Spare a thought today for the hundreds of bankers trapped in the luxury hotels of Riyadh and Dhahran working for on the sale of the century – the privatisation of part of Saudi Aramco, the state oil company.
Their job is to conduct due diligence and package the presentation to the market of a company that produces almost 10m barrels of oil every day and holds exclusive rights to claimed reserves of 266bn barrels of oil and 8.3tn cubic metres of natural gas. Aramco has a host of related businesses including refining and shipping. According to some reports, it has been valued by the Saudis at $2tn (more than the gross domestic product of Italy or India), on which basis the sale of even 5 per cent would be worth $100bn.
Easy? Triples all round and big bonuses for everyone?
Not quite. Three things stand in the way of a successful sale: governance, political risk and the oil price. Read more