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Saudi wealth fund PIF to support corporate credit growth, S&P says

·1-min read

DUBAI, March 8 (Reuters) - Investments by Saudi Arabia's wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF) will support credit growth among companies in the kingdom, ratings agency S&P Global Ratings said on Monday.

PIF, a $400 billion investment vehicle, is at the centre of economic reforms to transform the oil-dependent economy.

The fund plans to inject at least 150 billion riyals ($40 billion) annually in the local economy until 2025, and to increase its assets to 4 trillion riyals by that date.

"The Public Investment Fund has recently announced investment initiatives that we expect will spur corporate credit growth, mostly in construction-related industries," S&P said.

"This will offset the gradual lifting of support aimed at easing the impact of the pandemic," it said.

The Saudi central bank said on Sunday it had extended a deferred payment programme to support private sector financing for an additional three months until June 30 as part of measures to stem the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

It also said a guaranteed financing programme had been extended for an additional year until March 14, 2022 to support small and medium enterprises.

Domestic credit growth in Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy, is expected to stay strong this and next year after a 14% year-on-year increase in 2020, S&P said.

Part of the growth is due to rising demand for housing from Saudi nationals, which has boosted mortgage growth.

"Over the next couple of years, we forecast that mortgage portfolios will expand by about 30% a year," said S&P.

($1 = 3.7515 riyals) (Reporting by Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Edmund Blair)