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First shares in Aramco will be sold on Saudi stock exchange

Saudi Arabia, September 11, 2019

ABU DHABI: Saudi Aramco’s long awaited initial public offering (IPO) will take place “very soon” on the Tadawul, the Kingdom’s stock market, the state oil company’s chief executive Amin Nasser said on Tuesday.

There was also likely to be a later listing on a foreign market, Nasser said, but he declined to say where.

“The primary listing is to list locally but we are also ready for listing outside in other districts,” Nasser said at the World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi. “We are ready to list wherever shareholders decide.”

Nasser echoed remarks by Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, the Kingdom’s new energy minister, on the first day of the congress. “As you heard from Prince Abdul Aziz yesterday, it is going to be very soon. So, we are ready — that is the bottom line,” Nasser said.

His comments were the first confirmation by an Aramco official of a two-stage IPO, with the first tranche of shares — perhaps about 1 per cent of the company —offered to investors on the Tadawul.

New York, London and Hong Kong have all said they would like to stage the foreign tranche of the IPO, but Tokyo has also emerged as a strong candidate. There has been speculation the IPO would be announced at the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh next month, but some bankers believe it could be unveiled even sooner.

“Listing even a small number of shares of Aramco on Tadawul will provide Saudi citizens with an opportunity to invest in the Kingdom’s crown jewel,” Ellen Wald, energy consultant and author of the book Saudi Inc, told Arab News. “However, there are risks associated with this, as Tadawul is a relatively small exchange and Aramco is a large company.”

The Aramco IPO is expected to be among the largest in corporate history, and a raft of global banks last week paraded their credentials to be chosen for the prestigious and lucrative jobs advising the company and the Saudi government on the share sale. Once the winners are named, there is little to stop the IPO process from beginning immediately.

Addressing the congress on Tuesday, Nasser also said there was no limit to the oil industry’s potential if it could meet society’s demand for “ultra clean” energy. “The world faces an incredible climate challenge and we need a bold response to match,” he said.

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