Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Photo by Nicolas Asfouri/Getty Images.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said delayed IPO plans for state oil giant Aramco will go forward in late 2020 or early 2021, according to a new interview with Bloomberg.

Why it matters: The massive listing — initially slated for late 2018 — is designed to raise tens of billions of dollars to fund the kingdom's economic diversification plans. But it's been repeatedly pushed back, and a few weeks ago looked dead, or at least in a deep freeze.

  • "Everyone heard about the rumors of Saudi Arabia canceling the IPO of Aramco, delaying that, and that this is delaying Vision 2030," bin Salman told Bloomberg. "This is not right."

Yes, but: There's reason for skepticism, as this isn't the first time the Saudis have brushed off reports of IPO delays, or if they have enough appetite for the type of transparency that would come with an Aramco IPO.

And there's still the challenge of meeting bin Salman's hoped-for $2 trillion valuation, which several analysts doubt. Saudi officials also have not made key decisions, such as the stock exchange or exchanges on which Aramco shares would be listed.

The bottom line: MBS said the multi-year delay stems from plans to first have Aramco obtain a controlling stake in Sabic, the kingdom's petrochemicals giant. According to Bloomberg, he said that after the Sabic deal is done in 2019, a year will be needed before the IPO.

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Trump commutes Roger Stone's sentence

Roger Stone arriving at his sentencing hearing on Feb. 20. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump on Friday evening commuted the sentence of his longtime associate Roger Stone, according to two senior administration officials. Stone in February was sentenced to 40 months in prison for crimes including obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress.

Why it matters: The controversial move brings an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars. He had been scheduled to report to prison on July 14.

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Data: COVID Tracking Project and state health department data compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti and Naema Ahmed/Axios

13 states this week surpassed records set just last week for their highest number of coronavirus infections in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project and state health department data. 16 states in total reported new highs.

The big picture: The United States' alarming rise in coronavirus cases isn't just due to increased testing — particularly where the number of cases has grown fastest over the last month, Axios' Andrew Witherspoon and Caitlin Owens report.

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m. ET: 3,169,611 — Total deaths: 133,885 — Total recoveries: 983,185 — Total tested: 38,856,341Map.
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