Economic Diplomacy

Saudi Privatization Could Go Awry

Here is an unseemly question: “What if no one wants to buy Saudi Aramco stock?” Riyadh’s high-stakes restructuring strategy is largely dependent on a successful IPO for the oil giant. Yet the rigorously-crafted master plan could be derailed by dour investors. Index managers will have to buy the stock; active managers may be content with proven positions in BP, among other oil giants. A convincing argument would be access to a dividend stream, but net income will presumably get plowed disproportionately into domestic requirements. Even regional names could be wary. There is plenty of oil-sector exposure in the neighborhood. The road ahead is not the Autobahn.

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