Exclusive interview with Maarten Geerarts – ...

Exclusive interview with Maarten Geerarts – General Counsel & Company Secretary, YBA Kanoo Group

Exclusive interview with Maarten Geerarts – General Counsel & Company Secretary at the Yusuf bin Ahmed Kanoo Group. A legal professional with over 10 years of international experience, Mr Geerarts currently guides the Legal & Compliance team at the Group.


  1. Why has the YBA Kanoo Group chosen to become a corporate affiliate of GCC BDI?

As a leading conglomerate in the region for over a century, YBA Kanoo strives to offer its stakeholders certainty in a complex world. In this pursuit, good corporate governance and compliance go hand-in-hand as the foundations of any sustainable business. YBA Kanoo is devoted to maintaining the  highest corporate governance standards and to complying with all applicable laws and regulations. Becoming a GCC BDI Corporate Affiliate not only proves its commitment to these principles, but also demonstrates its commitment to implementing and further developing the intellectual infrastructure which contributes to the backbone of the regional economy. In addition to ensuring that YBA Kanoo is synchronised with global best practices and latest governance trends, having YBA Kanoo as a corporate affiliate also helps GCC BDI to promote the importance of high performance boards for family owned businesses in particular.

  1. Why is it important for the region’s business leaders to collaborate on issues such as corporate governance?

Economies are in constant flux and now more than ever businesses are under pressure to perform. Company performance is being put under the microscope by shareholders and other stakeholders alike. GCC boards and their directors must uphold the highest standards of corporate governance and deliver true value to persevere and thrive in these volatile economic conditions.

  1. What are your top line recommendations for effective risk management?

Effective risk management requires a structured and methodological approach. This starts with risk identification and mapping through to identifying a suitable risk appetite for the organisation and subsequently implementing a robust risk management process. Importantly, this is a continuous and iterative process which must feature high on the agenda of both management and the Board of Directors.

  1. What are the some of the most salient corporate risks in the GCC currently?

Cyber security and threats to existing business models form technological and regulatory disruption are salient corporate risks for many organisations globally, the GCC is certainly no exception.

  1. What are your strategic plans for the YBA Kanoo Group over the next year?

Having empowered a professional management team to drive the business to new heights under its ambitious Vision 2020, YBA Kanoo aims in parallel to set a benchmark for corporate governance in the Gulf among family owned businesses. The Vision 2020 business strategy, which started in 2017, is based on four key foundations: Customer Focus, the “One Kanoo” Transformation Programme, Strategic Risk Management and Compliance. These pillars fit perfectly into YBA Kanoo’s business groups, which are Industrial & Energy, Shipping & Logistics, Kanoo Capital, Kanoo Real Estate and Kanoo Travel. The Group is moving from traditional trading house to being a true solutions provider, looking to offer reliable and value added solutions to our customers and business partners. In 2018, YBA Kanoo unveiled the restructuring of its Industrial & Energy division into five business units to be better aligned with its customer base, and the Group’s Shipping division has embarked on an ambitious expansion strategy on the world stage.