DUBAI, April 1 Saudi Arabian conglomerate Ahmad
Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers (AHAB) estimates its assets are worth
less than a quarter of about $5.9 billion in claims made against
it, a spokesman said as the group prepares a proposal to end one
of the Middle East's biggest corporate debt disputes.
AHAB this week invited more than 70 financial institutions,
including Saudi, regional and international banks, to a meeting
in Dubai on May 7 to propose "a comprehensive settlement" with
Banks will be asked to form a working group to discuss the
offer. If successful, it could end years of wrangling since the
2009 collapse of AHAB's Bahrain unit, The International Banking
Corporation, and Awal Bank left more than 100 banks owed an
amount that has been estimated at as much as $22 billion.
Awal Bank is owned by Maan al-Sanea, the Saudi billionaire
head of the Saad Group, who married into the Algosaibi family 30
years ago and has been accused by the family of defrauding it of
billions of dollars after he was put in charge of its financial
Al-Sanea and the Saad Group have denied the allegations,
which have triggered a series of court battles in New York,
London and elsewhere.
In an emailed statement to Reuters on Tuesday, an AHAB
spokesman said the settlement proposal would be based on the
group's existing assets plus funds that it says could be
recovered in future from al-Sanea.
There may be a substantial gap between claims and money
available to meet them, however. The spokesman said the $5.9
billion figure was "an estimate by AHAB of the value of claims
made by various institutions asserting claims against AHAB in
Meanwhile, AHAB estimates its assets, including its share
portfolio and land in Saudi Arabia, at between 4.2 billion and
5.2 billion riyals ($1.1-1.4 billion), the spokesman said.
"AHAB is prepared to contribute significant assets to a
settlement pool and, in addition, continue to fund the pursuit
of recoveries from al-Sanea and his companies so that those
recoveries can be used to significantly increase the size of the
settlement pool," he said without elaborating.
AHAB has interests ranging from real estate to
manufacturing. In January, a 60-year-old agreement for AHAB to
bottle PepsiCo drinks was terminated after the Saudi
company found it hard to invest in the operation.
"AHAB has been under an asset freeze for nearly five years
with no access to credit, which has made it difficult to invest
in any of its companies. This bottling operation had been one of
the more significant operating businesses of AHAB," the
(Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by David Goodman)