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Hasan Jamali / AP

Saudi Aramco said on Thursday that its planned initial public offering remains on track, Reuters reported. The state oil giant was responding to a Bloomberg article that said the planned IPO may slip past the second half of next year and into 2019.

Yes, but: As Bloomberg's Javier Blas tweeted in response, "Saudi Aramco (and Saudi officials) said the IPO remains 'on track' and 'on time.' But note the conspicuous absence of 2018 date in statement."

Bloomberg's report: Citing "people familiar with the matter," they wrote that the timetable looks increasingly tight and that the Saudis are "preparing contingency plans for a possible delay to the initial public offering of its state-owned oil company by a few months into 2019."

  • "Several important decisions on the IPO have yet to be taken, stretching the ability of the company and its advisers to sell shares before the end of next year," their story stated.

One of those big outstanding decisions is where will be the principal listing venue outside of Riyadh. New York and London are considered the leading candidates (a topic we explored here), and the differing levels of transparency required by different exchanges is a key part of the consideration.

Why it matters: I reached out to David Goldwyn, who was the top State Department energy official early in Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary, for perspective on if there were to be a delay of the IPO...

Overall, the IPO requires Aramco to allow a higher level of outside scrutiny. Goldwyn notes the range of key issues, including:

  • the type of transparency that different stock exchanges will require
  • how Aramco will "regularize" the amount of money the government takes from it;
  • and, "what level of comfort investors will have in the size and quality of the reserves."

More: Goldwyn says, "The Saudis don't want to sell at the bottom of the market, so timing matters. But delay is risky. Will the OPEC deal collapse? Will shale boom? Will EVs slow demand?"

Go deeper

8 mins ago - World

Scoop: Iran preparing to enrich weapons-grade uranium, Israel warns U.S.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference. Photo: Presidency of Iran handout via Getty

Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the U.S. and several European allies suggesting that Iran is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90% purity — the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon, two U.S. sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: Enriching to 90% would bring Iran closer than ever to the nuclear threshold. The Israeli warnings come as nuclear talks resume in Vienna, with Iran returning to the negotiating table on Monday after a five-month hiatus.

Biden: Fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Monday said that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Driving the news: Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how "we're going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk — Fauci says Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S. — U.S. restricts air travel from 8 countries over Omicron concerns.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns."
  3. States: New York declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron.
  4. World: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating worldWHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries — First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.