Trump gives Saudi purge the thumbs up - days after saying Aramco should list in the US

 
Catherine Neilan
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"They know exactly what they are doing." (Source: Getty)

Donald Trump might be in Asia, but he's still watching events in Saudi Arabia as they unfold - and has given the state his backing.

Over the weekend, Saudi police arrested 11 princes and dozens of officials and businessmen, under the direction of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and his father King Salman. Billionaire businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who owns investment firm Kingdom Holding, is among those held, according to Reuters.

The arrests have been explained as part of an anti-corruption drive spearheaded by the prince, although the move has been widely interpreted as a way for the prince to get rid of potential rivals so he can cement his own power.

Trump, who is currently in South Korea, tweeted this morning: "I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing.

He added: "Some of those they are harshly treating have been “milking” their country for years!"

These tweets come days after he urged Saudi Arabia to pick the United States for oil giant Saudi Aramco's mega listing.

"I want them to strongly consider the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or NASDAQ, or frankly anybody else located in this country," Trump tweeted during his flight to Japan's capital, Tokyo, for the start of his Asian tour.

Yesterday Downing Street said there was a "strong case" for Aramco to list in London.

New York and London are widely seen as the main contenders for the listing, alongside Saudi Arabia’s own Tadawul exchange, with Hong Kong also thought by some to have an outside chance.

The Saudi government plans to list five per cent of the company with a hoped-for valuation of $2 trillion (£1.5 trillion), which would make it the largest firm in the world by market capitalisation.

However, it has split the City, with some groups warning it would weaken the UK’s reputation for institutional strength.

The chair of the Treasury select committee Nicky Morgan, and Beis committee chair Rachel Reeves, have both told City A.M. of their concerns over the listing.

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