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Saudi Binladin Group denies govt takeover after chairman detained

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s oldest contracting firm denied Saturday it had become fully state-owned after its chairman was detained in an anti-graft crackdown, but said some shares may have been transferred to the government.

International media this week reported the government had taken over the Saudi Binladin Group after chairman Bakr bin Laden was detained.

The Saudi Binladin Group “would like to confirm that it remains a private sector company owned by its shareholders”, it said in a statement.

But some company shares may have been transferred to the government in a settlement of “outstanding dues”, it added, without providing any details on the size of any such shares.

“Based on information available to the 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,” the statement said.

Bakr was among dozens of princes and elite businessmen and officials arrested two months ago in a crackdown on corruption ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi authorities have said they were negotiating financial settlements with those detained that could earn state coffers about $100 billion.

Established in 1931, the contracting company quickly grew after it expanded two mosques in the Muslim holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.

Binladin Group has encountered serious difficulties in the past few years and has laid off tens of thousands of employees.

The Saudi-based Binladin construction firm belongs to the family of the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

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