Saudi Aramco IPO could create world's biggest listed company

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Photo: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil company has formally confirmed its long-awaited plans to sell shares in what could be the world’s biggest listing.

Aramco’s plans for an initial public offering (IPO) were unveiled at a launch event on Sunday, with shares expected to be listed on the local Tadawul exchange despite previous reports of a potential listing overseas.

Investors are expected to be able to buy shares in 1-2% of the company, reported to be the world’s most profitable as well as one of its biggest polluters.

The kingdom is looking to expand its economy in sectors beyond oil, on which it is heavily reliant.

Recent unprecedented attacks on its oil fields have provided a clear example of the risks of such dependence, as well as the volatile global political climate and nature of oil markets.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia’s oil giant signals IPO to happen imminently

But the launch remains shrouded in secrecy, with few details yet revealed over the amount of shares to be offered, the price and even the date of the listing.

Reuters reports banks have told Saudi officials they can expect a total valuation of $1.5 trillion from investors, far less than the $2 trillion the kingdom’s crown prince said he hoped for in 2016.

Sources told Reuters Aramco could raise between $20bn and $40bn, potentially topping the world-record $25bn raised by China’s Alibaba five years ago.