Saudi Aramco’s long-awaited IPO “could be delayed until 2019 at the earliest,” the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing British officials briefed on the matter.
It is the second time the London-based newspaper was the first to report that the IPO would be delayed. The Financial Times reported the same news in September, but Saudi officials and the company through a statement on Twitter denied the reports.
The FT reports that “advisors are struggling to arrive at the $2 trillion valuation sought by Saudi’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.”
Last week, Bloomberg reported that Saudi Arabian energy minister also suggested the flotation might be delayed, which was the first such indication by any Saudi official that the IPO is behind schedule.
Following the first report by the FT last year, Saudi Aramco made an unusal statement on Twitter to deny the report. “FT report on Saudi Aramco IPO is entirely speculative. All listing venues under review for optimal decision, IPO process is on track for 2018,” the company tweeted last October.
CEO Amin Nasser also said last year on CNBC the listing was on track.
“We have always said that we will be listing in 2018, and to be more specific, in the second half of 2018,” he said. “However, I think journalists and writers — they are expecting more and more information, and we are governed by, you know, certain rules with regard to talking about the IPO and all of that.”
“The IPO is on track. The listing venue will be discussed and shared in due course,” Nasser added.
Reuters reported in November that it wasn’t just indecision holding the company back from choosing a listing place. An audit of Saudi Aramco’s oil reserves was reportedly unlikely to be completed before the end of 2017 “because of the huge scale of the task,” a later timeframe than previously indicated.
It has been over two years since then-Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman announced that he was planning to list 5% of the company as part of broader economic reforms. Proceeds from the IPO will go to the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).