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Saudi Aramco raises $25.6 bn in largest-ever IPO

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New York (AFP)

Saudi Arabia's state oil company Aramco launched its initial stock offering on Thursday, pricing at the high end of the target range and raising $25.6 billion, two sources told AFP.

The sum raised by the oil giant surpasses the $25 billion garnered by the Chinese online trading group Alibaba in 2014 when it entered Wall Street.

The market debut also puts the Saudi oil behemoth's value at $1.7 trillion, far ahead of other corporate giants in the trillion-dollar club: Apple ($1.2 trillion), Microsoft and Alibaba ($1.1 trillion).

Aramco is expected to begin trading December 12 on the Tadawul exchange in Riyadh at 32 riyals, or $8.53, the sources said.

That is on the upper end of the range of 30-32 riyals the company set last month even though major banks advising it called for caution to reduce volatility in the first days of trading.

The IPO has been underwritten mainly by the Saudis themselves, as major foreign investors raised questions about corporate governance, the company's ability to protect its oil installations and its profit outlook as global climate policies become stricter.

Aramco's market debut is intended to help diversify Saudi Arabia's economy away from its overwhelming reliance on petroleum.

The company expects to sell 1.5 percent of its capital during the initial public offering.

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