Akbaraly had been managing director of the group since 1991 but, today, leaves day-to-day management to Nelly Jirari from La Réunion, who was appointed managing director at the end of 2012. He contents himself now with the position of board chairman but still makes a point of keeping up good relations with High Transitional Authority president Andry 'TGV' Rajoelina. Rajoelina is due to relinquish his position after the presidential election due to take place in late July 2013, in which he will not be running.

Akbaraly is careful, however, not to make too much of his friendly relations with TGV. In the past, he paid a high price for his close relations with former president Didier Ratsiraka and, most notably, with the latter's children, with whom he set up a business partnership in 2001. This venture left a lasting impression on him because it resulted in his spending a short time in the wilderness after Marc Ravalomanana came to power in 2002. He bore up to his misfortune but then turned to investment projects outside the country, notably, in Mauritius and Mozambique, before publicly welcoming Ravalomanana's re-election in 2006. He had no misgivings, nevertheless, about supporting TGV's bid to become mayor of Antananarivo in December 2007 and then president in March 2009. On June 26 2009, he was prominent in the official stand at the ceremony to commemorate the 49th anniversary of Madagascar's independence, presided over by TGV but boycotted by Western diplomats in the Malagasy capital.

Nevertheless, in recent years, Akbaraly has paid more attention to his international position with the aim of ensuring that his business affairs survive in the event that his close links with the regime in power in Antananarivo should again unravel.

4097 words/40 EUR