Saudi Arabia Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that the Kingdom has begun planning for the end of oil.
By developing the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, partially financed by selling shares of Saudi Aramco, the leading global oil producing company.
This sale of shares to private investors via an initial public offering (IPO) could begin in 2017. “IPOing Aramco and transferring its shares to PIF (the existing, relatively small KSA sovereign wealth fund) will technically make investments the source of Saudi government revenue, not oil,” said the KSA prince. The eventual goal is to be big enough to buy some of the world’s largest players in the financial and industrial sectors. It is estimated that the new sovereign wealth fund would be able to buy Apple, Google parent Alphabet, Microsoft, and Berkshire Hathaway – the world’s four largest publicly traded companies. With the fund estimated to be worth $2 trillion down the road (eclipsing those in Norway and Abu Dhabi), KSA predicts that “within 20 years, we will be an economy or state that doesn’t depend mainly on oil.”
Charlie Kronick of Greenpeace UK, sees KSA’s new strategy as a key post-Paris moment. “The image of Saudi Arabia is so inextricably linked to the oil age that this feels a bit like Switzerland quitting the banking sector. The fact that they’re trying to decouple the country’s wealth from oil revenues will be seen by many as yet another sign that the end of the oil age is approaching fast. If the oil titans are looking for an exit strategy, all cannot be well in the fossil fuel sector.”