KPMG Lower Gulf CEO adds chairman role following Vijay Malhotra retirement

25 June 2019 3 min. read

KPMG Lower Gulf CEO Nader Haffar has been appointed as the firm’s new chairman following Vijay Malhotra’s decision to retire.

KPMG Lower Gulf chairman and former CEO Vijay Malhotra has announced his imminent retirement, with current CEO Nader Haffar appointed to take on chairman duties in addition to his present role. Effective from the end of this month, the move marks the completion of a transition period devised in 2017 and enacted toward the end of last year, when Malhotra handed his chief executive hat to Haffar and carried on as chair.

“As a longstanding partner at KPMG, Vijay has decided it is now time for him to enter retirement. We sincerely thank Vijay for his over 45 years of service to KPMG and we wish him the very best in his retirement,” said Haffar, who has been with the firm for just over six and a half years and prior to his CEO elevation served as the head of its management consulting and public sector practices – crossing as a partner from Deloitte.

Joining KPMG in Iran in the mid-70s on a placement from the UK (before the Islamic Revolution would force his brief return to London), Malhotra has since 1979 been stationed in the Middle East, where he would go on to lead KPMG Lower Gulf – which covers the professional services firm’s UAE and Oman operations – over several decades, as well as for a time serving as the chair of KPMG’s MESA region.

KPMG Lower Gulf names management consulting head Nader Haffar as new CEO

“KPMG is focused on developing a stronger team of knowledge leaders who are committed to growing the business in the region,” Malhotra said at the time of Haffer’s elevation to CEO, personally involved in selecting his successor. “Nader brings immense experience in strategy development and implementation to the table in both the public and private sector and will be a critical addition to KPMG’s leadership team.”

Prior to joining KPMG at the end of 2012, Haffer was with Deloitte for 16 years – in charge of the firm’s consulting practice in Kuwait – before which he spent three years at fellow Big Four advisory PwC. Now holding the dual Chair and CEO titles, he has a considerable challenge ahead – both in terms of maintaining impressive recent growth, but also in respect to taking over during a particularly rocky period at the firm.

Already caught at the centre of the Abraaj collapse, KPMG’s Oman branch was also slapped with a twelve-month suspension from taking on any new auditing work by Omani regulators last year. Yet, since taking over as CEO, Haffer has exhibited quite the fighting spirit, anticipating ongoing double-digit growth for the firm in the UAE and Oman over the next few years.

He has also addressed the Abraaj concerns head-on, stating to Arabian Business; “Professional services are high-risk. Something is constantly going wrong, everywhere, all around the world. It’s because we’re always in the thick of it. We work with multi-billion dollar organisations that either want to improve themselves, or get themselves out of troubled waters. That’s the environment we work in, and you better love it if you choose to be in it.”