Saudi Crown Prince says 20 companies to be privatised in 2019
Mohammad bin Salman also revealed that an Apple store will open in Riyadh "soon"
A Tesla showroom could come to Saudi Arabia in the next two years as tech giant Apple readies to enter the country “soon”, while more than 20 local companies are privatised in 2019, the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview with Bloomberg that was published earlier this week.
During the interview, the Crown Prince revealed that “more than 20 services” will be privatised by Saudi Arabia in 2019, covering industries such as water, agriculture, energy, and sports.
He explained: “Now we’re talking with investors. Some of them here, some of them global. We want to make sure that these investors have the know how to run the businesses.
“We will own a little bit of those companies, as the Saudi government, to secure the quality for a period of time,” the Crown Prince continued, adding that the focus is also on floating initial public offerings (IPO) for the companies “when they move to the private sector”.
He added: “So the investors will own the majority, the minority will be for the Saudi government and a little bit will be IPO-ed on the stock market. We need this to increase transparency.
“So in 2019, more than 20 companies will definitely start privatising. Most of the companies will be in desalination,” the Crown Prince told Bloomberg.
Responding to a query on whether Tesla showrooms might arrive in Saudi, he said: “I believe this could happen in the coming years.
“In one or two years, we will have Tesla showrooms in Saudi Arabia. Now we have allowed 100% ownership of foreign investments in Saudi Arabia, so Tesla can open and own [all of its] showrooms.”
The foreign ownership law applies to “most” industries in the kingdom, the Crown Prince explained, “especially retail”.
According to the report, he added: “For example, Apple will open a store soon in Riyadh.”
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The Crown Prince leads Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which this September was reported by Construction Week to be the GCC’s largest project developer.
With pre-execution projects worth $534bn (SAR2tn), PIF is one of the seven Saudi organisations that make up 10 of the GCC’s largest project owners. Its most notable under-development assets include the $500bn (SAR1.9tn) Neom City, in addition to the mixed-use Rou’a Al Madinah and Rou’a Al Haram, each valued at $10bn (SAR37.5bn).
In the same month, PIF revealed that it would break ground on its Amaala tourism gigaproject in Q1 2019. The 3,800km2 Amaala, which PIF described as an “uber-luxury” wellness tourism destination, will “sit alongside Neom and The Red Sea as part of the gigaprojects investment portfolio” that is part of the Saudi Vision 2030 programme.
Phase 1 of Amaala will open in Q4 2020, and project completion is set for 2028. PIF said Amaala was expected to generate 22,000 jobs across the hospitality and tourism, leisure, and retail sectors. This would support the opportunities it will create in the “construction and ancillary industries”.