UPDATE 1-Saudi crown prince says to finalise $533 mln privatisation deals this year -Asharq al-Awsat

UPDATE 1-Saudi crown prince says to finalise $533 mln privatisation deals this year -Asharq al-Awsat
UPDATE 1-Saudi crown prince says to finalise $533 mln privatisation deals this year -Asharq al-Awsat

(Adds details, background)

RIYADH, June 16 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's crown prince said on Sunday that the government will finalise privatisation deals worth 2 billion riyals ($533 million) before the end of this year, according to an interview with the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

The privatisation drive is part of Vision 2030, a package of reforms led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that is intended to wean the economy off oil and create jobs for young Saudis.

The expected deals will be in sectors that include rain silos, medical and shipping services.

The government will next year offer privatisation projects in the education sector with investments worth around 1 billion riyals, according to the interview.

The government's aim to attract investment into everything from education to sports, a cornerstone of its effort to trim dependence on oil revenues, has been mired by some holdups and fallout from the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Riyadh had previously set a goal of aiming to generate 35 billion to 40 billion riyals ($9.3 billion to $10.0 billion) of non-oil state revenues from its privatisation program by 2020. Some of that money would come from asset sales, while the rest would come from public-private partnerships.

But that drive has had some false-starts. The most high-profile was the shelving of proposals to float shares in oil giant Aramco.

The crown prince, known as MbS, said the government remains committed to Aramco IPO, expecting it to take place between 2020 and early 2021.

He added that recent Aramco acquisition of a majority stake in petrochemical giant SABIC would help its growth potentials and profitability amid usual oil market volatility.

He said the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund (PIF) is playing a major role in the economic diversification process and that its assets has doubled in two years to 1 trillion riyals.

(Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Diane Craft)

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