Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat hopes to take part in the initial public offering (IPO) of shares in Saudi state oil giant Aramco, the fund’s CEO told Reuters, predicting additional opportunities from the kingdom’s reform programme.
Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, plans to list around 5 per cent of its stock on multiple exchanges next year with the aim of raising as much as $100bn. That could value the firm at around $2 trillion.
“Everyone globally has his eyes (on Aramco) and the mind boggles when they talk of the Aramco IPO and the size of the IPO,” Mumtalakat CEO Mahmood Alkooheji said in an interview late on Wednesday in St Petersburg.
Asked whether Mumtalakat was interested in participating, Alkooheji said: “Everyone in the whole globe will be interested. Let’s hope we can play a small part in the IPO.”
Mumtalakat, created in 2006 as an independent holding company for government-owned assets, manages Bahrain’s sovereign wealth while helping to diversify away from oil and gas. Its portfolio is valued at more than $7bn.
Alkooheji was speaking on the eve of the June 1-2 St Petersburg economic forum, at which business leaders from Russia and overseas gather every year.
The Aramco IPO is only part of a programme of privatisations and reforms that was unveiled by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after declining oil prices strained the energy-reliant kingdom’s finances.
Much of the plan envisions transferring responsibility for development projects and public services to the private sector. Alkooheji said the reforms would benefit the entire Gulf region besides providing investment opportunities.
“We are very close to Saudi Arabia and all these reforms coming from Saudi Arabia will have a very positive impact on Bahrain,” he said.
He highlighted healthcare, education and renewable energy as sectors showing the most promise. Mumtalakat has an equity stake in Italian healthcare provider KOS, which Alkooheji predicted could benefit from the greater private-sector emphasis.
Prince Mohammed has said that while the government was committed to providing medical treatment to its citizens, it would not necessarily manage hospitals, some of which may be sold.
Alkooheji praised Prince Mohammed’s reform programme.
“A lot of people were doubting if he can achieve it, but for me that’s not the issue. Now people have a direction to go to, people working for a common goal, and that’s a recipe for success,” he added.