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Saudi Aramco to issue bonds in Q2 2019, list in 2021 - energy minister

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih speaks during a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 9, 2019. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo

By Rania El Gamal

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Aramco will issue bonds in the second quarter of 2019, Saudi Arabia's energy minister said on Wednesday.

The Saudi oil giant has considered issuing bonds to help finance its planned acquisition of a controlling stake in petrochemical maker SABIC.

The deal is expected to involve the purchase of all or nearly all of the 70 percent stake in SABIC held by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the kingdom's top sovereign wealth fund. That implies a deal value of roughly $70 billion, though the acquisition price has not been made public yet.

Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Aramco will release its financials and reserves when it issues the planned bonds, which will be denominated in US dollars, but added that the expected bond issuance is not linked to the SABIC acquisition.

"The bond issue is intended to give Aramco multiple sources of capital," Falih told reporters.

"With or without the SABIC transaction a company the size of Aramco - its capital program and its capital spend is going to be from $40 to $50 billion a year - it's very prudent they have access to the capital market."

Aramco is working with JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley on the SABIC acquisition, sources previously told Reuters.

The two banks, along with others, were working on the planned stock market listing of Aramco before the plan to list the company and offer a 5 percent stake to other investors was pulled last year.

Falih said on Wednesday that the state oil giant will be listed by 2021.

The valuation of Aramco would depend on the market but petroleum reserves would be one of the bases for establishing its value, he said.


(Reporting by Rania El Gamal; writing by Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Edmund Blair, Jan Harvey and Alexandra Hudson)