State-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco is finally up for trade after years of delay, and, well, investors proved to be hungry for shares.
On its first day of trade, Saudi Aramco's market value spiked to $1.9 trillion, securing its position as the most valuable listed company in history. On the second day of gains, the valuation hit the $2-trillion target initially sought by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Prior to its official initial public offering (IPO), critics believed the valuation to be $1.7 trillion; it proved to be worth nearly $300 billion more. On Wednesday, only 1.5 percent of Aramco's shares were listed on the Riyadh stock exchange Tadawul; shares rose to $9.39 following Aramco's market debut, the maximum daily increase allowed by the exchange.
The state-oil giant pulled off the biggest IPO in history, raising $25.6 billion by selling 1.5 percent of the company, beating Alibaba's 2014 market debut in New York.
In just two days of trading, Aramco outranked the world's largest companies including Apple, the second-largest company in the world with a valuation of $1.19 trillion.
Aramco Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan described the sale as "a proud and historic moment for Saudi Aramco and our majority shareholder, the kingdom."
The IPO is the centerpiece of MBS' Vision 2030, which seeks to diversify the oil-reliant economy. The billions raised in the small sale of Aramco will be invested in other sectors in the coming year.
The IPO comes following years-long delays. Saudi Arabia first announced its plans to partially sell Aramco over three years ago. Since then, the planned listing has been shelved multiple times, but it has finally materialized.
According to CNN, the vast majority of stock buyers are from Saudi Arabia.
Earlier this year, the world's largest energy company confirmed its status as the most profitable company after disclosing its financial data for the first time ever. Saudi Aramco announced that it made $111 billion in profit in 2018. Thus, it beat the likes of American tech company Apple Inc., which made a profit of $59.4 billion during the same period. In fact, Saudi Arabia's national petroleum and natural gas company made more money than four corporate giants combined. These include J.P. Morgan Chase, Google-parent Alphabet, Facebook, and Exxon Mobil. Together, these companies made nearly $106 billion in 2018.
With the partial sale of Aramco, the state-owned oil giant now holds another title: Most Valuable Company.
Why did Aramco go public?
It all goes back to low oil prices which have hit the Saudi economy hard, forcing the kingdom to cut subsidies and strive to diversify its oil-reliant economy. Saudi Arabia has been shifting gears in recent years to reduce its economic reliance on the oil sector. It's been investing billions in other sectors, namely entertainment, in hopes of generating reliable revenue streams from those industries.
The partial sale of Aramco is giving the kingdom more funds to work with to further develop other divisions.