KHOBAR Dec 7 A group of investors will pay
$1.12 billion for Saudi Oger's stake in Jordan's Arab Bank
and expects to complete the deal by mid-January, a
member of the consortium told Al Arabiya TV on Wednesday.
Saudi Arabian conglomerate Astra Group was part of
the consortium, led by Arab Bank Group Chairman Sabih al-Masri,
that was buying the 20 percent stake, Ghassan Akeel, chief
executive for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council at
Astra Group, told the broadcaster.
Masri is also chairman of Astra Group.
"We have 45 days exclusivity and God willing by Jan. 15 we
should be done with everything," Akeel told Al Arabiya TV.
He said the consortium was paying 6.25 dinars ($8.82) per
share. Arab Bank's shares closed at 6.09 dinars on Wednesday.
Masri had confirmed a Reuters story that he was leading a
consortium to buy the stake after the family of Saudi Arabia's
Fawaz Alhokair dropped its $1.1 billion offer.
The stake is held by Oger Middle East Holding, which is
owned by the family of Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad
Saudi Oger, the central plank of the Hariri business empire,
was one of two large Saudi contractors charged with implementing
the kingdom's grand infrastructure plans before the fall in oil
prices and consequent state spending cuts left the company
facing a possible multibillion-dollar debt restructuring to
stave off collapse.
As a result, it has been seeking to shed assets to try to
meet its debt, which include around 15 billion riyals to banks,
plus billions more to contractors, suppliers and employees,
sources told Reuters in September.
The Arab Bank stake sale was expected to help it repay a
$1.03 billion loan from regional and international banks due to
mature in February next year.
($1 = 0.7083 Jordanian dinars)
(Reporting by Reem Shamseddine; Writing by Tom Arnold; Editing
by Louise Heavens)