Saudi Arabia Bullies Ultra-Rich Into Buying Aramco Stock

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By Julianne Geiger

Saudi Arabia is hitting up its wealthy citizens to buy stock in the Saudi Aramco IPO, Bloomberg sources with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.

The citizens Saudi Arabia is asking include the wealthy Olayan family—which has existing Aramco ties–as well as Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal who in 2017 ranked as the 45th richest person on the planet, with a net worth of $18.7 billion, according to Forbes.

The Olayans are considering an investment in the realm of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of shares in Aramco. Other investors being courted include the Almajdouie family and the Al-Turki clan—both of which have sizable financial resources. These big names are pretty much expected to invest.

Even smaller investors are expected to invest, even if it means borrowing from banks on the cheap to do so—and rumor has it that the banks are willing to do just that.

But through all the listing promises and investment gathering and bank courting, the date of the IPO is far from a done deal, and details are still lacking.

Aramco’s prospectus for its long-delayed, much-hyped, mega IPO is set to be released on November 9, with the actual listing on the Tadawul expected to take place in December. The unknowns? The valuation, the number of shares to be sold, the share price, and the percentage of shares to be sold are all expected to be divulged then.

Still, some are bracing for a Saturday disappointment: the valuation HRH Mohammad bin Salman is after, of $2 trillion, appears to defy the laws of mathematics. That sticking point—and the issue over the listing venue–has cost the IPO two years in delays.

Estimates of Aramco’s valuation range from $1.22 trillion to $2.27 trillion, according to Bloomberg, although MbS has repeatedly stuck with his $2 trillion estimate.

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