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Saudis Hint Aramco IPO Could Slip Beyond 2019

The initial public offering of Saudi oil giant Aramco—which has already been likely pushed to 2019 from the second half of 2018—could be postponed even further, for after 2019, comments by Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih suggested on Thursday.

“It would be nice if we can do it in 2019,” al-Falih said at an OPEC conference in Vienna today, Bloomberg reports.

“There is a lot more at stake than just ticking a box and say: ‘we got this out of the way,” the minister said, nothing that “timing isn’t critical for the government of Saudi Arabia.”

Since the Saudis initially floated the idea to list 5 percent in their state oil giant, officials had been insisting that the IPO would take place in the second half of 2018, until in March this year al-Falih himself hinted that there might be a delay and the share sale could slip to 2019.

Last month, the Saudi energy minister commented again on the much-hyped IPO, saying that it was “most likely” to take place in 2019, likely confirming that plans for the sale of 5 percent in Aramco had been pushed from this year to next.

The planned sale of 5 percent of Aramco—in what would likely be the world’s largest IPO ever—could bring Saudi Arabia US$100 billion if Saudi officials’ valuation of the company at US$2 trillion stands. Analysts, however, value the Kingdom’s oil giant at much less, with the majority putting the valuation at between US$1 trillion and US$1.5 trillion.

Various analysts have been wondering whether the Saudis will manage to pull off the listing of 5 percent of Aramco this year, amid speculation as to which foreign stock market the Saudis will choose, if any, and if the price of oil would be high enough to support a high valuation for the company.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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