International Finance
Oil & Gas

Saudi Aramco valuation gap might complicate its IPO

Aramco Valuation
While Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is insisting on a US$2 tn valuation, bankers value the company at $1.5 tn

A valuation gap could prove to be problematic for Dhahran-based Saudi state-owned oil company Aramco as it prepares for an IPO. While Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman insists on a $2 trillion valuation of oil firm Aramco, some bankers think the valuation should be around $1.5 trillion.

Their valuation of Aramco could be influenced by the fact that many countries have accelerated efforts to shift away from fossil fuels to curb global warming.

The crown prince has stuck with the $2 trillion valuation since 2016 when he first proposed a share sale to diversify the Saudi economy. However, a valuation gap could become a hurdle for the planned share sale.

According to reports, Aramco’s board met with bankers in Boston and had discussions with regards to its initial public offering (IPO). Earlier, Saudi energy minister Khalid Al Falih announced Aramco’s decision to go public in 2020 or 2021.

A plan to sell a 5 percent stake in Aramco was put off earlier as Aramco agreed on a $69 billion deal to purchase a majority stake in petrochemicals firm Sabic, boosting the fund’s buying power and ability to diversify holdings.

The drop in oil prices has also been a major cause of worry for Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Saudi Arabia recently revealed that it won’t tolerate a slump in oil prices and has reached out to the other producers to discuss a response. However, the only course available is deepening the current cutbacks, according to Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group.

“There’s not much you can do to fix the trade war or emerging currency war if you are an oil producer,” said Bill Farren-Price, a director at consultants RS Energy Group.

Last month, The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its partners, as well as non-members like Russia, agreed to continue curbing supply till 2020 to tackle the problem.

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