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Report: China eyes Aramco's planned IPO shares in direct deal

Two Chinese state-owned oil companies have offered to buy 5% of Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, which the latter wishes to float in possibly the largest IPO in history, Reuters reported Oct. 16, citing unnamed industry sources.

PetroChina Co. Ltd. and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec, reportedly wrote to the Saudi oil giant in recent weeks to express their interest in a direct deal. Both companies, part of a state-run consortium including China's sovereign wealth fund, declined to comment.

"[The Chinese] are willing to take the whole 5%, or even more, alone," one of the industry sources said.

The planned IPO is a part of a plan to diversify the Saudi economy beyond oil, and has seen key decisions delayed amid internal disagreements between what some advisers recommend and what Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wants, according to the report.

A recent report by the Financial Times said that the company may shelve its planned IPO altogether and instead pursue a private share sale to major sovereign wealth funds and institutional investors.

"A range of options, for the public listing of Saudi Aramco, continue to be held under active review," a Saudi Aramco spokesman reportedly said. "No decision has been made and the IPO process remains on track."