Targeting a $2 trillion valuation, Aramco readies IPO plan for October

Matthew Martin, Dinesh Nair, Archana Narayanan and Anthony DiPaola September 25, 2019

DUBAI (Bloomberg) - Saudi Aramco will kick off its much-anticipated initial public offering next month as the oil giant recovers faster than expected from the biggest terror attacks in its history.

The state-run company plans to announce its intention to float around Oct. 20, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The firm, which is holding analyst meetings from Wednesday, is targeting a valuation of at least $2 trillion -- more than double that of Apple Inc.

Aramco’s listing on the Saudi stock exchange could take place as early as November, though the timetable hasn’t been finalized, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The IPO preparations come as the company took its production capacity back above 11 MMbpd, beating its own target by about a week, other people said.

Flat Out

Banks are working flat out to get the mammoth IPO done after drone and missile attacks on two Aramco facilities on Sept. 14 caused a record surge in oil prices and risked delaying the deal for a second time. A $2 trillion valuation would make Aramco’s the world’s most valuable firm and mark a victory for the offering’s architect, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who first mooted the idea in 2016. Some analysts see a $1.5 trillion valuation as more realistic.

“Aramco seems to be making all efforts to restore full production as soon as possible, both to reassure its clients that it is a reliable supplier and to avoid any IPO delays,” said Richard Segal, a London-based senior emerging-markets analyst at Manulife Asset Management. “Listing in a couple months is realistic on the assumption that the paperwork is ready. They’ve had plenty of time for this.”

The eventual timing of the share sale and other details will depend on market conditions and investor demand, the people said. Aramco didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Analyst Meetings

More than 100 investment bankers, government officials and Aramco executives are gathering for two days of analyst presentations at the company’s headquarters in Dhahran in the kingdom’s Eastern Province, the people said. Members of Aramco’s management are presenting to banks’ research teams and global coordinators are briefing executives at the firm, they said.

At the same time, Aramco has been working hard to restore total production capacity, while maintaining normal supplies to customers by tapping inventories and ramping up other fields. The state-run company has now restored production at the Abqaiq processing facility and Khurais oil field to levels seen before the attack, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

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