Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is expected on Sunday to formally launch a long-anticipated stock offering of Saudi Aramco, a person close to the matter said Friday. The Aramco stock listing, a key component of bin Salman's overall agenda, will offer a small fraction of the petroleum giant. The company is valued at between USD 1.5 and USD 1.7 trillion, making it the biggest ever. Aramco is expected to sell a total of five percent on two exchanges, with an initial listing of two per cent on the Tadawul Saudi bourse in December.
That will be followed next year by a three percent listing in an overseas exchange, but that has yet to be picked, the person said. Prince Mohammed is expected on Sunday to provide specifics on the domestic aspects of the IPO, including a date before the end of the year, the person added.
Aramco was expected to launch the first part of the two-stage IPO in October, but the process has been delayed, reportedly due to the prince's dissatisfaction with the valuation of the firm, which had been hoped to reach USD 2 trillion. Aramco executives have encountered skepticism among investors in London and New York on questions about the firm's transparency, governance practices and targeted valuation, the source told AFP.
Architects of the offering have targeted rich Saudi families and local asset managers as buyers of the stock and prodded Saudi banks to make financing available to retail investors to support the offering, Bloomberg reported.