September 13, 2017 / 5:55 AM / in 2 months

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi's Savola may rise on Almarai shares sale, Saudi Fransi may stabilise

DUBAI, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Shares of Saudi Arabia’s largest food producer, Savola, may rise on Wednesday after it started selling some of its shares in peer Almarai, while Banque Saudi Fransi may stabilise after falling sharply on news of Credit Agricole’s partial exit.

Savola said it had started selling some of its 36.52 percent stake in dairy producer Almarai. Savola said up to 16 million shares in Almarai, or 2 percent of the company, could be sold to “local, regional and international investors” through an accelerated bookbuilding process.

If the sale is fully completed and Savola receives all the proceeds, it will record a porfit of 694.1 million riyals ($185.0 million) in the third quarter, the company said.

Meanwhile, Banque Saudi Fransi may stabilise or even rebound slightly after it fell 4.2 percent on Tuesday on news that billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding plans to buy almost half of Credit Agricole’s stake in the Saudi lender.

Analysts are split on how the deal could affect Saudi Fransi; some believe it’s good news for the lender to have Alwaleed on the board, while others think Credit Agricole may ultimately exit its investment fully, hurting the bank.

Nevertheless, after falling to 31.60 riyals per share in relatively low volumes - suggesting that most orders were filled by retail investors - some investors may buy Saudi Fransi on Wednesday. It is trading around 1.20 times price-to-book, versus peers that are trading around 1.22-1.26 times, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Elsewhere in the region, markets may be robust as Asian bourses are near 10-year highs and Brent oil is near Tuesday’s close of $54.27 a barrel. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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