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Saudi Aramco to issue about $10 billion in bonds for Sabic purchase: Falih

Abu Dhabi — Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil giant Aramco will seek to sell around $10 billion in bonds to help fund the purchase of petrochemicals firm Sabic, Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said Sunday.

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"It will be probably in the $10 billion range but we will decide in the next few weeks," Falih told reporters on the sidelines of an Atlantic Council forum in Abu Dhabi.

The offering, which would be Aramco's first international bond sale, would likely be issued in the second quarter, Falih has said.

The sale would require Aramco, which is aggressively expanding its downstream business, to disclose to potential investors its financial results and disclose operational information, which the company has long closely guarded.

Saudi Arabia last week unveiled an audit that found its crude reserves were slightly higher than previously thought, at 268.5 billion barrels. The review was performed by Dallas-based consultancy DeGolyer and MacNaughton and is Aramco's first third-party independent reserves audit in decades.

Aramco is seeking to acquire a 70% stake in Sabic for about $70 billion from the kingdom's Public Investment Fund, which aims to use the proceeds to implement ambitious economic reforms in the country under its Vision 2030 plan.

The transaction is delaying Aramco's long-mooted public share offering, which was to be an alternative source of Vision 2030 funding. Falih has said the IPO of up to 5% of Aramco is now targeted for 2021.

--Miriam Malek,

--Edited by Herman Wang,