4% of Saudi state -run oil giant Aramco is to be transferred to the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, as decided by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the state-run news agency said on Sunday.
The prince was quoted by the report as saying that “the transfer of these shares is part of the kingdom’s long-term strategy aimed at supporting the restructuring of the national economy.”‘
The transfer is estimated to have enriched the PIF by nearly $80 billion (€70.5 billion). Some of the money will go toward creating private-sector jobs in the kingdom, the report said.
The fund did not immediately say what its plans for the stock were.
Saudi Aramco, officially called the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, is the world’s biggest oil producer. It has been the main economic driver of the kingdom for many years, as well has the main source of money for the ruling Al Saud royal family, which still owns 94% of company shares.
Saudi Aramco is one of the world’s most-valued companies alongside Apple and Microsoft, with its assets estimated at just under $2 trillion. Currently, it is additionally profiting from a surge in the price of oil, which is trading above $90 a barrel — the highest level since 2014.
Aramco and its assets were once under tight government control and considered off-limits to outside investment.
But the crown prince, who has come up with a wide-ranging reform program known as Vision 2030, has begun to loosen restrictions.
In December 2019, Aramco sold a tiny portion of its shares on the Saudi stock exchange, generating $29.4 billion in the world’s biggest initial public offering.