Saudi Aramco IPO

Thinking Twice About a Saudi Aramco IPO


For the past few years, the likelihood of Saudi Arabia offering minority shares in its largest company, Saudi Aramco, seemed to be a given. That’s because the dropping price of oil and the subsequent depletion of the country’s vast financial resources made it a more economically viable option to undertake.

Those resources haven’t quite reached the crisis level, yet the fact that cuts in other areas of government operations were taking place underscored that new revenue sources had to be found. However, with a deal now in place to cut production of oil and the likely price increases that will follow in the coming months, that potential Saudi Aramco IPO may not come to pass.

Of course, the total percentage of the company that was scheduled to be offered was just five percent. Even with that small portion, the Saudis were expecting a massive infusion of $2 trillion, though any IPO wouldn’t take place until next year.

The oil market changes, coupled with political concerns in the United States may end up making the IPO option much less desirable. In the latter case, the incoming administration of businessman Donald Trump could present unwanted volatility that results in Saudi Arabia looking elsewhere to offer the corporation on one of the foreign exchanges.

In addition, the recent law that allows American families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia further heightens tensions. The law is based on the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were of Saudi descent.

One other key reason for thinking twice about plunging into the IPO market is that becoming a public company, even in the small manner expected, brings with it certain regulations. Some of those rules deal with allowing once-secret financial and production numbers to be exposed to public view.

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