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An Aramco oil refinery in Saudi Arabia in 1990. Photo: Tom Stoddart/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia's efforts to boost interest in the IPO of state oil giant Aramco are moving into higher gear.

Driving the news: The company posted a new "corporate overview" yesterday that pledges a $75 billion dividend in 2020 and for several years ahead.

  • It appears to be aimed at reassuring potential investors that they would benefit, as opposed to just the Saudi government, which would remain the dominant shareholder.
  • Aramco pledges that through 2024, if dividends fall below $75 billion, payments to outside shareholders are "intended" to be prioritized "so that they receive their pro-rata share of a $75 [billion] equivalent dividend."

In addition, Bloomberg reports that Aramco has "approached Asian state oil producers including Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and China's Sinopec Group about potential cornerstone investments" in the IPO.

Why it matters: Saudi officials hope the planned IPO will generate a mammoth inflow of cash to fund the kingdom's economic diversification.

  • But last month's attacks against a huge Aramco processing facility and oilfield highlighted its vulnerabilities too.
  • And the kingdom is expected to struggle to reach their hoped-for $2 trillion valuation — a level that would bring in $100 billion in what's eventually planned to be a 5% float.

What they're saying: "This dividend discussion appears to be structured so as to remove any doubt over where investors stand relative to the government, which will remain the majority shareholder," BCA Research's Bob Ryan tells Axios in an email.

But, but, but: The new presentation doesn't say outside investors would be guaranteed to benefit in a system where Aramco first and foremost bankrolls the Saudi government.

The intrigue: The document also amends the royalty rates. Starting in January, they would be 15% for Brent crude prices up to $70 per barrel, jumping to 45% when prices are between $70 and $100, and 80% for higher prices.

  • Per Bloomberg, that's lower than the current rate for prices below $70, though the new peak is higher.
  • "The company is laying out a royalty scheme that would appear to be competitive with other such schemes in states that are competing for foreign direct investment," Ryan says.

Go deeper: The fading Saudi oil freakout

Go deeper

Bipartisan group of senators unveils $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.

Inside Patch's new local newsletter platform

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Patch, the hyperlocal (and profitable) local digital news company, has built a new software platform called "Patch Labs" that lets local news reporters publish their own newsletters and websites, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: It follows a growing trend of journalists going solo via newsletters at the national level.

Scoop: Politico stars plot new Playbook

Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Three of Politico’s biggest reporting stars plan to launch a competitor to the company’s Politico Playbook franchise, sources tell me. 

Why it matters:  Jake Sherman, Anna Palmer and John Bresnahan will launch a daily newsletter in 2021 as a stand-alone company, the sources say. In effect, they will be competing against the Playbook franchise they helped create and grow.