March 19 (Bloomberg) – Indian conglomerate Adani Group is exploring potential partnerships in Saudi Arabia, including the possibility of buying a stake in the world’s largest oil exporter, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The group, led by Indian tycoon Gautam Adani, has held preliminary talks on a range of potential cooperation and joint investment opportunities with Saudi Aramco and the country’s Public Investment Fund, according to the people. It has discussed the idea of buying part of the PIF’s stake in Aramco, the people said.
While Adani is unlikely to shell out billions of dollars in cash for Aramco stock, at least in the short term, it could seek to link an investment to a broader tie-up or asset swap deal, the people said. The Indian firm could team up with Aramco or subsidiaries like Sabic in areas such as renewable energy, crop nutrients or chemicals, one of the people said.
Adani may also offer the PIF, which is Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the opportunity to invest in infrastructure in India, another person said. Deliberations are at an early stage, and Adani hasn’t made a decision on which form any potential cooperation could take, the people said.
A deal could help Aramco deepen relationships in one of the world’s fastest-growing energy consumers. The Saudi petroleum giant spent more than two years negotiating a potential $15 billion investment in the oil-to-chemicals unit of Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd., only for talks to be scrapped in November. Aramco said at the time it would continue to look at investing in India.
A representative for Adani Group didn’t offer any immediate comment. Spokespeople for Aramco and the PIF declined to comment.
Last month, the Saudi government transferred a 4% stake to PIF. The shares are now valued at about $89 billion based on Aramco’s Thursday closing price in Riyadh. PIF recently has kicked off discussions about how to monetize that holding as it seeks to raise funds for its ambitious investment goals, Bloomberg News has reported.