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Aramco says ready for two-stage IPO, timing up to govt

AFP

Abu Dhabi

Saudi energy giant Aramco is ready for a two-stage IPO but the timing is up to the government, its chief executive said Tuesday, flagging a possible foreign listing as part of the
offering.

Aramco is “ready” for the giant stock market debut but the timing is a “government decision”, Amin Nasser told reporters on the sidelines of the World Energy Congress.

“One of the primary listings is going to be local but we are also ready for listing outside.” Nasser’s remark came after the Wall Street Journal reported last week that Aramco was considering a domestic debut and a subsequent international listing — possibly in Tokyo.

Aramco has said it plans to float around five percent of the state-owned company in 2020 or 2021 in what could potentially be the world’s biggest stock sale.

The planned IPO forms the cornerstone of a reform programme envisaged by the kingdom’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to wean the Saudi economy off its reliance on oil.

It aims to raise up to $100 billion based on a USD 2 trillion valuation of the company, but investors have long debated whether Aramco is really worth that much.

On Sunday, King Salman promoted one of his sons, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, to the pivotal role of energy minister, replacing veteran official Khalid al-Falih, as the top crude exporter accelerates preparations for the much-anticipated IPO.

The appointment of Prince Abdulaziz marks the first time a royal family member has been put in charge of the all-important energy ministry.

In his first comments since taking up the role, the minister on Monday endorsed oil supply cuts, saying in Abu Dhabi that they would benefit all producing nations amid an oversupplied market and sagging prices.

Crude prices are currently moving around levels of $60 a barrel, compared with more than USD 75 a year ago, but were given a boost Monday by the Saudi official’s comments.              

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