The ongoing row between Saudi Arabia’s Saad Group and Ahmad Hamad al-Gosaibi & Brothers (Ahab), two giant Saudi conglomerates, could run for years as the two pursue their legal dispute in several jurisdictions around the world.
Now Saad, headed up by chairman Maan al-Sanea, appears to be trying to limit the number of other legal actions launched against it, by offering to meet all creditors not suing it and to agree a way to restructure its debts.
The offer was made in a letter to creditors in mid-November. In the letter, Saad also says it does not have a separate deal with the Saudi banks to repay their debt before international creditors.
This puts Saad at odds with the governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (Sama), Muhammad al-Jasser, who said in September that Saad had struck a deal with its creditors within the kingdom.
The conglomerate’s denial of the Saudi settlement may reassure some international banks and convince them to wait for formal repayment talks to begin.
In the letter, Saad also threatens to launch legal claims against banks that have frozen its assets – actions it says prevents it from servicing some of its debts.
If Saad carries out its threats, the already overlapping web of lawsuits will merely gain a few extra strands.
While all this is going on, banks around the world are becoming increasingly unwilling to lend money to Saudi Arabia. Even foreign governments are being called on by their banks to get involved and put pressure on Riyadh to enforce a solution, in a sign of how far the kingdom’s reputation has been battered by the scandal.
If Saudi Arabia is to reassure investors that it will protect their interests in future, regulators will have to force more financial disclosure from companies and tighten up corporate governance standards.