Petri Pentti is preparing for his new post in the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company that is considering a stock market launch of one of its subsidiaries.
When Petri Pentti moved to Dubai nine years ago in October 2008, the city was a one big construction site.
The pace of development had been speedy for many years. Labour flowed in, retail market bloomed, and the world's tallest building Burj Khalifa was chasing highs.
Then the American investment bank Lehman Brothers crashed, and the global financial crisis also severely hit Dubai.
"I came here at a slightly challenging time, to say the least", Petri Pentti says. "The rent of our first apartment fell by 40 per cent after the first contract period. Even today, rents aren’t the same as when we arrived. That’s a pretty descriptive indicator. "
This man knows about indicators. Pentti follows the markets closely, as he is the CFO of Dubai's national oil company ENOC (Emirates National Oil Company).
Soon he will relocate to Abu Dhabi, and start working as the CFO of ADNOC Distribution, the marketing and retail arm of ADNOC Group.
Parts of the Abu Dhabi national oil company may go public in the near future. According to media, it may happen even before the end of the year.
In the stock listing process Petri Pent has the opportunity to utilize the experience from throughout his career. He started from the finance department at Wärtsilä. From there he moved on to Finnair for 15 years, working as the CFO for the last five years, and as a part of the company's management team.
Then, he worked for Fortum and Neste Oil which was separately listed in the Helsinki Stock Exchange in the spring of 2005. Three years later, a London-based headhunter called Pentti, offering an opportunity in Dubai.
“I had some prejudice against ENOC. The horror scenario in my head was that people leave the office at two in the afternoon, and that the ambitions are not set very high”, Pentti laughs. “But the company is actually managed by clean, commercial principles.”
Pentti is prepared to lead ADNOC’s working culture of to that same direction, if needed.
After the recession in 2008, economy slowly recovered. Then, three years ago, oil prices started to go downhill. Now the situation looks pretty bright again.
"We see the fuel sale numbers very precisely on a daily basis. Growth is currently 4–5 per cent”, Pentti says. “Generally, people are now cautious about spending money. Luxury item retailers are likely to have quieter times.”
But everybody needs fuel. The people in the United Arab Emirates love their cars.
“Families usually have more than one.”
What about electric car, will it come and conquer? Dubai wants to stay in the forefront of development, and prepares to remove, for example, registration fees and road tolls from electric cars.
"We have nothing against electric cars”, Pentti says. "The ADNOC service station network is superb. It would be easy for us to set up fast recharging infrastructure. While people charge their cars, they will probably do some shopping and have coffee inside the stations. It would create more business.”
However, Pentti does not see electric cars succeeding in the UAE, at least in the foreseeable future.
"Cars and fuel are so cheap. Fuel costs approximately one third of the European average, and there are no car or petrol taxes here”, he says. “Electric cars are expensive. Many expats move to the United Arab Emirates for a few years only. It’s not an ideal situation to invest in an electric car.”
Petri Pentti has seen many changes in development and economy in his career, so he wants to say one more thing.
“Of course, after five years I might have a different view.”