Saudi Aramco CEO Amin al-Nasser. Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images

Saudi Aramco on Sunday announced an altered and expanded slate of directors, including the first female member, as the company plans for a massive IPO and widens its international footprint.

Why it matters: The move reflects the broader ambitions of the state oil giant, which is planning the IPO to help fund the kingdom's economic diversification.

New members of what's now an 11-member board include:

  • Andrew Liveris, the outgoing chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical.
  • Lynn Laverty Elsenhans, the former president & CEO of Sunoco Inc.
  • Peter L. Cella, the former president and CEO of Chevron Philips Chemical Co.

Timing: The announcement also arrives as Aramco has been looking to expand investments abroad, including potential new petrochemical projects in the Gulf Coast and elsewhere, a business area where the new members have deep experience. Bloomberg looks at planned and potential refining and petrochemical investments in several countries here.

Yes, but: Plans for listing of around 5% of Aramco, which the kingdom hopes will raise tens of billions of dollars, have been mired in uncertainty around timing and even whether to proceed.

  • Officials initially targeted a 2018 IPO, but that looks increasingly unlikely, and the kingdom has also not selected a location, with New York, London and Hong Kong believed to be the major contenders.
  • They are also planning to sell shares on Saudi Arabia's domestic exchange.

The intrigue: The Wall Street Journal notes that the board "remains packed with government officials, which could limit its options for listing on Western exchanges like New York and London."

One level deeper: Other new members of the board are H.E. Mohammed A. Al-Jadaan, who is the country's minister of finance, and H.E. Mohammed M. Al-Tuwaijri, who is minister of Economy and planning.

  • Per the announcement, the outgoing members areH.E. Dr. Majid Al-Moneef, an adviser to the Royal Court; H.E. Dr. Khaled S. Al-Sultan, rector of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, and Peter Woicke, former managing director of the World Bank.

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