Supreme Administrative Court nullifies Omar Effendi sale

The Supreme Administrative Court has ruled to nullify the sale of 90 percent of the stocks of the iconic chain Omar Effendi and has prohibited its privatisation, restoring it to state ownership.

The court also rejected challenges filed by Saudi businessman Jameel al-Qanbeet, the Anwal board chairman, Audi Bank, and the Ahli United Bank to the administrative court.

The state commissioners authority had called for upholding the administrative court ruling and issuing a final ruling restoring Omar Effendi to the state.

An administrative court ruling issued in May 2011 restored the iconic retail chain Omar Effendi to the public sector, annulling a 2006 deal selling the company to a Saudi investor.

In 2006, the Omar Effendi department stores were privatized and sold to the Anwal United Trading Company of Saudi Arabia for approximately LE504 million. Yahya Hussein, former board member and champion of the business, had estimated the chain's true value at around LE1 billion. Nonetheless, he was ultimately forced by the Ministry of Investment to sign documents approving the sale without knowing the government had sold it for half its estimated value.

A court ruling annulled the deal based on a lawsuit filed by an engineer named Hamdi al-Fakhrani, in which he said the deal represented the squandering of public funds. The value of just one branch of the department store, he argued, was over US$700 million.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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