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Saad Group forced to sell Berkley shares to raise capital

The Saad Group, a Saudi Arabian family-owned investment group, has sold half of its shares in the UK firm Berkley homes. According to analysts, the move was motivated by Saad's need to raise cash after it announced last month it was attempting to restructure its debts. It is estimated that Saad has raised roughly $183 million from the sale.

The group fell into trouble last month when the Saudi Arabian central bank froze the accounts of the owner of the group, Maan Al-Sanea (pictured), and the accounts of his family members. Moody's and Standard & Poor's both withdrew their coverage of the company last week stating they did not have adequate information to accurately maintain the ratings.

The Saad Group, which was formed in the early 1970s, has been attempting to restructure the debts of its real estate, banking and healthcare companies. In a statement last week a spokesperson for the group said: "Recent external events, specifically affecting the Bahraini banking sector, have led to a short term liquidity squeeze."

Maan Al-Sanea was this year ranked the 62nd-richest person in the world by Forbes. His wealth is built on local property enterprises and construction companies but this leaves the Saad Group susceptible to market fluctuations, especially as these two industries have been particularly badly hit by this recession.

The Saad Group is not the only Saudi Arabian family business in trouble. Its situation is strikingly similar to that of Algosaibi, one of the oldest family-owned conglomerates in Saudi Arabia. Algosaibi also experienced liquidity problems after issues with banking in Bahrain.

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