Saudi Aramco tops $2 trillion, defying valuation sceptics

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Dubai - The oil giant's shares surged the maximum permitted 10% above their IPO price.

By Reuters

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Published: Thu 12 Dec 2019, 10:08 AM

Last updated: Tue 24 Dec 2019, 8:58 PM

Saudi Aramco achieved the $2 trillion valuation sought by Saudi leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday as the newly-listed state-owned oil company’s shares rose sharply on their second day of trading.

The Saudi Crown Prince has made the Aramco initial public listing (IPO) the centrepiece of his plan to diversify the Kingdom’s economy away from its dependence on oil production by using the $25.6 billion raised to develop other sectors.

But that was well below the Crown Prince’s plan announced in 2016 which called for raising as much as $100 billion via international and domestic listings of a 5 per cent stake in Aramco.

Also read: Aramco gains 10% on Wednesday, reaches $1.88 trillion
Bernstein analysts initiated Aramco with an “underperform” rating, estimating its value at around $1.36 trillion. This compares with US energy giant Exxon Mobil’s valuation of less than $300 billion.

Aramco has become the world’s biggest IPO, topping the $25 billion 2014 listing of China’s Alibaba, despite limited interest from foreign investors leading it to cancel roadshows in New York and London.

It opted instead to sell just a 1.5 per cent stake in Riyadh and rely mainly on domestic and regional buyers.

Some analysts said there could be a lag before the Aramco price settles and some investors take profits from the IPO.

“After Aramco hits $2 trillion, investors will debate: why should it go higher ... while its owners value it at $2 trillion?” a Gulf analyst who asked not to be identified said.

The analyst added that when National Commercial Bank (NCB) was listed in 2014 its shares rose by the maximum limit for 10 days before investors started selling.



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