Aramco said to lead raft of Saudi-UK deals in prince's visit

By Kelly Gilblom and Glen Carey on 3/8/2018

LONDON (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia’s national oil company signed a batch of deals with UK companies including Royal Dutch Shell Plc as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visits the nation in an effort to demonstrate the kingdom is open for business.

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., commonly known as Aramco, is among companies from the kingdom that will undertake joint projects worth at least $2.1 billion stretching from energy to health care and real estate, according to people familiar with the matter. That includes collaboration with Shell on natural gas, a crude oil to chemical project with Amec Foster Wheeler Plc, and a partnership with think tank Chatham House to create a “broader understanding of Saudi Aramco among a global audience.”

The transactions are happening against a backdrop of rapid economic changes initiated by the prince, who is next in line to the throne in the Middle Eastern monarchy. His more open approach has generated worldwide curiosity about how the largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will now approach its energy sector. Saudi Aramco, known for closely guarding information about its business, intends to list on public exchanges this year.

UK officials didn’t expect a decision during the visit on whether London could be chosen to host the initial public offering. British companies will be signing 18 memorandums of understanding, the people said. Five will be linked to Aramco while the others cover a range of sectors, from a pharmaceutical joint venture to an agreement for the kingdom to host an international golf championship.

In addition to the Shell and Amec partnerships, Aramco will sign a corporate purchase agreement with Varel International Energy Services for equipment and services used in well drilling, the people said. It also plans to collaborate with Imperial College London and the Welding Institute on “advanced materials and non-metallic innovation.”

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