Saudi Aramco stock offering to launch 17 November

The sell of shares on the Riyadh stock exchange isexpected to mark biggest IPO in history

Photo: EPA A view of Shaybah oilfield in Rub Al-Khali, Saudi Arabia, which started production in 1998 and began operations by Saudi Aramco.

After years of delay and false starts Saudi Aramco announced in a prospectus Saturday that its much-anticipated initial public offering will begin on 17 November, ending on 28 November for individual investors and on 4 December for institutional investors. Then a final share price is to be determined on 5 December.

The announcement comes after the state-owned company last week said it will sell an unspecified number of shares on the Riyadh stock exchange in what is expected to be the biggest IPO in history.

In its newly released 658-page prospectus, Aramco said it will sell a part of its shares to institutional investors, including foreign companies, as well as to individual Saudis and other Gulf nationals. The company then added it has decided to sell up to 0.5% of its shares to individual investors while it will decide on the percentage for larger investors later.

"The targeted percentage of Offer Shares allocable to individual investors will be up to 0.5% of the shares," the prospectus said, adding that the final percentage to be sold to institutional investors will be determined after consultations with its financial advisors and global coordinators consisting of major international banks.

Yet, retail investors in Saudi Arabia appear to be already salivating at the prospect of owning a piece of the world's most profitable company, seen as the kingdom's crown jewel.

The IPO represents the cornerstone of powerful crown prince Mohammed bin Salman's "Vision 2030," aimed at leading the world's biggest crude exporter away from oil. And even though the size of the IPO has not yet been disclosed, it is expected to be the biggest ever, raising over $30bn.

After all, Aramco is the world's most profitable company and last year posted $111.1bn in net profit. In the first nine months of this year, however, company's net profit dropped 18%t to $68.2bn.

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