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Fri 13 Sep 2019 12:26 AM

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Top dealmakers descend on Dubai Ritz as Aramco IPO work starts

Sources say Aramco is speeding up the preparations as it aims to sell shares on the Saudi stock exchange later this year

Top dealmakers descend on Dubai Ritz as Aramco IPO work starts
Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser.

Dozens of bankers from Citigroup to JPMorgan Chase & Co descended on the heart of Dubai’s financial district on Thursday to start work on the mammoth initial public offering of Saudi Aramco.

Executives from Morgan Stanley and local investment bank Samba Financial Group also turned up for the kickoff meeting at the opulent Ritz Carlton hotel, just one day after news of their appointment came out.

Every now and then, some would exit the closely guarded meeting room - marked by an electronic sign bearing Moelis & Co’s name - passing guests on their way to the pool overlooking the office towers of Dubai International Financial Centre.

Representatives from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and finance ministry could also be spotted at the five-star property, which is fronted by a limestone facade and rows of palm trees. Around 5:30pm, several of the dark-suited dealmakers began trickling out to relax in the art-deco environs of Cafe Belge, known for its pots of mussels and a selection of Trappist beers costing up to 100 dirhams ($27) a pop.

Aramco, officially known as Saudi Arabian Oil Co, is speeding up the preparations as it aims to sell shares on the Saudi stock exchange later this year, people familiar with the matter have said. The energy giant is considering holding analyst presentations the week of September 22 and may list as soon as November, the people said.

The state-owned oil producer picked Bank of America Corp., Citigroup, Credit Suisse Group AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley for top underwriting roles on the deal along with some Middle Eastern banks, Bloomberg News reported earlier this week.

The company is still debating the size of the stake it will sell on the local bourse. Lazard Ltd. and Moelis are also advising Aramco, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

CEO Amin Nasser said this week that Aramco is going to sell shares “very soon.” The primary exchange for the listing will be the local bourse, Nasser told reporters at an industry conference in Abu Dhabi.

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