Release of Prince Alwaleed and other businessmen may boost Saudi market

More than 200 people had been detained as part of the kingdom’s corruption purge



The release of Kingdom Holding head Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and other senior businessmen from detention in Saudi Arabia’s corruption probe at the weekend may boost that country’s stock market on Sunday.

Saudi officials said the men reached financial settlements with authorities, but terms were not disclosed and Prince Alwaleed said he had continued to maintain his innocence of any wrongdoing.

The releases suggest the corruption probe, which sent shockwaves through the political and business establishment, is winding down and that for many of those caught up in the crackdown, business may largely return to normal.

Read: Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed released

Kingdom Holding shares are still 11 per cent before their level before Prince Alwaleed was detained in early November and the overall stock market has risen sharply since then, so the stock may have considerable upside.

Similarly, shares in fashion retailer Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Co, whose major shareholder Fawaz Alhokair was released, are 19 per cent below their pre-detention level.

Stock markets around the Gulf may react positively to the Saudi news, which may suggest the risk of forced liquidation of Saudi assets in the region has eased.

The global market environment is positive, with Wall Street rising to record highs on Friday – the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.9 per cent – and Brent crude oil settling above $70 a barrel.

Among corporate earnings, Saudi Arabia’s Yanbu National Petrochemicals beat estimates with fourth-quarter net profit of 778 million riyals ($207.4m), up 28 per cent and beating SICO Bahrain’s forecast of SAR634m and NCB Capital’s SAR677m.

Saudi Telecom also beat estimates with a rise of fourth-quarter net profit to SAR2.65bn from SAR2.08bn. SICO Bahrain had predicted SAR2.23bn and NCB Capital, SAR2.52bn.