Aramco likely to sell RM41b bond to buy Sabic stake

DUBAI • Saudi Arabian Oil Co (Aramco) could tap the bond market for about US$10 billion (RM40.9 billion) to help fund the acquisition of petrochemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries Corp (Sabic), according to the country’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih.

The kingdom will decide in the “next few weeks” about the size of the proposed bond, though the offering would not be “huge”, Al-Falih told reporters in Abu Dhabi. “It will be probably in about the 10 billion range.”

Aramco plans to tap the market in the second quarter, selling its first international bond and forcing the world’s largest oil producer to disclose its accounts to investors for the first time since its nationalisation roughly four decades ago. It may also have to make public details about oil reserves and operations.

“I think US$10 billion of issuance from Aramco will be just the start,” said Zehan Mohamed Salleh, fixed-income portfolio manager at First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC. “We definitely expect them to return later in 2019.”

Aramco is in talks to buy 70% of Sabic from the Public Investment Fund, which could cost about US$70 billion.

Some had expected the potential bond to rank among the largest issued by a company if Aramco planned to finance a large chunk of the Sabic deal with it, though Al-Falih last week played down chatter in the market that Aramco would fund the entire deal with the bond offering. — Bloomberg