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Aramco CEO survives drones, outlasts rival in stormy IPO year

The cash cow sustaining Saudi Arabia, Saudi Aramco is selling a 1.5% stake after which CEO Amin Nasser won’t have complete control of the company. Later this month Riyadh stock exchange will be set to trade world’s largest publicly traded company.

Bloomberg|
Dec 03, 2019, 12.00 AM IST
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Reuters
saudi-aramco-reuters
Dubai: Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser will find himself at the helm of the world’s largest publicly traded company when the shares of the giant oil producer start trading on the Riyadh stock exchange later this month.

It will cap a stormy year for the 60-year-old petroleum engineer, who’s proven a skillful survivor. He demonstrated his managerial prowess after the Sept. 14 drone and missile attacks that knocked out more than half of the state producer’s oil production: Aramco restored output within 11 days and continued to meet its commitments to customers.

Nasser also steered Aramco’s first bond issue, a $12- billion deal that was 10 times oversubscribed. The April sale, which earned him the nickname of the “$100 billion man,” underscored Saudi Arabia’s return to global capital markets after the kingdom’s ostracism over the assassination of columnist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

Although the IPO has proven a tougher sell to international investors, its climax will cap almost four years of work for Nasser. “Amin is a very experienced CEO,” Patrick Pouyanne, his counterpart at French oil major Total SA, said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

“There is no precedent” for a deal like the Aramco IPO, he said. Saudi Aramco pumps about one in every 10 barrels of oil globally and earns a bigger profit than any other company, easily outpacing US titans such as Apple Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

It’s the cash cow sustaining Saudi Arabia, and the central element in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's plan to modernise the kingdom's economy. Aramco is selling a 1.5% stake.

Yet after the deal is completed, Nasser won’t have complete control of the company, making his job a political as well as managerial challenge.

Decisions about Saudi Aramco's oil production lie in the hands of the crown prince and his half-brother, Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.


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