Home Middle East Saudi Arabia Aims to Raise Up to $12 Billion from Aramco Share Sale

Saudi Arabia Aims to Raise Up to $12 Billion from Aramco Share Sale

The sale of 1.545 billion shares in the oil giant will commence on June 2.

by Soofiya

In a strategic move to bolster its economic diversification efforts, Saudi Arabia has announced plans to sell a stake in its oil giant, Saudi Aramco, potentially raising up to $12 billion. This development is part of the kingdom’s broader Vision 2030 initiative, aimed at reducing its heavy reliance on oil revenues and fostering growth in other sectors.

The Context of the Sale

Saudi Aramco, officially known as the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, is the world’s largest oil producer and one of the most profitable companies globally. The company’s initial public offering (IPO) in December 2019 was a landmark event, raising $25.6 billion and valuing Aramco at $1.7 trillion. Despite this significant achievement, the kingdom’s economy remains heavily oil-dependent, making diversification crucial.

Vision 2030 and Economic Diversification

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched Vision 2030 in 2016, with the aim of transforming Saudi Arabia’s economy and society. Key goals include developing public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism. The initiative also focuses on creating a more diverse and sustainable economy by investing in non-oil industries.

Selling a portion of Aramco is seen as a way to generate substantial funds to support these diversification efforts. The revenue from this sale is expected to be funneled into the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which is a critical driver of the Vision 2030 agenda.

Implications of the Sale

  1. Economic Impact: Raising up to $12 billion from the Aramco stake sale would provide a significant boost to the kingdom’s financial reserves. This influx of capital can be used to invest in key sectors identified in Vision 2030, fostering sustainable economic growth.
  2. Investment Opportunities: The sale opens up investment opportunities for both domestic and international investors. By divesting part of its stake, Saudi Arabia is signaling its commitment to opening up its economy to global markets and investors.
  3. Market Confidence: Successfully raising such a substantial amount from the stake sale could enhance market confidence in Saudi Arabia’s economic reforms. It demonstrates the kingdom’s proactive approach to managing its resources and planning for a post-oil future.

Challenges and Considerations

While the stake sale presents numerous opportunities, it is not without challenges:

  • Market Conditions: The success of the stake sale largely depends on prevailing market conditions. Oil prices, geopolitical stability, and global economic trends will all play a role in investor sentiment and the final outcome of the sale.
  • Regulatory and Operational Transparency: To attract substantial foreign investment, Saudi Arabia needs to ensure regulatory transparency and operational efficiency within Aramco. Potential investors will be scrutinizing these aspects closely.
  • Long-term Strategy: The kingdom must balance the immediate financial gains from the stake sale with its long-term strategic goals. Ensuring that the proceeds are effectively utilized in line with Vision 2030 is crucial for sustained economic transformation.

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to sell shares in its oil major, Aramco, in a deal that could raise up to 44.8 billion Saudi riyals ($11.9 billion), as the kingdom continues its economic diversification efforts.

The government will sell 1.545 billion shares in Saudi Aramco, representing 0.64 percent of the company’s issued shares, with the offering set to begin on June 2, according to a statement released on Thursday. The sale is expected to close on June 11.

The price range is anticipated to be between 26.70 and 29 Saudi riyals per share, Aramco stated. On Thursday, Aramco’s shares closed at 29.1 riyals, down from 33.05 riyals at the start of the year. The offering will be available to institutional investors in Saudi Arabia and globally, as well as to eligible retail investors in the kingdom and other GCC countries.

The share sale “has the potential to increase the number of unique shareholders, enhance liquidity, and improve ranking in global indices,” the company said.

“We believe Aramco represents an attractive proposition to investors. We have delivered on our commitments since the IPO [initial public offering], we are investing in unique, value-added growth opportunities, and we continue to maintain our focus on profitability, resilience, and sustainability,” it added.

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil-producing company, reported a 14.4 percent drop in net profit for the first quarter of this year, amounting to $27.3 billion. Revenue fell by about 4 percent year-on-year to $107.2 billion, driven by “lower crude oil volume sold, partially offset by an increase in crude oil prices during the period,” the company noted.

Despite the drop in profit, Aramco said it expects to pay $31 billion in dividends to the Saudi government and its shareholders. The Saudi government is the majority shareholder in Aramco and relies heavily on the company for the diversification of the kingdom’s economy.

As part of its Vision 2030 program, launched in 2016, Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in non-oil sectors such as technology and tourism to diversify its economy away from oil and support private-sector growth. The kingdom plans to adapt the strategy to current economic and geopolitical challenges and will “downscale” or “accelerate” some of the projects under the program, Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan said at a World Economic Forum meeting in Riyadh last month.

Saudi Arabia’s economy contracted by 1.8 percent in the first quarter of the year due to a slump in the oil sector, despite an expansion in non-oil activities during the period. The country has been reducing crude output along with other members of the Opec+ alliance as part of efforts to “balance the market.” In April, the Opec+ group decided to extend voluntary output cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day until the end of June. During their meeting on June 2, the alliance is widely expected to further extend the cuts.

Brent, the global benchmark for two-thirds of the world’s oil, was trading 0.34 percent lower at $81.58 a barrel at 7:30 am on Friday. West Texas Intermediate, the gauge that tracks US crude, was down 0.36 percent at $77.62 a barrel.

Earlier this year, Saudi Aramco also abandoned a plan to increase its production capacity to 13 million barrels per day from the current 12 million bpd. Aramco’s decision may have been influenced by escalating costs of developing new projects, ample spare capacity, and a weakening demand outlook for crude amid growing adoption of renewable energy and electric vehicles, analysts said.

Saudi Arabia’s plan to sell a stake in Aramco and raise up to $12 billion is a bold step in its ongoing journey towards economic diversification. By leveraging the value of its premier asset, the kingdom aims to accelerate the growth of non-oil sectors and create a more resilient and diverse economy. However, the success of this initiative will depend on a combination of favorable market conditions, investor confidence, and the effective implementation of Vision 2030 goals. As the world watches closely, Saudi Arabia’s economic evolution continues to unfold, offering lessons and insights for other oil-dependent nations seeking similar transformation.

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