Saudi Aramco's debt-to-equity ratio more than doubles in 2020
DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi oil giant Aramco’s debt-to-equity ratio more than doubled to 55% in 2020 from a year before, it said in a report, after the group kept a pledge to deliver a $75 billion dividend to support state coffers despite a slide in profits.
Net debt rose to 605.9 billion riyals ($161.6 billion) last year from 270.2 billion riyals in 2019, the results showed.
The world’s largest oil exporter said on Sunday net profit fell 44.4% to 183.8 billion riyals for the year ended Dec. 31 as the COVID-19 pandemic depressed global crude demand.
However it maintained its pledge to declare a $75 billion dividend for 2020, most of which goes to the Saudi government.
Aramco made its international bond market debut in 2019 ahead of its listing that year in a record $29.4 billion share sale. Last year, as low oil prices hurt its balance sheet, it raised a $10 billion loan and $8 billion in bonds.
HSBC said last month that Aramco’s prospects look more positive and promising for 2021, hinting at declining net debt and a possible dividend hike.
But a recent request sent to banks to extend by a year the $10 billion debt facility raised in May last year suggests rebounding crude prices are not pushing the oil giant to reduce debt for the time being.
Aramco is likely to “do the heavy lifting” to boost state coffers and support mega-projects spearheaded by the kingdom’s state investor Public Investment Fund, Bank of America said in a note earlier this year.
The government still owns a 98.2% stake in the firm and while it is diversifying its revenues away from crude, oil revenues still accounted for more than half the kingdom’s income last year.
In its financial results report Aramco said payments to the government last year, including dividends, royalties and income taxes, totalled around 412 billion riyals, about 30% less than in 2019. That was in line with Saudi estimates in December.
($1 = 3.7504 riyals)
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