European banks eyeing Saad Swiss unit assets
London, July 25, 2009
Europe's banks are examining ways to reclaim funds from Saudi Arabia's Saad Group, and may take control of its Swiss subsidiary, Saad Investments, a source familiar with the situation said.
'Lenders are looking at their options, and this may include a claim on Saad's Swiss operations,' the source said on Friday.
Banks from outside the Gulf, including BNP Paribas and Citi, are owed a total of more than $6 billion by Saad Group, which ran into difficulties last month.
Saad Group is split between a number of businesses, spread across Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Cayman Islands and Switzerland.
The Geneva-headquarted business, Saad Investments Company Ltd (SICL), holds many of Saad's offshore investments and is registered in the Cayman Islands.
'SICL is seen to be a bit cleaner than the other parts of Saad, and its assets easier to monetise,' the source said.
SICL had assets of $9.1bn at the end of last year, according to rating agency Moody's. These include Saad's stake in HSBC bought in 2007, the source said.