After several false starts and setbacks, including a drone bombing, the initial public offering of Saudi Arabia's largest government owned company, Aramco, is entering the final stages of preparation. Aramco is seen as the crown jewel of the kingdom, with the drills pumping out 10% of the global crude oil supply. Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser stated in September that "Aramco is ready for listing whenever the shareholder makes a decision to list. It's going to be very soon." The Saudi Arabian government is set to make a formal announcement by the end of October.
With the details of the offer not yet public, analysts can only speculate the valuation of the IPO from the leaked information given by those close to the transaction. So far, those involved have said that about 2% of Aramco may be sold at a price that would value the entire company at $2 trillion, making this the largest IPO ever. According to the Wall Street Journal, the target of $2 trillion has met some discrepancies from company executives who have suggests that $1.5 trillion is a more realistic valuation range.
Aramco, whose name is a sort of acronym for Arabia American Oil Company, grew from land surveying in 1933 to in thirty years reaching a cumulative crude oil production of 5 billion barrels. It was in the 1970s that the oil field started became the economic force for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, bringing the nation to the forefront of the commodity's global production.
The oil company is entering its final stages of preparing to list shares on Saudi Arabia's domestic Tadawul stock exchange. This is part of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's (known as MBS) economic-reform program to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy away from dependence on oil; MBS announced in 2016 that the kingdom was going to open shares of the state oil produced to public investors. MBS ultimately plans to list at least 5% of Aramco and bring the company to international stock trade. Most of MBS's economic goals are to steer away from strict oil production, thus leading Aramco towards a more sustainable future.
MBS has been moving the kingdom toward a 'softer side' in his few years as Crown Prince. When assuming the title in 2017, MBS stated that, "what happened in the last 30 years is not Saudi Arabia," meaning that the oppression of women and rigid rules that the kingdom had for its people was going to change under him. Popular among the the predominately young population of the kingdom, MBS is pushing forward the idea of becoming a "moderate Islam," or a way of making the country more marketable to the world.