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Saudi Aramco to launch giant stock offering on November 17

AFP/Riyadh
Filed on November 10, 2019 | Last updated on November 10, 2019 at 03.16 pm
Saudi Aramco, IPO, Salman bin Mohammed, Saudi Crown Prince, oil, petroleum, stock market

The state giant would sell up to 0.5 per cent of its shares to individual investors.

Saudi Aramco said it would start taking bids from investors on November 17 in a highly anticipated stock offering, as it released a prospectus that did not disclose the size of the sale or the pricing range.

The 658-page document said the final share price would be determined on December 5, a day after subscriptions close, in what is expected to be the world's biggest initial public offering.

Aramco officials last week announced a share sale on the Riyadh stock exchange for the world's most profitable company, which pumps 10 per cent of the world's oil.

The prospectus, released just before midnight on Saturday, said the state giant would sell up to 0.5 per cent of its shares to individual investors but that it had still not decided on the percentage for larger institutional buyers.

Saudi investors appear keen on the prospect of owning a piece of the company, seen as the Kingdom's economic crown jewel, despite concerns over the future of oil.

The firm said it had hired a host of international banking giants including Citibank, Credit Suisse and HSBC as financial advisors and bookrunners.

In its push for transparency, the company's prospectus also highlighted risks including the potential for terrorist attacks, the possibility of antitrust legislation and climate change concerns that could reduce global demand for hydrocarbons.

"The disclosure, transparency combined with the global research and analysis that it will provoke is in itself of major value to the kingdom and the company," said Ali Shihabi, founder of the now-shuttered pro-Saudi think-tank Arabia Foundation.

However, key details were missing from the prospectus, including the company's valuation and how much Aramco expects to raise from the IPO.

It is unlikely to hit its $100 billion target, based on a $2 trillion valuation that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had initially hoped for.

Investment research firm Bernstein estimates the valuation could fall between $1.2 and $1.5 trillion.

Based on a $1.5 trillion valuation, a two per cent stake sale would help Aramco raise $30 billion.

That would still make it the world's biggest IPO, eclipsing Chinese retail giant Alibaba's $25 billion listing in 2014.

Saudi Arabia is pulling out all the stops to ensure the success of the IPO, a cornerstone of Mohammed bin Salman's ambitious plan to steer the economy away from oil by pumping tens of billions of dollars into a host of megaprojects and non-energy industries.


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