Amin Nasser, CEO of Saudi Aramco, says the recently announced talks to acquire a stake in SABIC would make Aramco less vulnerable to volatile oil prices, and would be positive for its revenue. He also said that the talks are likely to delay the IPO of Aramco, something that observers have been speculating for months.
Nasser made the remarks on Friday to the TV channel Al Arabiya. Aramco said last week that it may buy a strategic stake in SABIC from the country’s sovereign wealth fund. “A potential SABIC deal would affect the time frame for Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering,” Nasser told Al Arabiya. Sabic has a market value of a little more than $100 billion and the Saudi sovereign wealth fund controls a 70% stake. The cash from the Aramco IPO would have given the sovereign wealth fund fire-power for fresh deals. But the potential deal between Aramco and Sabic could enable the sovereign fund to raise billions of dollars it had hoped would come from Aramco’s stalled IPO.
The international IPO is proving particularly difficult for several reasons. First, Prince Mohammed has said publicly Aramco should be valued at $2 trillion or more, a figure few outside the kingdom see as realistic. Some analysts, including Sanford C Bernstein & Co and Rystad Energy, have suggested a figure closer to $1 trillion.
Aramco originally announced plans for an IPO more than two years ago. The listing of a 5% stake in the company, which it was hoped would raise about $100 billion, was a key component of Saudi Arabia’s 2030 strategy to wean the country off over-dependence on oil revenue and diversify the economy. On 5 July, the Wall Street Journal, reflecting the growing skepticism about the deal, reported that “Saudi officials have determined that listing on a large stock exchange in New York, London, or Hong Kong would carry too many legal risks, exposing Aramco to shareholder lawsuits, for example.” Observers have long doubted Aramco’s willingness to comply with the disclosure requirements that most stock exchanges would need the company to agree to for a listing.
“Aramco is ready for the initial offer and the timing remains subject to the state’s decision,” Nasser told Al Arabiya.
By Natasha Alperowicz
Source: Chemical Week
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