DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Saudi Aramco is looking to raise up to $25.6 billion in its initial public offering planned for December, overtaking the $25 billion record set by China's Alibaba Group Holding in 2014.
Officially known as Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the state-run petroleum and gas company announced Sunday that it plans to sell 1.5% of its shares for 30 to 32 Saudi riyal apiece on the Saudi Stock Exchange.
The price puts its valuation between $1.6 trillion and $1.7 trillion, making it the most valuable publicly traded company in the world over Apple and Microsoft.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman until now had insisted the company was worth $2 trillion. But he is pushing forward with the IPO even at a lower price, apparently worried that continued delays could impact his clout and Saudi Arabia's global standing. He first proposed the IPO in 2016.
Amid an economic slowdown, the Saudi government is eager to curb the country's dependence on oil. The funds raised will pay for infrastructure development and education, as well as for domestic and international investments by the Public Investment Fund, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund that is an investor in the SoftBank Vision Fund.
Aramco booked a $111.1 billion net profit in 2018, nearly double Apple's. But many market watchers question the company's value, pointing to sluggish crude oil prices and geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.
North Sea Brent crude futures have dropped to about $63 a barrel from $75 in April, an especially concerning plunge given the embargo on key oil producers like Iran and Venezuela, as well as the drone strikes on Aramco facilities in September.
Aramco began taking orders from domestic and foreign institutional investors on Sunday. The process ends Dec. 4, with the final price of the shares to be announced Dec. 5.
Saudi Arabia is also seeking a secondary listing for Aramco overseas as early as 2020.