September 2, 2019 / 2:18 PM / 3 months ago

Saudi Arabia names head of PIF as Aramco chairman

FILE PHOTO: An Aramco oil tank is seen at the Production facility at Saudi Aramco's Shaybah oilfield in the Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/File Photo

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has named Yasir al-Rumayyan, head of the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, known as the PIF, as chairman of Aramco, replacing Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, as the state oil giant prepares to go public.

Bloomberg reported the news first on Monday, citing an unnamed Saudi official.

Falih later congratulated Rumayyan on the appointment on his official twitter feed, saying that it was “an important step to prepare the company for the public offering.”

Aramco, the world’s top oil producing company, is preparing for an initial public offering (IPO) of up to 5% by 2020-2021. Selling a stake in Aramco has been a centrepiece of Vision 2030, a plan to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Rumayyan, a former investment banker, was appointed managing director of the Public Investment Fund in September 2015, after a serving as advisor at the royal court for a brief period before that. He joined Saudi Aramco’s board in 2016.

The move comes a few days after Saudi Arabia created a new ministry for industry and mineral resources, separating it from the kingdom’s colossal energy ministry, in a series of royal orders issued late on Friday.

The separation appears to diminish the sprawling authority of Falih, who retained control of the energy portfolio.

Falih had overseen more than half the Saudi economy through the super-ministry, which was created in 2016 to help streamline new reforms. But despite ambitious plans for industry and mining, the sectors have seen relatively little development.

Reporting by Rania El Gamal and Davide Barbuscia; editing by David Evans

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