Photographer: Tasneem Alsultan/Bloomberg

Saudi Alhokair Mall IPO Said to Be Derailed as Billionaire Held

  • Fawaz Alhokair’s personal bank accounts are said to be frozen
  • Retail group had been close to hiring banks for share sale

Plans to revive the public share sale of Fawaz Alhokair Group’s mall unit are on hold after the accounts of its billionaire co-founder were frozen in Saudi Arabia’s corruption crackdown, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Fawaz Alhokair, who’s a major shareholder in the group and in fashion retailer Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & Co., is being detained at the Ritz Carlton as part of the investigations, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Before the probe, the group had planned to restart work on the IPO of its Arabian Centres mall unit, the people said.

“There are many rumors in the market," Fawaz Alhokair’s personal assistant said by email in response to questions on the arrest and the IPO. "Your speculations are false," and "all is well and it is business as usual at our group."

The businessman is among princes, ministers and senior officials being held on orders from an anti-corruption committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Alhokair is worth about $1.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the global investor whose Kingdom Holding Co. owns stakes in companies such as Citigroup Inc. and Twitter Inc., has also been arrested, as well as other Saudi billionaires including Mohammed Al Amoudi and Saleh Kamel.

Hiring Banks

In February 2015, the group was close to hiring banks including Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp. to manage the Arabian Centres IPO. The sale of a 30 percent stake in the company could have raised about $2 billion and was due to take place in the second half of 2016, Muhanad Awad, chief executive officer of FAS Capital, the investment arm of Alhokair, said in an interview at the time.

Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & Co. is the franchise partner for Gap, Banana Republic and Steve Madden in the kingdom, according to its website. Its Arabian Centres mall unit owns 19 shopping centers in Saudi Arabia.

— With assistance by Vivian Nereim, Glen Carey, and Devon Pendleton

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