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Saudi Aramco Picks Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan For IPO Roles

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Saudi Arabia’s oil giant Saudi Aramco has picked JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley to help it in the world’s largest initial public offering next year, and is also considering UK’s HSBC Holdings Plc among banks with access to Chinese investors, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing a source with direct knowledge of the developments.

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Aramco had told JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, and HSBC that they would be the lead underwriters in the IPO.

Saudi Aramco is expected to launch an IPO in 2018 that would value the entire company at around US$2 trillion, and selling 5 percent of it would fetch about US$100 billion, according to Saudi officials.

According to the Reuters source quoted today, HSBC is the leading contender on a list of five banks – the other four being Chinese – that would help Saudi Aramco tap into the Chinese investor market.

Still, the final list of banks with roles in the IPO could further change, the source said.

International law firm White & Case – which has long-established ties with Saudi Aramco - has been reportedly appointed to act as legal adviser for the IPO, advising the oil giant on “all of Aramco’s fundraising activities”, a source in the know told Reuters earlier this month.

Related: Oil Prices Fall As Gasoline Glut Takes Its Toll

Earlier this week, reports emerged that the New York Stock Exchange is the favored location for the listing, with London and Toronto also being considered. The Saudis are also said to be still debating whether to label the state-run company as an industrial conglomerate or a specialized international oil firm.

In addition, Aramco might also be considering offering shares to citizens of Saudi Arabia so that domestic retail investors could get in on the deal cheaper than they could through international exchanges.

By Tsvetana Paraskova

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