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Zainab Calcuttawala

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Chinese Consortium Prepares For Investment In Saudi Aramco IPO

A Chinese consortium of state-owned oil companies, banks and sovereign wealth funds will act as a “cornerstone” investor in Saudi Aramco’s upcoming initial public offering (IPO), according to a new report by Reuters.

The Chinese investment would make it more likely that Aramco will choose an Asian stock exchange to list the IPO, with Hong Kong being the most favored venue, the sources said.

Aramco’s board is due to meet with Chinese officials in Shanghai in May, an earlier Reuters report said.

The China Investment Corporation (CIC), oil majors Sinopec and PetroChina, as well as the nation’s state-run banks are the entities authorized to participate in the consortium to invest in Aramco.

"The IPO will help decide whom, or which country, can secure the crude supplies from [Saudi Aramco] and Saudi Arabia going forward," one source told Reuters. The size of each Chinese entities’ stake in the company will correlate to its existing ties to Riyadh, he added.

"For instance, if you were already a strategic investor or plan to become one in the long-term, things would become easier."

Saudi Aramco invited China’s Sinopec to take part in Aramco’s IPO last month, the Chinese firm’s chairman Wang Yupu said in March.

“We talked with them on the plan, and generally speaking we had a very good conversation,” Wang said at a briefing in Hong Kong, as quoted by Bloomberg. “Going forward, based on our own reality and needs, we will get into more detailed conversations with them,” the Chinese manager noted.

Related: Reeling From Low Oil Prices, Saudis Look To Freeze Megaprojects

Earlier this month Saudi King Salman started a month-long tour of Asia, during which the King has been signing with Asian counterparts billions of dollars’ worth of deals – including for oil and refining.

In China, King Salman has signed preliminary deals that could be worth as much as $65 billion if finalized – a total of 14 cooperation agreements, including a memorandum of understanding on 35 projects for “production capacity and investment cooperation”.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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