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Saudi Crown Prince considering sale of 1% Aramco stake to a 'leading global energy company

Saudi Aramco originally listed 2% of its shares on the local market in 2019, raising almost $30 billion.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman confirmed the possible sale of a 1% stake in Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest oil company, on Tuesday. The stake would be worth about $19 billion based on Aramco's current market value. This follows the 2019 sale of just 2% of Saudi Aramco's shares on the Saudi bourse for $29.4 billion, making it the world's largest initial public offering in history.

While MBS has not announced when the sale will take place or the potential buyer, circa 2016 the crown prince announced a plan to raise as much as $100 billion via an international and domestic listing of a 5% stake in Aramco.

"There are talks now for the acquisition of a 1% stake by a leading global energy company in an important deal that would boost Aramco's sales in ... a major country," he said.

“I don’t want to give any promises about deals finalising. This deal could be very important in strengthening Aramco’s sales in the country where this company resides,” he added.

Following bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan to develop the kingdom and revive other areas of the economy, the crown prince aims to attract global investment and implementing an economic diversification program that would help give Saudi Arabia some energy independence.

"There are talks with other companies for different stakes, and part of Aramco's shares could be transferred to the (Saudi) Public Investment Fund and a part listed ... on the Saudi bourse," he said in an interview aired by Saudi TV marking the fifth anniversary of Vision 2030.

While according to bin Salman, the kingdom has no plans to "get rid of oil,” it was also mentioned in Tuesday’s interview that Aramco's shares could be transferred to Saudi's Public Investment Fund (PIF), creating “tremendous investment opportunities”.

Pandemics and other global crises usually shrink oil-dependent economies greatly. After COVID-19 hit, the kingdom suffered the worst economic contraction since the ‘90s, according to estimates from the International Monetary Fund. Despite major efforts to diversify the economy away from oil, Aramco remains Saudi Arabia’s main source of revenue.

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