RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA — Saudi Arabia has completed the sale of two flour mills as part of the country’s privatization plan, Reuters reported citing SAGO, the country’s state grain buyer.

In 2018, Saudi Arabi’s Council of Economic and Development Affairs approved a privatization program for the sale of the four flour milling companies by SAGO.

The first milling company was sold for $540.1 million to the Raha AlSafi consortium. The Alrajhi-Ghurair-Masafi consortium purchased the third mill for a total of $199.9 million, according a statement by the National Center for Privatization and PPP (NCP) and SAGO.

The next phase of the privatization is anticipated to begin soon and include the sale of the second and fourth milling companies.

The sale of these milling companies interested some larger agribusiness companies such as ADM, Bunge and the Louis Dreyfus company but later dropped out of the bidding process.

“The crucial piece of information to know going forward is whether any of these companies will eventually be allowed to import their own wheat as opposed to receiving it from SAGO,” a Middle East based industry expert told Reuters.

SAGO, the state grain purchaser for Saudi Arabia, is one of the world’s largest wheat and barley buyers. Saudi Arabia has been a major wheat importer since 2008 when it abandoned its plans for self-sufficiency.