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October 15, 2019

Aramco to announce IPO ‘very soon’: chairman


October 15, 2019

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia´s energy giant Aramco will announce its long-awaited stock market debut "very, very soon," its chairman said on Monday.

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.

"Aramco's IPO will take place sooner than you think," said Aramco chairman Yasir al-Rumayyan at a Saudi-Russian forum in Riyadh.

"I think that the announcement will be very, very soon."

According to Bloomberg, Aramco´s board is expected to give final approval by the end of this week to proceed with the sale.

The mammoth initial public offering (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 $2 trillion valuation of the company, but investors have debated whether Aramco is worth that much and there have been repeated delays in the launch originally envisaged for 2018.

The Saudi government has not given any explanation for the delays, but apart from holding out for the big-ticket valuation, they are also said to be concerned the IPO could bring intense legal scrutiny of the secretive company´s finances and inner workings.

The prospect of falling short of the $2 trillion valuation desired by Saudi rulers is widely considered the reason the IPO has been delayed.

In September, Aramco said its first half net income for 2019 slipped nearly 12 percent to $46.9 billion on lower crude prices.

It was the first time the company has published interim financial results and comes after Aramco opened its accounts for the first time in April, revealing itself to be the world´s most profitable company.Meanwhile, a number of Russian investors are interested in a planned initial public offering of Aramco, Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive officer of Russian sovereign wealth fund RDIF, told reporters on Sunday.

Dmitriev, speaking ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Saudi Arabia, also said that a global oil output deal between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC countries would be discussed at talks in Riyadh.

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