Saudi Aramco, the national petroleum and natural gas company of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on Sunday began a blockbuster domestic initial public offering (IPO) worth at least $24 billion (€21.7 billion) which values it at up to $1.71 trillion.

Aramco, the world’s most profitable company, said it would sell 1.5% of the firm or 3 billion shares in what could turn out to be the world’s biggest share sale.

Up to 0.5% of the shares are to be sold to individual investors, may sign up for the IPO until November 28. The remaining 1% are being offered to institutional investors, who may subscribe until December 4. 

The IPO is expected to be a huge hit among Saudi citizens. The company has launched an advertising blitz with billboards and promotional messages across the kingdom.

Aramco does not plan to market its share sale abroad, three people familiar with the matter said.

The price range has been set between 30-32 Saudi riyals per share ($8-8.5, €7-8).

Read more: Saudi Aramco goes public: What happens now?

Kingdom shake-up

Sunday’s offering is scaled down from original plans to list 5% of the firm to raise $100 billion, which had given it an estimated $2 trillion valuation, Saudi-owned broadcaster Al Arabiya reported.

The public listing is part of plans by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to shake up the kingdom’s economy and move it away from oil dependence.

The decision has been a long time coming as there have been a number of delays since it was first announced in 2016, including the beginning of a process to acquire a 70% stake in petrochemicals maker Saudi Basic Industries Corp.

Two months ago, there were major attacks on Aramco’s facilities that Saudi Arabia and the United States blamed on Iran.

Until now Aramco has been solely controlled by the Saudi Arabian government. It is overseen by the country’s Ministry of Energy, which is headed by Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a son of King Salman.

kw/mm (AFP, dpa)

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