Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi and Brothers (AHAB) have signed a deal with a committee representing creditor banks to restructure the Saudi Arabian family conglomerate’s debt pile, it said in a statement on Monday.
This is the latest move to resolve one of the Middle East’s longest-running debt disputes. Bankruptcy law is opaque and untested in Saudi Arabia, part of the reason for the uncertainty surrounding the process and why the restructuring of AHAB has lasted for so long.
AHAB has around SAR 22.5bn ($6bn) of claims against it after the hospitality, food and real estate group collapsed in 2009 along with Saad Group, a separate Saudi business empire led by Maan al-Sanea.
Since then, the two groups have conducted a high-profile battle in the courts over who was to blame.
In January AHAB put a revised restructuring plan to its creditors, building on an initial proposal submitted to claimants in June.
Now, according to a statement, the five-member creditor grouping and AHAB have signed a formal commitment to implement January’s plan.
The five creditors chosen to negotiate on behalf of all claimants are Bank ABC, BNP Paribas, Emirates NBD, Fortress Investment Group and Standard Chartered.
AHAB hopes to secure signed agreements with other claimants for the restructuring plan “as soon as possible over the coming weeks”, the statement added.
The restructuring plan still requires the assent of a three-judge panel at a court in Khobar, in eastern Saudi Arabia, which has been appointed to oversee the claims against AHAB.
By securing the assent of as many of the creditors as possible, AHAB is hoping to create momentum for the plan’s approval and its enforcement by the court.
The judicial panel had asked all creditors to submit their claims against AHAB to them by July 21, although AHAB has recently requested an extension of the deadline, according to the statement.