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Tuesday, 03 August 2021

Talks underway to sell 1% of Saudi Aramco to foreign firm: Prince

The prince neither named the company nor the country

AFP , Wednesday 28 Apr 2021

Saudi Arabia is in discussions to sell one percent of oil giant Aramco to a foreign energy firm, the kingdom's crown prince said in a television interview broadcast Tuesday.

"There is a discussion on the acquisition of 1 percent (of Aramco) by one of the world's leading energy companies, and this will be a very important deal to boost Aramco's sales in that country," Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said.

The prince neither named the company nor the country.

Aramco previously sold a sliver of its shares on the Saudi bourse in December 2019, generating $29.4 billion in the world's biggest initial public offering.

The latest announcement underscores how Saudi Arabia is seeking to monetise its energy assets to generate revenue for an ambitious effort to diversify the oil-reliant economy.

Earlier this month, Aramco said it had struck a 12.4-billion-dollar deal to sell a minority stake in a newly formed oil pipeline business to a consortium led by US-based EIG Global Energy Partners.

Aramco faces pressure to maintain hefty dividend payments to the Saudi government, its biggest shareholder, despite posting consecutive falls in profits since it began disclosing earnings in 2019.

Last month, Aramco posted a 44.4 percent slump in 2020 net profit, piling pressure on government finances as Riyadh pursues its multi-billion dollar projects to diversify the economy.

The company's debt has climbed as Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude exporter, was hammered last year by the double whammy of low prices and sharp cuts in production triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

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