Saudi mall IPO hit by corruption crackdown

Fawaz Alhokair Group’s plans for IPO of its Arabian Centres mall unit halted by arrest of its co-founder, according to reports



The planned IPO of Fawaz Alhokair Group’s mall unit has been but on hold after the accounts of its billionaire co-founder were frozen as part of the Saudi Arabia’s corruption crackdown, according to reports.

Fawaz Alhokair – a major shareholder in the group – is currently being detained at the Ritz Carlton hotel as part of the investigation, stunting the group’s plans to restart work on the IPO of its Arabian Centres mall unit, reports Bloomberg, citing sources close to the matter.

However, responding to questions by Bloomberg over email, Alhokair’s personal assistant said that “your speculations are false” and “all is well and it is business as usual at our group”.

The businessman, who is worth about $1.2bn, is one of a number of princes, ministers and senior officials being held by an anti-corruption committee led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Other high-profile business leaders to be detained include Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Mohammed Al Amoudi, Bakr bin Laden and Saleh Kamel.

At least 208 people have been arrested so far, and more than 1,700 bank accounts have been frozen as investigations continue. Meanwhile, a recent report in the Financial Times said that the government was demanding up to 70 per cent of some individual’s wealth in exchange for their release

Alhokair is also a major shareholder in retail group Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & Co, the franchise partner for Gap, Banana Republic and Steve Madden in Saudi Arabia. The group’s Arabian Centres mall unit owns 19 shopping centres in the kingdom.