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Saudi Binladin Group denies government takeover

Saudi Binladin Group, among the kingdom's oldest contractors, said it remains a private-sector company, and that its government-contracted work is ongoing

Saudi Binladin Group has worked on the extension of the holy mosques in Mecca and Medina.
Saudi Binladin Group has worked on the extension of the holy mosques in Mecca and Medina.

Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) has denied international media reports from last week, which stated that the company's management had been taken over by the kingdom's government. 

However, some shares of SBG – among Saudi Arabia's oldest and most prominent contractors – may have been transferred to the government. 

READ: Saudi court says SBG not responsible for 2015 Makkah crane collapse

In a statement posted on its website, SBG said it "remains a private-sector company owned by its shareholders". 

The statement continued: "SBG can also confirm that contracted work with the government, which remains a large part of the SBG's, activities [is] ongoing.

"This includes the projects currently operating in the two holy mosques, and the rehabilitation project of Zamzam, which began months ago and is expected to end before Ramadan 1439 H [Ramadan 2018]." 

SBG's statement confirms that select shares had been transferred to the government to offset its outstanding dues: "Based on information available to management, some of the shareholders may have agreed a settlement that involves transferring some SBG shares to the goverment of Saudi Arabia against outstanding dues. 

"SBG sees this as a positive step and is currently restructuring its governance and executive management team to meet its commitment towards all stakeholders." 

Financial difficulties faced by SBG over the past few years have led to job cuts within the company. 

READ: Saudi Binladin seeks second extension on loan

In its statement, SBG said its restructuring efforts started two years ago, "with the objective of separating ownership from management in accordance with best governance standards to respond to the group growth".

A supervisory committee has been created to drive restructuring operations, and SBG revealed its members include three independent and two shareholding members. 

"The committee will restructure the group and empower the new executive management to lead the projects and overcome the current challenges; bringing the company to being profitable again." 

Founded in 1931, SBG has worked on the extension of the holy mosques in Mecca and Medina. 

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Construction Week - Issue 749
Sep 15, 2019