Saudi Aramco shares soar at maximum 10% on market debut

Aramco’s indicative debut price is seen at 35.2 riyals, 10 per cent above IPO price. (AFP)
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Updated 12 December 2019

Saudi Aramco shares soar at maximum 10% on market debut

  • Despite an unfavorable global market mood, the much-anticipated IPO has enjoyed the best possible start for investors
  • Company is now world’s largest publicly traded company, bigger than Apple

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco shares surged to the maximum allowed 10 percent above their listing price on their debut in Riyadh on Wednesday.


The stock jumped to SR35.2 ($9.39), up from the initial public offering (IPO) price of SR32 ($8.53), hitting the daily limit permitted by the Tadawul stock exchange and giving the company a valuation of about $1.88 trillion. 

At that price, Aramco is world’s most valuable listed company. That’s more than the top five oil companies – Exxon Mobil, Total, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and BP – combined.

The Aramco IPO also surpassed the $25 billion raised by Chinese retail giant Alibaba in its 2014 Wall Street debut. 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Shares up by the maximum daily limit
  • Valuation approaches $2 trillion goal
  • Tadawul propelled into global top ten

The listing debut was marked by a symbolic ringing of the Tadawul bell by Aramco Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan and Chief Executive Amin Nasser.

“This is a proud and historic mo- ment for Saudi Aramco and our majority shareholder, the Kingdom,” Al-Rumayyan said. The focus of company chiefs was “to work in the interests of all shareholders, guiding Saudi Aramco as it continues to fulfill its vital role in global energy supply, while striving to create long-term value to benefit all shareholders,” he said.

“Today’s milestone underlines the Kingdom’s commitment to nur- turing a strong capital market and demonstrates further significant progress in delivering Vision 2030 — the Kingdom’s transformation, economic growth and diversifica- tion program that continues with pace and determination.”

“Today Aramco will become the largest listed company in the world and (Tadawul) among the top ten global financial markets,” Sarah Al-Suhaimi, chairwoman of the Saudi Arabian stock exchange, said during a ceremony marking the oil giant’s first day of trading.

Amin Nasser, the president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, meanwhile thanked the new shareholders for their confidence and trust of the oil company.

The sale of 1.5 percent of the firm, or three billion shares, is the bedrock of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious strategy to overhaul the oil-reliant economy.


Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Kingdom's energy minister, said last week that investors who didn’t buy into the offering would be “chewing their thumbs” after missing out.

But for the 5 million people who did buy shares in the world’s biggest IPO, it was the best possible start for their investments.

With the ring of a bell, the Tadawul was catapulted into the top ten exchanges in the world by market value, marking another key milestone for a bourse that is rapidly gaining in global financial visibility following its inclusion in the MSCI Emerging Markets and FTSE Russell indexes last year.

“The level of demand for Saudi Aramco was high at almost 5 times oversubscribed, highlighting the local appeal for a quality asset and its attractive dividend policy, even if foreign participation was more muted,” said Bassel Khatoun, a managing director, at Franklin Templeton Emerging Markets Equity. “We believe Aramco’s Tadawul listing will provide further impetus for Saudi’s privatization drive.”

The share sale took place at a turbulent time for the global oil industry, increasingly under the spotlight because of its greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, a global supply glut caused in part by the growth of the US shale oil sector has dampened investor sentiment towards the sector. Plans for the share sale faced a further shock in September when Saudi Aramco’s main oil processing facility in Abqaiq was hit in a drone attack.

Despite the unfavorable global market mood, the Saudi government pressed ahead with the sale that has long been a cornerstone of the Kingdom’s efforts to modernize its economy and develop its financial sector.

It is expected to be followed by more privatizations as Saudi Arabia seeks to curb its
budget deficit.

Announcing the Saudi budget earlier in the week, Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that the proceeds from the Aramco IPO would be reinvested, helping to create more revenue channels for the government.

Within just one hour of Aramco chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan ringing the trading bell,
some 766.8 million shares had changed hands.

“Today’s milestone underlines the Kingdom’s commitment to nurturing a strong capital market and demonstrates further significant progress in delivering Vision 2030,” he said.

Millions of Saudis bought into the IPO and yesterday cheered the performance of their shares.
“Buying Aramco shares was a trustworthy opportunity for a small investor like me,” said Alanoud Issa, a 27-year-old housewife from Riyadh. “It is a small beginning which I am hopeful will result in a good dividend for me in the future.”

Such citizen investors formed a major chunk of the subscribers to the IPO, buying some SR49.2 billion worth of shares, many of them making their purchases from ATM machines across the Kingdom. 

Institutional investors, mainly from the region, bought SR397 billion of the stock.

 

 

Watch the video marking Aramco’s opening trading:


Lebanon’s top banker linked to offshores with $100 million in assets

Updated 5 min ago

Lebanon’s top banker linked to offshores with $100 million in assets

  • No question of criminality raised as scrutiny increases on country’s elite amid financial meltdown and Beirut explosion

DUBAI: Offshore companies linked to Lebanon’s central bank governor own assets worth nearly $100 million, a media group has said in a report, as his role in Lebanon’s economic turmoil comes under intense scrutiny.

The companies tied to Riad Salameh invested in real estate in the UK, Germany and Belgium over the past decade according to a report by a collective of European news outlets called the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a nonprofit media organization, and its Lebanese partner, Daraj.com.

The report by the Sarajevo-based OCCRP does not allege any wrongdoing by Salameh, and Reuters has not reviewed any of the documents on which the report is based.

Responding to the report, Salemeh told Reuters he had declared during a TV interview in April his net worth prior to becoming a governor in 1993 and it was $23 million.

“I have shown the supporting documents as a proof. This to eliminate doubts on the origin of my net worth and that it was prior to holding office,” he said.

He said he had previously stated that he asked professionals and trustees to manage his net worth. “The origin of my net worth is clear, this is the important matter,” he said.

Salameh, previously seen as a guarantor of financial stability in the country, has become a focus of anger for street protesters since Lebanon’s financial system collapsed earlier this year under the weight of one of the world’s biggest public debt burdens.

The report into his personal wealth comes at a sensitive time for the country, as Lebanon grapples with the aftermath of an enormous chemical explosion that devastated the capital Beirut, fueling public anger with the country’s leadership.

The OCCRP report also comes after central bank accounts seen by Reuters last month revealed that Lebanon’s central bank governor inflated the institution’s assets by over $6 billion in 2018, showing the extent of financial engineering used to help prop up the Lebanese economy.

The governor told Reuters last month that the central bank accounting was in line with policies approved by the board.

A Lebanese judge last month ordered a protective freeze on some assets held by the governor after ruling in favor of a complaint that he had allegedly undermined the financial standing of the state.

By the end of 2018, Salameh’s assets were worth more than $94 million, the report said, citing balance sheets of Luxembourg companies controlled by the governor.

Salameh said his declaration on his net worth demonstrated he was not trying to escape public scrutiny and was the proof he has “nothing to hide.”