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Oil giant Aramco set for world’s largest ever IPO

By Francis Jay

Plans for the long-expected float appear to be speeding up after recent drone attacks on company facilities

An official announcement on Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco’s long awaited initial public offering (IPO) is expected before the end of the month, according to the Financial Times.

Rumours of the flotation – potentially the largest on record – have circulated for years, but sources close to the Saudi state now say an official announcement could happen as early as October 20.

Saudi Aramco is the world’s largest oil company, pumping around 10 per cent of global crude supply. It has been widely reported that the company is aiming for a valuation in the region of £1.57 trillion ($2 trillion), though reports suggest that some analysts consider this optimistic.

The Saudis are looking to list 3 per cent of the company on Tadawul, the domestic stock exchange, in what could be the world’s biggest ever flotation. The IPO could happen as early as November, and the company hasn’t ruled out listing on an international exchange in future.

The timing of the announcement has been the cause of debate. Drone attacks on two of Saudi Aramco’s largest facilities in September caused significant damage and temporarily halved the crude output of the world’s largest oil exporter.

Chief executive Amin Nasser was quick to assert that Saudi Aramco had emerged from the attacks “stronger than ever”, amid speculation that the attacks – along with factors like soft oil prices and slowing global growth – might hamper the company’s efforts to meet its ambitious valuation.

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