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Saudi Aramco CEO Affirms IPO On Track For H2 2018

Saudi Aramco has once again refuted reports of the past month that it could delay the listing of 5 percent of its shares in what is expected to be the biggest initial public offering ever, with Aramco’s chief executive telling CNBC in an interview that the IPO is on track for the second half of 2018, as planned.

“We have always said that we will be listing in 2018, and to be more specific, in the second half of 2018,” Aramco’s chief executive Amin Nasser said in the interview on Sunday.

“The IPO is on track. The listing venue will be discussed and shared in due course,” Nasser told CNBC.

Last week, Saudi Aramco said in a tweet that it had no intention of shelving its plan for an initial public offering in 2018, dismissing a report by the Financial Times as “entirely speculative”.

Earlier that week, the FT had quoted sources as saying the Saudi state-held energy company was considering foregoing a foreign listing, and instead opting for a private share sale in addition to the home-bourse listing. Talks with private investors and sovereign wealth funds have picked up in recent weeks, according to Financial Times sources. Private sales discussions have included the government of China.

Asked by CNBC yesterday about that report, Nasser said: “Saudi Aramco are not talking, as I said, to the Chinese or others.”

Over the past month, Saudi Aramco has been busy denying growing reports and speculation that it could postpone the highly anticipated IPO until 2019, or could completely forgo a listing and go for a private placement with sovereign wealth funds as investors.

Related: China Drives Natural Gas Demand Boom

The venue of the possible international listing has also been subject of much talk in recent weeks. Aramco plans to list 5 percent of the company on the Saudi Arabian market and on one or more international stock exchanges. Saudi officials have claimed that the company is worth US$2 trillion, which, they assume, could mean getting close to US$100 billion from listing 5 percent.

New York and London have been studied as potential listing venues, and according to Aramco, they still are.

Earlier this month, the head of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) admitted he had held talks with Aramco officials several months before the watchdog proposed changes in the listing rules to accommodate the Aramco listing. The proposal sparked outrage and a legislative probe.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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