Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Pension Fund Ups Samba Stake, Sanea Not Seller | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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RIYADH, (Reuters) – The Public Pension Agency (PPA), Saudi Arabia’s second-largest pension fund, bought on Saturday a 2.2 percent stake in Samba Financial Group from unknown parties, stock exchange data showed on Sunday.

State-owned PPA now holds 12.4 percent of Samba, the country’s second-largest lender by market capitalisation, according to Tadawul data.

Saturday’s deal involved 19.8 million shares in Samba and was worth 841.5 million riyals ($224.4 million) based on the latest closing stock price, which makes it the biggest known strategic transaction in the Saudi market this year.

The stake of Maan al-Sanea, the chairman of troubled Saad Group, did not change and remains at 7.8 percent. The stakes of other shareholders holding 5 percent or more in Samba did not change either, according to the data.

However, Tadawul showed that only 810,419 Samba shares changed hands on Saturday and did not disclose the price PPA paid for the stock.

According to Tadawul’s website, a transaction does not get disclosed to the public when a large sale order receives a price based on prevailing market conditions.

“If the entire volume were displayed in the market, the large volume order may negatively affect the market price,” the bourse says.

Officials at Tadawul could not be reached for comment.

The last time Samba saw a major change in its share ownership was in January when Kingdom Holding Co, controlled by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, lowered its stake to below the minimum 5 percent liable for ownership disclosure.

Because of their sophistication, stock picks by institutional investors such as PPA and the General Organisation for Social Insurance (GOSI), the kingdom’s largest pension fund, offer an insight on their investment strategies, which can be instrumental for retail brokerage and individual investors.