Saudi Aramco Hires Banks to Raise Billions in Funds

As the COVID-19 pandemic weighs on oil prices, the world’s largest oil company is seeking to raise emergency cash through a bond issuance.

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, has hired a group of major cash in an effort to raise cash as the price of oil slumps further.

A bourse filing from Aramco revealed that the company has contracted Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, HSBC and NCB Capital to arrange investor calls ahead of a multi-tranche US dollar-denominated bond issuance. The calls will begin today.

A host of other banks are also involved in the deal, including BNP Paribas, BOC International, BofA Securities, Credit Agricole, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Mizuho, MUFG, SMBC Nikko and Societe Generale, as shown by a document issued by one of the banks.

Aramco did not share details on the size of its latest proposed issuance, though its benchmark multi-tranche offering is planned to consist of tranches for three-, five-, 10-, 30- and/or 50-year tranches, subject to market conditions. Benchmark bonds generally see a minimum value of around $500 million per tranche.

The move comes as ratings agency Fitch revised its outlook on Aramco from stable to negative last week. Earlier this month, the company posted a 44.6% dive in third-quarter net profit compared to Q3 2019 as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to drag oil prices down.

Aramco has already raised a $10 billion loan this year and requires $37.5 billion to pay dividends for the second half of 2020. It also requires cash to fund its $69.1 billion purchase of a 70% stake in Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC), which is set to be paid by instalments until 2028.

Oil prices fell to historically low levels in March and April in the initial onset of the pandemic, with West Texas Intermediate even falling into negative value for the first time ever. Though WTI and Brent crude made a comeback in August, prices have since dropped again on fears of a highly damaging “second wave”.

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