Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) said on Saturday some shareholders in the construction giant might transfer part of their holdings to the state in a settlement with authorities، which detained several members of the founding family in an anti-graft drive، Reuters reported.
Family-owned SBG، which had more than 100،000 employees at its height، is the biggest builder in Saudi Arabia and important to Riyadh’s plans for large real estate، industrial and tourism projects to help diversify the economy beyond oil.
The group has been hurt by a construction industry slump due to weak oil prices and by a temporary exclusion from new state contracts after a crane accident killed 107 people at Mecca’s Grand Mosque in 2015، causing it to make thousands of layoffs.
SBG Chairman Bakr Bin Laden and several family members were detained in a government crackdown on corruption announced in November، sources familiar with the matter told Reuters، alongside scores of princes، senior officials and businessmen.
Saudi officials are trying to negotiate settlements with detainees، saying they want to claw back some $100 billion of funds that they say rightfully belong to the state. The government has been talking to SBG as part of this effort.
“Based on information available to management، some of the shareholders may have agreed a settlement that involves transferring some SBG shares to the government of Saudi Arabia against outstanding dues،” SBG said in a statement emailed to Reuters on Saturday.
It said a committee، comprising two family members and three independent businessmen، had been appointed to restructure the firm and separate SBG’s ownership from management. It said SBG “remains a private sector company owned by its shareholders”.
“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 profitability again،” the statement said.