Saudi Aramco hits new low on US-Iran tensions

Saudi Aramco hits new low on US-Iran tensions

This file photo taken on September 20, 2019 shows employees of Aramco oil company working in Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq oil processing plant. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / AFP)

Shares of Saudi Aramco opened at 34 riyals ($9.06) on Wednesday, their lowest level since the oil giant began trading on December 11, after Iran launched missiles on U.S. targets in Iraq.

At 0740 GMT, Aramco had recovered to 34.15 shares but was down 0.6% compared to Tuesday.

The latest price valued the company at $1.82 trillion, down from a peak of $2.06 trillion on Dec 12.

Jason Tuvey, a senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, said the decline in Aramco’s share price in a final couple of weeks of last year was a case of reality kicking in among investors, but the recent weakness was due to geopolitical tensions.

"In the past week, however, geopolitical tensions have been the main driver of the drop – investors are clearly concerned that Iran, or Iran-backed proxies, target Aramco’s infrastructure once again."

The September 14 strikes had targeted the Abqaiq and Khurais plants at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, temporarily shutting down 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of output - more than 5% of global oil supply.

The assault, which Riyadh blamed on regional foe Iran, shook oil markets and prompted the United States to deploy additional American military forces and hardware to bolster the kingdom’s defences. Tehran denied any involvement.

Aramco shares are down almost 12% from a peak of 38.70 riyals on December 12, but still above the IPO price of 32 riyals that valued the company at $1.7 trillion.

Gulf stocks were in the red on Wednesday amid escalating tensions between the United States and Iran. Aramco said on Tuesday Goldman Sachs may stabilise its shares, but so far no price stabilisation transaction has occurred since the stock began trading.

The stabilisation period ends on Thursday. Aramco raised $25.6 billion in its IPO, making it the biggest flotation in the world, exceeding Alibaba Group's $25 billion deal in 2014.

But foreign investors were wary of investing in Aramco shares due to concerns over valuations.

Morningstar, which initiated its coverage of Aramco last month, said its fair value of Aramco was $1.4 trillion. ($1 = 3.7511 riyals) (Reporting by Saeed Azhar, editing by Davide Barbuscia)

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