Market ready to stage exclusive IPO for oil giant Saudi Aramco

Author: Frank KaneFri, 2017-10-27 03:00ID: 1509043680092825500RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian market authorities are confident that they have the regulatory structures and financial liquidity to list an initial public offering (IPO) of Saudi Aramco, the national oil company, exclusively on the Riyadh stock exchange, officials said yesterday at the Future Investment Initiative in the capital.
Mohammed El-Kuwaiz, chairman of the Capital Markets Authority, said that the Kingdom’s experience in listing recent IPOs had made the CMA “comfortable” in considering even a listing as large as that of Aramco.
That could be as much as $100 billion — just under a quarter of the entire market capitalization of the Tadawul.
“We took advantage of the recent IPOs to test our infrastructure and found that our regulations had withstood that test.
“And we have already begun to make further improvements, for example in book-building, to accommodate issues no matter how large,” he said.
He added that CMA’s regulatory regime was designed to handle “large, liquid, diverse markets,” and that it matched the best in international market practice. “Nobody thinking of an issue should look to Saudi Arabia for respite from regulation. We will not allow Aramco or any others to avoid regulatory discipline.”
Khalid Al-Hussan, CEO of the Tadawul, reiterated his recent comments that it was the “aspiration” of the exchange to list Aramco there, rather than global exchanges like London or New York.
“Tadawul is the biggest and most liquid stock market in the region. We want Tadawul to be the exclusive home for Aramco and listed only on our exchange.
“We have created the right structure to make this possible and we will do what is necessary to achieve that.
“This is not just a statement. We are working hard to have an arrangement where we would be the exclusive venue for an IPO,” he added.
Some experts have suggested that a $100 billion Aramco IPO would “swamp” the Tadawul, but Al- Hussan said: “It is too early to talk about liquidity because there are several things to be decided, but the Saudi market has shown it can do big IPOs.”
He pointed to the $6 billion issue of shares by National Commercial Bank, which was heavily over-subscribed, as an example of the Tadawul’s ability to handle big listings.
El-Kuwaiz said: “NCB was one of the largest ever IPOs in emerging markets, and it was successful. But back then, only local investors could participate. Now, it is not limited just to local investors. We are looking at a much wider investor universe, where qualified financial institutions will be able to access IPOs as well as locals,” he said.
The emergence of a possible “exclusive” listing on Tadawul has added further confusion to the long-standing plan to sell a 5 percent stake in the company on global markets, following reports that Asian investors were in talks to take a significant stake in Aramco prior to any IPO.
One bank adviser to the IPO, requesting anonymity, said: “A Tadawul listing would certainly talk to the narrative of Saudization, and it is common practice in any big IPO to get anchor investors in first.”
Another, also asking not to be named, said: “That they are even considering an exclusive Tadawul listing shows an increasing confidence on the part of the Saudi financial establishment.”
However, the contest to stage the biggest IPO in history is not over. Thomas Farley, president of the New York Sock Exchange, was asked whether the recent developments meant that he had given up on Aramco. “No, but I am not saying anything else,” he said.
Farley told a panel at the FII: “You sometimes get a country twisting the arm of a company to list on the home exchange.”
He clarified that he was not referring to Saudi Arabia or Aramco.
Main category: Saudi ArabiaTags: Saudi AramcoCapital Markets AuthorityMohammed El-KuwaizSaudi stock exchangeTadawulKhalid Al-HussanNational Commercial BankThe Future Investment Initiativerelated_nodes: Saudi Aramco CEO says market listing is on track for 2018NYSE president still keen on Aramco IPOSaudi stock exchange wants ‘exclusive’ Aramco listing

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