By Arab News
By Frank Kane
The biggest share listing in history — the initial public offering (IPO) of shares in Saudi Aramco — will take place on the Tadawul stock exchange in the next 10 days after the world’s most profitable company announced the results of its offer for sale.
Aramco shares will be priced at the top of the range on offer — SR32 per share — after strong demand from Saudi and regional investors, who bid for nearly five times the number of shares on offer.
That values Aramco at $1.7 trillion, bigger than any other quoted company in the world, or roughly equivalent to the stock market value of Google and Amazon combined.
At that price, the IPO is the largest ever, though only 1.5 percent of Aramco is being sold. That portion is valued at $25.6 billion, more than the previous IPO record holder, the Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba, in 2014.
The IPO may even be increased to meet unsatisfied investor demand. Aramco has the option to issue a further 450 million shares under the terms of a “purchase option” agreed with the investment banks advising on the deal. The final size could be as much as $29.4 billion.
Two-thirds of the IPO has been taken up by institutions, and the rest by private investors in Saudi Arabia and other GCC states. It was 465 percent oversubscribed.
Aramco marketed the IPO only in the Arabian Gulf following a decision not to make “road show” trips to big Western financial centers. Advisers were confident there was sufficient demand in the Middle East, but the Saudi government has the option to sell further shares in the future to foreign investors or on a foreign stock exchange.
One Middle East financier for an Asian institution said: “So far so good for the Saudis. There may be some foreign and sovereign investors named in the next few days, which will be interesting.”
Trading in the shares will take place after legal and procedural requirements are completed on Dec. 12.