Saudi Aramco mulling two-stage IPO, might choose Tokyo for phase two

saudi aramco; pipeline expansion plans
The attack on Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq and Khurais plants recently shut down 5.7 millions bpd, which is more than half of the Kingdom’s production and 5% of the global output. (Image: Reuters)

The state-owned Saudi Aramco might be considering a two-stage initial public offering (IPO) with a domestic debut and a subsequent international listing possibly in Tokyo, according to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report.

Aramco is likely to float around 5% of the state-owned company in 2020 or 2021 in what might be the world’s largest stock sale. According to WSJ, the oil giant is planning to raise as much $50bn in a domestic listing and is considering Tokyo as a possible venue for the second phase.

While it has not yet been confirmed, Aramco opting for Tokyo over London, New York, and Hong Kong is going to be a major setback for these markets who have been wooing the oil giant for a slice of the IPO pie.

READ: Chinese State Banks to Compete for Role on Aramco’s IPO

According to sources, UK’s current political situation with Brexit and the unrest in Hong Kong have ruled out both these markets as possible venues. An exclusive report from Reuters stated that the company’s board was not too keen on New York because it might carry too many legal risks, although the final decision lies with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is said to be keen on listing the company in New York.

The much-touted IPO was earlier scheduled for 2018, and was delayed because it did not reach the $2 trillion valuation, as was envisaged by Saudi rulers. Part of the Saudi Crown Prince’s reform programme to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy away from oil, the IPO aims to raise up to $100bn based the $2 trillion valuation of the company.

Earlier in August, the company, in what is considered a first for Aramco, published its half-year financial reports, following the opening of its secretive accounts for the first in April, revealing itself to be world’s most profitable company. According to the financial reports, its first-half net income for 2019 had slipped nearly 12% to $46.9bn on lower crude prices.

READ: Saudi Aramco Springs No Surprises at Gentle First Results Call

According to a Reuters report citing sources, earlier this month, Aramco Trading also sold its first-ever West Texas Light (WTL) cargo as part of Saudi Aramco’s ambition to become a top oil trader. The sources said that the company had sold a 1-million-barrel cargo of WTL to South Korean refiner Hyundai Oilbank, with which the Saudi oil giant signed earlier this year an agreement to buy a 17% stake.

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