Sunday 22 September 2019

Oil giant Saudi Aramco taps boutique banks for advice ahead of its IPO

Desert gold: Saudi Aramco’s Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia
Desert gold: Saudi Aramco’s Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia

Dinesh Nair, Myriam Balezou & Matthew Martin

OIL company Saudi Aramco has chosen investment banks Lazard and Moelis to advise on the fuel giant's second attempt at the world's largest initial public offering, sources have revealed.

The boutique investment banks have started preparatory work on the offering, according to the sources, who asked to remain anonymous. The banks are expected to play a key role in the listing, including in the selection of underwriters and listing venues, as well as working to ensure Aramco can secure its valuation expectations.

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The selection is a boon particularly for Lazard, which was not one of the advisers on Aramco's first listing attempt. The oil producer was originally working with Evercore and Moelis, as well as HSBC, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley.

However, Lazard's success working on the blockbuster Aramco bond sale this year put it in pole position to secure a role on the IPO.

The bank was pushing hard in recent weeks to win a spot on the planned share sale, even sending some of its top global dealmakers from London, Paris and Houston to woo Aramco officials at meetings in the Middle East, it was reported earlier this week.

The firm, run by Ken Jacobs, is likely to replace one of the original advisers that previously worked on the listing plans, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

Aramco, which is aiming for a stock market listing as early as 2020, is still planning to add more banks to the deal, the people said.

No final decisions have been made, and Aramco's plans could still change or be delayed.

Representatives for Lazard and Moelis did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Aramco, officially known as Saudi Arabian Oil, declined to comment.

Bloomberg

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