State oil giant Saudi Aramco has appointed to its board Yasir al-Rumayyan, managing director of its top sovereign wealth fund, in a sign that the two institutions plan to cooperate closely to restructure the economy in an era of low oil prices.
Aramco updated its website to show Rumayyan as a new board member but did not explain the change. Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that Rumayyan had replaced telecommunications minister Mohammed al-Suwaiyal on the board.
Rumayyan heads the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which the government aims to develop into a $2 trillion behemoth that would invest abroad to earn money and domestically to help expand the kingdom’s non-oil sectors.
As Saudi Arabia’s biggest company, Aramco is to play a major role in the economic plan, providing money, expertise and worker training to develop industries such as shipbuilding.
To build up the PIF, the government has said it will transfer ownership of Aramco to the fund and offer up to 5 percent of the oil company for sale, raising money which the PIF can reinvest.
Officials have been studying proposals for an Aramco share offer for months but have not announced any concrete plans. An overseas offer could be technically difficult because of regulatory requirements, while Saudi Arabia’s own capital market might be too small to cope with such a large equity offer.
By Reem Shamseddine
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