ISTANBUL: Saudi Arabia’s state-run energy giant Saudi Aramco is optimistic that 2018 will be the right time for its IPO, in what will likely be the biggest share offering in history, said its chief executive Tuesday.
Speaking to the World Energy Congress in Istanbul, Amin Nasser confirmed that around 5% of Saudi Aramco’s share capital is expected to be sold in the Initial Public Offering (IPO) but emphasised that the final decision lay with the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
Amin said that despite the current period of low oil prices markets had started to recover, emphasising Saudi Aramco took a long term view with $300 billion (270 billion euros) of investment planned in the next decade focused on gas.
“We are optimistic that the markets started to recover and we expect them to recover even more in 2017,” said Amin.
“I think the time in 2018 will be almost just right (for the IPO),” he added.
Without giving any valuation, Amin said that even a 5% sale would be by far the biggest IPO in history, easily outstripping the $25 billion raised by Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba in 2014.
He said that Prince Mohammed had evoked 5% as the likely portion to be sold off but emphasised that the final decision would be taken by the company’s supreme council, which the powerful prince heads.
The partial privatisation and reform of Saudi Aramco is a centrepiece of Prince Mohammed’s 2030 vision aimed at modernising the kingdom and diversifying its economy.
Amin said the massive company would be “more than happy” to share all its financial details with investors after going public.
He said all options were still on the table for the location of the listing, including New York, despite the current difficulties in US-Saudi ties.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2016.