Saudi Aramco CEO confirms IPO will list locally ‘very soon’

ABU DHABI — Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, is prepared for a listing on the Riyadh stock exchange and it will take place “very soon,” its CEO said Tuesday.

“What we have always said is that Aramco is ready for listing whenever the shareholders make a decision to list,” Aramco President and CEO Amin Nasser told reporters at the World Energy Conference in Abu Dhabi.

“And as you heard from His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz yesterday, it is going to be very soon. So, we are ready — that is the bottom line.”

Nasser also confirmed the state oil giant’s aims to list internationally in addition to Saudi Arabia, though did not specify which other locations are under consideration.

“The primary listing is to list locally but we are ready also for listing outside in other districts,” Nasser said.

When asked whether he would prefer to see Aramco list in Tokyo, Japan, he replied: “We are ready to list wherever shareholders decide.”

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

The oil giant has delayed its IPO, originally scheduled for 2018, 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.

WATCH NOWVIDEO00:24Saudi Aramco will be listed once shareholders choose location, CEO says

Speaking on Monday, new Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman underlined the importance of regulation for Saudi Aramco, as it gears up for its long-anticipated IPO.

“I have no doubt in my mind that emphasizing the separation between Aramco, the corporate, and the ministry as regulator is a must,” he told CNBC contributor Helima Croft at an audience of delegates.

“The regulator cannot be a person, the regulator has to be an institution. That regulator role has to be defined, and the contours of the role of the regulator has to be understood,” he added.

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.