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Goldman Sachs’ chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, has urged Saudi Arabia to pursue faster progress on its Vision 2030 economic diversification program. Speaking at the Bloomberg Global Business forum in New York, the executive explained that the reform should move ahead “so that what you want to have produce more stability in the long-run doesn’t produce instability in the short-run.”
The task is challenging: it seems that Saudi Arabia does not have all the resources—not just financial but human—to make Vision 2030 happen at a quicker pace. The Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund head, Yasir Bin Othman Al-Rumayyan, who was on the same forum panel as Blankfein, acknowledged the challenges, recognizing the need for the country to attract more foreign talent, but added that unlike in its early days, the Vision 2030 plan is now garnering more support.
It appears that the business development model that Riyadh aims to use for its diversification program will be Aramco, which the Goldman Sachs head called “world class,” achieved, the comment implied, with the help of highly qualified expats.
Aramco will in fact be instrumental in the implementation of Vision 2030. The program envisages large-scale educational, healthcare, employment, and other reforms that will need billions. These billions will come from the state oil company’s IPO, scheduled for 2018.
The deal, however, is not all but done. While based on oil reserves, Aramco is the tastiest morsel in the pack of global oil companies, it’s not just reserves that make up the basis for an IPO pricing. Aramco is a notoriously opaque company, financially speaking, and this must change quickly so investors are attracted to the purchase. First, however, the company needs to select its secondary listing venue, as London and New York use differing financial reporting standards.
Even with a financial report, however, some observers are loath to believe that Aramco will attract many suitors. According to them, the factual accuracy of any data that Aramco releases could be tainted by the urgent need of the Kingdom to start working on Vision 2030.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.