Saudi Arabia ‘lifts project bidding ban on Binladin group’

Decision influenced by troubled group’s capacity to undertake projects of strategic importance – report

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Saudi Arabia has allowed the country’s building and contracting giant, Saudi Binladin Group, to resume bidding for state projects, according to a Reuters report.

A senior Binladin executive, who declined to be named, told the agency that the group has now received a royal decree allowing it to bid for state contracts again. The decision is expected to ease financial pressure on the troubled group and the banks that lend to it.

One of the largest builders in the Middle East, Saudi Binladin Group has struggled since last September, when it was suspended from obtaining new government contracts after a crane collapsed at a construction site at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing 107 people. A travel ban, imposed on its top managers after the disaster, has also now been lifted, the executive told Reuters.

Among the reasons for lifting the ban is the strategic importance to the Saudi economy of some of the projects Binladin is involved in.

The Saudi-based Al Watan newspaper earlier quoted a spokesman for the civil aviation authority as saying that Binladin would resume work at the multibillion-dollar King Abdulaziz International Airport project in Jeddah.

In addition to the project bidding suspension, Binladin has also been hit hard by government spending cuts and a general slump in construction. The company is said to have laid off 77,000 workers, with some having staged public protests after allegedly going unpaid for months.

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