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Saudi Arabia considering Aramco IPO

Saudi Arabia may list shares in state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco, the kingdom's deputy crown prince Muhammad bin Salman told The Economist08 Jan 2016

Prince Muhammad said a decision will be taken in the next few months. "Personally I’m enthusiastic about this step. I believe it is in the interest of the Saudi market, and it is in the interest of Aramco," he told The Economist.

An IPO would also aid in transparency and would "counter corruption, if any, that may be circling around Aramco", Prince Muhammad told the magazine.

Saudi Arabia must diversify its economy away from oil into sectors including mining, religious tourism, banking, dairy and other agriculture, he said.

Prince Muhammad agreed with The Economist that Saudi Arabia is undergoing a 'Thatcher revolution'. "We have many great, unutilised assets. And we have also special sectors that can grow very quickly".

Saudi Arabia is likely to post a budget deficit of almost 20% of gross domestic product this year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The head of Saudi Aramco, Khalid al-Falih said in November that the country has no plans to reduce its production of oil despite the ongoing low oil price.

The International Energy Agency said in August that global demand for oil is expected to grow by 1.6 million barrels a day (mb/d), the fastest pace for five years, due to economic growth and to consumers responding to lower oil prices.

In May, however, research said that the fall in oil prices has led to the cancellation or delay of $100 billion worth of projects by the world's energy companies. Royal Dutch Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips and Statoil are among companies who have made moves to cut spending on 26 major projects worldwide, the research said.