Bankers invited to Saudi Arabia to pitch for Aramco listing roles

Saudi Aramco has invited banks pitching for roles in its stock market listing, including Citi and Goldman Sachs, for meetings in the kingdom in the coming weeks to make their case. (Reuters)
Updated 08 January 2018
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Bankers invited to Saudi Arabia to pitch for Aramco listing roles

LONDON/DUBAI: Saudi Aramco has invited banks pitching for roles in its stock market listing, including Citi and Goldman Sachs, for meetings in the kingdom in the coming weeks to make their case, according to three banking sources familiar with the matter.
The meetings are an indication that preparations for a 2018 initial public offering, which could be the biggest IPO in history, are progressing despite market speculation it could be delayed or even shelved.
Executives from Citi, Goldman and Deutsche Bank, which are all bidding to be global coordinators for the share sale, are among the teams invited to present their pitches in person, said the three sources, including two bankers who expect to attend the meetings.
The talks will be held at the end of January or beginning of February in the Eastern Province city of Dhahran, where the state oil company is headquartered, they added.
Two of the sources said the talks would involve members of the banks’ equity capital markets teams, executives who would be directly involved in an IPO, rather than top management.
Saudi Aramco, Deutsche Bank, Citi and Goldman Sachs all declined to comment.
The stock market listing of the national champion is a central part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s reform drive aimed at restructuring the kingdom’s economy and reducing its dependence on oil revenue.
The government, which aims to float up to 5 percent of the company this year, says Aramco is worth $2 trillion — but several industry experts have questioned whether a valuation that high is realistic.
Aramco had asked the banks to present written pitches last month, according to the sources. The oil giant told bankers not to come up with a valuation, saying it had not provided enough financial information to do so, two of the sources said.
Preparations for the IPO might be gathering speed just as the price of oil has approached $70 per barrel, the highest since mid-2015, giving Aramco a better chance to achieve its desired valuation and become the world’s most expensive company.
CROWN PRINCE
The listing is a mammoth undertaking, and any banks chosen to be global coordinators will join JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and HSBC, who were appointed last year.
With so many banks expected to share the fee pool, the advisory mandates are not viewed in the industry as particularly lucrative. But bankers see such roles as a gateway to a host of other deals they expect to flow from the kingdom’s plan to revamp its economy. In another sign that plans for the IPO are moving ahead, Saudi Arabia has changed the status of Aramco to a joint-stock company as of Jan. 1, according to a cabinet decree published in the kingdom’s official bulletin last week. The change of status is a requirement for Saudi companies before they can list, a senior Aramco source told Reuters.
However the final decision about if and when the listing takes place rests with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to several banking sources.


Former Nissan chairman Ghosn appears in Tokyo court

Updated 23 May 2019
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Former Nissan chairman Ghosn appears in Tokyo court

  • It is the first of a series of hearings to iron out logistics for Carlos Ghosn’s actual trial
  • Nissan’s former chairman has hired a strong legal team as he fights to clear his name

TOKYO: Nissan’s former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, appeared in a Japanese courtroom Thursday for a hearing ahead of his trial on accusations of financial misconduct.
It was the first of a series of hearings to iron out logistics for Ghosn’s actual trial. The trial date has not been set, and experts say it could be months away.
Ghosn, who led the Japanese automaker for two decades, was arrested in November and charged with underreporting his income and breach of trust. He was released on bail in March, rearrested in April on fresh accusations and then released again on bail on April 25.
Ghosn insists he is innocent and says he was targeted in a “conspiracy” by others at Nissan Motor Co.
Nissan, which is allied with Renault of France, has seen profits nose-dive amid the fallout from Ghosn’s arrest.
Ghosn has hired a strong legal team as he fights to clear his name. One of his top lawyers, Junichiro Hironaka, was seen walking into the courtroom Thursday with Ghosn.
One of the conditions of Ghosn’s release on bail is that he is forbidden to contact his wife. Prosecutors say that’s to prevent evidence tampering.
Ghosn’s lawyers challenged that restriction, saying it is a violation of human rights, but the Supreme Court rejected their appeal Tuesday.
The lawyers can appeal again to have the restriction removed.
In a briefing Thursday, Deputy Chief Prosecutor Shin Kukimoto welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision.
“For married people to be together is important, but I feel there was enough reason for the Supreme Court to support us in this restriction,” he said.
Kukimoto declined comment on the hearing, which was closed to reporters and the public.
Kukimoto also said the maximum penalty upon conviction of all 15 counts of the charges Ghosn is facing is 15 years in prison and a fine of ¥150 million ($1.4 million).