Saudi Aramco Confirms IPO is an Option

19.01.2016 -

With falling oil prices making resource-rich Middle East countries nervous, some of them are looking for new sources of revenue to finance their burgeoning petrochemical empires. State-owned Saudi Aramco, world’s largest producer and exporter of crude, has now confirmed it is considering an initial public offering. Talk about an ipo was touched off early by an interview given by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the British magazine The Economist, A decision is expected to be made later this year.

In a statement, the company said it “has been studying various options to allow broad public participation in its equity,” either through a listing “of an appropriate percentage” of shares in its main company or the listing of a selected downstream subsidiaries.

Aramco said the launch proposal is “consistent with the broad and progressive direction pursued by the Saudi kingdom for reforms, including privatization in various sectors of the economy and deregulation of markets, which the company strongly supports.”

Speculating on the possible share price, stock market observers said the assets could be worth as much as $4.7 trillion, as Aramco’s oil assets alone are worth 10 times those held by the world’s largest publicly quoted oil company, ExxonMobil. The Texas group has a stock market value of $400 billion. Analysts told news agencies they expected the kingdom to make only a small stake available to the public.

Aramco controls 100 oil and gas fields, including Ghawar, the world’s largest onshore oil location, and Safaniya, the world’s biggest offshore field. As a partner in the Sadara joint venture with Dow Chemical, now coming on stream, it will also be a major producer of petrochemicals.

In early December 2015, Sadara announced the on-time start-up of the first of the site’s two LLDPE plants, using Dow’s Solution technology. When a similar-sized LLDPE plant goes on stream the complex will be able to produce 750,000 t/y of the commodity plastic.

The Dhahran complex also will include facilities for LDPE and PP as well as polyolefin elastomers – downstream of a multi-feed cracker with capacity for 1.5m t/y of ethylene and 400,000 t/y of propylene. A second-phase project will see the installation of capacity for the isocyanates MDI and TDI, along with polyols.

German chemical producer Lanxess recently presented the Saudi company as its partner in a 50:50 joint venture to produce synthetic rubber, which would have annual sales of €3 billion and an enterprise value of €2.75 billion. The as yet unnamed jv will be the world’s largest rubber producer.