Saudi Aramco in talks for stake in world’s no. 4 chemical firm

General view of Aramco tanks and oil pipe at Saudi Aramco’s Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/File)
Updated 19 July 2018
0

Saudi Aramco in talks for stake in world’s no. 4 chemical firm

  • Aramco made the invitation for the SABIC deal to the banks last month
  • The oil giant is expanding its footprint globally by signing downstream deals and boosting the capacity of its plants

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco said on Thursday it is looking to buy a stake in Saudi petrochemical maker SABIC, a move that could boost the state oil giant’s market valuation ahead of a planned initial public offering.
Aramco said in a statement that it was in “very early-stage discussions” with the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund to acquire the stake in SABIC via a private transaction. It has no plans to acquire any publicly held shares, it said.
In a separate statement, the PIF also said that talks about a sale were in early stages. “There is a possibility that no agreement will be reached in relation to this potential transaction,” it said.
Reuters reported on Wednesday that Saudi Aramco had invited banks to pitch for an advisory role on the potential acquisition of a strategic stake in Saudi Basic Industries Corp, citing two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
Aramco wants to develop its downstream business as the government prepares to sell up to 5 percent of the world’s largest oil producer, possibly by next year. Boosting its petrochemicals portfolio further could help attract investors for the IPO.
Riyadh-listed SABIC, the world’s fourth-biggest petrochemicals company, is 70 percent owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s top sovereign wealth fund. It has a market capitalization of 385.2 billion Saudi riyals ($102.7 billion).
The Aramco IPO is the centerpiece of an ambitious plan championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy beyond oil.
Aramco made the invitation for the SABIC deal to the banks last month, said the sources, declining to be identified due to commercial sensitivities.
Aramco plans to boost investments in refining and petrochemicals to secure new markets for its crude, and sees growth in chemicals as central to its downstream strategy to lessen the risk of a slowdown in oil demand.
The oil giant is expanding its footprint globally by signing downstream deals and boosting the capacity of its plants.
Aramco’s push into chemicals also includes a mega project it is building at home with SABIC. The $20 billion project would build a complex that converts crude oil into chemicals directly, bypassing the refining stage.


Malaysian court delays Goldman case on 1MDB fund theft

Updated 8 min 32 sec ago
0

Malaysian court delays Goldman case on 1MDB fund theft

  • Malaysia filed criminal charges against three units and two ex-employees of the Wall Street titan in December
  • They are accused of misappropriating $2.7 billion and other crimes in relation to bond issues they arranged for 1MDB
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian case against Goldman Sachs on charges the US investment bank stole huge sums from the country’s 1MDB state fund was postponed Monday until September after defense lawyers argued there was a problem with paperwork.
Malaysia filed criminal charges against three units and two ex-employees of the Wall Street titan in December, accusing them of misappropriating $2.7 billion and other crimes in relation to bond issues they arranged for 1MDB.
Allegations that huge sums were looted from the investment vehicle — in a fraud that allegedly involved former Malaysian leader Najib Razak — contributed to the last government’s election defeat last year.
At a procedural hearing in Kuala Lumpur Monday, Goldman lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said the Hong Kong unit of the bank received its summons just last week, while the summons sent to the Singapore unit only included three out of four charges.
The third Goldman unit in the case is based in London.
He asked for three months to get further instructions from his clients, and the judge set September 30 for another procedural hearing.
Prosecutor Aaron Paul Chelliah told reporters that the prosecution believed all documents had been properly served.
“Their clients have some reservations on whether they were properly served,” he said. “Our position is they have been served.”
Goldman helped arranged bonds totaling $6.5 billion on three occasions for 1MDB, for which they earned fees said to be well above typical rates.
The bank and its former employees are accused of making false and misleading statements to misappropriate huge sums from the 2012 and 2013 bond issuances.
Goldman has vowed to fight the charges, saying the former Malaysian government and 1MDB lied to the bank.
The former bankers accused in the case are Tim Leissner and Ng Chong Hwa, and both have also been charged in the US over the scandal.
Leissner pleaded guilty in America, while Ng was extradited to the US from Malaysia in May and pleaded not guilty.