Saudi education and health sectors to open full foreign ownership

Ibrahim Al-Omar, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).
Updated 25 August 2017

Saudi education and health sectors to open full foreign ownership

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will allow foreign investors to take 100 percent ownership of companies in its health and education sectors, the head of the kingdom’s investment authority told Reuters.
It is the latest move by the country to gradually ease ownership restrictions on foreign firms, which have previously been required to set up a joint venture with a local partner.
“We are opening up education centers to have ownership 100 percent, all types of education even from primary school. This is something new for Saudi,” Ibrahim Al-Omar, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), said.
In the health sector, the ministry will “just be a regulator and not a service provider anymore,” said Omar. This will open up $180 billion of investment opportunities in that sector over the next five years, he said.
He did not say when the relaxation on foreign ownership would come into effect.
The Saudi government, seeking to diversify the economy beyond oil exports amid a slump in oil prices, told Reuters in April that it was launching a privatization program that would raise more than $200 billion.
However, it has not so far clarified foreign ownership and operating rules in many sectors. Many private equity firms and other potential foreign investors say majority or full control of projects is important to allow them to cut costs and improve efficiency.
The government is studying whether to sell off all public hospitals and 200,000 pharmacies, and has begun the process for the King Faisal Specialist Hospital, Vice Minister for Economy and Planning Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri said in April.
Meanwhile, the education ministry has hired HSBC as financial adviser for its plans to privatise construction and management of school buildings.
SAGIA’s efforts to ease ownership restrictions for foreign firms in recent years have included opening the wholesale and retail sectors in 2015. This month it announced it would allow full foreign ownership of engineering services companies.


Saudi Aramco appoints Mark Weinberger to Board of Directors

Updated 05 April 2020

Saudi Aramco appoints Mark Weinberger to Board of Directors

  • Weinberger, who replaces Andrew Gould, also serves as a director on the boards of Johnson & Johnson and Metlife
  • Weinberger was an active member of the US government, having worked across different administrations

DUBAI: Oil giant Saudi Aramco has appointed the former chairman of global firm EY (previously known as Ernst & Young) Mark Weinberger as an independent member to its board of directors, the company said in a statement.

Weinberger, who replaces Andrew Gould, also serves as a director on the boards of Johnson & Johnson and Metlife.

He is a member of several boards of trustees, including the United States Council for International Business (USCIB).

“I am honored to be joining the board of Aramco at this important time in the company’s history and world events,” Weinberger said.

Weinberger was an active member of the US government, having worked across different administrations – from George W. Bush to Donald Trump.