Saudi Arabia’s investors line up for Aramco IPO
Although oil prices surged after the terrorist attacks on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities last month — strikes that instantly disabled half the Kingdom’s output — the gains have since evaporated. Crude is back below $60 a barrel, mainly because Saudi Aramco has restored production so swiftly.
At a recent oil conference in Moscow, Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman confirmed that Saudi Arabia has fully restored its oil output and the focus now is to continue preparatory work for Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering (IPO).
In the countdown to the biggest IPO in history, Aramco is using new tools as part of its pitch. The latest is a presentation posted on the company’s website. Like the recent earnings call, it is brief. But tucked away toward the back was an eye-catching number: $75 billion. That is the company’s guidance for a “base dividend” in 2020; a figure 50 percent higher than the combined dividends of BP Plc, Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total SA in the year through June. This is quite impressive and should keep subscriber appetite high.
As experts and financial analysts around the world are coming up with different arguments and estimates of what the Aramco valuation should be, an army of seasoned investment bankers is gathered in the company’s headquarters in Dhahran to arrive at the fair value as part of the IPO process. This is still a challenging task in view of the fast geopolitical developments as well as market dynamics for the most important commodity in our economies.
With the initial plan to float 1 percent of the company in the local bourse Tadawul this year, there is huge and unmatched anticipation by local investors to have a piece of their nation’s pride. I was talking to a local bank CEO about its potential role as an underwriter and floatation manager for an IPO BMG Financial Group is advising on and aiming for a December offering after CMA approval. His immediate reply was “every liquidity in the Saudi market will be fighting for Aramco’s IPO. So wait until it is done with.”
In future, I will cover some of the IPO’s financial requirements, including the latest financial performance, assets covered under the IPO and, most importantly, valuation.
Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the Chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.