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Aramco appoints international board members amid IPO plans

Dubai

SAUDI Aramco, the world's biggest crude exporter, appointed new board members with experience in international oil and petrochemical businesses as it plans a possible overseas share sale in what could be a record initial public offering.

Andrew Liveris, the outgoing chairman and chief executive officer of Dow Chemical Co, will join the board on July 1 when he retires from the US chemicals producer, Aramco said on Sunday in a statement.

Saudi Arabian Oil Co, as Aramco is formally known, appointed Lynn Elsenhans, former chairwoman of Sunoco Inc, as the only woman on its board.

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Peter Cella, former president and CEO of Chevron Phillips Chemical Co, also joins, as do Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan and Economy Minister Mohammad Al Tuwaijri, the state-owned oil giant said.

Saudi Arabia's planned sale of shares in Aramco is the cornerstone of an economic transformation program that aims to build new industries and diversify away from a decades-long reliance on oil.

The biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) plans as early as this year to list shares in Aramco on the domestic Saudi exchange and at least one international bourse.

Aramco is seeking at the same time to double refining capacity and boost petrochemical production to ensure a market for its crude.

The company is considering building refineries in China, India and elsewhere in Asia to tap the fastest-growing regional markets for oil products.

It's also expanding capacity to manufacture chemicals from crude at plants in the US and at home. Dow is a partner with Aramco in Sadara Chemical Co, a US$20 billion plant at Jubail on the Persian Gulf coast.

Aramco plans to enlarge a nearby refinery venture with France's Total SA by adding chemical facilities.

Expansion of these downstream businesses may help the Saudi company to earn more profit even as it pares oil production as part of an effort by Opec and its allies to eliminate a global glut and support crude prices.

Aramco expanded the board to 11 members from nine after only three directors stepped down.

Those leaving the board are Majid Al-Moneef, an adviser to the Royal Court, Khaled Al-Sultan, rector of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, and former World Bank Managing Director Peter Woicke. BLOOMBERG