State-owned Saudi Aramco said it was considering listing in capital markets on Friday, in a move that could see the company valued in the trillions of dollars.
Should it go ahead with an IPO, analysts estimate the company could be worth more than 10 times Apple Inc’s peak of $756bn.
In a statement the company said “the listing in capital markets of an appropriate percentage of the company’s shares and/or the listing of a bundle of its downstream subsidiaries” was being considered.
Saudi Aramco produces more than 10 per cent of the world’s oil supply and has significant refinery and petrochemical assets. The business could be worth more than $10 trillion, according to some estimates.
However, a listing of part of the company is deemed more likely given the sensitivity of its operations and the scrutiny they would come under.
Mohammad al-Sabban, an independent oil analyst and former senior adviser to the Saudi oil ministry told the Wall Street Journal that a listing of parts of its refining and chemical operations was more likely as a result.
This was also the opinion of Franklin Templeton head of investment, MENA equities Salah Shamma, who argued that the sheer size of the company meant its listing would be too big for the local market to absorb on its own.
“We find it more plausible for Aramco to possibly list smaller units such as one of its giant domestic refineries, as a first step. On Friday, Aramco said one option was to float ‘a bundle its downstream subsidiaries.’ That could create a valuation benchmark for the whole company, without the risk of placing a value on its oil reserves. We believe that such steps could provide a gradual yet material process of privatising the country’s oil assets while simultaneously maintaining the governments long term objectives of developing its capital markets and improving overall market efficiency,” he said.
Other sources told the publication that a final decision could still be months away due to a lack of serious discussions with banks about a stock offering.