Dubai/Singapore — Saudi Aramco, the world’s top oil producer, has been rated by Fitch in its first credit rating, ahead of the state oil giant’s global bond sale and following 2018 earnings that dwarfed those of international oil majors. Aramco generated earnings before interest, tax and depreciation of $224bn in 2018, Fitch said, surpassing ExxonMobil, the world’s largest listed oil firm. Aramco intends to issue its first US dollar-denominated bonds, expected to be for at least $10bn, in the second quarter to help finance its acquisition of a stake in Saudi Basic Industries (Sabic), the world’s fourth-largest petrochemicals maker. The Saudi oil producer is expected to start meeting bond investors this week, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday. Last week, Aramco said it would buy a 70% stake in Sabic from the kingdom’s wealth fund for $69.1bn, in one of the biggest deals in the global chemical industry. At the end of 2018, Aramco’s cash balances exceeded its balance-sh...

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