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Deficit widens as Aramco IPO nears

DUBAI, Nov 2, (RTRS): Saudi Arabia expects its state budget deficit to widen to 187 billion riyals ($49.86 billion) next year, or 6.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from a projected 131 billion riyals for this year, the finance minister said on Thursday.

The world’s largest oil exporter expects revenues of 833 billion riyals for 2020, down from 917 billion riyals projected for 2019, Mohammed al-Jadaan told a news briefing. Spending is expected at 1.02 trillion riyals for 2020 versus 1.048 trillion projected in 2019, the minister said ahead of the final budget announcement later this year. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday agreed that the initial public offering of state oil giant Aramco will be announced on Sunday, five sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The world’s top oil company will announce its intention to fl oat (ITF) on Nov 3, the sources added. “The crown prince finally gave the green light,” one source said.

Aramco declined to comment. Saudi Aramco officials and advisers have held lastminute meetings with investors over the past few days in an attempt to achieve as close to a $2 trillion valuation as possible ahead of an expected listing launch on Sunday, according to sources. The final meeting by the Saudi government on Friday evening was to decide whether to go ahead with the listing.

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