Saudi Aramco sets IPO share price between 30-32 riyals for ‘sale of the century’

1 / 2
A billboard displaying an advert for Aramco is pictured in Riyadh, Sauid Arabia on November 11, 2019.( AFP Photo)
2 / 2
Saudi Aramco also intends to buy $1 billion worth of shares for employees under a plan to incentivize executives and staff members. (AFP)
Updated 18 November 2019

Saudi Aramco sets IPO share price between 30-32 riyals for ‘sale of the century’

  • Final pricing for the Aramco shares would be announced on Dec. 5
  • The IPO could be worth least $24 billion, and values the state-owned oil giant at up to $1.71 trillion

DUBAI: The Saudi Arabian “sale of the century” — the initial public offering of shares in Saudi Aramco — moved into top gear with the announcement of pricing details and official valuation of the most profitable company in the world.

The Kingdom will sell a total of 3 billion shares in Aramco — around 1.5 percent of the total — at a valuation between SR30 ($8) and SR32 per shares, giving a total valuation of between $1.6 trillion and $1.7 trillion, making it the most valuable company in history.

Investment professionals welcomed the valuation, which was lower than the highest estimates of Aramco’s worth, as a “compromise” between the Kingdom and the financial world.

Tarek Fadhallah, CEO of Nomura Asset Management in the Middle East, said: “My first impression is that the price is a sensible compromise and that it will sell the IPO.”

*********

READ MORE: 

For more of our coverage of the Aramco IPO, click here.

To view key Aramco IPO documents, click here.

*********

Setting the price range and the number of shares to be sold starts the “book building” process during which Aramco and its advisers will consult with potential investors and await bids from the institutions and private investors to decide at what level the shares will finally be sold.

A final pricing decision will come on Dec. 5, and trading is expected to start on the Tadawul shortly after.

Private investors — Saudi nationals, resident expatriates and Gulf nationals — will have to decide how many shares they want at the SR32 level, and wait to see if their application will be met in full.

If the final price is set lower than the top of the range, investors can have their money refunded or take up extra shares to an equivalent value. Aramco has decided not to market the shares via “roadshows” in certain markets because of a relaxation of Riyadh market rules that will allow foreign investors to buy shares on Tadawul.

The value of the stock on offer in the IPO will be between $24 billion and $25.6 billion — beating the existing record for a share issue set by Alibaba on the New York Stock exchange in 2014.

The proceeds from the sale — earmarked for investment into the diversification of the Saudi economy under the Vision 2030 reform plans — could go even higher depending on demand, with an extra chunk of shares allocated to advisers as part of the price stabilization mechanism.

Aramco is also committed to buying $1 billion in shares for its employees in an incentive scheme.


Frank Kane’s Davos diary: Swiss efficiency lapses, but so far Davos lives up to the cuckoo-clock image

Updated 22 January 2020

Frank Kane’s Davos diary: Swiss efficiency lapses, but so far Davos lives up to the cuckoo-clock image

Davos comes and Davos goes, but over the last five decades, the one thing you can rely on is Swiss efficiency, right? The trains run on time, the cuckoo clocks chime on the hour, and the snow is swept from the pathways within minutes of the first fake falling. That is the common (even cliched) view of the Alpine nation and its showpiece event, the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos.

But — and whisper it very gently beneath your breath — maybe the legendary standards of Swiss efficiency are slipping as the WEF celebrates its 50th birthday. Evidence of a lapse from the highest levels of attainment came at Zurich Airport, when the luggage belt seized up inexplicably, and a full 10 minutes elapsedbefore a maintenance man came to attend to it. Tut tut.

Further signs of falling standards were on display at the railway station. The booking desks were besieged, as usual, by WEF delegates keen to complete the final leg of their journey up the Magic Mountain — a two-hour rail journey involving two stops at increasingly higher altitudes.

But only two of the 10 grills were manned, and the line grew longer and more grumpy with each passing minute. The mood was not helped when some trains were canceled and an extra hour was added to the journey. There was much muttering and dark looks shot when the train finally pulled into Klosters.

But thankfully, once you got to the heart of WEF-land, normal service was resumed. There had been a reasonable fall of snow that morning, which gave the place its usual fairytale appearance, but no traffic snarl ups as in previous years, when massive snowfall had caused the place to grind to a halt.

The shuttle buses that are the arterial life-channels of Davos — for those whose budgets do not extend to the black Mercedes limo — were running with their usual Swiss punctuality: Every 10 minutes or so, or even more frequently during peak rush hours.

These, in my experience over the past few years, are becoming frequently extended. Having battled through the registration process and attended one event at the nearby Seehof hotel, I imagined it would be easy to catch a ride on a virtually empty shuttle back to Klosters at around 9.30 p.m. But even at that hour, there was a long queue of unhappy souls waiting to make the same 20-minute trip to the other side of the mountain and their warm, welcoming hotel rooms.

It was the same thing on the opening morning of the annual meeting. I left my hotel — the homely and comfortable Cresta in Klosters — at 7 a.m. in the dark, and at minus 5 degrees Celsius. Again, there was a crowd of people standing huddled at the shuttle stop, shivering and stamping their feet.

The WEF shuttle service was up to the job, however, and I got into the Congress Hall with little trouble. The airport-style screening process — maybe a little more thorough than usual in view of the impending arrival of US President Donald Trump — passed smoothly. One request though: Please WEF, install some hot-air machines in the security hall. The body shock when you remove outer clothing to pass through the metal detectors was wicked.

Then down to business, which for a journalist at Davos means finding somewhere in the congress complex where you can rest a laptop while also providing a good people-watching vantage point. Over the years, I have learned that the Central Lounge — strategically located between the main plenary meeting halls and the (private) members lounge and bilateral rooms — is the perfect spot. Now, who will come my way in Davos 2020?