Saudi Arabia seeks Japanese investment in Aramco IPO

30 June 2016

Officials from the two countries are discussing Japan’s investment in possibly the biggest global IPO

Officials from Saudi Arabia and Japan are holding meetings to discuss cornerstone Japanese investment into the planned share sale of state-controlled oil major Saudi Aramco, according to the kingdom’s energy minister.

“We have a great relationship with energy companies in Japan and also financial institutions,” Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid al-Falih said on the sidelines of a G20 energy ministers meeting in Beijing on 29 June. “I am sure the IPO [initial public offering] of Aramco will receive great participation from the financial industry in Japan.”

The flotation of Aramco, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s economic transformation plans, which aim to wean the kingdom off its dependence on oil revenues and turn it into a global investment powerhouse.

The country plans to sell less than 5 per cent of the company, which could be valued at $2 trillion, and transfer the rest of the shares to the Public Investment Fund (PIF), its sovereign wealth fund, which will make investments in the kingdom and abroad to diversify revenues streams. So big is Aramco, given its rights to Saudi Arabia’s massive crude reserves, that selling even 1 per cent of it would create the world’s biggest IPO, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud said in January.

The oil giant is now working on options for its IPO, which includes dual listing on the domestic exchange and a large foreign equities market. The finalised proposals will be presented to the country’s Supreme Council soon, which could see part of Aramco publicly listed by in 2017 at the earliest.

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