Saudi Arabia starts final phase of flour mill privatisation

Adds details, background

DUBAI, July 14 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's state grain buyer SAGO announced on Tuesday the start of the second and final phase of the privatisation of the flour milling sector.

SAGO said it would begin receiving pre-qualification bids on July 16. The second phase includes the second and fourth milling companies, its statement said, adding that details of the process and timeframe would be published separately.

The announcement comes a week after the first batch of the sector's privatisation was completed in a long-awaited sale the kingdom planned as part of a wide-reaching overhaul of its economy.

The process had attracted initial interest from some of the world's largest agribusiness companies, including Archer Daniels Midland Co ADM.N and Bunge Ltd BG.N, and was seen as a litmus test for other large state asset sales to follow.

But the lengthy process which started in 2016 has discouraged some potential bidders, according to grain industry sources.

The first milling company was awarded to Raha AlSafi consortium at 2.027 billion Saudi riyals ($540 million), while the third mill went to Alrajhi-Ghurair-Masafi consortium for 750 million riyals.

(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi and Maha El Dahan; Editing by Jane Merriman and Andrew Cawthorne)

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