Failure to reach the target would cause a dilemma for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - swallow the bitter pill of going ahead at a lower valuation or postpone the initial public offering (IPO) once again.
The Aramco officials and advisers are meeting institutional investors around the world, according to the three people familiar with the matter. Chief executive Amin Nasser has been meeting investors in New York and London this week, they added.
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince on Friday approved the go ahead of the IPO of state oil giant Aramco, five sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The main sticking point remains the $2 trillion valuation, which has often been considered too ambitious by advisers and some insiders, according to the three sources. A valuation closer to $1.5 trillion is more likely, with wealthy Saudi families the main investors in the IPO, they said.
“Saudi Aramco does not comment on rumours or speculations,” the company said in an emailed response to Reuters’ queries about the meetings and IPO launch date. Aramco added it was ready for the IPO, and that the timing would depend on market conditions.
Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz said on Wednesday that it would be a Saudi decision, specifically by Crown Prince Mohammed.
A weak outlook for oil prices, against a gloomy global economic picture and increasing climate change activism, could dampen investor interest, particularly in the Western world.
“Aramco’s officials and advisers are still on the road,” said one of the sources, a major institutional investor.
Saudi Arabia is separately still holding government-to-government meetings to attract investment from sovereign wealth funds, the investor added.
The state-owned oil major has also approached governments in the Gulf and Asia, including China, to try to secure the bulk of the investment from countries on friendly terms with Saudi Arabia, as the reception elsewhere has been cooler, sources have previously said.
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