Saudi Aramco hits crown prince’s $2 trillion goal as shares soar

Riyadh, Dec 12 (AFP/APP): Saudi Aramco soared on Thursday above the $2 trillion valuation target sought by the kingdom’s de facto ruler as the energy giant’s share price surged on its second day of trading.

The valuation milestone, which defies widespread skepticism from investors, was coveted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ever since he first floated the idea of listing the world’s biggest oil firm four years ago.

Aramco shares jumped 9.7 percent to 38.60 riyals ($10.3) on Thursday morning — following a 10-percent rise the previous day — before paring some gains in the early afternoon.

That boosted the oil giant’s market capitalisation to over $2 trillion, up from a $1.7 trillion valuation set during its initial public offering, the world’s biggest.

Aramco shares on the kingdom’s Tadawul stock exchange, which closes at 1200 GMT, are allowed to fluctuate by a maximum of 10 percent each day.

Tadawul witnessed one of its most hectic trading sessions on Thursday, with some 400 million Aramco shares — worth more than $4 billion — changing hands.

Thursday is the last weekly trading day in Muslim Saudi Arabia. Trading resumes on Sunday.

Aramco’s stock sale is the cornerstone of Prince Mohammed’s ambitious strategy to overhaul the oil-reliant economy by raising funds to pour into megaprojects and non-energy industries such as tourism and entertainment.

The $25.6 billion proceeds from the Aramco IPO are expected to be channelled into the coffers of the Public Investment Fund, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, which will invest it in mega projects.