Meet the new chairman of the world’s largest oil company

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Saudi Arabia appointed Yassir al-Rumayyan as chairperson of Saudi Aramco on Monday, in a move likely to prepare the oil giant for its planned initial public offering (IPO) by establishing Aramco and the Ministry of Energy as two discrete entities.

But who is the new head of the world’s largest oil company?

Al-Rumayyan, also an advisor to the Saudi royal court, is best known as the governor of the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) — a role he will continue, a PIF spokesperson confirmed to Al Arabiya English. His appointment as Aramco's chairman was officially approved on Tuesday by the Saudi Cabinet.

Yet, the Saudi national is no stranger to Saudi Aramco, where he has been a board member since June 2016.

Al-Rumayyan, who is 49 years-old, received his education in accounting and management. He acquired a Bachelor’s degree in accounting from King Faisal University in 1993 and completed a general management program at Harvard Business School in 2007.

He began his career at Saudi Hollandi Bank as head of international brokerage from 1999 to 2004, before joining the Saudi market regulator, the Capital Market Authority (CMA), where he worked as head of securities listings from 2004 to 2007.

The new Aramco chief also comes with extensive wealth management experience and an investment banking background. From 2011-2015, he was a board member and chief executive officer of Saudi Fransi Capital LLC, the investment arm of Banque Saudi Fransi.

He also previously served as a board member in 2014 on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul), the Middle East’s largest stock market. Two years later he joined as a board member at Uber Technologies, a position he still holds.

In June 2017, al-Rumayyan became board director at Japanese multinational conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp., which has in recent years beefed up its focus on technology investments through a $100 billion fund known as the Vision Fund. Saudi Arabia is the second biggest investor in the fund after SoftBank, with a $45 billion commitment from the PIF. SoftBank has also said it will support PIF’s $200 billion solar power project in the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, al-Rumayyan is also currently director of Arm Group, a British multinational semiconductor and software design company, owned by SoftBank and its Vision Fund.

His appointment to Aramco comes after a government reshuffle, in which Saudi Arabia decided last week to split the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources from the Ministry of Energy.

On Monday, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih welcomed his predecessor’s appointment, tweeting that it is an “important step to prepare the company for its public offering.”

Saudi Arabia is working towards listing Aramco in 2020-21 as the company wraps up its merger with petrochemical firm Saudi Basic Industries Corp., al-Falih said in July.

Reports have indicated that the Kingdom is considering a plan to split the upcoming IPO into two stages and will introduce a portion of its listing locally on the Tadawul later this year, followed by an international offering in 2020 or 2021.

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