What You Need to Know About the Saudi Aramco IPO

James Corbett, November 9 2019

...in many ways, this IPO is a moment of truth for the Saudis generally. 

After years of teasing, the moment has finally arrived: Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (hereinafter dubbed "MbS" or "the Clown Prince") has announced the Saudi government's intention to float a stake in Saudi Aramco.

As you no doubt already know (because you watch New World Next Week every week, right?), the world's largest oil company is set to go (partially) public in an Initial Public Offering (IPO) that will offer shares of the company on the Tadawul—Saudi Arabia's domestic stock exchange in December.

While this may seem like just another over-hyped economic non-event, the bigger truth is that this isn't an economic event at all, per se; it's a geopolitical event that cuts to the heart of Saudi Arabia and its role in the coming "New Cold War" of the 21st century. It reflects the perilous state of the global monetary order. And, if it doesn't go well, it threatens the stability of Saudi Arabia itself.

So get your pen and paper ready. Here's everything you need to know about the Saudi Aramco IPO but didn't know to ask:

1) Largest IPO in history

So how big is this IPO going to be? Good question! No one knows, exactly. In fact, there's a lot of things we still don't know for certain about this monumental event.

Among the details that were not provided to investors in this highly unorthodox "intention to float" announcement are:

  • When the sale will actually begin;

  • How much of the company will be sold; and

  • What valuation the kingdom is aiming for with the offering.

That last one is obviously the trillion dollar question. Or, more precisely, the two trillion dollar question (if MbS gets his way). Although the Clown Prince has insisted that Saudi Aramco is worth $2 trillion, Bloomberg is citing the old journalistic crutch, "people briefed on the matter," to claim that the Saudis are willing to settle for a valuation of $1.6 trillion to $1.8 trillion.

Until the prospectus is Read more

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