Saudi Arabia's state-backed oil colossus has raised US$12 billion ($17.7b) in a record bond market debut which secures the kingdom's position among international investors.

Saudi Aramco's landmark deal to raise US$10b secured investor offers of more than 10 times that amount to breach the US$100b mark in a record for an emerging market debt deal.

The investor clamour raised even more interest than the kingdom's sovereign bond market debut in 2016, which drew offers worth more than US$67b, and trounced the US$52b interest in the US$12b deal offered by rival Qatar.

The heavy investor appetite for Aramco's bonds, which are split into six tranches with maturities ranging from three to 30 years, allowed the company to lower its yields to borrow at a cheaper rate than its own government.


Aramco will borrow at 13 basis points below Saudi government bonds, and 105 basis points above the US Treasury's. The success ends speculation that investor interest in Aramco might be muted by the Saudi state's fierce grip on the company, which generates the majority of the Kingdom's tax revenues.

The sale also represented a key test of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's plan to open its economy to global investors as part of the kingdom's 2030 economic reform in the wake of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

Investors were willing to look past the political concerns to Aramco's dizzying financial strength, unveiled for the first time ahead of the bond debut to reveal profits of US$111b last year.

The 470-page bond prospectus confirmed that the world's largest crude producer is more than twice as profitable as ExxonMobil, its next largest oil rival, and also more profitable than Apple and Google combined.

Aramco chose a string of western banks including J P Morgan, Morgan Stanley, HSBC, Citi and Goldman Sachs to arrange the bond issue alongside the Saudi National Commercial Bank.

The funds will be used to buy a 70 per cent stake in the country's crude refinery giant, Sabic, from the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund, in a bid to broaden the activities of the world's most profitable company.

Its decision to merge with Sabic promises to create a global energy powerhouse with implications for the price of oil.

Norway's Rystad Energy said its previous predictions held that Aramco would target "more aggressive exploration and development drilling" to ramp up its crude output.


However, the acquisition suggests that the kingdom will focus on maintaining the price of oil rather than driving the market lower by pumping more crude to grow its market share.