France and Saudi Arabia have maintained a favorable political and economic relationship for several decades, with France accounting for a big percentage of Foreign Direct Investment inflow into the Kingdom. Despite this fact, there are countless opportunities French companies could be seizing, and it is our job at SAGIA to make sure that you are made aware of them in a timely and comprehensive manner. Besides the information pertaining to Saudi French business relations, you will also find in this section accounts of some of the most prominent French investments in Saudi Arabia.
Trade and economic relationship:
- Saudi-French relationships are excellent, diversified and based on a mutual esteem.
- France had opened a Consulate in Jeddah in 1841 and became one of the first nations to recognize the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1926.
- Official visit of HRH King Faisal in 1967 is remembered by everyone. It was followed by a great number of official visits, including several visits of the French President himself.
- For 2005, trade between Saudi Arabia and France amounted to 5.24Bn€. Saudi exports to France continue to rise (+12.3%), partially compensated by a rise in French exports to KSA (+10.2%). There is a large trade surplus in favour of Saudi Arabia.
- In 2006, Saudi Arabia is France’s 36th client (ranking 40 in 2005)
- As oil supplier to France, Saudi Arabia ranks 3rd, behind Norway and Russia).
- French exports to KSA: rise in motorcar sector, capital goods and intermediate goods. French exports of consumer products slightly decline.
- French exports to Saudi Arabia in 2006 – breakdown= equipment goods (28%); intermediate goods (33.7%); motorcar sector (3.67%); consumer goods (22.9%); agribusiness products (11.73%).
- According to the Banque de France (national French bank), the total cumulated stock of French FDI reached 475 Million Euros at the end of 2001 (more than US$600 Million), with an additional investment of 53 Million Euros in 2002. At the end of 2003, the French Economic Mission had numbered 60 subsidiaries, employing 12, 000 people (mainly non-French employees).
- As a host-country for French FDI, Saudi Arabia ranks at 158th (0.1% of French outbound FDI). Between April 2000 and October 2005, 54 licenses were granted to French companies, for an amount of US$4.35Bn: France now ranks #3.
- In France, Saudi investments amount to 484M€ at the end of 2003, mainly in real estate (3/4 of total amount).
List of the top companies investing in Saudi Arabia:
- Until October 2000, French presence in KSA was essentially concentrated in the service sector, where the success of Al Bank Al Saudi Al Fransi (BSF) must be mentioned (Calyon (www.calyon.com) owns 31% of Al Bank Al Saudi Al Fransi), as it represents 75% of French FDI in KSA.
- French presence in the industrial sector, including petrochemicals, remained sluggish for a long time. Two French industrial investments that were made prior to June 1999: Stesa (a subsidiary of Thales (www.thalesgroup.com) that specializes in the telecommunication sector - 4.6 million of French capital) and Schneider Electric (www.schneider-electric.com), which locally manufactures electrical equipment (1.6 million of French capital).
- In the field of services to the oil industry, the Compagnie Generale de Geophysique (CGG www.cgg.com ) has created a subsidiary in the eastern province, Argas, which undertakes seismic projects (4.7 million of French capital). This company was ranked 87th in terms of annual turnover of Saudi companies in 2001.
- October 2000 saw the acquisition of a large stake (50.1%) of Al Safi by Danone (www.danone.com) with total French investments worth US$200 Million. It was followed by subsequent industrial investments of Perrier (www.perrier.com) in Al Manhal (mineral water) and of Saint Gobain (www.saint-gobain.com) in Al Obeikan (technical textiles).
- Since November 2003, Total (www.total.com) belongs to the SARK Consortium (for 30%, along with Shell 40% and Aramco 40%). In case of success of current exploration, Total will increase its investment. Total is also involved in a project of a multi-billion-dollar refinery in the Gulf port of Jubail.
- Bouygues (www.bouygues.fr) is preparing the first-ever BOT project in KSA for the establishment of an equestrian club (recreation centre) in Jeddah.
- Lactalis (www.lactalis.fr) recently acquired 52% of the capital of United Food Services Corporations for the building of a production unit of cheese spread.
- BNP Paribas (www.bnpparibas.com), one of the biggest French banks, has been granted a license to operate in the Kingdom.
- Accor (www.accor.com), the world leader for hotels and services has a strong presence in Saudi Arabia with several hotels, including the Zam Zam Grand Suites, which is located in Mecca and offers 1,300 rooms. Accor plans to open more than 20 hotels by 2010 and should employ 4,000 people.