Saudi Arabia has called off Aramco float, report suggests


Saudi in Saudi Aramco's officesImage copyright

Saudi Arabia is reported to have cancelled the stock market listing of state oil giant Aramco, set to have been the biggest ever share flotation.

Reuters quotes industry sources as saying the group of financial advisers working on the plan to sell 5% of the company has been disbanded.

The wire service quoted a source suggesting the decision was taken some time ago but is not being announced.

Neither Saudi Aramco nor the Saudi Royal Court has commented on the story.

Rumours emerged last autumn that the flotation might be cancelled.

However, it was thought then that the government might sell Aramco shares privately to the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds and institutional investors.

Biggest in history

Both New York and London had vied to have the listing, which, while only representing 5% of the company, would have valued Aramco at around $2 trillion (£1.55 trn).

Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince had proposed the share sale as part of his economic reform agenda, bringing western regulation and scrutiny to the company.

However, in the UK, MPs expressed concern that regulators had been prepared to water down corporate governance rules in order to attract the flotation.

There had also been reports that some members of the Saudi royal family were worried about legal risks in having a listing in New York, citing US terrorism legislation that might allow citizens to sue Saudi Arabia.

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