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Aramco IPO makes it world’s most valuable company, edging out Apple

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabian oil company Aramco surpassed Apple as the world’s most valuable public company Wednesday when its shares began trading on the Saudi stock exchange, part of an ambitious shift away from the very fossil fuels the country’s economy depends on. The shares’ 10% rally brought state-owned Aramco’s value to $1.88 trillion. The 1.5% of the company that is listed has raised $25.6 billion, a record for an initial public offering. As of Tuesday’s close, Apple was valued at $1.19 trillion. Despite the success of the sale, the kingdom’s decision not to list the company on a larger foreign exchange points to concerns about a global offering would raise. Listing shares outside Saudi Arabia would open up the company to greater disclosure rules and expose it to foreign laws at a time when the country is under scrutiny for its role in regional conflicts as well as for the killing of a dissident journalist. “A local Saudi offering is, by all accounts, a friendly audience of Saudi investors,” said Gianna Bern, the author of “Investing in Energy” and lecturer at the University of Notre Dame. She said the real test for Aramco will be a global offering, in another jurisdiction, such as London or Asia. Aramco, however, has said it will not sell more shares for at least another year. Wednesday’s shares were sold mainly to investors in the region: a 0.5% stake to individual retail investors in Gulf Arab states and 1% to institutional investors. Non-Saudi investors contributed just 23% of the institutional investment generated in the IPO, according to lead adviser Samba Capital. Saudi companies and government institutions raised 51% of the overall demand, it said. Some analysts said that the rise on the first day of trading suggests heavy buying from investors close to the crown…
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