A number of City firms including PwC, Standard Life Aberdeen and the London Stock Exchange (LSE) will be travelling to Saudi Arabia this weekend along with the City of London’s Lord Mayor – but have denied that persuading oil giant Saudi Aramco to list in London will be on the agenda.
A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation told City A.M. that the trip, led by Lord Mayor Charles Bowman, had been planned “months in advance” of the quiet battle which has broken out between stock exchanges around the world to lure Aramco to their market.
PwC’s head of private equity and sovereign wealth funds Will Jackson-Moore will attend the trip, but is primarily aiming to speak with the country’s Public Investment Fund, the firm said. It added that Aramco is not on the agenda but “may come up”.
A spokesperson for Standard Life Aberdeen said an employee was going as the firm “supports delegations which have an important role to play in helping promote UK financial services around the world”.
The spokesperson added: “In terms of Saudi Aramco, as a major global investor we are always concerned about the protection of shareholder rights, particularly those of minority shareholders, and any changes to the London market listing rules ought to take this into account. This being considered we would welcome a listing by Aramco in London.”
This mirrors the opinion of Standard Life Aberdeen’s chairman Gerry Grimstone, who said earlier this year that Aramco should list in London even if this meant bending the listing rules designed to protect investors.
The Financial Conduct Authority, which suggested these modifications to accommodate the Aramco mega-float, said it would not be sending anyone on the trip.
President Trump has also been vocal about his desire to bring Aramco, which could be valued at up to $2 trillion (£1.5 trillion), to the US markets.
Last month he took to Twitter to say that he would “very much appreciate Saudi Arabia doing their IPO of Aramco with the New York Stock Exchange”.