Saudi Aramco Listing Delayed until 2019
An initial public offering (IPO) by Saudi Aramco is unlikely to take place before 2019 at the earliest, according to reports from London, where Prince Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently held talks with the British government.
The oil and petrochemicals group had been planning to float 5% of the company’s shares, both at on the Saudi Tadawul and on an international exchange. The launch was expected to take place this year, but according to the business newspaper Financial Times (FT), the project will be delayed.
Aramco is the world’s biggest oil producer and one of the principal sources of wealth in the Kingdom, where, as observers point out, taxes only recently have been levied. Even though only 5% was planned to be floated, the launch was expected to be the biggest ever.
Financial advisers to the Saudi government are reportedly struggling to achieve the $2 trillion valuation targeted by the prince, while at the same time grappling with financial, legal and regulatory challenges stemming from opening up a company that for decades has been shrouded in secrecy, the FT said.
While Prince Mohammed is said to favor an ipo in New York – a trial balloon already has been launched by US President Donald Trump –Saudi officials on the whole are believed to be split, with Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih regarding London a better fit and others eyeing Hong Kong, where big cornerstone investors could be brought on board.
Some commentators have suggested the listing might not go ahead at all, speculating that the stake could be sold to a sovereign wealth fund, possibly the Chinese.