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Major Chinese investors in talks to acquire Saudi Aramco stake: Sources

Saudi Arabia was in talks to sell 1% of Aramco to a leading global energy company and could sell more shares, including to international investors, in the next year or two, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in televised statements Tuesday. fair.

The main Chinese investors are in talks to buy a stake in Saudi Aramco, several sources told Reuters on Wednesday, while Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company is preparing to sell another slice of its business to international investors.

Saudi Arabia was in talks to sell 1% of Aramco to a leading global energy company and could sell more shares, including to international investors, in the next year or two, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in televised statements Tuesday. fair.

A 1% stake would be equivalent to approximately US $ 19 billion based on Aramco’s current market capitalization.

The China Investment Corporation (CIC) sovereign fund is among those who can invest, two sources told Reuters.

Aramco was talking to CIC, as well as Chinese national oil companies, said one of the sources close to CIC. CIC did not comment on the story. None of the other Chinese companies were immediately contacted for comment.

Aramco has been in contact with Chinese investors for some years and CIC is the most likely investor, said the second source of a state-backed private equity fund.

“The kingdom has close relations with China,” said a third source, who is close to Aramco. “The majority shareholder will decide what to do with their shares.”

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, maintained its position as China’s largest supplier of crude oil for the seventh consecutive month in March.

Another source said that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Aramco toured China in search of investors, talking to all major state investors with foreign money, but few were interested. The CIC and the China Silk Road Fund were also among the companies they approached.

Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, listed on the Saudi exchange at the end of 2019, raising $ 25.6 billion in the IPO and then selling more shares under a “green option” to increase the total to $ 29.4 billion .

“There are negotiations now for the acquisition of 1% stake by a leading global energy company in a major deal that would increase Aramco’s sales in … a large country,” said Prince Mohammed, without giving further details.

“There are negotiations with other companies for different holdings, and part of Aramco’s shares can be transferred to the Public Investment Fund (of Saudi Arabia) and another part listed … on the Saudi stock exchange,” he said in an interview with the TV channel Saudi. the fifth anniversary of Vision 2030.

Aramco’s IPO 2019 was seen as a pillar of the economic diversification program that aims to attract foreign investment.

Prince Mohammed said in the interview that Riyadh is strengthening its relations with China, India and Russia, although the United States remains a strategic partner, despite some differences with the Biden government, which has taken a tougher stance on Saudi Arabia. .

“China said that Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner, India said that Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner and Russia also said that Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner,” said the prince.

The friction between China and the United States has increased in recent months on a number of issues, including the use of forced labor by Taiwan and Beijing in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, where the Muslim Uighur minority lives.

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