Mohammed, UAE’s Saudi crown prince transfers another 8% of Aramco shares to sovereign wealth fund

United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia’s crown prince transferred another 8% of shares in the kingdom’s oil giant Saudi Aramco to the country’s prominent sovereign wealth fund on Thursday. The shares are worth some $160 billion. 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s decision comes as the kingdom is trying to build a series of megaprojects and invest in sports and other fields aggressively abroad to wean the country off of relying solely on oil. 

The country’s sovereign wealth fund known as the Public Investment Fund, or PIF, has been a key element of Mohammed’s plans, known as Saudi Vision 2030.

“The transfer of part of the state’s shares in Saudi Aramco is a continuation of Saudi Arabia’s long-term initiatives to boost and diversify the national economy and expand investment opportunities in line with Saudi Vision 2030,” a statement announcing the deal said. “The transfer will also solidify PIF’s strong financial position and credit rating.”

The statement said the kingdom’s ownership in Aramco would now be 82.186% of the company. 

Saudi Aramco, formally known as the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., acknowledged the transfer in a corporate disclosure. 

“This is a private transfer and the company is not a party to the transfer and did not enter into any agreements or pay or receive any proceeds from the transfer,” it said. 

Aramco has a market value of $2 trillion, making it the world’s fourth most-valuable firm, behind just Apple, Microsoft and NVIDIA respectively. 

Aramco stock traded slightly up on Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange to $8.45 a share Thursday. Benchmark Brent crude traded Thursday above $82 a barrel.

In February 2022, Crown Prince Mohammed transferred 4% of Aramco to the PIF. Last year, the prince transferred another 4% stake to the Saudi Arabian Investment Co., known as Sanabil Investments. Sanabil is under the PIF. 

Just 1.73% of the company, a narrow sliver, is traded on the Tadawul since the company’s 2019 initial public offering. 

For 2022, Aramco has reported earning a $161 billion profit, the highest-ever recorded by a publicly listed company. 

That came off the back of energy prices rising after Russia launched its war on Ukraine in February 2022, with sanctions limiting the sale of Moscow’s oil and natural gas in Western markets. 

Meanwhile, activists criticized the profits amid global concerns about the burning of fossil fuels accelerating climate change.

Aramco announces its 2023 earnings on March 11. 

Saudi Arabia’s vast oil resources, located close to the surface of its desert expanse, make it one of the world’s least expensive places to produce crude. The crown prince hopes to use the oil wealth to pivot the kingdom off oil sales, like with his planned $500 billion futuristic desert city called Neom and other projects. 

“The crown prince concluded that PIF continues with its mandate to launch new sectors, build new strategic partnerships, localize technologies and knowledge and create more direct and indirect job opportunities in the local market,” the statement on Thursday’s transfer said.

Culled from ABC News