Saudi Arabian Oil Co hired Moelis & Co to advise on its initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter, as it pushes ahead with plans to pursue the world’s biggest share sale.
The New York-based boutique investment bank had been shortlisted along with Evercore Partners Inc as a potential adviser for the deal, people familiar with the matter said last month. Aramco, as the company is known, was seeking a bank to help it select underwriters for the sale, make decisions on potential listing venues and ensure the IPO goes smoothly, the people said at the time.
The mandate is a coup for Moelis, a boutique firm founded in 2007 by former UBS Group dealmaker Ken Moelis. While the bank has advised on other large deals in the Middle East, such as the $25bn debt restructuring of Dubai World, this listing is its biggest ever role. The IPO, which is predicted to raise about $100bn, may yield millions of dollars in fees and push Moelis up in global investment bank rankings. The company ranked 28th in mergers and acquisitions announced last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Representatives for Moelis and Aramco declined to comment. The Financial Times had previously reported that Moelis won the advisory role.
Saudi Arabia is aiming to sell less than 5% of the company as part of a plan by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to set up the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund and reduce the economy’s reliance on hydrocarbons. The IPO would be the largest ever, dwarfing the $25bn raised by Chinese Internet retailer Alibaba Group Holding in 2014.
Aramco also recently asked banks including Goldman Sachs Group and HSBC Holdings to pitch for advisory roles, people familiar with the matter said last month. The company plans to finish selecting banks later this year ahead of a listing in the second or third quarter of 2018, two of the people said.
JPMorgan Chase & Co and Michael Klein, the former Citigroup investment banker who runs his own advisory firm, have already been selected to work on the IPO, people familiar with the matter said in April. Klein is providing strategic advice to the government, while JPMorgan is working on preparations for the IPO and may be among the banks that underwrite the listing, the people said.
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