Saudi Arabian oil firm Aramco hires 25 banks to work on flotation

Near-record number of banks handling stock market listing reflects size of the IPO

A billboard advertisement in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, reads: ‘Saudi Aramco, soon on stock exchange.’

Saudi Aramco has hired a near-record 25 banks to work on its upcoming listing on a single stock market.

Companies normally hire between one and three banks for a market debut. But the listing of the world’s most profitable company has attracted an army of international banks eager to work on one of the biggest IPOs in history.

The state-owned oil firm’s 25 banks will act as bookrunners for the deal, which could raise about $25bn (£19.3bn) for the Saudi government when trading begins early next month. Bookrunners arrange and take orders for the issue of shares.

Market data analysts at Refinitiv said Aramco’s super syndicate is only one shy of the global record holder, Postal Savings Bank of China, which listed in 2016 with 26 bookrunners. Lucille Jones, an analyst at Refinitiv, said: “The Saudi Aramco listing, set to be one of the largest of all time, had investment banks competing fiercely for mandates.”

International banking giants including Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and HSBC lined up to help Aramco list up to 1.5% of its shares on Riyadh’s stock exchange in exchange for a commission of funds raised.

The syndicate was understood to be in line for a share of $450m but, according to reports, the banks are expected to earn combined fees of $90m or less after Aramco scaled back its ambitions.

“While the deal is not expected to be highly lucrative in terms of fees, winning a mandate on this highly coveted listing will boost their standing in equity capital market league tables,” Jones said.

The syndicate includes western banking companies such as Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, Citi, Credit Agricole CIB, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, RBC Capital Markets, Santander, Société Générale and UBS.

It also includes regional banks such as the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia, Al Rajhi Capital, Banque Saudi Fransi, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Riyad Bank and SambaCapital.

The Bank of China, EFG Hermes, GIB Capital, Mizuho Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui are also working on the IPO.

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