Aramco hoping to begin its planned IPO this Sunday, report says


DUBAI – Saudi state-owned oil giant Aramco is planning to announce the start of its long-anticipated public offering on Sunday November 3, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing three sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

State broadcaster Al Arabiya reported that shares of the company will begin trading on the Tadawul, Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange, on December 11. The local outlet also said Aramco aims to announce the transaction price on November 17 with a final IPO price announcement planned for December 4.

In a comment to CNBC, Aramco said it “does not comment on rumor 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.”

The reports come as the kingdom kicks off its Future Investment Initiative (FII), an annual showcase of its investment opportunities, attended by major international investors and state officials.

Speculation and delayed announcements on the public listing of the world’s largest company have riveted investors and market watchers since plans for the float were first disclosed three years ago. The oil giant has delayed the IPO – originally scheduled for 2018 – multiple times, reportedly over Saudi concerns about public scrutiny over its finances and because of the complexity of its corporate structure. The listing would be the largest public offering in history.

The kingdom reportedly plans to list 1% of Aramco on its local stock exchange before the end of this year and another 1% in 2020, as first steps ahead of a public sale of roughly 5% of the company.

Speaking at the FII on Tuesday, Saudi Public Investment Fund Governor Yasir al-Rumayyan said that the prior separation of Aramco from the kingdom’s sprawling energy ministry was to avoid a conflict of interest, and told attendees that Aramco will have more institutional shareholders “soon.”

The Aramco listing would aim to drum up cash for a government looking to significantly reduce its budget deficit and diversify its economy beyond oil as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030.

-CNBC’s Emma Graham contributed to this article.