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Russia, China Eye Aramco IPO

February 15/ 10:00

Riyadh. Russian banks and a joint Russia-China investment fund are eager to participate in Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering, according to the head of a sovereign Russian investment fund.

Several banks and other groups in Russia are interested in investing in shares of Aramco, the world’s biggest oil exporter, Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive officer of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, said on Wednesday in Riyadh, Bloomberg reported. 

Saudi Arabia plans this year to sell a stake of about 5% of the company in what could be a record IPO.

“Not only this, but we have a Russia-China investment fund, and through that Russia-China investment fund we see a major interest in the Aramco IPO from a number of leading Chinese institutions,” Dmitriev told reporters. 

“We see significant interest to invest in the Aramco IPO from Russia, from China, and we believe that this is very good for, once again, thinking jointly about oil.”

Russia and Saudi Arabia, the world’s two largest oil-producing nations, have abandoned their long-time rivalry and formed an alliance to prop up crude prices amid a surge in output from US shale drillers. 

The pair engineered a global accord to cut output until the end of the year. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and his Saudi counterpart Khalid Al-Falih spoke on Wednesday at a conference in Riyadh, the latest in a series of joint appearances that underscore their deepening ties.

Dmitriev said Aramco, known formally as Saudi Arabian Oil Company, is set to make a big announcement of a partnership in liquefied natural gas with a Russian company later on Wednesday. 

"The RDIF and Aramco plan in the near future to set up a platform for investments in Russia’s largest independent driller, Eurasia Drilling Company," he said.

"A joint $1 billion energy fund formed by RDIF and Aramco expects to close its first deals in the next three months."

Aramco’s IPO is the centerpiece of Saudi Arabia’s plan to wean its economy off oil. The government has estimated the share sale could value the company at $2 trillion, though analysts make lower estimates.

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