Saad credit lines shut down

FEARS were growing yesterday that Saad Group&rsquo;s holdings in a raft of companies could be sold-off, as western banks began to shut down credit lines to the company and its billionaire chairman, Maan al-Sanea.<br /><br />Concerns escalated after the central bank in the United Arab Emirates instructed local banks to suspend lending to the troubled Saudi investment group and ING investment Management said that the company&rsquo;s debt securities are priced for a default.<br /><br />A two-day sell-off of Saad shareholdings by Citigroup only fuelled talk that the group&rsquo;s lenders were moving to liquidate positions held by them as collateral.<br /><br />On Wednesday, Citi sold 30m shares in 3i Infrastructure &ndash; or a four per cent stake &ndash; belonging to Sanea, at a discounted 85p per share. <br /><br />The move followed the previous day&rsquo;s fire-sale of nearly half of Saad&rsquo;s holdings, 16.1m shares, in housebuilder Berkeley Group, also by Citi.<br /><br />But the future of the company&rsquo;s sizeable investments across healthcare, education and contracting was last night far from clear.<br /><br />Other shareholdings include a 44 per cent stake in AIM-listed mining company Petra Diamonds, 20.43 per cent in Imagination Technologies and Sanea&rsquo;s personal investment in HSBC, thought to be up just below two per cent.<br /><br />Privately held Saad shook the market last week when it said it had appointed Lawrence Graham and BDO Corporate Finance to advise on the restructure of its debt, and the Saudi central bank froze Sanea&rsquo;s the accounts. On Monday, ratings agency Moody&rsquo;s said that Saad&rsquo;s issues will affect the way it assesses privately held firms across the region.<br /><br /><strong>BIOGRAPHY<br />MAAN AL-SANEA</strong><br />Maan al-Sanea is one of Saudi&rsquo;s wealthiest businessmen, and the founder of Saad Group, a trading and contracting company.<br /><br />While most of his contemporaries were making their fortunes in oil, Kuwait-born Sanea set up Saad Trading and Contracting in the mid-1980s with the primary function of installing sewage and storm-water systems in Jeddah. After marrying Sana al-Gosaibi &ndash; the daughter of one of Saudi&rsquo;s most influential business families &ndash; he moved east and bought up cheap land, which enabled him to expand into property development.<br /><br />Headquartered in Al Khobar, the group now has operations throughout Saudi Arabia, as well as offices in Bahrain, Geneva and London.<br /><br />The former fighter-pilot made international headlines when he spent &pound;3.3bn in 2007 to acquire a 3.1 per cent stake in HSBC, of which he is thought to still hold just under two per cent.<br /><br />Passionate about health care and education, Sanea founded country's first internationally accredited hospital, a college of nursing and three schools, one for children with learning disabilities.<br /><br />Married with five children, the self-made man is described as quiet and immensely polite, but guards his privacy fiercely.