After multiple delays, Saudia Arabia is finally making it happen.
A much-watched step in the country’s goals to modernize and privatize parts of its economy, its state-owned oil business, Saudi Aramco, raised $25.6 billion in the world’s largest IPO ever after pricing 3 billion shares at 32 riyals ($8.53) apiece.
The raise beats the largest yet—that of Alibaba’s in 2014—by about $600 million. It also crowns the company as the most valuable among publicly-traded companies right now.
Still, the road to becoming a publicly-traded firm has come with some missed expectations. The pricing values the company at about $1.7 trillion—shy of an earlier $2 trillion goal. One reason for the demand shortfall: Concerns over the company’s politics, governance, and impact on the environment, per Reuters.
Indeed local and regional buyers appear to be making up the bulk of the demand. That’s also created an interesting twist on the lockup period as the absolute monarchy seeks to privatize its assets, per the Wall Street Journal.
“Locals won’t rush to sell their piece of the kingdom’s crown jewel. The large group of high net worth individuals, government-related entities and other local institutional investors under pressure to buy shares are also unlikely to sell them early and risk the crown prince’s ire. Individual investors are in line to receive a 10% bonus allocation from the state’s holdings if they hold their shares for six months, capped at 100 additional shares. There are almost no fast-money hedge-fund investors involved.”
But even if the listing is raising less than the $100 billion figure often touted early on, $25.6 billion is still a hefty chunk of money. Now the question is, how exactly will Saudi Arabia deploy those funds as it seeks to modernize and diversify its economy away from oil? After all, it is already a big player at any rate in the venture world through SoftBank.