Saudi Aramco said to plan US$2b debut bond ahead of IPO

Saudi Aramco is preparing to sell bonds ahead of an IPO. — Reuters pic
Saudi Aramco is preparing to sell bonds ahead of an IPO. — Reuters pic

RIYADH, March 21 — Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is seeking to raise about US$2 billion (RM8.85 billion)  in its debut bond sale, the first step of a plan by the energy giant to tap markets for US$10 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Saudi Aramco, as the company is known, will sell riyal-denominated Islamic bonds, or sukuk, as early as the second quarter, the people said, asking not to be identified as the discussions are private. The sukuk may be privately placed with investors, they said.

Saudi Aramco is preparing to sell bonds ahead of an IPO in 2018, the latest in a string of debt sales that raised almost IS$80 billion for countries in the Middle East and North Africa, the most since Bloomberg started compiling data in 1999. The Saudi government’s debut offering in October raised US$17.5 billion in the biggest-ever emerging-market sale.

“Until they go public next year and disclose their full audited financials, the best option for Aramco is to raise money through asset-backed securities like sukuk,” said London-based independent analyst Mohamed Ramady.

A spokesperson for Saudi Aramco declined to comment.

Dollar-denominated sale

The company hired HSBC Holdings Plc’s local unit and Riyad Capital to help with the sale, people said last month. NCB Capital Co. and Alinma Investment Co. are also working on the deal that could be followed by dollar-denominated bonds, they said.

Saudi Arabia is also planning a sale of Islamic bonds in riyals to local institutions this year to help boost the country’s sukuk market, people said earlier this month. The kingdom is working on the benchmark-sized issue alongside a plan to sell dollar Islamic bonds in the international market, they said. — Bloomberg

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