Aramco’s IPO Timeline Leaves Research Analysts Scrambling

Saudi Aramco is wasting no time pushing ahead with its initial public offering, leaving legions of analysts scrambling to prepare research that will help investors decide whether to buy into one of the world’s biggest ever share sales.

Investment banks’ research teams started meeting Wednesday in the desert city of Dhahran for two packed days of briefings by Aramco top brass. They will then have barely three weeks to prepare their pre-IPO reports on Aramco, according to an internal schedule seen by Bloomberg. That compares to six to eight weeks they’re normally given for some of the biggest global listings.

Aramco is speeding up preparations for the IPO with an aim of listing on the Saudi bourse as soon as November, Bloomberg News has reported. For its bankers, the stakes couldn’t be higher: they’ve spent years wooing the oil giant to get a lucrative spot on the deal, which could make Aramco the world’s biggest listed company if it hits its target market capitalization of $2 trillion.

Oil Field Visit

Given the compressed timetable, as well as the complexities of analyzing a sprawling, opaque company in one of the world’s toughest places to do business, the research teams will have their work cut out for them.

More than 100 people are attending this week’s briefings including research analysts, the bankers running the deal and officials from the government and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, people with knowledge of the matter said. Aramco Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser, finance chief Khalid Al-Dabbagh and heads of the company’s upstream and downstream businesses were among those who presented, the people said.

The first day of analyst meetings was followed by dinner with Aramco executives, one of the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private information. Thursday’s schedule involves visiting production sites including the giant Shaybah oil field, which is located amid the sand dunes of eastern Saudi Arabia’s “Empty Quarter” and can produce about 1 million barrels a day of Arabian extra light crude, according to another person.

Distributing Reports

Some analysts were planning to fly back to their home bases in London and elsewhere right after the second day’s activities so they could immediately start work on their reports, one person said. Analysts will have a followup question-and-answer call with Aramco on Oct. 3, according to the schedule seen by Bloomberg.

Each bank’s research team will need to finish a first draft of their analysis by the end of the day Oct. 9, with second drafts due Oct. 15. The reports need to be finalized and printed by Oct. 18 so they can be ready to distribute to fund managers once Aramco announces its intention to float on Oct. 20, the schedule shows.

No final decisions have been made, and the listing timeline is still subject to change, the people said. Aramco didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.


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