Riyadh may favour listing the shares of Saudi Aramco on the New York, London or Toronto stock exchanges, but it is unlikely to pursue an Asian exchange for the float.
Western bourses have emerged as the likely destination of the listing after a series of meetings with stock exchanges across the world as the kingdom prepares to list less than 5 per cent of the state-controlled oil and gas giant in a 2018 initial public offering (IPO), according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the plans.
There has been intense competition for the listing, which is billed to be the biggest, with estimated $100bn in proceeds.
Saudi officials could prefer the New York Stock Exchange for the IPO as it offers the worlds deepest pool of liquidity and is among the worlds largest centres of financing for energy companies, along with London and Toronto, according to the Wall Street Journal report.
The report also said the officials also have talked to exchanges in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai, but are not pursuing plans of listing in those places.
The listing of Aramco is the centre piece of Saudi Arabias economic reform agenda. After the flotation, Riyadh plans to transfer the rest of the ownership to the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which will inflate its size to an estimated $2 trillion.
Aramco earlier in February selected investment bank Moelis & Co as an internal independent adviser, as part of a team tasked with preparing for the share sale. It joins the US JPMorgan and Michael Klein, an investment banker who runs his own advisory firm, who have already been selected to work on the transaction.
Aramco earlier in January also asked banks including US-based Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the UKs HSBC, and Credit Suisse to pitch for advisory roles on the IPO. A decision is expected soon on appointing international and local banks for preparatory work.
Reports suggested JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley, along with HSBC, are the frontrunners for the role of global coordinators on the deal.
Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said in October that the oil and gas giant will very soon announce a list of investment banks and consultants for the IPO. The public offering would cover Aramcos entire business and not just distribution and refining operations, he said at the time.
Saudi Aramco IPO timeline
21 February, 2017: Riyadh is likely to list Aramco on a western exchange
9 February, 2017: Aramco appoints IPO advisor
24 January, 2017: Saudi Aramco seeks IPO advisers
17 November, 2016: Saudi Arabia prepares to reveal size of its oil reserves
9 October, 2016: Aramco public offering gathers steam
Indications are Riyadh will fulfil its promise of listing Aramco in its entirety
6 October, 2016: Saudi Aramco prepares to reveal its accounts
The top global oil exporter is getting ready to publish its accounts next year ahead of planned 2018 IPO
27 September, 2016: Aramco is key to Saudi privatisation drive
CEO says listing of crown jewel shows governments commitment to economic diversification
26 September, 2016: Saudi Aramco to spend $334bn over the next decade
Oil well count will increase to 1,000 by 2020,
18 September, 2016: Japan is not eying Aramco IPO investment
The country is interested in jointly investing with the Saudi government in industrial ventures in the kingdom
5 September, 2016: Saudi Aramco may consider listing on Tokyo bourse
The kingdom is preparing to list bout 5 per cent of oil and gas giant on local and international exchanges
28 August, 2016: Aramco IPO is on track for 2018 listing
Saudi Arabia says the process will require time to optimise value for potential shareholders
11 August, 2016: Aramco appoints investment fund head to its board
Move hints at closer cooperation between PIF and Aramco which are central to kingdoms economic plans. Yasir al-Rumayyan is the managing director PIF and an advisor to the royal court
30 June, 2016: Saudi Arabia seeks Japanese investment in Aramco IPO
Officials from the two countries are discussing Japans investment in Aramco share float, possibly the biggest global IPO
26 April, 2016: Vision 2030: The reforms announced so far
Sweeping overhaul of Saudi economy announced by deputy crown prince including Aramco IPO
25 April, 2016: Riyadh announces sweeping reforms with Vision 2030 plan
Full details of economic roadmap due in 30-45 days
25 April, 2016: Saudi prince reveals economic vision
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveils main points of kingdoms strategy to diversify its economy in next 15 years
25 April, 2016: Saudi Arabia confirms Aramco listing
The kingdom plans to list less than 5 per cent of the company as part of economic reforms
20 April, 2016: Deals galore for investment banks in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Aramco, Tadawul and Saudi Grains are just a few among state entities looking to list shares
20 April, 2016: Saudi Arabia picks Aramco IPO advisors
Riyadh plans to list less than 5 per cent of Aramcos parent company
3 April, 2016: Saudi Arabia plans $2 trillion sovereign fund
Kingdom to create the worlds largest sovereign wealth fund including the oil giant Saudi Aramco. The Public Investment Fund (PIF), will eventually control more than $2 trillion including ownership of Aramco. Aramco offering could happen in 2018.
20 January, 2016: Spare oil capacity could hinder Aramcos upstream business listing
The company is more likely to list downstream assets if the government goes ahead with share sale plans
14 January, 2016: Riyadh to maintain controlling stake if Aramco is listed
Oil majors CEO says a range of options is being considered
11 January, 2016: Aramco listing could include upstream assets
Chairman lists companies slated for stand-alone listings
10 January, 2016: Aramcos share sale plan is part of a sweeping reform agenda
State oil majors potential IPO has implications for every energy consumer in Saudi Arabia and practically every energy-importing nation on earth
8 January, 2016: Aramco IPO to accelerate projects market overhaul
Listing is latest new initiative aimed at modernising project delivery in Saudi Arabia
8 January, 2016: Aramco listing could create worlds first $1 trillion company
Timing of IPO suggests government objective is creating wealth not raising funds
7 January, 2016: Riyadh considers listing Saudi Aramco
State oil company could be worth more than $10 trillion
In an interview with The Economist, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud said that a decision will be taken in the next few months and that a listing would make the company more transparent.