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Saudi Aramco meets ADIA, Abu Dhabi funds in IPO pitch: sources

Commodities Nov 25, 2019 09:04AM ET
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By Stanley Carvalho, Saeed Azhar and Hadeel Al Sayegh

ABU DHABI/DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Aramco's executives met officials of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) on Monday to discuss a potential investment in the oil giant's share sale that could raise as much as $25.6 billion, three sources familiar with the talks said.

Aramco has struggled to attract a major cornerstone or anchor investor for its IPO, which could be potentially the world's biggest. It has also approached Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) and Singapore's GIC.

The meeting between Aramco and ADIA, one of the world's biggest sovereign wealth funds, was separate to an investor roadshow in Abu Dhabi, the second leg of a Gulf marketing effort by Aramco and its advisors.

A similar roadshow was held in Dubai on Sunday.

A spokesman for ADIA declined to comment. Aramco has said it does not comment on specific investor meetings.

"Aramco, have stepped up a gear this month, but the signs are that it is unlikely to be the blockbuster sale that the Kingdom once hoped for," said London-based Capital Economics in a note on Monday.

"And plans for this sale to be followed by an international listing seem to have lost momentum."

The company has also canceled marketing roadshows for its listing outside of the Gulf because of the lack of interest from foreign institutional investors.

Some investors, who attended the Aramco roadshow in Abu Dhabi on Monday, also expressed mixed feelings about investing in the deal.

Aramco's future weight in the region's benchmark indices was a compelling reason for fund managers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to invest in its shares, a fund manager said after the roadshow.

But another fund manager said Aramco's dividend yield of 4.4% at the top end of its valuation was less attractive compared to other oil companies.

Royal Dutch Shell (L:RDSa) has a dividend yield of 6.48%, Refinitiv data shows.

Aramco is looking to sell 1.5% of the company in the deal, valuing the company between $1.6 trillion to $1.7 trillion. It has set a base dividend of $75 billion over five years.

The deal is the centerpiece of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's plans to diversify the Saudi economy away from its reliance on oil.

"For the biggest IPO in history, it is still a wait and see approach for us, how it will perform, who's going to make the market," said an investment advisor to high net worth investors in Abu Dhabi.

"The rich valuation, the recent attacks, the oil price, regional tensions – we are yet to get perspective on this."

Aramco's roadshow was led by Yassir Mufti, vice president of strategy and market analysis, and attended by members of the oil firm's IPO team, according to an investor invite seen by Reuters.

Saudi Aramco meets ADIA, Abu Dhabi funds in IPO pitch: sources

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