Market rules ready for Aramco listing ‘by end of June’

Saudi Aramco’s Khurais oil processing facility, 160 km east of the capital Riyadh. The Kingdom has been overhauling its stock market rules to prepare for the local listing of state-owned Aramco. (AFP)
Updated 30 March 2018
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Market rules ready for Aramco listing ‘by end of June’

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia expects to unveil by the end of June rules to prevent large share price drops in newly-listed companies, the final regulatory step for the listing of oil giant Saudi Aramco, the head of the kingdom’s stock market regulator said.

The mechanism, known as price stabilization, is common on developed markets and allows underwriters of an initial public offering (IPO) to use some of the company’s stock to bolster its price, should it fall in the days after it starts trading, or the volume of shares changing hands is weak.

The Kingdom has been overhauling its stock market rules to prepare for the local listing of state-owned Aramco, which is hoping to raise $100 billion or more through a 5 percent stake sale later this year.

Saudi authorities have also said they want Aramco, whose IPO is billed as the world’s largest, to have an international listing, although no decision has been made on the location. This listing could be delayed until Aramco starts trading on the Tadawul, as the Saudi stock exchange is known.

The Capital Market Authority (CMA) issued updated rules in the last couple of months covering how securities are sold in the kingdom and how the offer price of an IPO is calculated using the bookbuild method, Mohammed El Kuwaiz, chairman of the market regulator, told a media event in New York late Wednesday.

“Once (the price stabilization guideline) is issued, we can then say that the Saudi market will be fully amenable to accommodate an offering of the size of Saudi Aramco, or indeed of any size,” he said.

Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of the event, El Kuwaiz said drafting of the regulation was at “an advanced stage,” and it will be issued before the end of the first half of the year.

The CMA was also expecting to start work by the end of the year on rules governing dual-listings on the Saudi stock market that would be sent out for market feedback early in 2019, El Kuwaiz said.

The timetable could be brought forward if a company approached it wanting to list on another market, he added.


Crisis at India’s Jet worsens as it grounds planes, faces strike

The debt-laden carrier has delayed payments to banks, suppliers, pilots and lessors. (Reuters)
Updated 20 March 2019
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Crisis at India’s Jet worsens as it grounds planes, faces strike

  • More than 20,000 people are employed in the company
  • The company had to stop more than 50% of their aircraft due to insufficient funds

MUMBAI: India's Jet Airways was fighting multiple crises Wednesday after grounding six planes, leaving it with only a third of its fleet flying, while pilots have threatened to walk out and a major shareholder is reportedly looking to offload its huge stake.

The problems at India's number-two carrier come as other airlines struggle to turn a profit despite the sector rapidly expanding in the country over recent years.

Jet, which employs more than 20,000 people, is gasping under debts of more than $1 billion and has now been forced to ground a total of 78 of its 119 aircraft after failing to pay lenders and aircraft lessors.

In a statement late Tuesday announcing its latest grounding, the firm it said it was "actively engaging" with lenders to secure fresh liquidity and wanted to "minimise disruption".

But with hundreds of customers left stranded, Jet's social media accounts have been flooded with often suddenly stranded passengers demanding information, new flight tickets and refunds.

"@jetairways We book our flights in advance so that we save on travel cost and you are sending cancellation (message) now?", read one irate tweet on Wednesday.

"I have sent a DM (direct message) regarding my ticket details. Please respond!", said Sachin Deshpande, according to his Twitter profile a design engineer.

Another, Ankit Maloo, wrote: "Received an email for all together cancellation of flight days before departure without any prior intimation or communication over phone!"

The firm is also facing pressure from its many pilots who have not been paid on time, with unions threatening they will walk off the job if salaries do not arrive soon.

"Pilots will stop flying jet planes from 1st April 2019 if the company does not disburse due salaries and take concrete decisions," a spokesperson for the National Aviator's Guild, a pilots union, told AFP.

India's aviation regulator on Tuesday warned Jet Airways to ensure that staffers facing stress are not forced to operate flights.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Etihad Airways of the United Arab Emirates has offered to sell its 24 percent stake in Jet to State Bank of India (SBI).

A collapse would deal a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pragmatic pro-business reputation ahead of elections starting on April 11.

India's passenger numbers have rocketed six-fold over the past decade with its middle-class taking advantage of better connectivity and cheaper flights.

The country's aviation sector is projected to become the world's third-largest by 2025.

But like other carries, Mumbai-based Jet has been badly hit by fluctuating global crude prices, a weak rupee and fierce competition from budget rivals.

Alarm bells for Jet first rang in August when it failed to report its quarterly earnings or pay its staff, including pilots, on time. It then later reported a loss of $85 million.

In February, it secured a $1.19 billion bailout from lenders including SBI to bridge a funding gap, but the crisis has since deepened.

"Jet Airways is rapidly reaching a point of no return and running out of assets to keep itself afloat," Devesh Agarwal, editor of the Bangalore Aviation website, told AFP.

"The only solution is equity expansion by diluting its stakes but Jet is just trying to cut losses and running out of options," Agarwal said.

Shares in Jet Airways were down more than five percent on Wednesday.