Saudi Arabia's secretive oil company to make its profits public

Company could still be planning IPO

By Clare Duffy, CNN Business
Simon Dawson/Getty Images via CNN

Saudi Arabia's secretive state-owned oil company will host its first-ever earnings call Monday, a move that could signal the company is still planning a massive initial public offering.

(CNN) - Saudi Arabia's secretive state-owned oil company will host its first-ever earnings call Monday, a move that could signal the company is still planning a massive initial public offering.

The Saudi Arabian Oil Company, known as Saudi Aramco, has been working toward what could be the biggest IPO in history. But the process has faltered amid swings in the oil market, the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and skepticism over the $2 trillion valuation Saudi officials hard targeted. Sharing the company's financial results for the first half of 2019, which Aramco plans to do Monday, may be an effort to convince potential investors of its value.

Saudi Aramco had previously hoped for an IPO this year but the plan stalled. Then CEO Amin Nasser said in January that Saudi Aramco would be ready for an IPO by 2021, whether it goes ahead with one or not. But the company is now looking to accelerate that process to list shares for sale to the public as early as next year, according to a Wall Street Journal report Friday citing people familiar with the discussions.

Saudi Aramco shared its earnings publicly for the first time in April. It reported $111 billion in annual net income for 2018 on revenue of $356 billion, making the world's largest oil and gas company also the world's most profitable company. By comparison, Apple, the world's largest public company, made $59.5 billion in 2018 and ExxonMobil, the largest US oil company, made $20.8 billion.

But its earnings may be stunted this year by lower oil prices.

Still, a Saudi Aramco IPO would be huge. Saudi Arabia has said it wants to list 5% of the company which, at the target value of $2 trillion valuation, would raise $100 billion. That would dwarf the $25 billion Alibaba IPO in 2014, the largest listing to ever hit Wall Street.

And the company proved it could garner investor interest when orders for its first-ever bond issue in April topped $100 billion.

Saudi Arabia wants to combine a listing on its domestic stock exchange with a listing on a major global market such as those in London or New York. The sale would help fund Vision 2030, a reform plan that aims to diversify the Saudi economy.

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