Saudi Aramco Senior Vice President Mohammed Al-Qahtani takes part in the Russian-Saudi Investment Forum. Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS (Photo by Stanislav Krasilnikov\TASS via Getty Images)
  • Saudi Aramco's record-shattering IPO made 3 billion shares available to public investors, though the offering only represents 1.5% of the oil giant's total value.
  • Most large-cap companies offer far more of their stock in IPOs. Apple, Amazon, and Google-parent Alphabet all have more than 84% of their shares listed publicly.
  • With the majority of Aramco's shares held by Saudi Arabia, government officials retain control of the firm and can lead it to take actions beneficial for the country.
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Saudi Aramco's record-breaking initial public offering brought 3 billion shares to Saudi Arabia's Tadawul exchange, but the stake only represents 1.5% of the oil company's total value.

The proportion of shares offered in the IPO is significantly lower than average, as other large-cap companies typically list the majority of their shares publicly. Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet all have more than 84% of their shares held by public investors, according to Bloomberg data. Facebook has 98.8% of its shares held by public markets.

Of the 1,000 largest public companies by market cap, only Volkswagen-owned Audi and German utility firm EnBW boast smaller stakes on public markets, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. The firms have just 0.36% and 0.37% of their shares floated, respectively.

The rest of Aramco's shares remain under government control, giving officials the ability to easily influence the firm's actions to benefit government interests. Saudi government entities alone sank $2.3 billion (R34 billion) into the IPO, despite the kingdom's push to diversify its economy away from its colossal oil industry.

Saudi Arabia plans to use "a lot" of the offering's proceeds on local investments, Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan told Bloomberg TV on Thursday. Other planned investments include a futuristic city estimated to cost $500 billion (R7 trillion).

Though Aramco's listing seems to keep most power in the kingdom's hands instead of distributing it to shareholders, the same effect is achieved among most large companies. Alphabet, Berkshire Hathaway, and Ford all use dual-class share structures, giving special parties increased voting power.

The IPO took place December 5, valuing the firm at $1.7 trillion (R25 trillion) after Aramco sold 3 billion shares at 32 Saudi riyals (R126) each. Two thirds of shares offered were sold to institutional investors, with Saudi-based companies buying up 37.5% of the portion.

Aramco shares begin trading on the Tadawul exchange Wednesday.

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