Saudi Aramco plans to invest $1.6 billion in South Korean refiner Hyundai Oilbank

Hyundai Oilbank has a total of 650,000 barrels per day of refining capacity in the southwestern city of Daesan and also aims to expand its petrochemical business. (AFP)
Updated 14 February 2019
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Saudi Aramco plans to invest $1.6 billion in South Korean refiner Hyundai Oilbank

  • Saudi Arabia is the top crude oil supplier to South Korea, the world’s fifth-biggest importer
  • Hyundai Oilbank has a total of 650,000 barrels per day of refining capacity

SEOUL: Saudi Aramco plans to invest up to $1.6 billion for a nearly 20 percent stake in South Korean refiner Hyundai Oilbank, expanding its foothold in one of its biggest Asian buyers of crude oil.
Saudi Aramco is already the biggest shareholder in South Korea’s No.3 refiner, S-Oil Corp, with a 63.41 percent stake, and the latest deal should help Aramco boost crude oil sales to Hyundai Oilbank, the South’s smallest refiner by capacity.
Saudi Arabia is the top crude oil supplier to South Korea, the world’s fifth-biggest importer.
In 2018, South Korea imported 323.17 million barrels of crude from the kingdom, or 885,408 barrels per day (bpd), according to data from Korea National Oil Corp.
Saudi Aramco’s chief executive told Reuters in November that it planned to expand its market share in Asia — including China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia — and Africa.
Saudi Aramco said it plans to buy a stake of up to 19.9 percent of Hyundai Oilbank from Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings, which now owns 91.13 percent of Hyundai Oilbank.
“Saudi Aramco seems to be boosting investments in downstream projects ahead of an initial public offering,” said Lee Dong-wook, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said in early January that the state oil giant will be listed by 2021.
Aramco, the world’s largest crude producer, plans to increase investment in refining and petrochemicals in a bid to cut its reliance on crude as demand for oil slows.
Hyundai Oilbank has a total of 650,000 barrels per day of refining capacity in the southwestern city of Daesan and also aims to expand its petrochemical business.
In May last year, it announced plans to build a 2.7 trillion won petrochemical plant with South Korea’s Lotte Chemical.
Saudi Aramco plans to value Hyundai Oilbank at 10 trillion won, or 36,000 won per share, Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings said in a statement.
A person familiar with the matter said the company plans to offer a discount of 10 percent to Saudi Aramco in a block deal that will require board approval from both firms.
News of the stake sale drove up shares of the parent company by as much 6.6 percent.
Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings also said it planned to “reconsider” the stock market listing of the refinery arm after completing the stake sale, possibly this year.
Hyundai Oilbank, which had aimed to list on South Korea’s stock exchange in 2018, delayed the plan until this year due to regulatory scrutiny of its balance sheet.
The holding company, which also includes shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries, said it would use the funds from the Oilbank deal to invest in new businesses and improve its financial health.
The shipbuilding firm is part of a joint venture with Saudi Aramco and others to build a shipyard on Saudi Arabia’s eastern coast.


Gulf defense spending ‘to top $110bn by 2023’

Updated 15 February 2019
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Gulf defense spending ‘to top $110bn by 2023’

  • Saudi Arabia and UAE initiatives ‘driving forward industrial defense capabilities’
  • Budgets are increasing as countries pursue modernization of equipment and expansion of their current capabilities

LONDON: Defense spending by Gulf Arab states is expected to rise to more than $110 billion by 2023, driven partly by localized military initiatives by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, a report has found.

Budgets are increasing as countries pursue the modernization of equipment and expansion of their current capabilities, according to a report by analytics firm Jane’s by IHS Markit.

Military expenditure in the Gulf will increase from $82.33 billion in 2013 to an estimated $103.01 billion in 2019, and is forecast to continue trending upward to $110.86 billion in 2023.

“Falling energy revenues between 2014 and 2016 led to some major procurement projects being delayed as governments reigned in budget deficits,” said Charles Forrester, senior defense industry analyst at Jane’s.

“However, defense was generally protected from the worst of the spending cuts due to regional security concerns and budgets are now growing again.”

Major deals in the region have included Eurofighter Typhoon purchases by countries including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Saudi Arabia is also looking to “localize” 50 percent of total government military spending in the Kingdom by 2030, and in 2017 announced the launch of the state-owned military industrial company Saudi Arabia Military Industries.

Forrester said such moves will boost the ability for Gulf countries to start exporting, rather than purely importing defense equipment.

“Within the defense sector, the establishment of Saudi Arabia Military Industries (SAMI) in 2017 and consolidation of the UAE’s defense industrial base through the creation of Emirates Defense Industries Company (EDIC) in 2014 have helped consolidate and drive forward industrial defense capabilities,” he said.

“This has happened as the countries focus on improving the quality of the defense technological work packages they undertake through offset, as well as increasing their ability to begin exporting defense equipment.”

Regional countries are also considering the use of “disruptive technologies” such as artificial intelligence in defense, Forrester said.

Meanwhile, it emerged on Friday that worldwide outlays on weapons and defense rose 1.8 percent to more than $1.67 trillion in 2018.

The US was responsible for almost half that increase, according to “The Military Balance” report released at the Munich Security Conference and quoted by Reuters.

Western powers were concerned about Russia’s upgrades of air bases and air defense systems in Crimea, the report said, but added that “China perhaps represents even more of a challenge, as it introduces yet more advanced military systems and is engaged in a strategy to improve its forces’ ability to operate at distance from the homeland.”