Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 29 May 2016

Saudi Arabia may sell shares in Aramco, the 'world's most valuable company'

Published 08/01/2016

Saudi Aramco's (the national oil company) Al-Khurais central oil processing facility under construction in the Saudi Arabian desert, 160 kms east of the capital Riyadh, on June 23, 2008. (File photo)
Saudi Aramco's (the national oil company) Al-Khurais central oil processing facility under construction in the Saudi Arabian desert, 160 kms east of the capital Riyadh, on June 23, 2008. (File photo)

Saudi Arabia is thinking about selling shares in Saudi Aramco, a state-owned oil producer that is reported to be the most valuable company in the world.

Just how big are we talking?

Estimates vary, but Forbes said Aramco makes more than $1 billion in revenue every day - that puts it at 15 times the size of Exxon, the biggest oil producer in the US.

Aramco is said to have reserves of 300,000 million barrels of oil. A share sale could make it the world's most valuable company.

Apple is currently the world's most valuable company, worth around $543 billion.

Why has Saudi Arabia decided to do this now?

The official statement says the privatisation of Aramco would be "consistent with the broad a progressive direction of the Kingdom", by which it means, lots of companies in Saudi Arabia are privatising at the moment.

But it's also symbolic of tough times for Saudi Arabia. Oil price have tanked in the last 18 months, squeezing Saudi's state revenues.

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Saudi Arabia, which prides itself on high welfare spending, is having to implement taxes on things like sugary drinks and tobacco, while the price of petrol had been put up by 40 per cent.

Selling shares in the world's most valuable company could help Saudi Arabia address its growing budget deficit of $98 billion in 2015. Shares in just 20 per cent of the company could fund Saudi Arabia's budget for a year.

When will they decide?

Muhammad bin Salman, the kingdom’s deputy crown prince, told the Economist that a decision would be made in the “next few months”.

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