Saudi Aramco makes leadership changes ahead of IPO

Kingdom plans to sell as much as 5 percent in 2018 as part of a plan to set up the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund

Amin Nasser, Chief Executive Officer of state oil company Saudi Aramco. (ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

Amin Nasser, Chief Executive Officer of state oil company Saudi Aramco. (ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabian Oil Co has promoted eight executives to top positions, including a senior vice president for downstream operations, as it seeks to double refining capacity and expand natural gas and chemical businesses ahead of what could be the world biggest share sale.

The world’s largest oil exporter, known as Saudi Aramco, appointed two senior vice presidents, six vice presidents and two associate general counsels, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg that was dated Sunday and signed by Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser. The appointments are effective May 1. Saudi Aramco declined to comment, and the company website later confirmed the appointments of the two senior vice presidents.

Saudi Arabia plans to sell as much as 5 percent of Aramco in 2018 as part of a plan to set up the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund and reduce the economy’s reliance on oil. Since King Salman acceded to the throne in 2015, the kingdom changed its oil minister and the top Aramco leadership. The company has formed a supreme board to oversee its affairs, led by the king’s influential son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The prince has been the driving force behind the Aramco IPO plans.

As part of the leadership changes, Abdulaziz al-Judaimi, the chairman of Motiva Enterprises LLC, which owns the largest US refinery, was appointed senior vice president to head Aramco’s downstream business, according to the Aramco website. Nabeel Al Mansour was appointed senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. The company has four other senior vice presidents, according to the website.

Aramco has announced plans to invest in the refining industry in the US after the breakup of its 19-year Motiva Enterprises refining partnership with Royal Dutch Shell Plc. Under terms of the agreement, Aramco retained full ownership of the Port Arthur refinery in Texas and 24 distribution terminals.

“Refining and chemicals, along with natural gas are the most targeted areas for Aramco’s growth over the coming decade,” said Sadad Al-Husseini, a former executive vice president of exploration and development at the company and a former board member. “Al-Judaimi worked in refining for a long time and was heading Aramco’s chemicals unit at its early stages.”

Yasser Mufti, Ahmad Al Khowaiter, Abdullah Al Baiz, Abdullah Al Ghamdi, Abdul Hameed Al Rushaid and Yousef Al Ulyan were promoted to vice president, according to the memo.

Mufti, a former OPEC governor for Saudi Arabia, will head the corporate planning unit, while Al Khowaiter will be responsible for Aramco’s technology push, according to a person familiar with the matter who didn’t want to be identified because the issue isn’t public yet. Al Rushaid will lead Aramco’s multibillion-dollar drilling department, Al Baiz the gas operations, Al Ghamdi engineering services and Al Ulyan information technology, the person said.

Ziad al-Murshed will replace Mufti as executive director of new business development, the person said.

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