Saudi Arabia Said Poised to Add Boutique for Aramco IPO

Updated on
  • Aramco meeting with Moelis, Rothschild, Lazard for IPO role
  • JPMorgan, banker Michael Klein already advising oil giant

Saudi Arabia Poised to Choose Aramco IPO Advisor

Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is poised to choose an adviser from a list of boutiques for what could be the biggest initial public offering ever, a major coup for one of the smaller banks in an otherwise sluggish year for listings.

Aramco, as the kingdom’s state-owned oil giant is known, met banks including Rothschild & Co., Lazard Ltd. and Moelis & Co. in recent weeks and may select a winner this month, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. No final hiring decisions have been made, the people said.

The IPO could value Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, in the trillions of dollars and the government hopes to raise about $100 billion from the sale. A role on the deal is a sought-after trophy for bankers in a year when the largest IPO globally raised about $3 billion. Aramco’s already appointed some advisers, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Michael Klein, the former Citigroup Inc. investment banker who runs his own advisory firm, people familiar with the matter said in April.

The boutique firm that’s chosen will help Aramco select banks to underwrite the share sale, decide on venues for the listing and play a key role in ensuring a smooth execution of the IPO, the people said.

For a QuickTake explainer on the Aramco IPO, click here

The IPO remains on track while the government considers how to meet all its objectives from the sale, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said last month. Saudi Arabia hopes to list the company in early 2018 and sell about 5 percent of Aramco. The listing is part of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s initiative to transform the kingdom’s economy for a post-hydrocarbon age.

Spokesmen for Moelis, Rothschild and Lazard declined to comment. A representative for Aramco said that the company doesn’t comment on rumor or speculation on business initiatives.

Companies globally raised $69 billion from IPOs this year, about half the amount sold in the same period last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, as political uncertainty in key economies led to volatile equity markets. Denmark’s Dong Energy A/S raised about $3 billion from its June trading debut, making it the largest deal of the year.

(Updates with Aramco comment in sixth paragraph.)
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