Saudi Aramco targets London, New York, and Hong Kong for international listing

Billy Bambrough
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The chairman of Saudi Aramco Khalid al-Falih this weekend became the kingdom's oil minister (Source: Getty)

The public listing of what could become the world's most valuable company, Saudi Arabian oil company Aramco, looks on course to happen in London.

London – previously reported by City A.M. as a leading contender for the state-run company's IPO – has been named as part of a potential three-way foreign listing, along with rival global financial centres Hong Kong and New York.

Shares will also be listed in the Saudi capital Riyadh, though the internal Saudi market is not large enough to support the oil behemoth.

There have also been concerns that if Aramco listed exclusively on the Saudi Stock Exchange, known as the Tadawul, it would not be subject to any form of financial scrutiny or regulation.

The company, which Saudi Arabia has claimed will be valued at over $2 trillion (£1.4bn) when it lists five per cent of its shares, is expected to come to market either next year or 2018.

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Saudi Arabia is hoping rivals ExxonMobil, China’s Sinopec, and BP, will take on strategic stakes offering them access to upstream operations in exchange for refineries and the latest technology, according to reports in the Daily Telegraph, citing sources close to Saudi thinking.

BP refused to comment on the speculation, while Sinopec and ExxonMobil did not immediately return requests for comment.

Aramco would dwarf its competitors if it were to IPO at its expected value – currently the world's largest publicly listed oil company is ExxonMobil, sporting an $351bn valuation.

The listing would send Aramco to the top of the world's largest companies charts, leapfrogging consumer tech giant Apple which has a market capitalisation of $607bn.

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The valuation of the company is based on claims made by Saudi Arabia deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman last month and have not been independently verified.

The move to make the state oil company public is part of plans to bring in an elected board and make all financial information fully disclosed.

Saudi Arabia is hoping to open up to private investment in coming years and successful IPO of Aramco will be key to convincing foreign companies and investors to come to Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom last month laid out its so-called Saudi Vision 2030, aiming to reduce the country's reliance on revenue from crude oil exports.

Prince Salman claimed the kingdom will be able to live without oil by 2020, and that plans were not dependent on a recovery in the oil price.

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