Kuwait-based Gulf Investment Corporation (GIC) has delayed until the first quarter of 2010 the development of the $750m Sulb steel plant in Bahrain, in order to allow more time to structure the debt being raised to finance the project.

Construction of the 1.8 million-tonnes-a-year plant was due to start by the end of 2009 and take over two years to complete. Financing for the project was also due to be put in place before the end of the year.

But following meetings between bankers and GIC in October, both sides agreed to delay the timetable for the project’s development.

The delay is necessary because five banks are still carrying out due diligence. The banks are Jordan’s Arab Bank, France’s Societe Generale, Banque Saudi Fransi, and Mizuho Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, both of Japan.

Gulf United Steel Company (Foulath) is sponsoring the project. Gulf Investment Corporation owns 50 per cent of Foulath, Qatar Steel owns 25 per cent, Kharafi Group and National Industries Group, both of Kuwait, each own 10 per cent stakes, and Kuwait Foundry Company owns 5 per cent (MEED 23:9:09).