New Saudi bankruptcy law may resolve $22 billion Saad debt saga

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Vehicles belonging to billionaire Maan al-Sanea and his company are auctioned off by Saudi authorities in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, on March 18, 2018. (REUTERS/Zuhair Al-Traifi/File Photo)
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Maan Al-Sanea
Updated 10 March 2019

New Saudi bankruptcy law may resolve $22 billion Saad debt saga

  • Saad Group, with interests from banking to health care, defaulted in 2009, leaving banks with unpaid debts of about $22 billion
  • Saudi Arabia’s bankruptcy law is part of the Saudi government’s efforts to make the economy more attractive to investors

ALKHOBAR, Saudi Arabia: A Saudi court has approved an application by billionaire Maan Al-Sanea and his company, Saad, to have their case resolved through the Kingdom’s new bankruptcy law.

The ruling could provide a resolution to one of Saudi Arabia’s longest-running debt sagas.

Saad, with interests from banking to health care, defaulted together with another conglomerate, Ahmad Hamad Al-Gosaibi and Brothers, in 2009, leaving banks with unpaid debts of about $22 billion.

Creditors have spent the past 10 years pursuing Saad, which is based in Alkhobar, for claims estimated at between $11 billion and $16 billion.

“This is a landmark step for all stakeholders since 2009,” said Ahmed Ismail, chief executive of Reemas Consultants, which was appointed as Saad’s financial adviser in late 2017 to find a settlement with creditors.

“The regional and international creditors represent more than 85 percent of total debt, some of whom advised filing under the new bankruptcy law. Given that it is more or less aligned with regional and international commercial law practices, the probability of its success is much higher.”

The commercial court in Dammam last month approved an application for financial reorganisation under the terms of the Saudi bankruptcy law and appointed an independent trustee to oversee the process. 

The trustee, Saleh Al-Naim, sent a notice to creditors announcing the beginning of the financial reorganisation proceedings, and asked them to submit their claims within 90 days.

Saad’s filing is among the first to be accepted under Saudi Arabia’s bankruptcy law, which came into effect last August and is part of the Saudi government’s efforts to make the economy more attractive to investors.

Until last year the main options for debt defaults were liquidation or cash injections. The law provides more options and regulates procedures such as settlements and liquidation.


Saudi minister calls on worshippers to respect safety measures in mosques

Updated 28 May 2020

Saudi minister calls on worshippers to respect safety measures in mosques

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's minister of Islamic affairs called on Muslims to respect ongoing preventative measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) inside mosques as the Kingdom eases some restrictions.

Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh said worshipers should bring their own prayer mats, wear masks and wash their hands prior to coming to the mosque to ensure the safety of other worshippers. 

Al-Asheikh said preventative measures will remain in place to ensure a safe return of worshipers to mosques for Friday prayers from May 31 until June 20, except in Makkah. 

Worshippers must keep two meters apart and leave a row of space empty between each row, he said.

The minister said the elderly and children under 15 should continue to avoid going to the mosque. 

The instructions follow other announcements in the Kingdom relaxing aspects of the lockdown, including reducing curfews and allowing freer movement of people.