Billionaire Olayan Family Said to Put Saudi IPO Plan on Hold

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  • Share sale was said to have been planned for as soon as 2018
  • Kingdom to privatize hundreds of assets as part of reform

What Saudi Arabia's Crackdown Means to Investors

The Olayan family, which runs one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest conglomerates, is putting plans to sell shares in some of its local assets on hold amid slow economic growth in the kingdom, people familiar with the matter said.

Olayan Financing Co., which controls the billionaire family’s investments in the Middle East, decided not to proceed with an initial public offering of a holding company of about 20 local units, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. Plans for the sale of the holding company, which may worth as much as $5 billion, could be revived in the future, they said. 

The decision to put the IPO plans on hold predates the beginning of an anti-corruption purge by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman that began on Saturday evening, the people said. The crackdown by a newly formed anti-corruption committee resulted in the arrest of princes, billionaires, ministers and former top officials.

Olayan had been working with Saudi Fransi Capital on the planned sale that could have happened as early as next year, people familiar with the matter said in March. It’s also working with HSBC Holdings Plc’s local unit on the 30 percent sale of its Health Water Bottling Co., people said in May. The IPOs would be the first time Olayan Financing sold shares in one of its Saudi businesses since at least 2000. The family still plans to proceed with the IPO of its water business, the people said.

Olayan Group didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Saudi Arabia’s economy has shrunk for two quarters in a row this year as the Crown Prince implements a reform program that includes austerity measures such as cuts to subsidies and infrastructure spending. As part of these plans, the kingdom also aims to sell hundreds of state assets, including Saudi Arabian Oil Co., stakes in the stock exchange, football clubs and flour mills.

Credit Suisse

Founded by Suliman Olayan in 1947, Olayan Group was valued at more than $10 billion by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index in 2015. Olayan Group, which manages the family’s international business, is one of the largest shareholders in Credit Suisse Group AG with a 4.17 percent stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It also owns real estate assets including 550 Madison Avenue in New York City, the Knightsbridge Estate in central London and residential buildings in Paris’s 8th arrondissement, according to its website.

Olayan Financing manages more than 40 companies in the Middle East, including the regional Burger King franchise, according to its website.

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