Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) will likely spin off its steel business unit Hadeed in July or August 2017, according to one of its senior executives.

Sabic, the largest listed firm in the Middle East and fourth-largest petrochemicals company in the world had announced a restructuring of its business in October.

“We’re going to have this restructure hopefully July or August next year,” said Abdulaziz Sulaiman al-Humaid, executive vice president, metals, Sabic, and former chairman, Hadeed at the Metal Bulletin Middle East Iron and Steel conference in Dubai on 13 December. 

“We’re going to halve our business units from six to three. The idea is to become more efficient and more agile, to become more productive. That’s our objective, as part of our strategy we wanted to focus on the main area of our business, which is petrochemicals and fertilisers – that’s our core business,” he added.

After a 6.8 per cent drop in third-quarter net profit – its ninth successive quarter of lowered earnings – Sabic announced that it had merged its chemicals and polymers into a single petrochemicals unit.

It also said it would turnaround Hadeed as an independent company, with Sabic retaining 100 per cent ownership of the steel firm.

“Petrochemicals is our bread and butter, steel represents only 10 per cent of our portfolio,” said al-Humaid.

“We’re the only company in the world that mixes steel with petrochemicals and nobody else does that.

“To be more efficient, we want to split the steel business back to an affiliate, the ownership is going to be maintained, our customers won’t see any change but the key thing is to be more efficient as a whole,” he added.