Saudi Aramco Record IPO Will Be Killed by Saudi Scandal

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Among the effects of the alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi Arabian government is the damage it will do to an initial public offering planned for Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company. The value of the company has been set as high as $2 trillion. Although this number has been challenged, it still will be huge, and the cash from the offering will go to the Saudi government.

There are rumors the deal will be delayed, but the Saudi government says it will go forward. Khalid Al Falih, the Saudi energy minister, has said:

The government remains committed to the I.P.O. of Saudi Aramco at a time of its own choosing when conditions are optimum. This timing will depend on multiple factors, including favorable market conditions.

The current choppy market could delay it. The Khashoggi incident will kill it.

Many investors worldwide will shun the chance to hold shares. Before the IPO, the Saudis need to find first-tier investment banks to take the deal to market. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has just pulled out of a major conference held annually in the country. It would be shocking if other financial firm executives did not do the same.

Saudi Aramco may be a plumb investment. However, without world-class bankers or a major exchange on which it can be traded, and with institutional investors who will look at the shares as toxic, the company will not get investors.