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Wed 28 Jul 2010 09:07 PM

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Sulaiman Al Rajhi starts assets transfer

Man behind Saudi Arabia's biggest bank transfers shares to family members.

Rags to riches Saudi investor Sulaiman al Rajhi started giving some of his vast fortune to relatives on Wednesday though sources close to the billionaire, belived to be about 90, said he remained in good health.

The man behind Saudi Arabia's biggest bank, Al Rajhi Bank, started off as a porter before he and his brother Saleh started a money exchange business catering mainly to Muslim pilgrims visiting holy shrines in Mecca and Medina.

The two gradually extended their investments and founded the bank, now the biggest Islamic lender by market value.

He had started "executing the transfer of some shares in his portfolio to the investment portfolios of his family members," said a statement on the Saudi bourse's website.

In addition to considerable property investments, he owns stakes worth more than $8 billion in a trio of listed Saudi companies - 24.9 percent of Al Rajhi Bank, 23.7 percent of Yanbu Cement Co and a 19.7 percent stake in agricultural firm Nadec.

The bourse did not specify which firms were involved in the transfers nor did it give a reason for the move.

Sulaiman has at least 20 sons and daughters according to sources close to the family who put his date of birth at 1920.

A source close to the family said the asset transfers appear to be an attempt to avoid the sort of disputes which have emerged among some members of his brother's descendants.

The source said: "They are trying to organise in a consensual manner the transfer of the inheritance. Shaikh Sulaiman is in good health. In fact he got married again recently, five or six years ago, and bore a child." (Reuters)

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