RIYADH | SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it had complete the first batch of its flour milling sector privatization, according to a statement by the state grain buyer and privatization centre.
The long-awaited flour mills sale was one of the first privatisations the kingdom planned as part of a wide-reaching overhaul of its economy.
The first milling company was awarded to Raha AlSafi consortium at 2.027 billion Saudi riyals ($540.1 million) while the third mill went to Alrajhi-Ghurair-Masafi consortium for 750 million riyals, a statement by the National Center for Privatization and PPP (NCP) and the Saudi Grains Organization (SAGO) said.
The final financial bids were submitted on Sunday.
The privatization process had attracted interest from some of the world’s largest agribusiness companies, including Archer Daniels Midland Co and Bunge Ltd and was seen as a litmus test for other large state asset sales to follow.
The grain mills on sale come under the kingdom’s monopoly state grain buyer SAGO, one of the world’s largest wheat and barley importers.
The qualification phase for the second and final stage of the privatization of the flour milling sector will launch shortly and include the sale of the second and fourth milling companies, according to the statement.
The lengthy process which in 2016 has discouraged some potential bidders, according to grain industry sources.
HSBC is acting as the sole financial advisor for the process.