Saudi Aramco IPO may be delayed until 2019

Caricature of Mohammad Bin Salman and Netanyahu- Cartoon

Caricature of Mohammad Bin Salman and Netanyahu- Cartoon

Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil behemoth is increasingly looking to float locally as plans to list for an initial public offering (IPO) on an global exchange hang in the balance, Reuters reported, citing sources close to the matter.

The IPO, potentially the largest stock sale ever, had been scheduled for the second half of 2018, amid efforts to select an global venue for its listing.

The Financial Times reported earlier that Saudi officials told their British counterparts last week that a delay to 2019 was likely.

The announcement comes after a massive anti-corruption crackdown spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that saw numerous royals and prominent Saudi businessmen placed in detention until settlements were reached, netting the government over $106 billion in recovered assets. London's prospects for getting the Aramco listing were still solid, FT said.

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is "pleasant, open-minded, cultured and visionary", Coptic Pope Tawadros II said in a Monday statement.

"In addition to listing on Tadawul - the home exchange - a range of global options are being held under active review", an Aramco spokesman told AFP. The current plan is to have Aramco trade on both the kingdom's Tadawul stock exchange and a major foreign stock market, which would provide both prestige and the investor money needed to support a multibillion-dollar listing.

Those arrested included Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire businessman with stakes in companies such as Twitter, Inc, as well as Nasser bin Aqeel al-Tayyar, a board member of Saudi Arabia's biggest travel company, Prince Mitaab bin Abdullah, the head of the National Guard, and Adel Faqih, the minister of economy.

In an interview last week, Saudi Arabia's energy minister, Khalid al-Falih, hinted that an Aramco offering would probably come next year, asserting that the timeline would make little difference.

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Jason Tuvey, Middle East economist at Capital Economics, discusses what could cause a potential Saudi Aramco IPO delay and what Mohammad bin Salman accomplished on his United Kingdom visit.

Research firm Capital Economics has said it is unlikely to significantly impact the kingdom's near-term economic outlook.

Saudi Arabia's attorney general said in January that more than $106bn was seized from the citizens arrested in the purge.

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