Saudi Arabia formally started the long-anticipated initial public offering (IPO) of its state-run oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co (Aramco) yesterday, which would see a sliver of the firm offered on a local stock exchange in the hopes of raising billions of dollars for the kingdom.
An announcement from the Saudi Arabian Capital Market Authority announcing its approval for the share sale served as a starting gun for an IPO promised by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman since 2016.
The firm’s shares would be traded on the Saudi Stock Exchange, or Tadawul, Aramco president and chief executive officer Amin H. Nasser said in an online video.
Plans call for the firm to later put other shares on a foreign exchange.
“This is a transformational and historic moment for Saudi Aramco,” Nasser said.
He also stressed Aramco’s “disciplined financial approach and prudent and flexible balance sheet.”
The prince hopes for a very optimistic US$2 trillion valuation for Aramco, which produces 10 million barrels of crude oil a day and provides about 10 percent of global demand.
That would raise the US$100 billion he needs for his ambitious redevelopment plans for a Saudi Arabia hoping for new jobs, as unemployment stands at more than 10 percent.
The announcement by the Capital Market Authority provided no time line for the IPO, nor did documents later released by Aramco.
“The Capital Market Authority board has issued its resolution approving the Saudi Arabian Oil Co application for the registration and offering of part of its shares,” the authority said in a statement. “The company’s prospectus will be published prior to the start of the subscription period.”
The Saudi-owned satellite channel al-Arabiya reported last week, citing anonymous sources, that pricing for the stock would begin on Sunday next week.
A final price for the stock would be set on Dec. 4, with shares then beginning to be traded on the Tadawul on Dec. 11, the channel reported.
In its IPO documentation, Aramco said that the percentage of the company offered and the share price “will be determined at the end of the book-building period.”
Aramco had a net income of US$111.1 billion last year and proven liquid reserves of 226.8 billion barrels, it said, adding that its net income as of the end of the third quarter this year was US$68 billion.