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Saudi Aramco IPO: What to Know About the Possible $2 Trillion Deal

September 10, 2019, 7:15 PM UTC

The Saudi Aramco IPO is a go.

When and where they’ll list (other than in Riyadh) is anybody’s guess. For more than two years now, Saudi Arabia has been talking up a gusher of an initial public offering for the world’s largest oil company, hoping to land a $2 trillion valuation. Those plans have seemed like a pipe dream though as oil prices came back down to earth and the business world fell in love with electrification.

But in recent days there’s been a steady flow of news coming out of the kingdom that would suggest the IPO is once again on the front burner. Over the weekend, King Salman tapped his son, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, as the country’s new energy minister. Analysts read into the palace intrigue that the royal family wants a steady hand in that post who can jump-start the stalled Aramco IPO.

On Tuesday, Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told reporters at the World Energy Conference in Abu Dhabi that in fact the IPO is coming “very soon,” and that the company is close to lining up the banks to help bring it public. On Monday, Reuters reported the front runners for lead underwriters are JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and National Commercial Bank. Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Samba Financial Bank would also be brought on in a secondary role to manage the deal.

Where will Saudi Aramco list?

Where the company will list outside of its home base is still unclear, however. In response to a barrage of questions from reporters on that matter, Nasser responded unhelpfully, “We are ready to list wherever shareholders decide.” In recent days, the prospect of a New York Stock Exchange listing has faded as it’s believed the disclosure requirements would be too stringent for the Saudis’ liking.

On Tuesday, Nasser was in full salesman mode. He touted the company’s investments in technology to cap emissions and its work to reduce its carbon footprint, neglecting to give any details on either point.

Meanwhile, Nasser’s comments came in stark contrast to the big buzz at the Frankfurt Auto Show where carmakers were talking up batteries and kilowatts, touting their green push into electric vehicles. Volkswagen stole the limelight early on when it unveiled battery-powered ID.3, part of its $33 billion push into electric-powered cars for the masses.

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The Saudi Aramco IPO is Becoming a Big Giant Waiting Game