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

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.”

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Setting the price range and the number of shares to be sold starts the “bookbuilidng” 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 allows 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.


Japan’s households tighten purse strings as sales tax and typhoon hit

Updated 06 December 2019

Japan’s households tighten purse strings as sales tax and typhoon hit

  • Falls in factory output, jobs and retail add to fears of worsening slowdown after Tokyo unveils $122bn stimulus package

TOKYO: Japanese households cut their spending for the first time in almost a year in October as a sales tax hike prompted consumers to rein in expenses and natural disasters disrupted business.

Household spending dropped 5.1 percent in October from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday.

It is the first fall in household spending in 11 months and the biggest fall since March 2016 when spending fell by 5.3 percent. It was also weaker than the median forecast for a 3 percent decline.

That marked a sharp reversal from the 9.5 percent jump in September, the fastest growth on record as consumers rushed to buy goods before the Oct. 1 sales tax hike from 8 percent to 10 percent.

“Not only is the sales tax hike hurting consumer spending but impacts from the typhoon also accelerated the decline in the spending,” said Taro Saito, executive research fellow at NLI Research Institute.

“We expect the economy overall and consumer spending will contract in the current quarter and then moderately pick up January-March, but such recovery won't be strong enough.”

Household spending fell by 4.6 percent in April 2014 when Japan last raised the sales tax to 8 percent from 5 percent. It took more than a year for the sector to return to growth.

Compared with the previous month, household spending fell 11.5 percent in October, the fastest drop since April 2014, a faster decline than the median 9.8 percent forecast.

Analysts said a powerful typhoon in October, which lashed swathes of Japan with heavy rain, also played a factor in the downbeat data. Some shops and restaurants closed during the storm and consumers stayed home.

Separate data also showed the weak state of the economy.

The index of coincident economic indicators, which consists of a range of data including factory output, employment and retail sales data, fell a preliminary 5.6 points to 94.8 in October from the previous month, the lowest reading since February 2013, the Cabinet Office said on Friday.

It was also the fastest pace of decline since March 2011, according to the data.

Real wages adjusted for inflation, meanwhile, edged up for a second straight month in October, but the higher levy and weak global economy raise worries about the prospect for consumer spending and the overall economy.

While the government has sought to offset the hit to consumers through vouchers and tax breaks, there are fears the higher tax could hurt an economy already feeling the pinch from global pressures.

Japan unveiled a $122 billion fiscal package on Thursday to support stalling growth and as policymakers look to sustain activity beyond the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A recent spate of weak data, such as exports and factory output, have raised worries about the risk of a sharper-than-expected slowdown. The economy grew by an annualized 0.2 percent in the third quarter, the weakest pace in a year.

Analysts expect the economy to shrink in the current quarter due to the sales tax hike.