Secretive Saudi oil giant Aramco achieved a colossal $33.8bn in net income over the first six months of 2017 according to reports from Bloomberg.
If the figures were accurate, then the company's financial performance, which had never been released publicly and was normally limited to top executives from the company, far outstripped that of established US heavy-hitters such as Apple, JPMorgan Chase and Exxon Mobil.
Bloomberg stated that the results were the “most extensive set of data yet” obtained regarding the company's finances and provided an important insight ahead of Aramco's proposed initial public offering.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was seeking to raise a record $100bn through the sale of a 5% stake in the company via an international listing in London, New York or Hong Kong, which Bloomberg speculated was likely to take place in 2019.
Bloomberg also reported that the company is almost entirely free of debt and enjoys miniscule production costs compared to industry competitors.
However, at just $13bn, the company's equivalent dividend payment to the Saudi government for the first half of 2017 was rather small when compared to the $6.4bn and $7.8bn paid out by the likes of Exxon and Dutch Shell, respectively.
Yet when combined, those two companies produced less oil than Aramco.
That limited cash generation was, in part, due to the 50% income tax rate levied on Aramco, together with an additional variable royalty on its revenues.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia relies heavily on Aramco, which generates the bulk of the nation's revenue, with the company's finances used to fund social and military expenditure as well as the notoriously lavish lifestyles of the Saudi royalty.
Nonetheless, Aramco had refused to comment on the validity of the figures, aside from referring to them as “inaccurate” in an official statement.