July 19 (UPI) -- The Saudi Arabian Oil Co. stated Thursday it's in the early stage of working with a public investment fund to take a stake in Saudi petrochemical company SABIC.
The oil company better known as Saudi Aramco said it was responding to reports that it was moving on Saudi Basic Industries Corp. to boost its market valuation ahead of Aramco's eventual initial public offering.
"Consistent with the company's strategy of rebalancing its portfolio by moving further into downstream and the petrochemical sector in particular, the company has been evaluating a number of acquisition opportunities, both local and global," the Saudi Armaco statement, published in the official Saudi Press Agency, read.
Separately, the country's Public Investment Fund, which owns a majority interest in SABIC, noted that negotiations were in the very early stages.
"PIF will announce any material developments in this regard according to applicable regulatory," it stated.
A Saudi program dubbed Vision 2030 aims to boost non-oil revenue and relies in part on raising money through the eventual public listing of shares in Saudi Aramco. Financial services company ING said the offering "is a bellwether for Saudi Arabia's push away from a heavy dependence on oil."
From the sidelines of a visit to Riyadh by U.S. President Donald Trump last year, affiliate companies of U.S. supermajor Exxon Mobil Corp. signed agreements with SABIC to start planning a petrochemicals project in Texas that's part of Exxon's Gulf Coast expansion efforts.
During the visit, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the United States is the largest national investor in Saudi oil and Exxon is the largest single corporate investor in Saudi Arabia.
Oil and gas field services companies and a think tank in the United States were among those involved in $10 billion in deals with Saudi Aramco earlier this year.
Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producer among members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its de facto leader. U.S. President Donald Trump has called on Saudi Arabia to tap into its spare oil capacity to help drive the price of crude oil lower.