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Erwin Cifuentes

Erwin Cifuentes

Erwin Cifuentes is a Contributing Editor for Southern Pulse Info where he focuses on politics, economics and security issues in Latin America and the Caribbean.…

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Saudis Allow Foreign Investors to Buy Aramco IPO Shares

Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority (CMA) on 18 August issued new rules allowing foreign investors to buy shares directly in initial public offerings (IPOs).

The change is part of a broader aim to lower Saudi Arabia’s overreliance on oil export revenue and help the government earn billions of dollars by selling some of their state-owned assets. One of these assets is the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, which has an estimated value of around US$2 trillion.

The government expects to earn as much as US$100 billion by selling 5 percent of Aramco in an IPO expected to take place in 2017.

According to Reuters, the new regulations announced Thursday will take effect on 1 January 2017, and will allow foreign investors to bid in the book-building process that underwriters use to price and allocate shares in IPOs.

Before this new rule, non-Saudi institutions could purchase IPOs only on a case-by-case basis, although they could make indirect purchases such as using local IPO funds.

The changes to the IPO rules are “in line with previous moves to liberalize the stock market and allow for greater foreign investor participation,” said Fahd Iqbal, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG, in remarks to Bloomberg.

“It would be difficult, in our view, for the domestic investor base to absorb all the part-privatizations that the government has planned, most notably Aramco, ” Iqbal added.

Saudi officials announced other reforms earlier that are expected to go into effect on 4 September that reduce the amount of assets that foreigners must have under management in order to invest directly in the nation’s stocks to approximately US$1 billion, with individual foreign investors being allowed to own as much as 10 percent of shares outstanding in a single company— a figure that is double what it once was.

By Erwin Cifuentes for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Bullseye on August 21 2016 said:
    If I were an investor. I will keep away from buying shears in aramco.
    The main holder is not the Saudi government but the royal family.
    In fact, the government is not liable in case of problems and the family is a major liability. The government treasory is held by the family so the idea is not serious.
    I will not trust these people .
  • Kr55 on August 21 2016 said:
    Probably the best encouragement for foreign investments would be to show they can run their businesses as real businesses, trying to maximise profits. Rather than a tool to push religious based agendas.
  • Sean on August 21 2016 said:
    hmmmm.... I wonder will the Saudi's allow independent assessors to assess the remaining reserves? Is this why they are pumping at full capacity?

    Will be interesting to see what foreign funds invest, $100 billion isn't peanuts..
  • James on September 30 2016 said:
    I will forever stay away from shares of this company even if it rise 100% in an year.
    First thing is this is in SA, not in India, not in China or Europe.
    Your investment is in a politically highly unstable region.
    Today Aramco is holding assests worth billions, tomorrow overnight king can hijack it, day after tomorrow ISIS can hijack it. You do not know what shit is going on.
    I would suggest any small investor not to invest even a single dollar in this mess.
    Let the big banks, Goldman etc play a gamble on this. At least if something goes wrong they have power to interfere. U and me do not.
  • Mohammed on November 11 2017 said:
    I will not buy , you will not buy. Still there will be buyers. We need not to worry.

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