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Saudi Aramco will eventually pick the Hong Kong Stock Exchange for its international listing, the bourse’s chief executive Charles Li told CNBC. He said that Hong Kong would make more sense than London, Tokyo, or New York—the other three exchanges on Aramco’s short list—because it would provide the company with access to Chinese investors.
Even if Hong Kong doesn’t make the cut for the initial offering, Li is confident that Aramco will decide in favor of a secondary international listing there.
"A deal in Hong Kong with the possibility of accessing, either now or later, the Chinese investing public works wonders for Saudi Arabia, for China, for Hong Kong and for everybody else," Li said. "So, I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be here, it may not be here right away, it may not be here on the first go, but it will be here."
Last year, London emerged as a favorite over the New York Stock Exchange, because of litigation risks after Congress passed a post-9/11 law allowing U.S. citizens to sue Saudi citizens, and concerns over how the OPEC production cut deal could be construed as price fixing, which is illegal in the United States. Hong Kong and Tokyo have garnered less attention in the media.
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Earlier this month, Riyadh took a decisive step towards the IPO, which is scheduled for the second half of this year, by making Aramco a joint stock company in preparation for its initial public offering. The company has a fully paid capital of US$16 billion (60 billion riyals) divided into 200 billion ordinary shares, and a board of eleven directors who will be in charge of the company’s listing.
There have been doubts whether Riyadh will make the IPO’s deadline, which is supposed to value the world’s biggest oil company in terms of reserves at between US$1 and 2 trillion, though some external valuations peg its value much lower. However, government and company officials are toeing the line, insisting that everything is going as planned and that all potential listing destinations are still being discussed.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.