Saudi refiner Luberef prices $1.3 bln IPO at top end

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Saudi Aramco Base Oil Co., a refining unit of the state-owned oil producer, priced its Riyadh initial public offering at the top of a marketed range to raise 4.95 billion riyals ($1.32 billion) for the private equity firm selling its stake.

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Luberef, as the refiner is known, set the final price at 99 riyals a share, the top of a range of 91 to 99 riyals, according to the company’s prospectus.

The IPO, which is likely to be the last large Gulf listing of the year, shows that demand for share sales in the region hasn’t waned despite some muted recent trading debuts and the offering taking place at a time of year when investors typically shy away from taking on more risk.

Saudi private equity firm Jadwa Investment sold 50 million shares — a 30 percent stake — in the offering, while Saudi Aramco is holding onto its 70 percent holding. The institutional order book was 29.5 times oversubscribed, according to a statement from the company.

The IPO will take the proceeds of Gulf listings this year to over $20 billion, an amount that would be an annual record if it weren’t for 2019, when Aramco went public, raising almost $30 billion. The region now accounts for about half of all IPO proceeds in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Whereas share sales have slumped in most other markets, they have boomed in the Gulf, underpinned by high oil prices and strong investor demand. However, there have been signs of weakness recently as regional equity indexes have dropped more than 25 percent from this year’s high, hit by a decline in oil on concerns about slower economic growth.

A number of deals have dropped below their listing prices while others have posted smaller-than-usual first-day gains in markets where investors have become accustomed to 20 percent pops or more.

Luberef operates two production facilities on Saudi Arabia’s west coast, producing various base oils and byproducts including asphalt, marine heavy fuel oil and naphtha.

SNB Capital, Morgan Stanley, HSBC Holdings Plc and Citigroup Inc. are managing the IPO. Retail investors can subscribe for shares from Dec. 14-18.

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