The much heralded public listing for five percent of Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company, seems unlikely to proceed in 2018, according to reports in London’s Financial Times.
The part-sale was initially planned for late 2018, with a simultaneous listing on Saudi Arabia’s own Tadawul exchange as well as one in a second country – with London’s stock exchange seen as the favourite to secure it, although New York and Hong Kong are also competing for the listing.
British officials, though, have now been told by Saudi counterparts that the flotation – the world’s biggest – will most likely now happen in the first half of 2019. It is believed that Saudi preparedness for a simultaneous flotation is not yet where it needs to be for a 2018 listing.
Amin Nasser, Saudi Aramco’s chief executive, said at a conference of British and Saudi business leaders on Thursday in London that all preparatory work required from the company would be completed in the latter half of 2018.
Arabian Business reported on Saturday that Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Khalid Al Falih believed that the IPO was most likely to happen in 2019.
“Between December 31 and January 1 there is no value lost for the kingdom,” he told reporters in London, before saying that the end of 2018 was an “artificial deadline”.
Apparently, advisers have also struggled to achieve the $2tn valuation sought by Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, not least as the company’s finances and internal operations have difficult for investors to fully scrutinise.
Saudi Arabia wants to sell five per cent of the world’s largest oil-producing company as part of an economic reform programme driven by The UK, which the crown prince visited last week, has been lobbying to secure the listing, which Prime Minister Theresa May and Xavier Rolet, former chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, visiting Riyadh last year.