Saudi Arabia confirmed on Monday that it planned to sell a stake of its state oil giant Saudi Aramco which was expected to be valued at more than $2 trillion.
The sale would be less than 5 percent of the company and would be via an initial public offering (IPO), Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a television interview with the Al Arabiya News Channel.
He also said there were plans for Aramco, or to give it its full name Arabian American Oil Company, to be transformed into a holding company with an elected board, according to Reuters, with subsidiaries of the firm also to be sold by IPO.
“The 5 percent is from the parent company,” Prince Mohammed told Al Arabiya in the interview.
“The kingdom can live in 2020 without any dependence on oil … The Saudi addiction to oil has disturbed development of many sectors in past years,” he added.
“We plan to set up a $2 trillion sovereign wealth fund… part of its assets will come from the sale of a small part of Aramco.”
The announcement came as Saudi Arabia’s government unveiled a long-term economic blueprint for life in a low-oil-price world.
Titled “Saudi Vision 2030,” the plan includes regulatory, budget and policy changes that will be implemented over the next 15 years in the hope of making the kingdom less reliant on crude.
It aims to build a “prosperous and sustainable economic future” for the kingdom, according to the press release. It also gave details on privatization and the creation of what it called the “largest sovereign wealth fund in the world.”
“We hope citizens will work together to achieve Saudi Vision 2030,” King Salman said in a brief statement, according to the Al Arabiya broadcaster.
As the world’s largest oil exporter, the bulk of Riyadh’s state revenues come from energy exports. But with crude prices extending their declines — the per-barrel price of global benchmark Brent is down 60 percent since the rout first started in June 2014. The country logged a record $98 billion budget deficit for 2015.
Officials are already taking action to diversify revenue sources before existing state coffers get depleted. This month, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that ownership of the Aramco and some other national assets would be transferred to a public fund that invests cash from the country’s oil and gas operations into other sectors.
Analysis from McKinsey, before the announcement Monday, suggested the kingdom could double gross domestic product (GDP) growth from 3.4 percent in 2015 and create as many as six million jobs by 2030 by focusing on eight non-oil sectors, including manufacturing, mining, tourism, healthcare and finance.