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  • This month Riyadh will make a final decision

  • on whether to sign off on the long-awaited initial public

  • offering of its state energy giant Saudi Aramco.

  • The company is the kingdom's biggest revenue earner.

  • And Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the heir apparent,

  • has sought to accelerate plans for the listing

  • in recent months.

  • The flotation is at the heart of ambitious plans

  • to revamp Saudi Arabia's economy with tens of billions

  • of dollars urgently needed to fund mega-projects

  • and develop new industries.

  • But will Saudi Aramco get the $2tn valuation

  • that the young, rather impatient Prince Mohammad is after?

  • Some industry analysts believe the company's worth closer

  • to $1.5tn.

  • But potential investors from wealthy families

  • in the kingdom to sovereign institutions in the Middle East

  • and elsewhere, will be weighing up a series of factors

  • ahead of any listing, which Saudi officials want to happen

  • as early as this year.

  • First is energy security.

  • September saw a series of attacks

  • on Saudi energy infrastructure, which halved the kingdom's oil

  • production.

  • Even as officials now say the company has bounced back

  • like a phoenix from the ashes, the incident

  • laid bare the vulnerability of the world's biggest exporter,

  • called into question the kingdom's reputation

  • as a reliable producer and the country's ability

  • to protect its prized assets.

  • I would say that Saudi Arabia is a consumer-oriented country.

  • And we have, even during under duress

  • and under this stressful environment,

  • we have demonstrated our resilience

  • as a government, our restraint as a government,

  • I must say also.

  • Second is government interference.

  • Prince Mohammad has given more influence

  • to the kingdom's public investment

  • fund over the IPO process.

  • This is his chosen vehicle for enacting his reforms.

  • And its head is now the chairman of Saudi Aramco.

  • He has also appointed his older half brother, Prince Abdulaziz,

  • as energy minister, replacing industry veteran Khalid

  • al-Falih who is privately against the IPO.

  • The series of moves has raised the prospect

  • of creeping state influence in the company's corporate affairs

  • and driven fears that Prince Mohammad is determined

  • to dictate the terms of the listing

  • rather than leave it to market forces.

  • Riyadh is pressuring wealthy Saudi families

  • to buy stakes in Saudi Aramco.

  • And it has pushed the company to cut back

  • on its international expansion and future capital spending

  • plans.

  • Traditionally, this was the domain of corporate executives

  • not government officials.

  • And third is fiscal terms.

  • Riyadh is pulling out all the stops

  • to get this listing of up to 3 per cent

  • of the company over the line.

  • Saudi Arabia is planning to change state royalty payments

  • and cut corporation tax, alongside announcing

  • an annual dividend of $75bn to woo potential investors.

  • In an unprecedented move, Riyadh said

  • minority investors will be prioritised in any shareholder

  • handouts that will still largely go to the Saudi state.

  • Yet as of right now the dividend yield

  • is below that of some other international energy majors,

  • such as Royal Dutch Shell or ExxonMobil.

  • So why would an investor want to buy in?

  • Some might say it is because Saudi Aramco is

  • one of the best-run oil and gas companies

  • out there, that manages the energy assets for the world's

  • largest exporter nation.

  • Others will argue that all the banks which have aggressively

  • lobbied their way into roles for the IPO

  • have endless rosters of wealthy clients

  • and so that they will make this happen.

  • But will that alone be enough?

  • Ultimately, the company is an arm

  • of the Saudi state, which is becoming

  • more vulnerable to the whims of the country's de facto ruler.

This month Riyadh will make a final decision

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B1 中級

サウジ・アラムコのIPOはどうあるべきか?アイエフティ (What should be Saudi Aramco's IPO? I FT)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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