Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has borrowed $11 billion from international banks after plans for an initial public offering (IPO) of state-owned oil firm Saudi Aramco were delayed indefinitely, an industry source told Reuters.
This is the first commercial loan taken on by the kingdom’s sovereign fund – the Public Investment Fund (PIF). The value of the loan is substantially higher than the initial estimates of between $6 billion and $8 billion given by sources in July 2018.
The Aramco IPO was expected to raise around $100 billion, and its postponement has created a financial hole for the PIF, which also has major multibillion dollar tech and infrastructure investments.
The team of financial advisers working on the IPO has reportedly been disbanded, and Aramco is now prioritizing the acquisition 0f a stake in Saudi petrochemicals group Sabic, Reuters reported.
“The decision to call off the IPO was taken some time ago, but no-one can disclose this, so statements are gradually going that way – first delay then calling off,” a Saudi source familiar with the IPO told Reuters.
The Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih denied the speculation, saying, “The government remains committed to the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, in accordance with the appropriate circumstances and appropriate time chosen by the government.”
However, industry sources stated that the IPO is all but called off, “the message we have been given is that the IPO has been called off for the foreseeable future,” a senior financial advisor said, adding that “even the local float on the Tadawul Stock Exchange has been shelved.”
“The IPO has not been officially called off, but the likelihood of it not happening at all is greater than it being on,” another source, a senior oil industry official, said.