The deal is expected to be world’s biggest project finance transaction. Although the size of the deal has not yet been confirmed, it is expected to be more than $10bn.

Project sponsors Saudi Aramco and Dow Petrochemical Company shortlisted six international banks and seven regional banks in February, with the intention that the banks would pair up to bid for the mandate (MEED 8:2:08).

The most obvious partner for Hollandi was Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which acquired a 40 per cent stake in the Saudi bank in 2007 as part of its acquisition of ABN Amro. However, the UK bank has opted to partner with Riyad Bank for its bid, sidelining Hollandi.

The move will increase speculation that RBS wants to sell its stake in Hollandi, although it has yet to confirm this.

In late April, the six banking groups presented their financing bids. The other banking groups are HSBC and Sabb; Calyon with Banque Saudi Fransi; BNP Paribas with Samba; Societe Generale with Gulf International Bank; and Citigroup with Apicorp.

The successful adviser is expected to be selected by the end of May.

The successful banking group is expected to draw on a wide range of funding sources including export credit agencies, commercial banks, the bond market, Islamic finance and private equity. Hollandi could not be reached for comment.