UAE’s Mubadala may join US$12bil Aramco deal


Foreign-buying: A file picture showing Aramco engineers working in Saudi Arabia. Investors will buy 49% of Aramco Oil Pipelines which is a recently-formed entity. — AFP

ABU DHABI: An Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund may join a group investing in Saudi Aramco’s oil pipelines, in a deal set to be backed by a loan of around US$10.5bil (RM43bil).

Mubadala Investment Co, a fund with US$232bil of assets, is in talks with US investor EIG Global Energy Partners LLC, the lead member of the consortium, according to a Mubadala spokesperson.

Aramco has helped put together the loan, which the group will use to fund the transaction, according to sources.

BNP Paribas SA, Citigroup Inc, HSBC Holdings Plc and Mizuho Financial Group Inc are among the lenders, said the sources.

All four banks declined to comment.

Washington-based EIG and Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, announced the US$12.4bil deal late Friday.

The investors will buy 49% of Aramco Oil Pipelines Co, a recently-formed entity with rights to 25 years of tariff payments for crude shipped through the Saudi Arabian firm’s network.

Aramco will own the rest of the shares and retain full ownership of the pipelines themselves.

“The transaction is part of Saudi Arabia’s drive to open up more to foreign investment and use the money to diversify its economy, which was hammered last year by coronavirus lockdowns and the fall in oil prices, ” the source said.

The disposal may also help Aramco reduce its debt and maintain its dividend, the biggest of any listed firm globally.

The company – 98% owned by the Saudi government – paid out US$75bil to shareholders for 2020.

The deal is structured similarly to one last year involving Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.

In June, Adnoc raised US$10.1bil by selling leasing rights over its natural-gas pipelines to a group including Global Infrastructure Partners and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC Pte.

HSBC advised EIG on the Aramco acquisition, one of the largest this year in the energy sector.

Apollo Global Management Inc, Brookfield Asset Management Inc and BlackRock Inc were among the other investors that made or considered bids.

Mubadala is the second-biggest wealth fund in the United Arab Emirates, of which Abu Dhabi is the capital.

The transaction covers all of Aramco’s existing and future pipelines in the kingdom, according to EIG.

The company’s vast network includes the East-West Pipeline, which can carry more than five million barrels of crude a day from Saudi Arabia’s main fields in the east to Yanbu on the Red Sea.

EIG described it as a “lease and lease-back agreement.”

Aramco will lease usage rights for its pipelines to the new subsidiary, which will then give Aramco the exclusive right to use the network for the 25-year period in exchange for a quarterly, volume-based tariff. Aramco will retain all operating and capital expense risk, EIG said. — Bloomberg

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