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Aramco Wants World’s Largest Wealth Funds In On IPO

Aramco office

Saudi Aramco has approached some of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds, including those of Abu Dhabi and Singapore, to participate in the domestic listing, as the Saudis still seek the coveted US$2-trillion valuation for their state oil giant, Reuters reported on Thursday, quoting several sources.

Over the past month, Aramco has noticeably accelerated the timeline for the much-hyped listing expected to be the world’s largest initial public offering (IPO) ever. The US$2-trillion valuation that the Saudis seek has been one of the sticking points—together with the international venue for the listing and concerns over transparency of Saudi reserves—in the IPO that has been delayed several times already.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is reportedly still holding fast to the notion that Saudi Aramco should be valued at US$2 trillion, while analysts remain skeptical that the world’s largest oil company is truly worth that much.

The banks and advisors Aramco has appointed have held initial contacts with the sovereign wealth funds, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), Singapore’s GIC, and Bahrain’s Mumtalaka, Reuters’ sources said on Thursday.

Contacts are still at very early stages, the sources added.

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Amid reports that Saudi Arabia has moved to speed up the listing of Aramco and amid conflicting reports about the impact of the attacks on Saudi oil on what would be the world’s largest IPO ever, one of the latest reports coming out of the Kingdom said on Wednesday that Aramco is set to announce as soon as next month its intention to proceed with the initial public offering.

Aramco will officially announce its intention to sell shares on the stock market at some point around October 20, people familiar with the planning told Bloomberg on Wednesday.  

The attacks on the Abqaiq facility and the Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia on September 14 had investors anxious as the Kingdom had just accelerated plans to list Saudi Aramco. The heightened security risks following the attacks and Aramco’s actual ability to restore production could undermine the valuation of the company at this time, analysts believe.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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