Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Aramco, the world's largest energy company, has confirmed its status as the most profitable company after disclosing its financial data for the first-time ever.

The state-run oil giant announced that it made $111 billion in profit in 2018. Thus, it beat the likes of American tech company Apple Inc., which made a profit of $59.4 billion during the same period. 

According to CNBC, Saudi's national petroleum and natural gas company made more money than four corporate giants combined. These include J.P. Morgan Chase, Google-parent Alphabet, Facebook, and Exxon Mobil. Together, these companies made nearly $106 billion in 2018.

The data - published Monday by the credit ratings agency Moody's Investors Services - was included in a bond-offering document

Towards the end of March, Saudi Aramco announced its plans to buy a 70 percent stake in state-controlled petrochemical giant SABIC for $69.1 billion; the remaining 30 percent will continue to be listed on Saudi Arabia's Tadawul stock exchange. 

The transaction "would give Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a chunk of the cash he needs to diversify the Saudi economy," as reported by the New York Times.

This comes after the company's much delayed public offering, which was first announced in 2016. It was scheduled to take place in 2018, but hasn't fallen through yet.

MBS, Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia crown prince

Low oil prices have hit the Saudi economy hard, forcing the kingdom to cut subsidies and strive to diversify its oil-reliant economy. A 2016 report suggested the kingdom will fall into an economic recession in 2017 for the first time since 1999. Although 2016 turned out better than experts expected, the kingdom still ran a deficit, forcing it to dig deep into its massive foreign reserves.

An IPO (Initial Public Offering), which is the first time the stock of a private company is offered to the public, was meant to be a step forward for the kingdom. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's ambitious Vision 2030 pushed for major economic reforms in the kingdom. The partial sale of Aramco was announced as part of the economic reform plan.

As part of the wider plan, the kingdom announced 20 percent pay cuts for all ministers and 15 percent pay cuts for Shura Council members in 2016.

Bonuses and other perks were also targeted by the reforms, and sales taxes have been introduced. More than two-thirds of Saudis work in the public sector, with the kingdom spending roughly 45 percent of its budget, or $128 billion, to pay their salaries in 2015.

The kingdom also sold $17.5 billion in debt in 2016. This was the largest-ever bond sale from an emerging market. The sale was hailed as a major success for the world's top oil exporter, as it attracted investor interest totaling $67 billion, nearly four times the amount of the sale.