Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, is considering as much as $5 billion of investments in renewable energy firms as part of plans to diversify from crude production, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Banks including HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Credit Suisse Group AG have been invited to pitch for a role helping Aramco identify potential acquisition targets and advising on deals, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. The energy company is seeking to bring foreign expertise in renewable energy into the kingdom, the people said, adding that first investments under the plan could occur this year.
Saudi Arabia is planning to produce 10 gigawatts of power from renewable energy sources including solar, wind and nuclear by 2023 and transform Aramco into a diversified energy company. The kingdom also plans to develop a renewable energy research and manufacturing industry as part of an economic transformation plan announced by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in April.
Saudi Aramco, HSBC, Credit Suisse and JPMorgan declined to comment. The kingdom intends to become a global “powerhouse” of renewable energy including solar, wind and nuclear power, the country’s Energy Minister and chairman of Aramco, Khalid Al-Falih, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. By 2030 the kingdom wants to produce 30 percent of its power from renewable energy sources.
OPEC’s biggest crude producer is embarking on a domestic renewable-energy program costing $30 billion to $50 billion. The country’s only solar plant in operation, aside from a limited pilot project, is a 10-megawatt facility on top of a parking lot at Saudi Aramco’s headquarters. The national utility, Saudi Electricity Co., is seeking bids for two solar plants to generate a combined 100 megawatts.
Saudi Arabia previously had longer-term targets for renewable power when crude prices were about double current levels. Its earlier solar program forecast more than $100 billion of investment in projects to produce 41 gigawatts of power by 2040. The government delayed the deadline for meeting that capacity goal by nearly a decade in January 2015, saying it needed more time to assess the relevant technologies.
Earlier Saudi Arabian Oil Co. had asked banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and HSBC Holdings Plc to pitch for an advisory role on its initial public offering as it pushes ahead with plans for the world’s largest share sale, three people with knowledge of the matter said.
Saudi Arabia plans to sell less than 5 percent of the company as part of plans by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to set up the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund and reduce the economy’s reliance on hydrocarbons.
The sale’s estimated size of $100 billion would make it the largest ever, dwarfing the $25 billion raised by Chinese internet retailer Alibaba in 2014.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Michael Klein, the former Citigroup Inc. investment banker who runs his own advisory firm, have already been selected to advise on the IPO, people familiar with the matter said in April. Klein is providing strategic advice to the government, while JPMorgan is working on preparations for the IPO and may be among the banks that underwrite the listing, the people said.
Aramco Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser said the company may list on two or three exchanges and, to make the sale more attractive to investors, Saudi Arabia will reduce the company’s overall tax rate.
Prince Mohammed’s plan envisions the Aramco IPO as the centerpiece of Saudi Arabia’s biggest economic shakeup since the founding of the country in 1932. Although details of what exactly will be sold remain unclear, Nasser has said the IPO will be based on the company maintaining the so-called concession, which gives it the right to exploit the kingdom’s oil and gas reserves.