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December 6, 2019

Saudi Aramco completes world’s largest IPO

Saudi Aramco has completed the largest initial public offering (IPO) in history by raising $25.6bn for a 1.5% stake in the company.

By Jack Unwin

Saudi Aramco has completed the largest initial public offering (IPO) in history by raising $25.6bn for a 1.5% stake in the company. This overtakes the $25bn Alibaba raised for its IPO in 2014.

The state-owned oil giant sold three billion shares at SAR32 ($8.53) each to raise the $25.6bn. This values Saudi Aramco at $1.7tn, making it the most valuable company in the world, with Apple in second at $1.15tn. However, the $1.7tn valuation is lower than the $2bn that the company and the Saudi government had initially hoped for.

The completion of the IPO ends the long-running struggle to offer shares in the company. The IPO was first discussed in 2016, with Saudi Aramco initially looking to sell a 5% share for $100bn before it steadily revised the figure down to 1.5% and $25.6bn.

Saudi Aramco then delayed the IPO several times since 2016 as it struggled to attract international investors due to concerns about its proximity to the Saudi state and the drone attacks on its Abqaiq and Khurais production facilities on 14 September.

It then focused its attention on regional companies such as the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the Kuwait Investment Authority along with individually-wealthy Saudis to raise the capital.

Despite being the largest IPO in history, reaction to the news has been muted.

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Middle East Markets tweeted that: “The Saudi Aramco IPO was supposed to be a cornerstone of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious plan to open the gates to foreign investment in the kingdom. But there’s no sign of a stampede.”

Reuters said: “Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering will be the biggest the world has seen, but the listing is a far cry from the blockbuster debut originally envisaged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

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