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Saudi Aramco to Sell Shares, Would Create World’s Largest Publicly Traded Firm

Saudi Arabia is looking to create the world's largest public company as it plans to offload a stake of less than 5 percent of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, the kingdom's deputy crown prince told Bloomberg.

A gas flame is seen in the desert near the Khurais oilfield
A gas flame is seen in the desert by the Khurais oilfield, near Riyadh. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji

In an interview with the broadcaster, Prince Mohammed bin Salman said advisers were considering offering a slice of the whole of the company - as opposed to some of its subsidiaries. Saudi Aramco, as it's more widely known, would be listed on the domestic stock exchange as early as next year, the crown prince said.

Bloomberg estimates that if floated, and based on a conservative estimate of $10 a barrel, Aramco would be valued at $2.5 trillion-plus.

Saudi Arabia is one of the world's largest oil exporters and, with much of its wealth and government budget dependent on oil revenues, it has been sorely hit by a plunge in oil prices over the last few years - from $114 a barrel in June 2014 to currently around $38 a barrel of benchmark Brent crude.

Last month, ratings agency Moody's forecast real gross domestic product growth to slow to 1.5 percent for 2016 and 2 percent for 2017 in Saudi Arabia - well below the 3.4 percent growth of 2015 - and for average oil prices to stay at $33 a barrel in 2016 and $38 in 2017.

Also in the Bloomberg interview, the crown prince said in an attempt to prepare Saudi Arabia for the end of its oil exporting economy it is creating the world's largest sovereign wealth fund for the kingdom's most prized assets.

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