Saad sell-off spooks City

SHARES in Berkeley Group fell by 5.2 per cent yesterday after Saad Group sold nearly half its stake in the construction company, heightening concerns over the future of the Saudi investment firm&rsquo;s other holdings.<br /><br />Saad, which held 28.5 per cent of Berkeley at the end of April, sold 16m of shares at a discounted 701p each. <br /><br />The privately held group sent shockwaves through the market last week when it said it needed to restructure its debt, and the Saudi central bank froze the accounts of its billionaire chairman, Maan al-Sanea.<br /><br />The situation became bleaker on Monday when 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 />The group declined to comment on the sale of the shares, and denied reports that its Kuwait assets had also been frozen.<br /><br />&ldquo;We are continuing to make progress with the restructuring plan announced last week and will update you further in due course,&rdquo; it added.<br /><br />But many investors were left wondering yesterday whether the company would need to sell more of its holding to raise the cash necessary to pay down debt.<br /><br />Sanea, one of Saudi&rsquo;s wealthiest businessmen, is the founder of Saad, which has sizeable investments across healthcare, education and contracting. <br /><br />Concerns are also mounting over his personal investment in HSBC &ndash; estimated to be around &pound;1.8bn, or around two per cent of the bank.<br /><br />Sanea made headlines when he spent &pound;3.3bn in 2007 to acquire a 3.1 per cent stake in HSBC. He is known to have still held around three per cent at the end of 2008, though this will have been diluted by the bank&rsquo;s &pound;12.5bn rights issue in April.<br /><br /><strong>SAAD INVESTMENTS&rsquo; HOLDINGS: TOP 10 by value</strong><br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; STAKE*&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; MARKET VALUE<br />Berkeley Group&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; 28.85%&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp; &pound;309m<br />Imagination Tech Group&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 20.43%&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &pound;41.7m<br />Petra Diamonds&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 44.03%&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &pound;31.3m<br />Accys Technologies&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 10.16%&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &pound;11m<br />Reneuron Group&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 10.71%&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &pound;1.8m<br />Uruguay Mineral Exploration 10.2%&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &pound;1.2m<br />Eatonfield Group&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 29.83%&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &pound;1.2m<br />Intelligent Environments&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 4.25%&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &pound;613k<br />Chromex Mining&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 3.79%&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &pound;597k<br /><strong><br />MAAN AL-SANEA&rsquo;S PERSONAL HOLDING</strong><br />HSBC&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &lt;2%&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp; &pound;1.8bn**<br />Source: Bloomberg&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp; *as at last mandatory reporting date&nbsp;&nbsp; **&nbsp; estimated