Saudi Arabia’s government will keep a controlling interest in state-owned Saudi Aramco if it decides on a share offering of the world’s largest oil firm, its chief executive said.
Aramco has crude reserves of about 265bn barrels, over 15% of all global oil deposits. If it goes public, it could become the first listed company valued at $1tn, analysts have estimated
“A range of options are being considered, including the listing in the capital markets of an appropriate percentage of Saudi Aramco shares with the government retaining a controlling interest, as well as the option to list a bundle of downstream businesses and interests,” Amin Nasser wrote in a letter published in Aramco’s weekly magazine the Arabian Sun.
Nasser, who is chairing a steering committee overseeing the process, cited the government’s privatization initiative and broader economic reforms as the two key drivers behind the move.
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman indicated in an interview with The Economist magazine last week that Saudi Arabia might sell shares in Aramco, as part of a privatisation drive to raise money in an era of low oil prices.
Last Friday, it issued a brief statement saying it was considering options including the stock market listing “of an appropriate percentage of the company’s shares and/or the listing of a bundle (of) its downstream subsidiaries”.
Aramco chairman Khalid al-Falih told the Wall Street Journal on Monday there was no specific timeline or concrete plan for the listing. However, a listing of the main company, which includes upstream, as well as refining and petrochemical assets was being considered, he said.
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