Aramco IPO is on track for 2018 listing

28 August 2016

Saudi Arabia says the process will require time to “optimise’’ value for potential shareholders

The initial public offering (IPO) of state oil company Saudi Aramco is on track for early 2018 as the government tries to figure out how best to sell stakes in the world’s biggest oil exporter.

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Khalid al-Falih said the process will require sufficient time to allow the government to consider how to optimise Aramco’s value for both the kingdom and potential shareholders.

“We have to optimise, optimise for the kingdom’s interest as the owners of the company and the owners of the resource today, optimise for the investors who have to enter into this,” he said in comments reported by news agency Bloomberg.

Saudi Arabia, Opec’s top oil exporter, aims to raise about $100bn by selling a stake of less than 5 per cent in Aramco. This is part of its aims in the National Transformation Plan (NTP) to wean its economy off its dependence on oil by 2020. Crude currently accounts for close to 80 per cent of the kingdom’s revenues. Saudi Arabia is expected to post a budget shortfall of $87bn this year.

No decision has been made yet on where to list the company, Al-Falih said. He added that some locations are less attractive in “terms of legal exposure and tax exposure”.

The Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) will be able to accommodate a company on the scale of Aramco once the bourse’s expansion plans are complete, he said.

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