March 22, 2018 / 12:34 PM / a month ago

Saudi tycoon's creditor banks weigh multi-billion dollar debt deal

DUBAI (Reuters) - Bank creditors of detained Saudi Arabian tycoon, Maan al-Sanea, have asked his advisers for more details on a proposed settlement covering 16 billion riyals ($4.3 billion) in claims before they agree to move forward with the process, sources close to the matter said.

People are seen as vehicles belonging to billionaire Maan al-Sanea and his company are auctioned by Saudi authorities in Dammam, Saudi Arabia March 18, 2018. Picture taken March 18, 2018. REUTERS/Zuhair Al-Traifi

Banks met in Dubai on Wednesday as they seek to resolve the debt crisis that has rumbled on since al-Sanea’s company Saad Group defaulted on its debt in 2009.

The meeting, the first major gathering of the debtors and creditors since 2009, took place as auctions were underway to sell around 900 vehicles owned by al-Sanea and Saad.

More than 30 banks, some of whom were represented by lawyers, attended the meeting, said one source close to the matter. Another said around 12 banks attended themselves included Emirates NBD, Dubai’s largest bank, Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia’s second largest bank by assets, and Germany’s Portigon.

In a case separate from the dozens of Saudi businessmen and officials who were held up in a corruption crackdown, al-Sanea was detained by authorities late last year for unpaid debt.

Since then a tribunal in charge of resolving Saad’s debt dispute appointed a consortium late last year to liquidate assets owned by the billionaire.

In an effort to halt that process and get al-Sanea released from detention, his family and their advisers are striving to reach a consensual settlement with bank creditors.

A man looks at vehicles belonging to billionaire Maan al-Sanea and his company as they are auctioned by Saudi authorities in Dammam, Saudi Arabia March 18, 2018. Picture taken March 18, 2018. REUTERS/Zuhair Al-Traifi

As well as properties and shares in companies including National Commercial Bank, Kingdom Holding, Samba Financial Group and Riyad Bank, proposed terms set out a framework for a deal that include “top-up assets” to be contributed by relatives of Maan al-Sanea.

In response to a request by Reemas, a financial consultancy advising al-Sanea, to form a steering committee to coordinate negotiations between lenders and al-Sanea and Saad, the banks asked for more details about the “top-up assets” before deciding on whether to move forward with a potential settlement, the sources said.

Reemas is expected to give banks details of those assets in the coming days, the sources said.

Banks, most of which have long written off the debt, have been told they would get better returns under the Reemas process than via the liquidation process, the sources said, who added that the process would also be faster.

They were also told there was potential for other banks to join the process once they have claims approved by the tribunal.

($1 = 3.7499 riyals)

Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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