Stories you may have missed from the world of business


Saudi Aramco takes another step toward 1st public offering

Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant Aramco released a lengthy document late Saturday that lays the ground for investors to buy into the world’s most profitable company, but it remains unknown how much is on offer. In its preliminary prospectus, Aramco revealed that it will sell up to 0.5 percent of its shares to individual retail investors. It did not indicate how much will be made available to institutional investors. Still, the highly-anticipated sale of even less than 2 percent of the company has been generating global buzz because even a sliver would make this the world’s biggest initial public offering. Saudi Aramco is the kingdom’s oil and gas producer, pumping more than 10 million barrels of crude oil a day, or some 10 percent of global demand. Despite questions over Aramco’s valuation and how much of the company will ultimately be for sale on Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock exchange, the company’s size and profitability has made it undeniably attractive to potential investors. The oil and gas company netted profits of $111 billion last year, more than Apple, Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil combined. Trading on Saudi Arabia’s domestic exchange could begin as soon as Dec. 11, according to state-linked media. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Toxic air adds to India’s woes as economy deteriorates

The sudden slowdown in India’s economy is spreading from carmakers to gold, leaving policymakers fretting as the room for stimulus runs out. A crunch that started out in the shadow banking industry and hurt retailers and auto businesses is now infecting everything from diesel to home sales. Company defaults on bonds are at a record, output of coal, cement and other heavy industries are contracting, manufacturing is shrinking and trade has plunged. On top of that, toxic air in New Delhi is driving away tourists, disrupting flights, and shutting schools. It’s all culminating in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biggest test since he was re-elected with an overwhelming majority in May, with the government so far failing to inspire confidence in its efforts. The government has taken several steps to boost the economy -- the biggest of which are a cut to corporate taxes worth $20 billion and a $3.5 billion fund unveiled Wednesday to revive stalled housing projects -- spurring a rally in the stock market. However, the fiscal measures so far have focused on boosting investment rather than domestic spending, with authorities stopping short of bailouts and direct support to consumers given a widening revenue hole in the budget. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Oracle presses ahead with Pentagon cloud lawsuit despite Amazon’s contract-bid loss

Oracle is pressing forward with a long-running legal challenge to the Pentagon’s massive cloud computing contract, its third such attempt to upend the procurement since the project was announced 18 months ago. In an appeal filed recently in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the company accused the Defense Department of improperly limiting competition when it set the terms of the procurement. Oracle challenged an earlier Pentagon decision to toss its bid, arguing it now meets the minimum requirements. And it doubled down on long-standing accusations that revolving-door hires ‘‘corrupted’’ the process and skewed the playing field in Amazon’s favor. Oracle is now seeking an injunction that would block the Defense Department from assigning additional work on the contract. Oracle’s appeal comes as a surprise to those who followed the company’s lawsuit in the US Court of Federal Claims, which fixated on the idea that Amazon had an unfair advantage. In the end, Amazon lost to Microsoft. — WASHINGTON POST



North Sea oil man finds new opportunities in dying fields

Graeme Fergusson sees life in the death of an oil field. Five years ago, the blonde-haired native of Aberdeen, Scotland had a fairly conventional role in the industry, focusing on squeezing every drop of crude from reservoirs in the North Sea. But a brush with the worst oil slump in a generation sent his career on a detour and he’s now more inclined to perform last rites on a field than to keep it alive. Fergusson is the managing director of Fairfield Decom, which specializes in dismantling offshore oil and gas platforms. It may not be as glamorous as frontier exploration, but it’s potentially a huge business. ‘‘Over 20 billion pounds ($26 billion) is to be spent on UK decommissioning by 2030,’’ said Paul Main, a Wood Mackenzie analyst focused on the upstream supply chain. — BLOOMBERG NEWS