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AbouZeid named Bombers' interim CEO

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He’s got the keys to the football team.

But the new interim CEO of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers says even he doesn’t have the key to the slumbering Bombers offence.

"I think I’m too old for that," laughed Ossama AbouZeid, 62. "I will not volunteer for that."

AbouZeid was introduced to the media Wednesday afternoon as the Bombers announced they have hired their first CEO since Lyle Bauer left the team in December 2009.

Board chairman Bill Watchorn said the club felt it needed an interim CEO immediately to oversee an extraordinarily diverse operation that is right now operating a football team, building a stadium and doing preparations for the transition to the new facility in 2012.

"We’re moving into a transition from a football club into a sports and entertainment business," Watchorn told a news conference. "We have three senior executives (GM Joe Mack, president Jim Bell and Chief Transition Officer Jeff Thompson), each operating a core business, and the coordination and integration is a key factor.

"We were lucky to have Ossama available and the board decided to go to a CEO model, with each of those three people reporting to the CEO."

Watchorn said AbouZeid will also remain as project manager of the new stadium, a position he originally accepted with the club last December. Watchorn said AbouZeid’s position is currently an interim one. He said the board has struck a search committee and will define the criteria they are looking for in a new CEO over the next couple months.

Watchorn said it will be up to AbouZeid whether he decides to allow his name to stand for consideration as a full-time CEO.

Well?

"Give me a chance. This is day one. I have to get into it, I have to understand what is happening there," said AbouZeid. "We have a great executive group. But we are moving into a very involved and very sophisticated business model and we need those executive groups to be coordinated and intergrated into the new business.

"Somebody has to be volunteered and I got volunteered... I have a great team and I’d just like to build."

AbouZeid is an Egyptian-born businessman who has lived in Winnipeg since 1974. He is the former president and CFO of Buhler Industries and also the former president of Central Canadian Structures Inc., a Winnipeg-based construction and engineering company that has been involved in overseas projects around the world, including the Middle East and Russia.

AbouZeid has a PHD in physics, an MBA and a degree in engineering. He is married with two children.

AbouZeid says he is a fan and season ticket holder of the Bombers. "Absolutely. I’m a Winnipegger so I am a football fan -- and a soccer fan too."

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