Saudi Aramco listing leaves analysts with many questions, wide-ranging valuations

Saudi Aramco’s Nine-Month Profit Falls 18% as IPO Starts

Saudi Aramco Value In Bank Research Varies By More Than $1 Trillion: Report

Rumayyan was speaking after Aramco kick-started its initial public offering (IPO) earlier on Sunday, officially announcing its intention to list on the domestic bourse, Tadawul.

Saudi Aramco is the world's largest integrated oil and gas company with a unique investment proposition.

Confirmation of the sale of shares in the oil giant, whose formal name is Saudi Arabian Oil Co, comes about seven weeks after the crippling attacks on its oil facilities, underlining Saudi Arabia's determination to push on with the listing regardless. The company is now worth around $1.2 trillion, and it will offer some of its shares - likely around 1% or 2% - on Riyadh stock exchange.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wants a two trillion dollar valuation.

Saudi Arabia's state-run oil company has formally confirmed its long-awaited plans to sell shares in what could be the world's biggest listing.

The IPO plans have been approved by the country's Capital Market Authority, which regulates the stock exchange. It will be the biggest stock market flotation in history and the market debut could value Saudi Aramco at $1.5 trillion, significantly below initial expectations of up to $2 trillion.

"Selling a small piece of Aramco in a captive market gives the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) more control to prop the value of Aramco up over its fair value", said Gary Ross, CEO at Black Gold Investors.

A major factor in the broad spread is the various assumptions analysts are making for the future direction of oil prices, said a source familiar with the deal. The current record holder belongs to Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba which raised $25 billion during its IPO in 2014.

Two bankers working on the deal estimated around 80% of shares would be sold to local retail and institutional investors, with about 20% likely to go to worldwide buyers.

Earlier this year, the company gathered $12 billion from its first-ever global bond, a move that many regarded as the company's pre-IPO relationship building effort with investors internationally.

Dividends and their longevity are what is expected to draw investors to the Aramco IPO, scheduled for December.

Its 2018 net profit of $111.1 billion is higher than the profits of Apple, Google and Exxon Mobil combined.

"Pressuring rich Saudis, many of whom were imprisoned at the Ritz, to invest in the Aramco IPO and to hold on to the shares is basically coercion", Wald said.

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