Transversal Aramco IPO


In January, 2016, Saudi Arabia announced its intention to take its national oil company, Saudi Aramco, public. In December, 2019, the company followed through with an IPO that brought it the largest valuation in history. Still, the process and the resulting listing were not without controversy, and the company currently trades under unique standards. Transversal Consulting and Dr. Ellen Wald have the most in depth insights and analysis.

Our founder, Dr. Wald, is the foremost expert on Aramco strategy and motivations. She has spent more than a decade researching Aramco, past and present. In this time, she has met with numerous top current and former executives of the firm. She has written extensively on the company, the motivations of its key players, and the development of its strategic vision. Dr. Wald is the author of “Saudi, Inc.: the Arabian Kingdom’s Pursuit of Profit and Power,” the history of Aramco and Saudi Arabia.

We guide clients and facilitate understanding of opportunities associated with the company. Of particular interest are:

  • breaking down the various businesses and ventures of Aramco
  • addressing the most critical questions to ask for this unique company
  • evaluating corporate culture considerations
  • delineating the company’s changing relationships with the government and the absolute monarchy
  • indicating potential impediments
  • identifying long-term issues

Select Publications Concerning Aramco

  • Aramco does not trade like an international oil company (IOC). Shortly after trading began, Dr. Wald pointed to an oil-price jump caused by a geopolitical flare-up with Iran to show that Aramco trades on a different standard.

The Price of Aramco Shares Is Not Tied to the Price of Oil

  • Dr. Wald authored an authoritative look at the Aramco corporate charter (issued in 2018, after 30 years of operating with no known legal structure). She published a report in conjunction with the independent think tank, the Arabia Foundation (no longer operating), that provides hints about a future for Aramco as a publicly traded firm. You can view a free copy of an updated version of the report here:

Crucial Insights from the Saudi Aramco 2018 Charter

  • Above every concern about the Aramco IPO should be this one question: What protections will shareholders have when their interests collide with those of the king? Dr. Wald answered that question in a vital oped in the New York Times:

What to Know Before Buying Shares in Saudi Arabia’s Oil Company

  • Transversal broke down the financials and other information released in the Aramco bond prospectus in April, 2019. Dr. Wald wrote about it for Forbes:

What We Learn From Aramco’s Bond Prospectus

  • Aramco issued the first information about its plans for a post-IPO dividend in September, 2019. The information is not complete but offers a peak at the potential massive dividend. Dr. Wald explained what we learned and how much more we still need to know:

Aramco’s Early IPO Info Leaves A $75 Billion Dividend Question

  • When rumors first began in 2018 of an Aramco listing only on Tadawul, the Saudi stock exchange, Dr. Wald addressed the very serious threats this would present for the Saudi economy. After some clarifications from the Tadawul CEO, Dr. Wald delved further into the issue:

Dangers Lurk If Aramco Lists In Saudi Arabia Alone

No Quick Fix For Aramco IPO On Saudi Exchange

  • As the relationship between Aramco and the Saudi government undergoes extreme changes, Dr. Wald wrote in the New York Times about the potential dangers for the company and the country:

How to Save the Saudi Golden Goose

  • After the Saudi monarchy shook up the Aramco board in September, 2019, Dr. Wald explained some of the concerns for Bloomberg:

What Should Be Next for Saudi Aramco Amid Board Shakeup

  • Dr. Wald provided a macro-view of what Aramco was, is, and could become for the April, 2018 edition of Modern Trader:

Saudi Aramco IPO Would Be Huge