Jul 5, 2018

WSJ: Saudi Aramco IPO could be scuttled

Saudi and Foreign investors stand in front of the logo of Saudi state oil giant Aramco. Photo: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

The massive IPO of Saudi state oil giant Aramco may never happen at all, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Saudi officials had hoped to raise tens of billions of dollars to help fund the kingdom's economic diversification by going public with a small piece of the company.

Yes, but: The new WSJ report is the strongest indication yet that the already delayed offering, which could have been the largest ever, may be shelved for good.

“Everyone is almost certain it is not going to happen.”
— An unnamed senior executive tells WSJ

One level deeper: The Saudis have already backed off plans to hold the IPO in late 2018. Last month, the country's oil minister said it would be "nice" if it happened in 2019, but said the timing is not "critical."

Saudi officials have not chosen a venue for the international listing, with New York, London and Hong Kong previously floated as candidates.

Yes, but: "Saudi officials say they have determined that listing on a large stock exchange in New York, London or Hong Kong would carry too many legal risks, exposing Aramco to shareholder lawsuits, for example," the WSJ reports.

Another problem facing the Saudis is that outside experts say the company is unlikely to achieve the $2 trillion valuation that Saudi officials are seeking. The government was planning to float five percent of the company. The company declined to comment to the WSJ or when contacted by Axios on Thursday.

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