Saudi Arabia is taking managerial control of the Saudi Binladin Group and discussing a possible transfer of some of the construction giant’s assets to the state while its chairman and other family members are in detention, sources have told the Reuters news agency.

Binladin, which had over 100,000 employees at its height, is the biggest builder in the country and important to Riyadh’s plans for large residential, industrial and tourism projects to help diversify the economy beyond oil.

However, the group has been hurt in the past couple of years by a slump in construction and a temporary exclusion from new state contracts after a crane accident killed 107 people at Mecca’s Grand Mosque in 2015. It is run by the Bin Laden family, but the company stresses it has no ties with the late al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

Riyadh’s move comes after the government, under the direction of the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, arrested scores of senior officials and businessmen in October for “corruption”. The Binladin group’s chairman Bakr bin Laden and several family members were arrested in that crackdown.


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