flagship of the Akwa Group owned by Akhannouch, who also serves as Morocco’s minister of agriculture and the secretary-general of the Rally of Independents (RNI).
This is not the first time Forbes magazine has published data on Aziz Akhannouch’s fortune.
In recent years, Akhannouch took over the position of Othman Benjelloun, the CEO of BMCE Bank of Africa, as the richest person in Morocco.
Both businessmen appear frequently in Forbes magazine, both with billion-dollar net worths.
It is, however, unprecedented to see a top official from the Afriquia or Akwa Group comment on the Forbes findings.
In response to the data Forbes presented in its analysis of Akhannouch’s wealth, Baghdadi argued that Afriquia saw its turnover fall by 50% in April.
“This decrease has accumulated at -20% to date, despite the end of the lockdown,” the CEO of Afriquia Gaz said.
For Saaid Baghdadi, the group’s other activities are not doing “any better, especially catering to gas stations, which has been completely closed for months and which still remains subject to restrictions on reception hours and capacity.”
The Akwa Group is active in several fields, including petroleum and gas through Afriquia gas stations. The group also has subsidiaries in the sectors of chemicals, telecommunication, tourism, and real estate.
Baghdadi argued that the shares of Afriquia Gaz and Maghreb Oxygene, two subsidiaries of the Akwa Group, have been declining since the start of 2020.
“These two companies issued profit warnings on their revenues last August,” he said.
The Afriquia CEO claimed that the company and group are doing their best to cope with the “complicated and sensitive situation” due to the pandemic.
He described the Forbes data on Aziz Akhannouch as “fake news, which defies all logic.”
“All of the information communicated is beyond us, and we are left to wonder how an organization that claims to be serious can let such enormities escape.”