Straits Herald December 2, 2019

Saudi oil giant Aramco said on Friday that applications from private investors for its planned stock market offering had been oversubscribed.

The much-delayed initial public offering, first announced in 2016, is a cornerstone of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious plan to diversify the Gulf state’s oil-reliant economy.

The IPO could exceed the world’s biggest to date — the $25 billion float of Chinese retail giant Alibaba in 2014.

On November 17, Saudi Aramco said it would sell 1.5 percent of the company in an initial public offering worth $24-25.6 billion.

“Retail subscriptions, which concluded last night, reached 47,411,624,960 Saudi riyals” ($12.6 billion, 11.5 billion euros), with almost five million subscribers for nearly 1.5 billion shares, Friday’s statement said.

Aramco had said it would reserve a portion of the IPO’s shares for institutional investors, including foreign companies, and individual investors, Saudi citizens and Gulf states.

A maximum of 0.5 percent of the 200 billion shares will go to individual investors, the statement said.

It said subscriptions and bids during the first 12 days of the offer period totalled more than 166 billion riyals ($44.3 billion, 40.2 billion euros).

The statement quoted Rania Nashar, Deputy Chairman of Samba Capital, as saying the high turnout and subscription rates was “a source of pride, an indication of success and a signal of confidence”.

Institutional bids received during the first 12 days of the book-building period, which continues until December 4, now stand at more than 118 billion riyals ($31.5 billion, 28.6 billion euros), Aramco said.

Saudi Arabia is pulling out all the stops to ensure the success of the IPO, a crucial part of Prince Mohammed’s plan to wean the economy away from oil by pumping funds into megaprojects and non-energy industries.

The economic jewel of Saudi Arabia produces about 10 percent of the world’s oil and is considered the pillar of the kingdom’s economic and social stability. – AFP