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The UK Treasury is finalizing a $2-billion loan guarantee for Saudi Aramco just as Britain is trying to lure the Saudi oil giant to pick London for the international venue of what would be the world’s largest IPO ever, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.
A Treasury spokesman was quick to deny that the credit guarantee had anything to do with London’s bid to attract Aramco’s IPO.
Earlier today, a UK Treasury spokesperson told the FT:
“We will be providing Saudi Aramco with support in the form of credit guarantees to procure from the UK. This builds on previous support for UK exports as part of Saudi Aramco joint venture projects.”
The Treasury has confirmed that it was in the stage of finalizing the credit guarantee with Aramco via the governmental department UK Export Finance (UKEF), after having conducted due diligence.
According to sources familiar with the planned deal who spoke to the FT, the loan guarantee was a “desperate” attempt from the UK to get Aramco’s IPO, and the timing of such deal was “suspect”.
London is competing (mostly) with New York for hosting the international listing of 5 percent of Saudi Aramco. But the Saudi oil giant has not picked a venue yet, and speculation over the past two months suggested that the Saudis may opt for a private placement instead, or even delay the IPO.
While top Saudi officials have been quick to confirm that the listing “is on track for 2018”, London’s bid to host the IPO has been a curious one since the beginning, because—under current rules—any company wishing to opt for a premium listing needs to list at least 25 percent of its shares. So the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) aired the idea of changing the rules for Aramco in July.
Last month, the head of the FCA admitted that the watchdog met with executives from Saudi Aramco several months prior to its proposal to change the listing rules for the London Stock Exchange to accommodate the oil giant.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.