Saudi Arabia’s energy minister on Thursday said his government was pressing ahead with an IPO of the kingdom’s mammoth oil company, Aramco, seeking to quash reports the listing was off.
“The government remains committed to the @Saudi_Aramco IPO at a time of its own choosing when conditions are optimum,” said Khalid al-Falih, in a Tweet published by the government communications arm the CIC.
Reuters earlier reported the kingdom had called off plans for both international and domestic stock listings and had already let go advisers for the project.
“The decision to call off the IPO was taken some time ago, but no-one can disclose this, so statements are gradually going that way – first delay then calling off,” Reuters quoted one of four industry sources as saying.
Saudi Arabia’s young crown prince Mohammed bin Salman first raised the prospect of an Aramco listing in 2016, predicting the deal would be worth $2 trillion.
US President Donald Trump openly lobbied for a listing on the New York Stock Exchange via Twitter. London and Hong Kong were also potential venues.
But the IPO, slated for 2018, has been increasingly fraught with uncertainty, with officials pushing back the date to as far as 2019.
In July, Aramco CEO Amin al-Nasser told Al-Arabiya the listing could be affected by another tack — the acquisition by Aramco of an ownership stake in Saudi petrochemicals manufacturer SABIC.
SABIC is 70% owned by the country’s sovereign wealth fund, which the crown prince had singled out as a vehicle for his economic agenda.
An Aramco acquisition of SABIC would inject much-sought liquidity into the governmental fund, helping to fill the gap left by the delayed IPO.