May 8, 2018 / 3:55 PM / 6 months ago

Alhokair Saudi mall developer secures $1.9 bln Islamic loan

DUBAI, May 8 (Reuters) - Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair said one of its businesses had secured a 7.2 billion riyal ($1.9 billion) Islamic loan, one of the first such facilities for a firm owned by an individual detained in Saudi Arabia’s recent anti-corruption drive.

The two-tranche financing for Arabian Centres Company will be used to refinance existing debt and to build new malls, Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair said in a statement on Tuesday, confirming what banking sources had earlier told Reuters.

Fawaz Alhokair was one of hundreds of business people and officials detained for several months in a sweeping anti-graft crackdown by Riyadh in November last year.

Many, including Alhokair, were released but the move raised caution among banks and, in some cases, delayed lending to companies with links to the individuals involved.

Kingdom Holding, owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who was also released, is in talks with banks over more than $1 billion in debt, the sources said.

Arabian Centres is the leading developer, owner and operator of malls in the kingdom, with a portfolio of 19 malls across 10 cities, according to its website. A further 10 malls are scheduled for development, the website shows.

However, Saudi Arabia’s retail market has been hurt in recent months by sluggish consumer spending as VAT, energy subsidy cuts and rising interest rates dent disposable income.

The drawdown of the second tranche of the facility for Arabian Centres will depend on the pace of development of the new malls, one of the sources said.

Samba Financial Group, National Commercial Bank, Al Rajhi Bank and Arab National Bank provided the loan, the company said. ($1 = 3.7503 riyals) (Additional reporting by Marwa Rashad in Riyadh; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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