Companies listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) spent SR177 billion ($47 billion) on capital expenditure (CAPEX) in 2020, equal to around 7 percent of the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to new research.
The report by Dubai-based research portal Awalan found that CAPEX declined by 14 percent last year, as supply chains were disrupted due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, but the impact differed across sectors.
The hardest-hit were energy, entertainment, real estate development, consumer services, durables, tourism, and media. However, companies in the telecom, banking and insurance, transportation, and public services sectors actually saw CAPEX increases.
In terms of spending, Saudi Aramco led the pack in 2020 with CAPEX of SR101 billion, followed by the Saudi Electricity Co. (SR23 billion) and SABIC (SR15 billion).
Within the telecommunications sector, STC led with SR9 billion spent on capital projects in 2020, accounting for around 65 percent of the sector’s total CAPEX.
Saudi National Bank was the biggest spender in the banking sector, with SR1.1 billion or 21 percent of total CAPEX in the sector.
Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Group dominated the healthcare sector with SR758 million; Jabal Omar was number one in real estate sector investment with a CAPEX of SR356 million, and Almarai led the food sector with spending of SR944 million.
The report also predicted that CAPEX would rebound in 2021 and beyond. “Capital spending by leading Saudi listed companies is expected to significantly pick up in the coming years, in line with the expected acceleration of economic growth and the investments in new sectors and flagship projects, such as Neom, the Red Sea Project, and others,” it said.
Khalid Al-Dabbagh, senior vice president of finance, strategy and development at Saudi Aramco, said in March the energy giant expects CAPEX to rise to SR131 billion in 2021, a year-on-year increase of around 30 percent.