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Saudi's SWCC Gets Bids to Advise on Desalination Scheme Privatisation

Source: Reuters 8/1/2017, Location: Middle East

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Several banks have submitted bids to Saudi Arabia's Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) to advise on the privatisation of its $7.2 billion Ras Al Khair desalination and power plant, banking sources said, as the kingdom gears up for several state asset sales.

Mizuho, BNP Paribas and GIB Capital were among banks to have submitted bids to act as adviser on the plan, said two sources, with one adding that other banks were believed to have submitted bids too.

SWCC did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

The government has made privatising the water sector one of its priorities as it embarks on a drive to raise money from state assets to reduce pressure on capital spending and transform the economy away from a reliance on oil revenue.

Operational in 2014, the $7.2 billion Ras Al Khair desalination and power plant will be capable of delivering 1.025 billion cubic metres of desalinated water every day to Riyadh and several other areas once at full capacity.

Two of the sources said the request for proposals for the deal went out in June, with one of the sources saying other banks approached for the deal included Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), HSBC and Standard Chartered.

Officials last year outlined plans to privatise SWCC, which operates some 30 desalination plants. It currently produces about 20 percent of the world's desalinated water and is the second-largest power provider in the kingdom.

Demand for SWCC's production is high in Saudi Arabia, which lacks surface water but surpasses the global average for water consumption per capita at roughly 300 litres per day, according to official data.

SWCC has also been pushing ahead with several new water and power projects on a public-private basis. In March it awarded a financial advisory mandate to Banque Saudi Fransi to build two greenfield public-private partnership projects.

SWCC sent out another invitation for bids around the same time, seeking a financial adviser for the building of two other water plants. HSBC, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Banque Saudi Fransi and SMBC submitted bids, one of the sources said.

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