Saudi fires starting gun for SWCC privatisation

Published June 9th, 2016

Saudi Arabia has unveiled plans to part-privatise the state-owned Saline Water Conversion Corporation in a bid to attract private investment to fill the country’s massive capital gap.

Water minister Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli and SWCC governor Abdulrahman Al-Ibrahim have said that the company will be transformed into a joint-stock holding company, served by local production units representing its generation assets. Privatisation will be carried out in two stages: first, investment partners willing to take a stake in production assets will be sought; this will be followed by an IPO for the holding company on the Saudi bourse, Tadawul.

SWCC currently holds some SAR80 billion ($21 billion) of assets, including around 4.6 million m³/d of seawater desalination capacity. Al-Ibrahim estimates that around SAR110 billion ($29.3 billion) of investment will be needed over the next 15 years. This will be difficult to achieve with public funds under the country’s new post-oil crash economic order.