Saudi Arabia oil giant could be going public

Saudi Arabia oil giant could be going public

Amid a global oil supply glut, Saudi Arabia is thinking about listing shares in its state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco, according to The Economist.

One of the biggest companies in the world, Aramco is also the world's biggest oil producer and is worth "trillions of dollars," according to Saudi officials.

The deputy crown price of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad bin Salman, told The Economist in his first on-the-record interview that a decision about a potential listing will most likely take place in the next few months.

The plan to list the company is a possible step to balance Saudi Arabia's budget and deal with the oil-price collapse to below US$35 (S$50.24) a barrel. While the company already has significant sway over prices, if a small part of its shares were placed on the Saudi stock exchange, this influence could grow even greater.

"Personally I'm enthusiastic about this step," Prince Muhammad said in the interview with The Economist. "I believe it is in the interest of the Saudi market, and it is in the interest of Aramco."

He added that the listing would also help make Aramco more transparent by preventing any "counter corruption, if any." Another goal would be to promote greater shareholder involvement in Saudi Arabia.

Though this figure could rise, the first float would include about 5 per cent of the company in Riyadh, which would allow the kingdom to continue to exercise control over the company.

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