Saudi Aramco: where ambition meets clarity – Diligencia’s year in review

As I write, financial newspapers are leading with the news that Saudi Aramco has on the second day of public trading briefly achieved a valuation of US$2 trillion. This is the culmination of a two-year story since the IPO announcement first prompted a frenzy of interest from international banks to world leaders, all pitching for a slice of the action. Eventually a modest 1.5% of the company, touted as the most valuable in the world, was floated on Tadawul. The US$2trn headline figure now appears to vindicate the ambitious target that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman set for the IPO, despite the fact that the offering had been significantly scaled back and ended up being offered almost exclusively to a domestic and regional investor base.

This fascinating episode in Saudi Arabia’s evolution as an emerging power has prompted me to reflect on the nature of ambition and the importance of Tenacity – one of Diligencia’s core values. The Crown Prince’s relentless pursuit of the target valuation came in this case at the expense of the international engagement and recognition he so obviously craves. Saudi Arabia has shown it can deliver on its objectives, even if it means compromising on its aspirations to attract global investment, talent and now tourism.

In a strange way Diligencia’s fortunes are tied to those of Saudi Arabia (always one of our top three jurisdictions in most demand) as well as the other economies in the region that we serve. We are single-mindedly focused on delivering clarity every day to organisations making business decisions relating to the Middle East & Africa.

For that reason in 2019 we have invested in the relaunch of our online platform, improving the user experience, making it easier to find the information you are looking for, and adding new features and content such as our Ruling Families dataset and a case management tool we are calling Project Folders. And our database continues to grow – we have added around 275,000 profiles this year from jurisdictions such as Jordan, Cote d’Ivoire and Angola.

Our international engagement has also gone from strength to strength; in September, we were asked to support MEED and Gulf Capital by highlighting key trends within the UAE business environment for their annual SME Awards. We have sponsored the annual ACAMS AML & Financial Crime Conference in Abu Dhabi as well as the Arab & African Mining Conference in London. More recently we announced a partnership with Sayari, a US company that offers data products for professionals in a variety of financial crime prevention and third-party risk management roles. And without wanting to forget the community on our own doorstep we have been busy collecting donations in support of Homeless Oxfordshire’s campaign to bring some comfort to those less fortunate than ourselves over the festive period.

So with 2019 nearly behind us, we look forward to a new year with renewed purpose and optimism for the future. Whether in Saudi Arabia, Africa or Oxford, our overriding hope is that a combination of ambition (tenacity) and clarity can lead to greater engagement and prosperity for all.

Thank you for your continued support and with very best wishes for 2020.