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Global Energy Advisory – 24th August 2018

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Aramco’s initial public offering may never happen, after four industry sources told Reuters earlier this week that the company had disbanded its financial advisors on the listing. While Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih rejected the report, saying the Aramco listing was on track and a lot of the preparation work had been completed, the Reuters report is likely to deepen skepticism, since Falih also said that conditions for the listing had to be optimal, although he did not elaborate.

What was initially touted as the biggest IPO in the history of stock exchanges over the last year lost a lot of its spark as doubts began to emerge and then deepen that there will not be an international listing due to a number of challenges with financial transparency and the prospect of litigation in the United States following 9/11 legislation allowing U.S. citizens to sue Saudi ones.

Indeed, a while ago Aramco confirmed it would initially list on the Saudi exchange, Tadawul, and consider its international listing in the future. However, even a local listing was challenging, giving a disproportionate weight to oil stocks on the exchange and possibly pushing away investors in other Saudi industries, not to mention the sheer size of the Aramco float, which at 5% was estimated to be worth $200 billion.

The value of the stock has also been challenged more than once on the grounds that a lot of factors needed to align for this valuation to become real, with the top one being oil…

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