Saudi energy giant Aramco says its ready for two-stage IPO, timing up to government.

Saudi energy giant Aramco is ready for a two-stage IPO but the timing is up to the government, its chief executive said Tuesday, flagging a possible foreign listing as part of the offering.

Aramco is “ready” for the giant stock market debut but the timing is a “government decision”, Amin Nasser told reporters on the sidelines of the world energy congress. 

“One of the primary listings is going to be local but we are also ready for listing outside.”

Nasser’s remark came after the wall street journal reported last week that Aramco was considering a domestic debut and a subsequent international listing — possibly in Tokyo. 

Aramco has said it plans to float around five percent of the state-owned company in 2020 or 2021 in what could potentially be the world’s biggest stock sale.

The planned IPO forms the cornerstone of a reform programme envisaged by the kingdom’s de facto ruler crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to wean the Saudi economy off its reliance on oil.

It aims to rise up to 10.4 trillion shillings based on a 206 trillion shillings valuation of the company, but investors have long debated whether Aramco is really worth that much.

The prospect of falling short of the $2 trillion valuation desired by Saudi rulers is widely considered the reason the IPO — previously scheduled for 2018 — has been delayed.

Earlier this month, Aramco said its first half net income for 2019 slipped nearly 12 percent to 4 point 8 trillion shillings on lower crude prices.

It was the first time the company has published half-year financial results and comes after Aramco opened its secretive accounts for the first time in April, revealing itself to be the world’s most profitable company. If the foreign portion of the Aramco listing goes ahead in Tokyo, it would be a setback for London, New York and Hong Kong, which have all vied for a slice of the business

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