When news broke in January that Saudi Arabia was considering an initial public offering of its state-owned oil company, the first reaction on Wall Street was shock. Then calls began pouring into Dubai — the Middle East’s financial hub — from senior bankers in London and New York. Investment banks around the world are clamoring to join what promises to be a bonanza, and not just the IPO of Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, which could be valued at upward of $2 trillion. The kingdom is planning to sell hundreds of state assets to bolster its finances and reduce its dependence on oil. That includes as much as $15 billion of bonds. Saudi Arabia looks even more promising with investment banking in a global slump and Britain’s vote to exit the European Union set to deter deal-making for months to come. “Saudi Arabia is close to the top, if not at the top, of the agenda for banks,” said Christopher Wheeler, a London-based analyst with Atlantic Equities LLP in London. “Where else is there at the moment?”
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