Saudi Aramco mulls offering citizens discounted shares
February 22, 2017 | 1:55 PM
by Bloomberg News

Dubai: Saudi Arabian Oil Co., gearing up for what may be the world’s biggest initial public offering, is considering offering discounted shares to the kingdom’s locals, according to people familiar with the matter.

The oil company has discussed methods to structure the sale so that retail investors in Saudi Arabia can buy shares for less than those buying on international exchanges, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Saudi Aramco, as the company is known, is considering listing venues in the US, UK and Asia, in addition to Riyadh, and is planning to choose local banks to advise on the Saudi listing, the people said.

No final decisions have been made on the share pricing or listing venue, they said. An Aramco spokesman said the company doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation.

Saudi Arabia plans to sell shares in the company as part of plans by Deputy 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 value Aramco at more than $2 trillion, Bin Salman said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Shares in companies owned by the Saudi government have traditionally been offered at a nominal value, about 10 riyals ($2.67) each, as a way for the state to redistribute wealth to the population. The country’s stock market regulator last year approved rules to allow foreign investors to subscribe to IPOs in the kingdom starting in January, which allows book-building in listings for those who qualify. Book building prices shares based on demand.

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