Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Dubai/London — Saudi Arabian Oil is asking banks to pitch for roles as co-ordinators and bookrunners on its initial public offering, people familiar with the matter say, as the state-owned crude producer pushes ahead with plans for the world’s biggest share sale.

The company aims to appoint a group of lenders early in 2018, said the people, asking not to be identified as the information was private. Saudi Aramco, as it is known, had not told banks where it planned to list the shares, they said.

Saudi Arabia is seeking to sell as much as 5% of Aramco as part of a plan by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to set up the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund and reduce the economy’s reliance on hydrocarbons. The sale could be the largest in history, based on the government’s $2-trillion valuation of the company.

Aramco was still waiting for a decision on how many shares would be offered to the public and where it would list outside of the kingdom, CE Amin Nasser said in November.

Saudi officials in October reassured investors at a business conference in Riyadh that plans for the Aramco offering were still on track to take place in 2018. People familiar with the situation had said earlier that month that Saudi Arabia was wondering whether to delay the international portion of the offering until at least 2019.

If the company manages to achieve a valuation that matches the crown prince’s expectations, the sale would raise about $100bn, eclipsing the record $25bn the Alibaba group raised in its initial public offering in 2014.

Bloomberg

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