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JP Morgan Emerges As Frontrunner In Aramco IPO

Aramco office

JP Morgan has emerged as the frontrunner for the leading advisor role in the Aramco initial public offering, Reuters reports, citing an unnamed source in the know.

The bank was earlier selected by Aramco to lead the IPO along with Morgan Stanley, but that was before Riyadh announced it would suspend the preparations last year. Now, the deal of the century as some call it is back on track, and the race is back on.

Besides JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley, Aramco might award advisory roles to Goldman, Citi, and Samba Financial Bank.

A string of recent reports suggest Riyadh is trying to speed up the preparations for the IPO while oil prices are relatively high with the prospects of their future movements bleak amid the U.S.-China trade war and surging U.S. shale oil production.

The preparation shave recently included a report of first-half earnings from the energy giant, which reinforced its standing as the world’s most profitable company in absolute terms as well as a reshuffle among senior officials.

The reshuffle involved first splitting the ministry led by Khalid al-Falih, which covered energy, mining, and industry, into two, with one party solely dedicated to energy. Then, Al-Falih lost his role as chairman of Aramco’s board of directors. Finally, this Sunday, the man setting Saudi energy policies since 2016 lost his position as top energy man.

King Salman announced he would appoint his son Abdulaziz as head of the new energy ministry in a move suggesting not just a determination to bring the IPO plans to fruition but also an equal determination to strengthen the ruling family’s hold over the Kingdom.

Oil prices jumped modestly on the news after a Saudi official said the change will not be followed by a change in policies. Saudi Arabia is meeting with its OPEC co-members later this week to discuss these policies with observers expecting a reaffirmation of the production cut commitments.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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