Sale of 1% of Aramco may equal a decade of Saudi IPOs

Saudi Aramco may start with a 1% stake in the domestic market, possibly adding another chunk later. (AFP pic)

DUBAI: If Saudi Arabia moves ahead with plans to float 1% of the world’s most profitable company, Saudi Aramco, it could raise proceeds equivalent to the last 10 years of initial public offerings in the country.

There are still moving parts in what could be a game-changing IPO, but this week the company selected banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group, to work on the sale of a stake as soon as November, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The oil exploration company may start with a 1% stake in the domestic market, possibly adding another chunk later, before ultimately launching an overseas listing, they said.

While Aramco’s valuation isn’t known, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s pegged it at about US$2 trillion, a number many consider to be inflated.

Bloomberg Intelligence, for example, estimates the value at about US$1.1 trillion, while other analysts’ forecasts are around US$1.5 trillion.

Taking US$1.5 trillion as a mid-point for a 1% float, the amount generated could equal the combined proceeds of 72 companies that began trading in Riyadh over the past 10 years, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Aramco’s 1% would garner 2.5 times more than the IPO of National Commercial Bank, Saudi Arabia’s biggest lender by assets, the largest offering in the kingdom during the period.