Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Is The World's Largest Planned IPO Kaput?

That would the long planned and widely advertised IPO to sell 5% Saudi-government-owned ARAMCO, estimated at being worth US $2 trillion, making the planned IPO being at about $100 billion, well ahead of any that has happened in the past, the largest being $25 billion by AliBaba. This has been a crucial part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) has had this as a central part of his Vision 2030 plan to privatize and diversify off oil the Saudi Arabian economy.  Most of the publicity about it over the last year or so has focused on which exchange would get all the fees (easily up to $1 billion, still real money), NewYork, London, Frankfurt, or maybe even Riyadh, for hosting this massive IPO.

Now in the last few days there are numerous reports floating around the internet declaring that at a minimum this IPO has been postponed, with quire a few now saying that the IPO is completely off, that the Saudis are now looking at a different approach, although exactly what that is or will be is very much up in the air. Sorry I have been unable to make the link,but this can easily googled, a story out today on this from by Kurt Cobb, "Was ARAMCO IPO Destined to  Fail?" which obviously suggests that it is kaput, although the article recognizes it may simply have been postponed. He provides links to some other reports engaging in various bits of speculation.  So what has happened?

Cobb provides two leading reasons why the IPO may be off.  One is that they may not need the revenue as much as they did a year ago  because of the roughly 50% increase in oil prices.  This makes sense.  Going along with that is that apparently they seriously do not want to be open to some external audit of their reserves and finances and so on.  This also also looks reasonable, with certainly all of the non-Saudi exchanges would make such a demand.  Maybe they might not have this demanded on the Riyadh exchange, but it is not a large exchange, and even there such a demand might be made.

Now it might be that their finances are fine and they do not need the money the IPO would have brought in. However, some of the sources Cobb links to report that the Saudis are contemplating various peculiar schemes for, well, raising money.  One of these involves a scheme to have ARAMCO take over a Saudi refining company and then issue a bunch of bonds on it.  This  all sounds a bit fantastic and not too likely, but the hard fact is that Saudi finances are highly opaque, which is a main reason they supposedly do not want to do the IPO, and there certainly have been a variety of efforts by them to reign in public spending.  Higher oil prices have certainly loosened some of this pressure, but exactly what is going on is far from clear. But at a minimum, it appears that the ARAMCO IPO has at least been postponed and may be totally kaput.

Barkley Rosser


Anonymous said...

Samantha Power‏ @SamanthaJPower

Today Saudi-UAE coalition bomb a hospital. Yesterday @UNICEF reported that they have repeatedly attacked facilities that provide drinking water. Horrifying in the extreme. US: end all support, full court press on Sept. peace talks

BBC News (World) @BBCWorld

Yemen war: Air strike near hospital in rebel-held port kills at least 20

3:02 PM - 2 Aug 2018

Anonymous said...

That Saudi Arabia is barbaric, genocidal in attacks on Yemen is shown over and over and over. I thought you should know, even if you choose to turn away.

Barkley Rosser said...


I seriously disapprove of KSA actions in Yemen and US support for them. However, and I have no doubt you will get upset with me for this, but I think the word "genocidal" is over done in this case. I see genocide as a systematic effort to eliminate/klll off an ethnic group. This does not look close to that, awful as it is. This looks more like collateral war deaths. The Saudis do not want the Houthis ruling northern Yemen out of Sana'a and they are engaging in bombing to replace them with the former government, with lots of civilians collateral damage. Heck, when during the D-Day US invasion of Normandy, did US bombings that killed French citizens constitute genocide?

A sign it is not genocide is that they have held back the anti-Houthi forces from taking the port of al-Hodeida, the main ntrey point for UN and other food and medical aid. It they were really being genoidal and out to kill as many Yemeni Zaydi Shia as they could, they would seize that poer and shut off all such aid.