Saudi Aramco confirmed on 19 July that it is holding “very early-stage discussions” with the government’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) with a view to “acquiring a strategic interest” in state-led giant Sabic by way of a “private transaction.”

Aramco’s announcement was in response to a Reuters report the previous day quoting two unnamed sources, who said that Aramco has invited banks to pitch for an advisory role on the potential acquisition of...