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Saudi Aramco Picks Lazard, Moelis For Key IPO Roles

Saudi oil giant Aramco has chosen to work with Lazard and Moelis as advisors for the initial public offering (IPO) of the world’s largest oil firm, people with knowledge of the plans told Bloomberg on Tuesday.

Moelis and Lazard are set to have key roles in the listing, including picking the venues and underwriters, and trying to meet valuation expectations, Bloomberg’s sources said.

Aramco plans to add more banks to the roster and hasn’t made yet any final decision regarding which banks will work on what would be the world’s biggest IPO ever, the sources say.

Earlier this week, sources told Reuters that Aramco was seeking proposals from banks who wish to fulfill various roles in the much-anticipated IPO—a sign that Saudi Arabia has resumed efforts to list 5 percent of its oil giant after several delays in the past two years.

Aramco is ready for listing, but it will be the company’s only shareholder, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, that will decide when the IPO will take place, the world’s largest oil producing firm said last week.

Initially announced in 2016, the plans for Saudi Aramco’s listing have faced multiple delays and various stumbling blocks, including a US$2-trillion valuation that the Saudis are hoping for, the estimate of Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves that has been shrouded in secrecy, and the international venue for the IPO.  

Saudi Arabia hopes to have Aramco listed on a stock market as early as at the beginning of 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month, quoting people close to the talks.  

Saudi officials—who have so far vaguely given a timeline in 2020 or 2021—are now reportedly hoping to use the positive market sentiment from Aramco’s first international bond sale in April.

In June this year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that Aramco’s IPO is going ahead as planned and is on track for 2020 or 2021.

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.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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