DUBAI - Emirati conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim Holding (MAF)chose long-time insider Ahmed Galal Ismail as chief executive, replacing Alain Bejjani after eight years in the role, in a shake up more than a year after the company's founder died.

MAF operates malls across the Middle East, including the opulent Mall of the Emirates, as well as residential properties and cinemas. It first announced the appointment on Friday and issued another statement on Monday in a filing on Nasdaq Dubai, where it has bonds listed.

Bejjani had been with MAF for more than 16 years, starting in 2006 as vice president for legal, according to his LinkedIn profile.

His successor Ismail, who joined the company 16 years ago, had been CEO of MAF Properties since 2018, the firm's largest and most profitable operating company.

MAF earlier told Reuters that Ismail's appointment was "supported unanimously by the shareholders" and that the company would continue to build on its "strong fundamentals driven by a clear strategic direction, prudent financial discipline, and commitment to governance".

The company's statement gave no reason for the leadership change.

After the death of founder and influential Emirati businessman Majid Al Futtaim in Dec. 2021, MAF's heirs inherited the business, which now has nine shareholders, Bejjani told Reuters in August.

Futtaim's death revived long-standing speculation of a possible public offering. Bejjani denied the company was considering a float in several media interviews over the years, including to Reuters in late 2021.

Dubai's former finance chief Nasser al-Shaikh praised Bejjani in a Twitter post for "steering (MAF) through the pandemic to safety", adding that change was the only constant in life.

MAF's late founder was ranked as the third-richest Arab businessman by Forbes Magazine in 2021, with a family fortune of $3.6 billion.

Last month, the company raised $1.25 billion through a sustainability-linked revolving credit facility. It also raised $500 million in June in a refinancing of perpetual bonds.

($1 = 3.6729 UAE dirham)

(Reporting by Yousef Saba. Editing by Sharon Singleton)