Aramco

Aramco, the state-owned oil giant is seeking to raise between $24B and $25.6B by selling a 1.5% stake.

Valuation is an art and not a science…how does a valuation estimate have a $1 trillion range! Bank of America put the valuation of Aramco at $1.22 trillion as a low case scenario and $2.27 trillion as a high case…a huge gap that’s more than enough to fit the combined market capitalizations of Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron, the world’s three largest publicly listed energy companies. French bank BNP Paribas said it’s worth exactly $1.424394 trillion…

I see what’s going on here. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman strongly believes that it is worth $2 trillion and it’s generally not a good idea to disagree with him. You can without sacrificing too much of your integrity say “we think it is worth between $1.22 trillion and $2.27 trillion” or whatever. Then if it turns out to be worth $1.22 trillion you can say you were right (it was in your range!), while you can also tell the prince that you agreed with and supported his valuation (also in your range!).

I’m also wondering where is the upside? How do you go from $2 trillion to $4 trillion? I see a lot of risk in this investment. They are having a hard time getting foreign institutions on board. Aramco has struggled to attract a major cornerstone or anchor investor. It has been written they are getting local billionaires to back it. The fact that they are getting listed on the local stock exchange instead of New-York or London is not helping. I can list a laundry list of issues they have to address before submitting any paperwork in the U.S.

You can read the prospectus here.

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