Saudi Arabia has appointed Yasir al-Rumayyan, head of the country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF)—a sovereign wealth fund—as chairman of Saudi Aramco, replacing energy minister Khalid al-Falih, as Aramco prepares to go public. Rumayyan already sits on the board of Aramco. Following the news, Falih tweeted, “This comes as an important step to prepare the company for the public offering, wishing him every success.”
Aramco is expected to begin preparations for its IPO after it completes the acquisition of a 70% stake in Sabic in 2020. The IPO, the largest public share offering in history, is expected to take place in 2021. Aramco expects to list 5% of its shares, which analysts estimate will raise up to $60-75 billion. Saudi Arabia hopes, perhaps unrealistically, to raise up to $100 billion. Selling a stake in Aramco is a centrepiece of Vision 2030, a plan to diversify the Saudi economy away from near-total dependence on oil.
Tokyo and Riyadh are now considered the most likely stock exchanges for the Aramco listing. London and Hong Kong were the early frontrunners but this is no longer the case, according to industry reports. London is not likely to be the chosen exchange, partly due to Brexit uncertainty and nor is Hong Kong because of the civil unrest there. A New York listing also appears less likely because it would carry too many legal risks. New York was the exchange favored by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before plans for the IPO were put on hold last year. According to Reuters, citing sources, Saudi cabinet ministers and Aramco executives concluded at an August meeting that a US listing would not be considered unless Aramco is offered sovereign immunity that protects it from any legal action.
Rumayyan, a former investment banker, was appointed managing director of the PIF in September 2015, after serving as an advisor at the royal court for a brief period. He joined Aramco’s board in 2016. The move comes a few days after Saudi Arabia created a new ministry for industry and mineral resources, separating it from the huge energy ministry, in a series of royal decrees issued on 30 August. Falih retains control of the energy portfolio and remains head of the Saudi delegation at OPEC.
By Natasha Alperowicz
Source: Chemical Week
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