Aramco IPO ‘is on track’ for 2018, says Saudi oil minister

Saudi Arabia is still aiming to complete both international and domestic portions of the initial public offering of its state oil company in 2018, Saudi oil minister Khalid Al-Falih said Tuesday.

Asked whether both the local and international parts of the IPO will happen in 2018, Al-Falih said “Yes of course. It is on track.”

He declined to answer questions on whether Chinese investors were interested in buying ahead of the IPO as cornerstone investors.

Al-Falih’s comments came after people familiar with the situation said last week that the kingdom is considering delaying the international portion of the offering until at least 2019.

A two-stage Saudi Aramco IPO is one of several options being considered, the people said, asking not to be identified because discussion are private. Another plan would include listing in Riyadh next year and privately selling a stake in Aramco to one or several cornerstone investors, one of the people said.

The government has said the sale of 5 percent of the shares could value the company at as much as $2 trillion, though analysts have tended to give lower estimates. If Saudi Arabia achieves its valuation, the 5 percent stake it plans to sell would raise about $100 billion. That would eclipse the $25 billion raised by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2014.

The IPO is the centerpiece of a broad-ranging economic reform program proposed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the dominant political force in the kingdom. Any delay would be a setback to his plans as well as the plethora of international investment banks and international exchanges eyeing millions in fees and commissions.

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