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Saudi Aramco announces end of share sale worth USD11.2 billion

RIYADH (AFP) – Oil giant Saudi Aramco on Tuesday announced the close of its secondary share sale that fetched USD11.2 billion and attracted new foreign investors.

The offering was the largest in the Middle East since Aramco’s initial public offering (IPO) in 2019, the firm said in a statement, providing a boost to Saudi Arabia’s finances amid an expensive economic reform drive.

“This landmark transaction achieves the goals of diversifying and broadening Aramco’s shareholder base with strong participation from new international and local investors, further supporting the liquidity of our shares,” Aramco chief executive Amin Nasser said in the statement.

Aramco, the mostly state-owned jewel of the Saudi economy, announced on May 30 that it would sell 1.545 billion shares, or about 0.64 per cent of its issued shares, on the Saudi stock exchange.

It was widely seen as a test of foreign investor interest more than halfway through the kingdom’s campaign known as Vision 2030, whose ambitions are reflected in so-called giga-projects such as NEOM, a planned futuristic megacity in the desert.

Sources close to the situation told AFP about 58 per cent of shares were allocated to international investors, up from about 23 per cent for the IPO in 2019.

Proceeds from the deal could ultimately climb to USD12.35 billion if Merrill Lynch Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the stabilising manager, uses an over-allotment or “greenshoe” option to sell additional shares, which it has until July 9 to do, Aramco said on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest crude oil exporter and the government’s stake in Aramco is around 81.5 per cent after the second share sale.

The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, and its subsidiaries control about 16 per cent of the firm.

Aramco reported record profits in 2022 after the war in Ukraine sent oil prices soaring, allowing Saudi Arabia to record its first budget surplus in nearly a decade.

But the Saudi cash cow saw its profits drop by a quarter last year because of lower oil prices and production cuts.

File photo shows a sign of Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering during a press conference in the eastern Saudi Arabian region of Dhahran. PHOTO: AFP