STOCK Grain silos
Saudi Arabia's privatisation programme is tootling along at a fair pace. Recently, it completed the selloff of four state-owned flour mills. Now, it starts on the grain silos. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s biggest buyers of wheat and barley, is preparing to sell some of its grain silos as part of the privatization drive. State-owned Saudi Grains Organization aims to start selling silo sites as soon as this year.

SAGO will seek bids from foreign and local firms. No decisions have been made and SAGO may retain the assets. Saudi Arabia has increased asset sales as it looks to open up and diversify the economy from oil. The government is also trying to narrow a budget deficit that increased last year due to coronavirus lockdowns and a slump in energy prices.

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SAGO has been a key part of the kingdom’s privatization plans. In the past year, it sold all its flour mills to groups of local and international investors for about $1.5 billion. (HSBC Holdings advised it on all those transactions.)

SAGO has 3.3 million tons of grain-storage space, according to its website. The country, much of which is desert, vies with China as the biggest importer of barley, buying about 6.9 million tons annually. It uses the grain mostly to feed sheep, camels and goats. It also ships in around 3 million tons a year of wheat.