why saudi aramco ipo
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Why saudi aramco ipo

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Regardless of what MbS wants, the market will eventually decide such matters, especially once shares are being traded in exchanges other than Tadawul. For the domestic launch, the government is seeking commitments from foreign sovereign wealth funds perhaps Russia and China as well as rich Saudi individuals, reportedly including some of those who were detained in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton in late for alleged corruption and profiteering. More generally, the government is said to be encouraging Saudi citizens to take out bank loans in order to buy shares.

Investors may be able to take an immediate profit when trading begins, as happened when Britain privatized state-owned utilities in the s, yet a price increase is by no means guaranteed. Domestic investment opportunities. Transforming the Saudi economy requires creating around one million new jobs in the next few years for the many young people entering the workforce.

Yet there will be comparatively few jobs for humans in the robot-filled facilities envisioned for NEOM, which so far only has a new airport and some palaces completed. Foreign interest. A major foreign investment conference just ended in Riyadh, with better attendance than last year, when the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi cast a shadow over the proceedings.

Even so, reporting suggests that foreign executives were more interested in securing fee income in new fundraising or investment assistance for overseas projects rather than actually putting money into the kingdom. Saudi investment abroad. Policy Analysis Policy Alert. Nov 4, About the Authors.

Simon Henderson. Brief Analysis. The decisionmaking process will not change in the wake of the IPO. At the same time, oil production in the United States is still growing rapidly. The attacks were also likely intended to send a message to the United States amid its crippling sanctions on Iran.

Attacks on the East-West pipeline in May were followed in September by attacks on the Abqaiq processing facility and the Khurais oil field. The September attacks were sophisticated and precise, clearly meant to send the message that the facilities are vulnerable.

The Saudi government was unwilling to sell shares at the low end of the valuation estimates. Offering a smaller percentage of the company to domestic and regional investors was a reasonable fallback. The kingdom offered incentives for local buyers, including preferential loan rates to buy Aramco stock.

Citizens feel a sense of pride in Aramco as their national champion and the heart of their economy, making the stock attractive to local buyers. Offering a smaller percentage was also a way to push up the share value, decreasing supply and only selling to those investors with a higher willingness to pay.

However, this decision may bring future challenges if the value of Aramco stock becomes a political issue. Additionally, selling to local owners somewhat defeats the purpose of economic diversification. The Aramco IPO can help fund diversification investments, but will not be the game-changer that the crown prince initially envisioned. Order from Chaos. A how-to guide for managing the end of the post-Cold War era.

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Not one of my friends had previously considered it a place on their bucket list. Some of them are now chomping at the bits to go. Here is my lowdown about the upcoming Aramco IPO, the potential hidden gems of the Saudi Stock Exchange, and why the best investment of all might be to visit the Saudis and soon. After years of preparations and false starts, the IPO of government-owned oil company Saudi Aramco is finally underway in earnest. In case you missed the headlines of the past week, the stock will be listed on Riyadh's "Tadawul" stock exchange before the year is over.

A listing on an international stock exchange, such as London or Tokyo, is supposed to follow within the next years — market conditions, politics, and governance standards permitting. It earned more money last year than Apple, Google, and Exxon combined. Its net profit of USD bn made it the world's only company with a triple-digit billion net profit although projections for are lower.

Right from its first day of being listed, Saudi Aramco should become the world's largest public company by market capitalisation. The Saudi authorities have just spent four years trying to organise the IPO of the company. Preparations were an on-off affair, not just because of the political issues they experienced along the way but mostly because they had excessive expectations about the achievable valuation.

Because of both its size and particular nature, the Aramco IPO will become a milestone in the country's history and one that the entire world media will report about. Also, the Saudi government will benefit mightily — both financially and politically — if it manages to turn it into a success. Given this overall constellation, it's undoubtedly an IPO worth paying attention to. I'd love to come to an optimistic conclusion and become part of something special by subscribing to a few shares.

I wouldn't even be put off by any of the usual concerns the Western media repeats ad nauseam:. For me, it's all about the valuation of the stock. What do I get for my money and how does that stack up compared to the 50, other publicly listed companies around the world that I could invest in instead?

What worries me is that this is an IPO designed to maximise the amount of money the Saudi government receives from selling shares. When investment banks and PR firms are paid mega-millions to represent a seller's interests, do I want to be on the buyer's side?

Just check back to my November column on Aston Martin , where I warned about similar circumstances. Great marketing fanfare, existing shareholders wanting to sell, and investment banks promoting it. Aramco is much more of a solid proposition than Aston Martin, and I would never expect a similarly bad performance. But there is an important general rule to keep in mind. When someone else puts on a global marketing circus show to convince investors to buy so that they can cash out, you are not likely to get a bargain.

The seller will, naturally, try to get the maximum achievable price off you. As it happens, bargain-basement valuations can probably be found among the raft of other companies listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange. I noticed as much in the appendix of a document that landed on my desk last week.

It comes with listed companies and a respectable combined market capitalisation of around USD bn. It is the largest stock exchange in the Gulf region even before the listing of Aramco. Who'd have thought? When you rummage through the list of listed companies, you stumble across all sorts of names that remind you of typical emerging market stock exchanges:. Large companies operating the backbone of the local economy have always been a feature of emerging markets.

During the initial period of an economy opening up, the stocks of well-established companies often do amazingly well, even if their products are unexciting. I haven't looked at any of these companies in detail yet but was struck by a table hidden in the appendix of a recent research report from Morgan Stanley.

The ranking is based on fund managers underweighting these companies in their portfolios relative to the companies' weighting in the relevant indices. Put more simply, the index weighting tells fund managers that they really ought to buy more of these stocks — but they actively decide not to do so. Of the 25 companies on the least-favoured list, no fewer than seven! Speak of a country currently not being held in high regard by institutional investment managers.

Not unsurprisingly, only about 8. Ditto for more mature emerging markets, e. Fund managers do tend to pay close attention to companies' weighting in indices, which is why the current situation of the Saudi market is all the more remarkable. These fund managers have decided not to venture too deeply into the Saudi market, even though the index weighting tells them to do so.

Based on this particular metric, stocks from Saudi Arabia are deeply unpopular right now. When I have some time on my hands, I will start to look more closely at some of the potential opportunities there. It does strike me as the kind of constellation where real bargains might be found. I would hope to come across exciting plays on the country's ongoing opening of its economy.

For the first time in 35 years, Saudi Arabia permitted the opening of cinemas. It is only a small example, but a highly symbolic one, and I heard similar stories on the social circuit. Much as such reforms never happen in a straight line, things are shifting.

The visible, tangible changes currently happening across the country are combined with a relatively large population of 22m and significant local purchasing power. There are plenty of market niches in the Saudi economy that are currently either underserved or don't even exist yet.

Imagine the kind of growth potential for a cinema operator in a country that so far has had zero cinemas at all. If I was a young entrepreneur, I'd seriously look at Saudi Arabia as a white canvass situation. For us investors, some Saudi stocks are bound to represent a ground-floor opportunity, provided the reforms continue. Scrolling through the list of public companies, I found an operator of fitness studios Leejam Sports , two marketing agencies Tihama Advertising, Saudi Research and Marketing Group , and an operator of private education centres Ataa Educational Company.

These are the classic kind of companies that benefit from an economy about to become westernised. Some of them might trade at attractive multiples because the country is currently so out of favour. If my instinct is right, these could be much more appealing investment propositions than Aramco. In the meantime, you might want to consider the current unusual situation for international visitors.

Knowing how many of my readers like to explore exciting new places, I'm adding an exceptional off-topic part to this issue of my Weekly Dispatches. Conventional tourists, however, found their route into the country blocked. There was no tourist visa, simply because Saudi Arabia didn't want that kind of visitor. I visited anyway, back in March As it happened, a Sheikh sponsored me, and I was free to travel the country as I pleased.

And travel I did! Nor were there many local visitors, because Saudis don't generally view travelling within their own country as desirable. One of the fortifications built by Lawrence of Arabia wasn't even on maps or Google Earth, and it felt to me like no one had been there in years. I only came across it because the driver I hired to take me across the less-populated North of the country had an uncle who knew at which point of the highway to turn right and drive off into the desert.

When I roamed the rugged Northern part of the country, I felt like I must have been the only Western person within a hundred miles. I certainly didn't see anyone else who looked like a German, American or Chinese tourist. No one was walking around with selfie sticks, and no local vendors were hassling me.

All the while, I felt perfectly safe and travelling was as easy as anywhere else in the world. I didn't get to use any of the country's railways, which I regret. But I enjoyed using UBER to get from A to B, and travelling on domestic flights was a throwback to the days when air travelling was a pleasant affair. I wasn't able to go inside mosques and shoot photos, but rules about not shooting photos of mosques from the outside are now widely disregarded.

At one mosque, I even had a chat with the security guards while snapping away. I also visited the future site of Neom , the futuristic, extraterritorial city that MBS dreams to build, backed by a USD bn investment which is where parts of the proceeds from the Aramco placement are supposed to go. I have no idea if Neom will take off as planned, and it sure does look like a project that has its challenges cut out for itself.

However, I enjoyed learning about aspects that could affect the economic relationships of the entire region, and which up to this point, I had never read about. Travel does broaden the mind. If Neom does take off, I will have a photo of myself next to the city's future site with nothing to see but sand, mountains, and coastline. That photo could make for a great blog post a decade or two down the road — watch this space!

To cut through the case, this was one of the best and most interesting touristic experiences I've had in recent years Saudi Arabia even made it into my free eBook " 10 places I recommend you visit during your lifetime ". All the more because it gave me countless insights into a country that makes it into the news almost daily but mostly because of a few ever-repetitive stories arms purchases, oil, women's right, etc. When everyone signs from the same hymn sheet, I start to question the established narrative.

My aim was to see what the situation on the ground looks like, once you leave the realm of politics and look at everyday life. There were plenty of fun moments. He failed miserably, but we enjoyed eating dates together regardless. I am not an expert in Saudi Arabia, nor do I have a crystal ball for the country's future. However, you do get an impression of a country's vibe when travelling across it for a few weeks. I can easily see a scenario where, within five to ten years, this becomes much more of a normal country by conventional standards.

Think of the implications this can have for investments made at bargain-basement prices before these new trends take off. My quick and dirty summary of my visit: "It's pretty much a normal country to travel in, and one that has lots to offer. Quirks thrown in for good measure. Before you ask, they are also making it easier for female visitors. Western women count as honorary men or "the third sex", as they are called locally , and they can also travel across the country without restrictions but should wear clothes that show a level of respect for local customs.

Since I went, Saudi Arabia has pushed hard to launch itself in the international tourism market. Just like the Aramco IPO, it took a few false starts, but it's now happening. There is now a website dedicated to visiting Saudi Arabia.

Their 2-minute video is well worth watching for a quick visual impression. Aramco also has limited control in output policy, a key part of Saudi Arabia's Opec management. Those potential risks were highlighted in September when drone attacks hit the Abqaiq oil facility and the Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia, both owned by Aramco. But Aramco boss Amin Nasser, who called the plans "historic", told a media conference after the IPO statement was published that the firm was still the most reliable oil company globally.

In its launch announcement Aramco said: "The company does not expect the impact of these attacks to have a material impact on its business, financial condition or results of operations. Saudi Aramco traces its roots to when a deal was struck between Saudi Arabia and the Standard Oil Company of California, which later became Chevron, to survey and drill for oil, creating a new firm to do so.

Between and , Saudi Arabia bought the whole company. Saudi Arabia has the second-biggest oil reserves after Venezuela, according to the Energy Information Administration. It is also second in production, after the US. But it gets its prominence because it has the monopoly on all that oil in the country, and because of how cheap it is to extract.

It's essentially the world's largest unquoted company; it's a massive global oil producer," said David Hunter, director of market studies at Schneider Electric. Mr Beauchamp from IG Group says: "Aramco is a world away from the tech IPOs that have been all the rage lately, but the valuation problem still haunts them like it does the firms of Silicon Valley.

Once shrouded in mystery, Aramco has been transformed in the last few years as it geared up for this moment. It has begun publishing financial results, holding question and answer sessions about the company and even bringing journalists to its sites following recent drone attacks.

And it has hired female Westerners to some of its top jobs. The language in today's document speaks to international concerns. It describes "long-term value creation through crude oil price cycles" and improving sustainability "by leveraging technology and innovation to lower our climate impact".

Local people - even "Saudi female divorcees" - will be eligible to buy shares, and will receive a bonus share for every 10 they hold. Either way, it is phenomenally profitable. Any company that profitable will attract a high price. Another aspect is the cost of production.

Whereas extracting North Sea oil is expensive due to its location under hundreds of feet of water, oil in Saudi Arabia is relatively close to the surface. Saudi Arabia is keen to sell shares in its state oil firm because it is trying to reduce its reliance on oil. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman wishes to diversify his country's economy in the next decade under a programme dubbed Vision The plan includes more solar power, making use of the country's vast desert, says Mr Hunter.

He and his successors also expanded Aramco's footprint in Saudi Arabia with joint ventures in refining and petrochemicals. Saudi Arabia is the largest oil exporter today and is the only oil producer that maintains at least 2 million barrels per day of spare capacity that can be brought onto the market very quickly. The fact that it is a national oil company means it has exclusive access to the best and least-expensive-to-produce oil resources in the world.

This makes it hugely valuable. But there are downsides. Saudi Arabia's upstream assets aren't diversified like other major international oil companies upstream assets are. It also means that the Saudi government plays a role in the company.

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Because of both its size and particular nature, the Aramco IPO will become a milestone in the country's history and one that the entire world media will report about. Also, the Saudi government will benefit mightily — both financially and politically — if it manages to turn it into a success. Given this overall constellation, it's undoubtedly an IPO worth paying attention to.

I'd love to come to an optimistic conclusion and become part of something special by subscribing to a few shares. I wouldn't even be put off by any of the usual concerns the Western media repeats ad nauseam:. For me, it's all about the valuation of the stock. What do I get for my money and how does that stack up compared to the 50, other publicly listed companies around the world that I could invest in instead? What worries me is that this is an IPO designed to maximise the amount of money the Saudi government receives from selling shares.

When investment banks and PR firms are paid mega-millions to represent a seller's interests, do I want to be on the buyer's side? Just check back to my November column on Aston Martin , where I warned about similar circumstances. Great marketing fanfare, existing shareholders wanting to sell, and investment banks promoting it. Aramco is much more of a solid proposition than Aston Martin, and I would never expect a similarly bad performance.

But there is an important general rule to keep in mind. When someone else puts on a global marketing circus show to convince investors to buy so that they can cash out, you are not likely to get a bargain. The seller will, naturally, try to get the maximum achievable price off you.

As it happens, bargain-basement valuations can probably be found among the raft of other companies listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange. I noticed as much in the appendix of a document that landed on my desk last week. It comes with listed companies and a respectable combined market capitalisation of around USD bn. It is the largest stock exchange in the Gulf region even before the listing of Aramco. Who'd have thought? When you rummage through the list of listed companies, you stumble across all sorts of names that remind you of typical emerging market stock exchanges:.

Large companies operating the backbone of the local economy have always been a feature of emerging markets. During the initial period of an economy opening up, the stocks of well-established companies often do amazingly well, even if their products are unexciting. I haven't looked at any of these companies in detail yet but was struck by a table hidden in the appendix of a recent research report from Morgan Stanley.

The ranking is based on fund managers underweighting these companies in their portfolios relative to the companies' weighting in the relevant indices. Put more simply, the index weighting tells fund managers that they really ought to buy more of these stocks — but they actively decide not to do so. Of the 25 companies on the least-favoured list, no fewer than seven!

Speak of a country currently not being held in high regard by institutional investment managers. Not unsurprisingly, only about 8. Ditto for more mature emerging markets, e. Fund managers do tend to pay close attention to companies' weighting in indices, which is why the current situation of the Saudi market is all the more remarkable. These fund managers have decided not to venture too deeply into the Saudi market, even though the index weighting tells them to do so.

Based on this particular metric, stocks from Saudi Arabia are deeply unpopular right now. When I have some time on my hands, I will start to look more closely at some of the potential opportunities there. It does strike me as the kind of constellation where real bargains might be found. I would hope to come across exciting plays on the country's ongoing opening of its economy.

For the first time in 35 years, Saudi Arabia permitted the opening of cinemas. It is only a small example, but a highly symbolic one, and I heard similar stories on the social circuit. Much as such reforms never happen in a straight line, things are shifting. The visible, tangible changes currently happening across the country are combined with a relatively large population of 22m and significant local purchasing power.

There are plenty of market niches in the Saudi economy that are currently either underserved or don't even exist yet. Imagine the kind of growth potential for a cinema operator in a country that so far has had zero cinemas at all. If I was a young entrepreneur, I'd seriously look at Saudi Arabia as a white canvass situation.

For us investors, some Saudi stocks are bound to represent a ground-floor opportunity, provided the reforms continue. Scrolling through the list of public companies, I found an operator of fitness studios Leejam Sports , two marketing agencies Tihama Advertising, Saudi Research and Marketing Group , and an operator of private education centres Ataa Educational Company.

These are the classic kind of companies that benefit from an economy about to become westernised. Some of them might trade at attractive multiples because the country is currently so out of favour. If my instinct is right, these could be much more appealing investment propositions than Aramco. In the meantime, you might want to consider the current unusual situation for international visitors.

Knowing how many of my readers like to explore exciting new places, I'm adding an exceptional off-topic part to this issue of my Weekly Dispatches. Conventional tourists, however, found their route into the country blocked. There was no tourist visa, simply because Saudi Arabia didn't want that kind of visitor. I visited anyway, back in March As it happened, a Sheikh sponsored me, and I was free to travel the country as I pleased.

And travel I did! Nor were there many local visitors, because Saudis don't generally view travelling within their own country as desirable. One of the fortifications built by Lawrence of Arabia wasn't even on maps or Google Earth, and it felt to me like no one had been there in years. I only came across it because the driver I hired to take me across the less-populated North of the country had an uncle who knew at which point of the highway to turn right and drive off into the desert.

When I roamed the rugged Northern part of the country, I felt like I must have been the only Western person within a hundred miles. I certainly didn't see anyone else who looked like a German, American or Chinese tourist. No one was walking around with selfie sticks, and no local vendors were hassling me. All the while, I felt perfectly safe and travelling was as easy as anywhere else in the world.

I didn't get to use any of the country's railways, which I regret. But I enjoyed using UBER to get from A to B, and travelling on domestic flights was a throwback to the days when air travelling was a pleasant affair. I wasn't able to go inside mosques and shoot photos, but rules about not shooting photos of mosques from the outside are now widely disregarded.

At one mosque, I even had a chat with the security guards while snapping away. I also visited the future site of Neom , the futuristic, extraterritorial city that MBS dreams to build, backed by a USD bn investment which is where parts of the proceeds from the Aramco placement are supposed to go. I have no idea if Neom will take off as planned, and it sure does look like a project that has its challenges cut out for itself.

However, I enjoyed learning about aspects that could affect the economic relationships of the entire region, and which up to this point, I had never read about. Travel does broaden the mind. If Neom does take off, I will have a photo of myself next to the city's future site with nothing to see but sand, mountains, and coastline. That photo could make for a great blog post a decade or two down the road — watch this space!

To cut through the case, this was one of the best and most interesting touristic experiences I've had in recent years Saudi Arabia even made it into my free eBook " 10 places I recommend you visit during your lifetime ".

All the more because it gave me countless insights into a country that makes it into the news almost daily but mostly because of a few ever-repetitive stories arms purchases, oil, women's right, etc. When everyone signs from the same hymn sheet, I start to question the established narrative. My aim was to see what the situation on the ground looks like, once you leave the realm of politics and look at everyday life. There were plenty of fun moments.

He failed miserably, but we enjoyed eating dates together regardless. I am not an expert in Saudi Arabia, nor do I have a crystal ball for the country's future. However, you do get an impression of a country's vibe when travelling across it for a few weeks. I can easily see a scenario where, within five to ten years, this becomes much more of a normal country by conventional standards. Think of the implications this can have for investments made at bargain-basement prices before these new trends take off.

My quick and dirty summary of my visit: "It's pretty much a normal country to travel in, and one that has lots to offer. Quirks thrown in for good measure. Before you ask, they are also making it easier for female visitors. Western women count as honorary men or "the third sex", as they are called locally , and they can also travel across the country without restrictions but should wear clothes that show a level of respect for local customs.

Since I went, Saudi Arabia has pushed hard to launch itself in the international tourism market. Just like the Aramco IPO, it took a few false starts, but it's now happening. There is now a website dedicated to visiting Saudi Arabia. Their 2-minute video is well worth watching for a quick visual impression. She regularly takes her husband and kids on discovery tours across her adopted country, and she has become the most widely-cited international source for visiting the country. I used some of her services while in Saudi and cannot recommend her highly enough.

The authorities launched a new tourist visa in September Citizens of 49 countries can now purchase their e-visa online. If you live in the US, Europe or the more affluent countries of Asia, you can now probably get the Saudi tourist visa. Agencies in Britain have started to offer package trips, and these are likely to become available in other countries. If you want to do some reading, I recommend the "12 weeks in Riyadh" book recently published by Susanne Koelbl about her time in Saudi Arabia.

It's already available in German and the English version is due to come out next year. I have no doubt that Saudi will emerge as one of the next hot global travel destinations. Once the first vintage of Western tourists share their selfies on Instagram, the word is bound to spread. The images will speak for themselves. Saudi Aramco flotation 'coming soon'. Saudi Arabia denies calling off Aramco float. Saudi Arabia to open up to foreign tourists. Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at derivatives traders IG Group, said: "Investing in Aramco carries risks, of course, and not only that oil prices will struggle to move higher.

Aramco also has limited control in output policy, a key part of Saudi Arabia's Opec management. Those potential risks were highlighted in September when drone attacks hit the Abqaiq oil facility and the Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia, both owned by Aramco. But Aramco boss Amin Nasser, who called the plans "historic", told a media conference after the IPO statement was published that the firm was still the most reliable oil company globally.

In its launch announcement Aramco said: "The company does not expect the impact of these attacks to have a material impact on its business, financial condition or results of operations. Saudi Aramco traces its roots to when a deal was struck between Saudi Arabia and the Standard Oil Company of California, which later became Chevron, to survey and drill for oil, creating a new firm to do so.

Between and , Saudi Arabia bought the whole company. Saudi Arabia has the second-biggest oil reserves after Venezuela, according to the Energy Information Administration. It is also second in production, after the US. But it gets its prominence because it has the monopoly on all that oil in the country, and because of how cheap it is to extract.

It's essentially the world's largest unquoted company; it's a massive global oil producer," said David Hunter, director of market studies at Schneider Electric. Mr Beauchamp from IG Group says: "Aramco is a world away from the tech IPOs that have been all the rage lately, but the valuation problem still haunts them like it does the firms of Silicon Valley.

Once shrouded in mystery, Aramco has been transformed in the last few years as it geared up for this moment. It has begun publishing financial results, holding question and answer sessions about the company and even bringing journalists to its sites following recent drone attacks. And it has hired female Westerners to some of its top jobs.

The language in today's document speaks to international concerns. It describes "long-term value creation through crude oil price cycles" and improving sustainability "by leveraging technology and innovation to lower our climate impact". Local people - even "Saudi female divorcees" - will be eligible to buy shares, and will receive a bonus share for every 10 they hold.

Either way, it is phenomenally profitable. Any company that profitable will attract a high price. Another aspect is the cost of production. Whereas extracting North Sea oil is expensive due to its location under hundreds of feet of water, oil in Saudi Arabia is relatively close to the surface. Saudi Arabia is keen to sell shares in its state oil firm because it is trying to reduce its reliance on oil.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman wishes to diversify his country's economy in the next decade under a programme dubbed Vision The plan includes more solar power, making use of the country's vast desert, says Mr Hunter. He and his successors also expanded Aramco's footprint in Saudi Arabia with joint ventures in refining and petrochemicals.

Saudi Arabia is the largest oil exporter today and is the only oil producer that maintains at least 2 million barrels per day of spare capacity that can be brought onto the market very quickly. The fact that it is a national oil company means it has exclusive access to the best and least-expensive-to-produce oil resources in the world.

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How Saudi Aramco's IPO missed Mohammed Bin Salman's expectations

When Saudi Arabia first proposed an IPO of Aramco. urken.xyz › economy › saudi-aramco-restarts-talks-on-new-stock-. On December 11, , shares amounting to % of Aramco's value began trading only on the Tadawul, Saudi Arabia's stock exchange. The IPO.