Saudi Arabia signals Aramco IPO will happen imminently

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
A Saudi Aramco oil refinery. Photo: Belenkaya Marianna/Kommersant/Sipa USA

Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company could start trading shares imminently, according to the government’s energy minister.

Saudi Aramco’s much-anticipated initial public offering (IPO) will come “soon,” Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said in a speech reported by Reuters on Wednesday.

The launch by one of the world’s biggest companies had been anticipated on 11 December, but there are now reports it could come as early as 3 November.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman had said three years ago that he hoped to float about 5% of Aramco via a local and international listing, with a company valuation of at least $2 trillion (£1.5 trillion).

There has been a race between financial centres in New York, London, and Hong Kong over which banks will handle a deal that could generate an estimated $1bn in fees.

READ MORE: Saudi's huge secretive oil company unveils earnings amid IPO talk reignition

The energy minister said in a speech at Riyadh’s Future Investment Initiative conference: “It is going to come soon ... but it will come at the right time with the right approach and definitely with the right decision.

“And it will be a Saudi decision first and foremost. Specifically, Prince Mohammed's decision."

Aramco told Yahoo Finance UK on Tuesday: “As a matter of policy, Saudi Aramco does not comment on rumour or speculation. The company continues to engage with the shareholders on IPO readiness activities.

“The company is ready and timing will depend on market conditions and be at a time of the shareholders choosing.”