Investors are bracing themselves for the Godzilla of all share offers - the Saudi Arabian oil company Aramco - next year.

If all goes to plan, it will be the biggest initial public offer in history.

Aramco will become the world's biggest listed company, head and shoulders above the current number one, Apple.

In total, Aramco is estimated by the Saudis to be worth US$2 trillion ($2.76t), but private estimates are a bit short of that.


"Even on a conservative valuation, you are looking at something that will be at least the size of Apple, so it's going to be a big event," said Bernard Doyle, JBWere New Zealand investment strategist.

It is not yet clear which of the international exchanges Aramco will be listed on, although London and New York are understood to be in the frame.

There will be no shortage of exchanges willing to roll out the red carpet.

The sticking point is the Saudi plan to offer just 5 per cent of Aramco in the initial public offer (IPO), at a predicted price of US$100 billion.

While the initial offer is just a small proportion of the company, the expectation is that Aramco shares will be fed out over time to help Saudi Arabia to reform its economy and make it less reliant on oil.

But Doyle said he would be surprised if Aramco became "the hottest thing in town".
"With every investment you have to take a view on the risk of stranded assets," he said.
"Even if you don't have a view on global warming, you still have to have a view on alternative energy sources, and really that's the trick."

Running in its favour is Saudi Arabia's enviable reputation as a highly efficient oil producer.

"Saudi Arabia is the gold-standard, low-cost oil producer," he said.


"In the event of oil demand declining, Saudi Arabia would be the last player standing because it is by far and away the cheapest producer."

The fly in the ointment for Aramco will be oil prices, which have remained stubbornly low since 2014 - despite OPEC's best efforts to restrict supply.

This week the news got worse for oil producers, when US crude futures touched a low of US$42.13 a barrel, the lowest intraday level since August 2016. Aramco is expected to list on the Riyadh exchange, the Tadawul, and at least one major exchange.

Under existing rules, London Stock Exchange candidates have to list at least 25 per cent of their stock on the exchange, so the plan to list just 5 per cent is a potential sticking point.

Despite the legal hurdles, Stock Takes feels sure the winning exchange will find a way to reach an accommodation.

NZX peaks
The collapse of oil prices is unnerving world sharemarkets, including our own, which this week hit an all time high before heading south.

The local market's S&P/NZX 50 Index topped last September's peak of 7571, closing at 7592.03 on Monday, before slipping back to close yesterday at 7563.69.

Globally, sharemarkets took a hit last year on rising interest rates and global insecurity after the Brexit vote in Britain and President Donald Trump's election in the United States.

A stable economy and some strong-performing companies such as A2 Milk, Mainfreight, Xero and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare have helped to keep the NZX 50 ticking over this year.

THL rides high
Tourism Holdings is riding high on the back of a booming tourism sector. The company said its net profit this year would come to about $29.5 million, up from February's forecast of $27m plus.

THL's share price has more than doubled in value in less than two years. New Zealand has been experiencing record short-term visitor arrivals and tourism has been a key plank in the country's economic growth over the past year.

Bellamy's bounces
Bellamy's Australia's share price has been on a roll since the infant formula company successfully raised about A$60.4m to help it renegotiate a supplier contract with Fonterra and to buy a manufacturing facility.

Bellamy's, once the darling of the Australian sharemarket, was one of a handful of stocks that rocketed up on demand for infant formula.

The stock slumped last year when it suffered "temporary volume dislocation" in its China sales channels. Bellamy's closed today on the ASX at A$7.42, up from A$3.73 in March.

Sandwiches galore
For all the hullabaloo about Z Energy's controversial plan last year to take its annual meeting online, just 30 people turned up to the last week's meeting.

That's an improvement on the 19 who attended last year. Those who viewed proceedings online numbered 50, up from nine last year.

Last week's AGM was held in the Z Energy's staff cafeteria, not quite as flash as the previous venue at Te Papa.

Despite a valiant effort by the 30, there were surplus sandwiches. Z Energy will continue with its physical AGMs, as well as the online version.

"It was a perfectly satisfactory AGM and we will probably do the same next year," a spokesman for the company said. Z Energy has a market capitalisation of $2.98 billion and about 10,000 shareholders.