Saudi Aramco brings on Kekst CNC as it restarts IPO plans

The world's most profitable company reportedly could go public next year or in 2021.

(Photo credit: Getty images)
(Photo credit: Getty images)

NEW YORK: Kekst CNC is providing corporate communications support to Saudi Aramco as the oil company reportedly restarts its work toward an initial public offering, according to sources familiar with the matter. 

The company’s agency roster includes other corporate and financial specialists. Initially brought in for media relations for the IPO, Brunswick Group is handling financial communications for the company. The state-owned petroleum company instructed FTI Consulting to stop working on investor relations related to the planned IPO in 2017, according to Reuters. Aramco has also worked with FleishmanHillard, according to Politico. 

However, the world’s most profitable company has restarted its IPO plans, holding talks with investment banks, according to Bloomberg, which reported that work on the floatation could gain momentum this year. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly said in an interview that the IPO will take place in 2020 or 2021, with the goal of a $2 trillion valuation and a listing in New York. 

Kekst CNC declined to comment. 

Saudi Aramco’s IPO plans were put on hold after it focused on acquiring a 70% stake in petrochemicals company Saudi Basic Industries, according to Bloomberg, meaning banks retained for the IPO had to re-pitch for the business. One bank, Evercore, is losing its position as a result, according to Reuters. 

Bin Salman has also met resistance from members of his own government over his economic agenda, including taking Aramco public, according to The Wall Street Journal

The assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October has also hurt the Saudis’ internaitonal standing and hindered the IPO, according to The Economist. A number of PR and lobbying firms quit their contracts with the Saudi government, as well as its business and philanthropic entities, in the ensuing firestorm. Other firms stuck with the Saudi government, and new ones picked up the slack. This summer, Teneo began providing business consulting and communications services for Neom, a $500 billion megacity being designed to diversify the kingdom’s economy. 

Financial and corporate specialist Kekst CNC was formed last year via the merger of Publicis subsidiaries Kekst and CNC into a firm with more than 600 clients and 250 staffers in 12 offices at the time. Former Kekst CEO Jeremy Fielding and former CNC CEO Bernhard Meising are co-leading the firm.

Kekst CNC vaulted to the top of MergerMarket’s global M&A adviser rankings by deal count, handling 124 deals in the first half of 2019. By deal value, Kekst ranked third globally with an aggregate value of more than $335 billion. The firm has advised biotech company Celgene during its $74 billion acquisition by biopharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck KGaA in its $6.5 billion takeover of Versum Materials, as well as Avantor’s IPO.

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