Goldman Sachs, Citi said to be in lead for top roles in Aramco IPO
Saudi Arabian Oil Co is set to appoint banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Citigroup Inc to help manage its initial public offering, people familiar with the matter said, as the state-owned crude producer pushes ahead with what could be the world’s largest share sale.
The mandates could be finalised as early as this week, the people said. The list of banks isn’t final and more could be added, they said.
Aramco, as the company is known, last month asked banks to pitch for roles as coordinators and bookrunners for the IPO, people familiar with the matter said at the time. Saudi Arabia is seeking to sell as much as 5 per cent 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 ever, based on the government’s $2 trillion valuation of the company. Aramco, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, HSBC, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan declined to comment.
Saudi Arabia is stepping up plans to diversify its economy away from oil under an economic transformation plan known as Vision 2030. The kingdom aims to transfer ownership of Aramco to the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund.
The November arrests of Saudi princes and officials accused of corruption won’t harm foreign investment or the kingdom’s plan for the offering, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said that month.
President Donald Trump personally lobbied Saudi King Salman to list Aramco on the New York Stock Exchange during a phone call between the world leaders in November. Later that month, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said London was “extremely well-placed” to win the listing.
The UK has already invested considerable political capital to try to secure the business for the London Stock Exchange. The government in November agreed to a $2 billion loan guarantee, an unusually large export credit guarantee that’s designed to finance the purchase of British goods, but that also opened May up to the suggestion she was trying to influence the listing decision.
Britain’s main financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, has also drawn criticism for proposed changes to listing rules that would make it easier for Aramco to trade in London.
— With assistance by Wael Mahdi