Saudi Aramco 'to publish IPO prospectus this month'

Document will be issued in Arabic on October 25 and in English on October 27

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Saudi Aramco is seen at the 20th Middle East Oil & Gas Show and Conference in Manama, Bahrain, March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo
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A prospectus for Saudi Aramco's eagerly-anticipated initial public offering is expected to be published by the end of the month, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The prospectus is set to be published in Arabic on October 25 and in English two days later, the Journal reported. This will start a book building process throughout November with potential investors which, if successful, could lead to a domestic listing of 1 to 2 per cent of the company's shares on Saudi Arabia's Tadawul exchange either in late November or early December.

An IPO for Aramco was first mentioned mooted by Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, in 2016, when he told The Economist he was seeking a $2 trillion valuation for the company. A dual listing of the company's shares is anticipated, with the kingdom hoping to eventually raise $100 billion through the sale of a 5 per cent stake via floats on Tadawul and one international exchange. The proceeds will fund the country's Vision 2030 economic diversification programme.

Aramco has been busily putting pieces in place for its IPO for months. In March, the company bought a 70 per cent stake in Saudi Basic Indistries, the stock market-listed company that carries out downstream petrochemicals activities from the state-owned Public Investment Fund, for $69.1bn. Sabic is the region's largest petrochemicals company.

Aramco also issued a debut $10bn bond this April, which was hugely oversubscribed. Filings for the bond prospectus also revealed that Aramco is the world's most profitable company, earning $111.1 billion in 2018 in revenue of $355.9bn.

An attack on two of the company's facilities last month - a 7 million barrels per day processing plant at Abqaiq and on the Khurais field - had disrupted the supply of about 5.7 million barrels and led to some analysts predicting the IPO would be delayed.

However, speaking at the Oil and Money conference in London on Wednesday, Aramco chief executive Amin Nasser reiterated that the company had managed to restore production to pre-attack levels by the end of September, and that it expects to regain maximum sustained capacity of 12 million barrels per day by the end of November.

"The rapid turnaround has surprised many, but our people are known for their extraordinary performance when they are put to the test," Mr Nasser said.

"The sharp oil market reaction following the attacks on our facilities reflected understandable supply concerns. But Saudi Aramco’s rapid response and the confidence our various stakeholders have in our ability to quickly restore production helped to calm the global oil market," he added.