|07 September, 2019

The countdown has begun to Aramco’s IPO

The decision to appoint Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan as chairman of Saudi Aramco and head of the IPO committee is timely and appropriate

Image used for illustrative purpose. An Aramco oil tank is seen at the Production facility at Saudi Aramco's Shaybah oilfield in the Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia May 22, 2018.

Image used for illustrative purpose. An Aramco oil tank is seen at the Production facility at Saudi Aramco's Shaybah oilfield in the Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia May 22, 2018.

REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

This is my first attempt to write about Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering (IPO), the largest in history. I am doing so because the IPO is one of the pillars of the Vision 2030 reform plan, if not the most important one. For the past two years, this has become the hottest topic not only in oil and energy circles globally, but also among top investment banks and stock exchanges worldwide.

With the latest announcements and appointments, the countdown has officially started on Aramco’s IPO. These announcements show serious commitment by the government, and send strong signals to local and international business communities that the IPO will be executed in the most effective, smooth and corporate governance manner.

Take it from me, as someone who was involved in more than 12 IPOs in the Saudi capital market: Every decision made during the IPO process will have its impact for many years after the offering. Hence, hands-on involvement in the process, and extensive knowledge of capital markets’ rules and regulations, are crucial for any issuer’s leadership, let alone the largest issuer in history.

The decision to appoint Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan as chairman of Saudi Aramco and head of the IPO committee is timely and appropriate. He represents shareholders through his role with the Public Investment Fund (PIF), and with his comprehensive experience and background in capital market transactions and the IPO process. The board’s membership — a who’s who in energy and oil circles locally and globally — provides invaluable input.

I got involved indirectly and unofficially during the early days of the Aramco IPO process when one of the global exchanges approached BMG Financial Group for advice on the process. The first exchange to host the IPO is the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul). To date, there is no confirmation on any international exchange for Aramco’s dual listing. Selecting an exchange is a complex and critical decision that requires careful consideration.

Other details of the IPO — including the latest financial performance, assets covered under the offering, valuation, size, timing, selection of investment banking advisers, floatation managers, underwriters, receiving banks and other participants — will be covered in future articles.

Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the Chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.

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