Saudi Arabian family-owned company Ahmad Hamad al-Gosaibi & Brothers (AH al-Gosaibi) will present improved settlement terms to creditors on approximately SR22bn-SR24bn ($5.9bn-$6.4bn) of debt in the coming weeks, in an effort to bring to an end one of the largest corporate scandals in the region.
AH al-Gosaibi and the Saad Group defaulted on at least $15.7bn of debt in 2009 leaving banks across the Gulf, Europe and US exposed.
One of the biggest corporate defaults in the Middle East to date, there are approximately 109 claimants chasing repayment.
The defaults were partly triggered by the onset of the financial crisis in the Gulf in 2009, which led to lenders calling in their loans.
Complicating the issue, billionaire Maan al-Sanea, who heads up the Saad Group, also stands accused of major fraud by the Al-Gosaibi family. Al-Sanea, who is connected to the Al-Gosaibi family by marriage, was in charge of the Bahrain-based International Banking Corporation (TIBC) bank, which allegedly issued fraudulent loans to secure funding from international banks. TIBC was owned by AH al-Gosaibi.
Since 2009, the Al-Gosaibi family and Al-Sanea have been embroiled in legal disputes over who is responsible for the debt, as well as how AH al-Gosaibi can chase recoveries of assets from Al-Sanea to repay the outstanding debts. In the mean time, Al-Sanea and some senior members of the Al-Gosaibi family have been barred from leaving Saudi Arabia.
Negotiations between the creditors and AH al-Gosaibi rumble on. An initial debt settlement was proposed in 2009 but was turned down by claimants.
In May 2014, the company presented a new settlement plan to creditors in a meeting in Dubai, but again some banks were not satisfied with the terms on offer. Since then, a steering committee of five banks has been formed to work with AH al-Gosaibi on reviewing the proposed debt settlement.
Close to a year later, the firm and the steering committee is now preparing to present a new set of terms to creditors, which are said to significantly improve the offering for the claimants.
Efforts by the Al-Gosaibi family to recover assets continue through the civil courts against Al-Sanea and entities controlled by him in the Cayman Islands and Saudi Arabia. The family is also pursuing claims against local lenders Sabb and Samba, for two portfolios owned by the group but seized by banks in a move AH al-Gosaibi says breaks Saudi Arabias laws.