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Saudi Aramco unveils next stage of blockbuster flotation

An Aramco gas terminal

The world’s most profitable company has published more details about its planned stock market flotation.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seeking to sell the shares to raise billions of dollars to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil by investing in non-energy industries.

Bankers think the long-awaited flotation will value Aramco at $1.5-2 trillion, making the stock market listing the biggest ever.

The prospectus said up to 0.5% of the company would be set aside for retail savers, but Aramco had not yet decided on the percentage for larger institutional buyers.

After the flotation, Aramco will not list any more shares for six months, the prospectus says. Although one of the attractions for investors is the potential of high dividends, the document said Aramco has the right to change dividend policy without prior notice.

Aramco has hired a host of international banking giants including Citibank, Credit Suisse and HSBC as financial advisers to assess interest in the share sale and set a price. Based on the level of interest – a final value will be put on the shares on 5 December.

The sale of the company, first mooted four years ago, has been overshadowed by delays and criticism of corporate transparency at Saudi Arabia’s crown jewel.

It was initially thought about 5% of Aramco would be sold, but the final figure is now expected to be half that.

Amid speculation that some foreign institutional investors are cool on the flotation, the government has reportedly pressed wealthy Saudi business families and institutions to invest, and many nationalists have labelled it a patriotic duty.

Aramco last year posted $111bn in net profit. In the first nine months of this year, its net profit dropped 18% to $68bn.

About Oluwadamilare Funsho

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