How Reuters covered the Aramco IPO
Reuters senior Gulf deals correspondent Hadeel Al Sayegh gave a behind-the-scenes look at how she and the team covered the story.
Here is an excerpt:
Q: How did the team report the stories from different angles?
A: We thought about how best to report the story to our clients. For example, Aramco decided to delay the launch of its IPO on October 18. Bankers were told that the delay was to incorporate its third quarter results to bolster investor confidence after the September 14 attacks that initially halved Aramco’s output. Through our conversations with sources and our own investigations, we revealed that the decision to delay the deal was actually about having more time to bring in cornerstone investors. We also reported the story from the perspective of ordinary people in Saudi Arabia and what they think of the company operating the country’s natural reserves going public. We looked at how the market would grow as a result of the deal and whether there was enough liquidity in the system in Saudi Arabia to absorb such a large offering, $25.6 billion to be really specific, and could just beat Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s record $25 billion New York stock market debut in 2014.
Q: What was the hardest part of the reporting?
A: The nature of the story was incredibly secretive. Many sources in Saudi would not use communication channels such as a cellphone or social media messaging applications. We had to rely on very secure applications. We had to meet banking sources away from areas close to their work for fear of a colleague spotting them speaking to a journalist. Also, decisions in Saudi Arabia, especially in relation to the Aramco IPO, usually happen on the weekends and very, very late at night, which meant we had to always be prepared and have the infrastructure and people available to help push out the story at any given moment. Adding to all of this, there have been a lot of competing interests in the IPO. Some people are for the deal and others against. We had to work out what people’s motivations were when they were speaking to us to make sure we were reporting accurately and being fair and transparent.
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