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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Saudi Arabia has Dh8bn stake in Almarai

Public Investment Fund owns 16.3 per cent of the Riyadh-based dairy farm operator and food processor

Almarai is the Arabian Gulf's largest dairy firm. Sammy Dallal / The National
Almarai is the Arabian Gulf's largest dairy firm. Sammy Dallal / The National

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund became the third-biggest shareholder in Almarai as it boosts investments at home and abroad.

The Public Investment Fund owns 163.2 million shares, or 16.3 per cent, of the Riyadh-based dairy farm operator and food processor, according to a regulatory filing that did not disclose the identity of the seller. The stake is valued at about 9 billion Saudi riyals (Dh8.81bn) based on October 12 closing prices, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The PIF is at the centre of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to diversify revenue away from oil under the Vision 2030 economic transformation plan. The fund could eventually control more than US$2 trillion in assets, according to the deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. It holds assets worth about $110bn in listed Saudi companies, including stakes in companies such as Saudi Basic Industries, and National Commercial Bank.

Almarai rose 3.6 per cent to 57 riyals as of 11:15am in Riyadh, contributing the most to gains for benchmark Tadawul All Share Index. The shares are up 4 per cent this year, while the kingdom’s main stock gauge is down about 3 per cent.

The Savola Group remains the biggest shareholder of Almarai, with a 34.5 per cent stake, even after it sold shares valued at about 1.12bn riyals last month.

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Separately, Saudi Arabia's central bank may raise the maximum loan-to-deposit ratio for commercial banks if that is needed to help the economy, the central bank governor Ahmed Al Kholifey told Al Arabiya television.

Mr Kholifey was speaking on the sidelines of meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Washington at the weekend. The central bank last raised the ratio in February 2016, to 90 per cent from 85 per cent.