Saudi Arabia sees little economic damage from Aramco attack as IPO presses on
RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday a weekend attack on Saudi Aramco had no impact on government revenues and authorities were gearing up to list the state oil giant, signaling the kingdom’s resilience following the crippling strike on its oil industry.
“In terms of revenues there’s zero impact,” Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of an investor conference in Riyadh.
“Aramco continued to supply the markets without interruption and therefore revenues should continue as they are.”
He spoke a day after Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the kingdom will restore lost oil output by the end of September and has managed to restore supplies to customers to the levels they were at prior to the attacks.
Oil prices fell after the Saudi reassurances, having surged more than 20% at one point on Monday - the biggest intra-day jump since the 1990-91 Gulf War.
The Saudi stock market .TASI was also up 0.4% in afternoon trade on Wednesday and Saudi dollar-denominated bonds also recovered on the international market after falling on Monday.
Jadaan said Aramco “showed clearly how resilient Saudi Arabia and the company is and how capable the company is to deal with an incident like this.”
But the attacks have escalated tensions in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia linking main regional adversary Iran to the unprecedented assault, which Washington also blames on Tehran.
They have also exposed how ill-prepared the Gulf state is to defend itself despite repeated attacks on vital assets during its 4-1/2 year foray into the war in neighboring Yemen.
“In order to not show too much weakness in front of their domestic audience, the Saudi leadership has little choice but to minimize the impact of the attack,” said Westbeck Capital Management, an investment manager, in a note.
“The planned Aramco IPO is also playing a role in putting up a brave face.”
Bankers at the event in Riyadh, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the planned IPO of the state oil giant - the world’s largest crude producer - would go ahead despite the attacks.
“There will be a patriotic buy into the company from both the wealthy and the less wealthy Saudis,” John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Gulf Research Center, told Reuters this week.
But there is no clarity on the exact timeline of the deal.
Sources previously told Reuters Aramco was targeting a domestic listing as early as November, but Aramco’s chairman, Yassir al-Rumayyan, said on Tuesday the IPO would be ready within the coming 12 months.
The Aramco IPO is a pillar of an ambitious economic diversification drive by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has put the firm’s valuation at $2 trillion. The domestic flotation is the first step of a targeted 5% sale.
Jadaan reiterated the Aramco IPO is moving ahead as planned and will most likely happen over the next 12 months.
Aramco’s primary listing will be on Tadawul, the local stock market, in Riyadh, but the government is still considering a secondary listing overseas, he said.
Doubts had emerged earlier this week about the timeline of the IPO in the wake of the attack, but despite the concerns, Aramco has pressed ahead with banker meetings this week.
additional reporting by Tuqa Khalid, Simon Jessop, Writing by Saeed Azhar, Editing by William Maclean