I took Sheikh Ali’s cheque to Bob Wild at Grindlays Bank and asked him to raise a Letter of Credit against it. He refused saying the Bank did not recognise post-dated cheques off anyone. As Bob Wild was new to Bahrain, I explained who Sheikh Ali was but he still refused to help me.
After a few more weeks passed, I had a call from Ed Peter at Porsche AG telling me unless we got a guarantee of payment to Porsche AG Bank immediately, he would sell our customer cars waiting for shipment to other dealers and the ones in production including Sheikh Ali’s Porsche 928S.
It was about this time that I met up by accident with Alex Wilson our previous Bank Manager in the Grindlay’s bank branch in Manama. I was very surprised to see him back in Bahrain and I told him Bob Wild was giving us lots of problems with our account. He understood why this was, and not take it personally, as the Bank was reviewing the majority of business accounts, not just ours. I asked him, “Is this because Grindlays are selling the Bahraini Bank to Sheikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa?” He promptly looked shocked and raised his fingers to his month to silence me and guided me outside the bank to a coffee shop next door. Alex told me that only a handful of people knew about this deal and he was working directly for the Chairman, so how could I possible know? I told him that Sheikh Ali himself had told me, so I knew what was going on. He begged me to keep quiet on this news and I agreed I would.
I then told Alex that Bob Wild had refused to accept Sheikh Ali’s post-dated cheque, which was very amusing since he was in the process of buying Grindlays Bank! I have never seen a person mouth their open and nothing come out before! The alarm on Alex face was obvious, and I told him I was at the point of going to tell Sheikh Ali personally that Bob Wild was refusing to fund the import of his car as I had run out of options. Alex actually begged me to hold off for a few hours and he would make sure we resolved all the funding problems but he needed to call his Chairman first.
I got a call from Bob Wild first thing the next morning informing me that he was authorising opening a Letter of Credit for the cars at the Porsche factory and could I come into to see him and provide the details. In a complete turnaround, he took Sheikh Ali’s cheque and we worked things out to everyone’s satisfaction. I had a problem after the Letter of Credit was lodged with Porsche’s Bank as Ed Peter informed me they had to get the cars back from other importers as they had been dispatched. I’m not sure if he was elaborating or not, but we got our cars a few weeks later.
We discussed the on-going funding challenge at the next Board meeting and it was decided we needed to get some additional security placed with the Bank to secure our facilities. The Bank was going to be sold and then Bahraini owned and run, which may or may not change things for us and we should prepare accordingly. We decided to approach a second bank BBME and seek additional facilities.
We needed a major restructuring and fast.