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Saudi Arabia approves detained former billionaire's bankruptcy plea

Sanea was named as one of the richest men in the year by Forbes [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 March, 2019

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A Saudi court has approved a bankruptcy plea from a billionaire and his business.

Saudi Arabia has approved a bankruptcy plea from a major business tycoon and his company, Saad, according to Reuters news agency.

Maan al-Sanea was named as one of the world's richest people but was detained in 2017 due to debts which date back to 2009.

Saad is one of the first companies to take advantage of Saudi Arabia's new bankruptcy law - which was introduced last year - following a court agreement in February.

Creditors have chased Saad for the past decade for unpaid dues, which could amount to as much as $16 billion, according to the news agency. It is hoped this ruling could end the one of the kingdom's longest-running debt stories.

"This is a landmark step for all stakeholders since 2009," said Ahmed Ismail, from a company appointed as Saad’s financial adviser to reach a settlement with creditors.

"The regional and international creditors represent more than 85 percent of total debt, some of whom advised filing under the new bankruptcy law. Given that it is more or less aligned with regional and international commercial law practices, the probability of its success is much higher."

Last month, a Dammam court - the eastern city where Saad is based - approved the financial reorganisation of Sanea, with creditors asked to file their claims within 90 days.

Some of Sanea's vehicles, warehouses and other properties have already neem auctioned off as part of a liquidation of the former billionaire's assets, raising over $93 million.

The bankruptcy law was part of a plan by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to drive more investment into the kingdom.

Business has reportedly suffered in Saudi Arabia following low oil prices, while the detention of leading tycoons and royals has also hit business confidence in the kingdom.

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