Aramco Valuation Misses Prince’s Target
As it prepares for an initial public offering, Saudi Arabia has assigned a preliminary valuation of state-owned oil group Aramco, spanning a range of $1.6 -$1.71 trillion. This is well below the $2 trillion sought by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman when first broaching the idea in 2016.
With a share of only 1.5% of the world’s biggest company to be floated, total intake at the lower end of the price range would fall short of the $25 billion raised by Alibaba Group’s 2014 listing, analysts for Bloomberg said.
A final valuation is due to be published on Dec. 5, but a listing date for Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock exchange has yet to be announced. Saudi Arabia has reportedly cut the tax rate for Aramco three times to make the paper more attractive.
Following a run on Saudi home territory, the ipo road show will move to Europe this week. Due to a tepid response up to now, Bloomberg said the shares will not be sold in North America or Japan. No cornerstone investors have yet been identified but the country’s leaders are said to be still in talks with funds in the Middle East, China and Russia.
The initial valuation implies that Aramco paper will have a divided yield of 4.4-4.7%, compared with less than 5% for ExxonMobil and 6.4% for Shell, the analysts said. As foreign investors up to now have been critical, observers said the offer is being pushed to wealthy Saudi families as a patriotic duty.
Along with being the world’s largest oil producer, with output of 10.3 million barrels of crude per day in 2018, Saudi Aramco is also regarded as the most profitable company with 2018 net income of $111 billion.