HSBC Wins Priority Over Other Banks in U.K. Algosaibi Case

HSBC Holdings Plc won priority for repayment over BNP Paribas SA and five other banks in a U.K. lawsuit seeking at least $250 million from Saudi Arabia’s Algosaibi family and their company, which defaulted in 2009.

Priority for repayment from Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers Co. relates to five apartments allegedly owned by the family and is contingent on HSBC’s so-called charging orders against the company being finalized, judge Julian Flaux ruled today in the High Court in London. A trial over the apartments in London’s Mayfair neighborhood is scheduled for Nov. 28.

“HSBC will have priority over the opposing banks in the event that the charging orders are made final,” Flaux said in the judgment. HSBC was first to apply for an interest in the apartments after the bank’s legal advisers discovered the properties by examining Algosaibi documents, Flaux said.

Algosaibi, with interests including construction, beverage-bottling and finance, admitted liability in the matter in June and hasn’t said how or when it will repay the banks in the case or dozens of other lenders seeking repayment. The case includes HSBC’s $85 million claim, British Arab Commercial Bank Ltd.’s $19 million claim, Arab Banking Corp.’s claims totaling $140 million and Credit Agricole SA’s $6 million claim.

The case is part of a global dispute between Algosaibi and one of Saudi Arabia’s richest men, Maan al-Sanea, who married into the Algosaibi family and founded the Saad Group, which has businesses ranging from construction to health care. Units of Saad and Algosaibi defaulted after borrowing about $15.7 billion from more than 80 banks.

Equal Share

The other banks in today’s case argued that if they weren’t given an equal share of the apartments with HSBC, they may not recover anything from Algosaibi due to the difficulty of enforcing rulings in Saudi Arabia and “the unlikelihood of assets being available elsewhere,” according to the judgment.

An HSBC unit also granted mortgages over two of the properties, according to the ruling. The judgment didn’t specify the value of the apartments.

The other banks have opposing charging orders that they argue should be finalized instead. They argued giving priority to London-based HSBC would be “unfair and prejudicial,” according to the ruling.

Algosaibi also admitted liability in a separate U.K. case in which European Islamic Investment Bank Plc, a London-based lender whose deals comply with Sharia law, seeks payment of a $78 million claim on behalf of group of other lenders.

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