Manama is planning to establish at least two holding companies for state assets, in preparation for their sale. One will own all government stakes in companies and the other will be the umbrella for all government land holdings.

The Economic Development Board (EDB) is taking the lead on the plan for the corporate assets, which will include flagship companies such as Aluminium Bahrain (Alba)and Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco). Parts of some of the subsidiary companies will then be offered for public subscription through the Bahrain Stock Exchange. Plans to sell strategic stakes in these companies are proceeding in parallel. McKinseyis acting as the consultant.

‘The plan is at a very advanced stage, with the by-laws already drafted, and it will be submitted for cabinet approval very soon,’ says a government official. Still under discussion is whether Manama’s equity stakes in real estate projects such as Durrat al-Bahrain and Lulu Island will be included or incorporated under a separate umbrella company.

The Finance Ministry is spearheading the plan to create a holding company for government land across the kingdom. Cabinet approval has already been received and the ministry is in the process of appointing a consultant. Portions of land will then be sold off, in consultation with the public.

‘These companies will be run on a purely commercial basis,’ says the official. The move is part of a wider government effort to allow the private sector to take the lead in economic development (Bahrain, MEED Special Report, 7:10:05, pages 36-38).