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Reliance, Saudi Aramco closer than ever in sealing their marriage
6/30/2021 12:00:00 AM
Saudi Aramco has moved closer in purchasing a stake in the oil-to-chemicals unit of Reliance Industries following the appointment of its chairman to the board of India's biggest private refiner, with most analysts hopeful that improved oil demand and price outlook will make it easier to close the deal before the current financial year ends in March 2022.
Analysts said the recent appointment of Aramco chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan as an independent director to the board of Reliance Industries is a sign that the Middle Eastern oil producer has ironed out most, if not all, issues with Reliance for the deal to go ahead.
In addition, the surge in oil prices to pre-pandemic levels will also strengthen the financial muscle of Aramco to close the deal, they added.
"Current higher oil prices and improving demand would help to strengthen Saudi Aramco's financial position and provide more flexibility in spending, including signing of the deal with Reliance," said Lim Jit Yang, advisor for oil markets at S&P Global Platts Analytics.
In 2019, Reliance announced the sale of a 20% stake to Saudi Aramco, the world's top oil exporting company. But the deal could not progress in 2020 after the oil price crash and demand destruction caused by the pandemic, which saw Aramco tighten its belt. Last year, Aramco slashed its capex budget by about half, to under $25 billion, and for this year it has said it expects capex to be about $35 billion, down from original guidance of $40-$45 billion.
"The appointment of Aramco's chairman to the board of Reliance will pave the way for their oil-to-chemical partnership which had been stalled due to the pandemic. This may be followed by more ventures between two companies in the years to come as they work together as strategic partners," Lim said.
Source: SP Global
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