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Petronas Deals Blow To Aramco: Won’t Buy Shares

Malaysia’s state oil company Petronas, which Aramco was courting as a large investor in its upcoming initial public offering, has decided against the investment.

“Petronas would like to confirm that after due consideration, the company has decided not to participate in Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering exercise,” Petronas said in a statement, as quoted by Reuters.

The Malaysian and the Saudi company are partners in a $27-billion downstream project in Malaysia, which is scheduled to begin operations by the end of the year. The RAPID project is one of Saudi Arabia’s largest foreign investment projects since the announcement of the Vision 2030 diversification program. Like other refinery investments, it aims to secure long-term demand for Saudi crude amid prospects of a general decline on a global scale in the long run.

While Petronas’s decision to stay away from the Aramco IPO will hardly affect this partnership, it does strengthen the impression that interest in the so-called IPO of the century outside of Saudi Arabia is more absent than present. As Reuters notes, so far there has been no purchase commitment by any other state energy company or investment fund, either.

In Saudi Arabia, however, the IPO has attracted orders of almost $19.5 billion (73 billion riyals), according to Saudi Sambra Financial Group, from institutional and retail investors. Institutional orders alone accounted for $15.57 billion (58.4 billion riyals), while retail investors’ contributions totalled $3.7 billion.

The numbers are approximate, however, since Aramco has yet to set the final price of its offering. For now, the company has only said it will be between 30 and 32 riyals per share. The number of shares to be offered for sale will be 3 billion, or 1.5 percent of the company. That’s an increase from an earlier plan to initially offer just 0.5 percent of the shares.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on November 22 2019 said:
    Malaysia’s state oil company,Petronas, like any foreign would-be-investors are not going to invest in the IPO of Saudi Aramco because of two essential factors. The first is the persistent question marks about the real size of Saudi proven crude oil reserves. The second is the risk of American litigation regarding 9/11. To this can be added the fact that as long as the Yemen war continues and tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia continues to escalate, the whole Saudi oil infrastructure will remain hostage to the Houthis of Yemen and Iran.

    However, this should in no way affect Petronas' partnership with Saudi Aramco in a $27-bn downstream project in Malaysia since both companies mutually benefit from the partnership. Saudi Aramco ensures a market for its crude in Malaysia whilst Malaysia benefits from the refining business.

    Saudi investors will invest in Saudi Aramco irrespective of its proven oil reserves out of patriotism and also because Saudi Aramco is a successful and profitable outfit. Furthermore, Saudi Aramco is the jewel in the crown of the Saudi economy.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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