Aramco considers buying 10% stake in China's Hengli Petrochemical

Acquisition target operates a 400bpd refinery and integrated chemicals complex in Liaoning province

Janet Kong, chief executive of Hengli Petrochemical International, and Saleh Al Zaid, acting president for Aramco Asia, signed the deal on Monday. Photo: Aramco
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Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil-producing company, has signed an agreement with China’s Hengli Group to initiate discussions for the purchase of a 10 per cent stake in Hengli Petrochemical.

The acquisition, which is subject to regulatory clearance, will further boost Aramco’s investments in China.

It aligns with the company’s strategy to expand its downstream presence in high-value markets, as well as advance its liquids-to-chemicals programme and secure long-term crude oil supply agreements, Aramco said on Monday.

“We continue to explore new opportunities in important markets as we seek to progress in our liquids-to-chemicals strategy,” said Mohammed Al Qahtani, Aramco’s downstream president.

“We look forward to forging new partnerships and are excited by the prospect of expanding our presence in the important Chinese market.”

Hengli Petrochemical, which is a controlled subsidiary of Hengli Group, owns and operates a 400,000-barrel-per-day refinery and integrated chemicals complex in China’s Liaoning province.

It also operates various plants and production complexes in Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces.

Aramco has been expanding its presence in vital markets globally and bolstering its downstream operations.

Last October, it signed an agreement with three Chinese entities amid plans to buy a 10 per cent stake in Shandong Yulong Petrochemical.

In September, it started preliminary discussions with Jiangsu Eastern Shenghong, to acquire a 10 per cent equity stake in the China-based energy company's petrochemical subsidiary.

In 2023, Aramco increased its dividend by 30 per cent despite a decline in annual net profit due to lower oil prices and the effect of output cuts.

The company's dividends for the year rose to $97.8 billion while net profit for the 12 months to the end of December hit $121.3 billion, compared with a record $161.1 billion in 2022, the state oil company said in a filing to the Tadawul stock exchange last month.

Revenue fell by more than 17 per cent to $440.88 billion last year.

In August, Aramco agreed to full acquire Esmax Distribuscion, a downstream fuels and lubricants retailer in Chile, from private equity company Southern Cross Group.

In July, it closed a deal to buy a 10 per cent stake in Shenzhen-listed Rongsheng Petrochemical for $3.4 billion.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia transferred an 8 per cent stake in Aramco to the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund.

After the transfer, the kingdom remains Aramco’s largest shareholder, retaining about 82 per cent in equity.

Updated: April 22, 2024, 1:00 PM