EU to Rule on Aramco-SABIC Deal by Feb. 27

30.01.2020 -

The European Commission has given itself until Feb. 27 to decide whether to approve plans by state-owned oil and energy group Saudi Aramco to take a 70% stake in compatriot chemical producer SABIC from the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF) for $69.1 billion.

Aramco is in the process of acquiring the stake as part of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s drive to diversify the country’s economy away from oil. The arrangement was announced in March last year

During its preliminary review of the takeover, which is currently in process, the Commission will have the option of clearing the deal with or without conditions, or open an in-depth investigation over a period of up to five months if it has serious competition concerns.

To date, India and several other countries have given the go-ahead without demanding concessions.

In the run-up to Aramco’s initial public offering on Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul exchange, the company announced it would delay fully paying for SABIC stake  four years until September 2025.

SABIC has invested heavily in the European market since it began buying up assets, mainly in the Netherlands and the German Ruhr area, at the beginning of the millennium. Its most recent move was the acquisition of a 50% stake in Swiss specialty chemicals producer in a deal completed last year.

In other Aramco news, Saudi finance minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan hinted that following the oil producer’s successful listing on the Tadawul, an international listing is “still on the cards,” though it is unlikely to happen soon.

At the same time, the minister told Bloomberg News he is “very confident” that the Saudi economy is picking up speed, and that international investors have responded positively to ongoing reforms in the Kingdom.

Al-Jadaan pointed to the recent successful completion of a $5 billion bond sale at Aramco after it received orders for four times that sum. “We are starting to see results of Vision 2030. The numbers are proving that reform is working. We are basically cashing on the successes,” the minister asserted.