Saudi Arabia leaning towards New York for Aramco IPO

Saudi Arabia is favoring New York over London for the main foreign listing of state oil giant Aramco, despite warnings from some financial and legal advisers as they see London as a less problematic and risky option between the two.

A final decision on where to stage what could be the world’s largest initial public offering (IPO) will be taken by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman who oversees the kingdom’s economic and energy policies, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Their comments point to internal disagreements between what some advisers are recommending and what the crown prince wants.

Prince Mohammad may choose to list Aramco on the New York Stock Exchange for “political considerations”, given the longstanding relationship between Riyadh and Washington, the sources said. However, they added that financial and commercial factors would also play a role in the choice.

Aramco said in a statement that no decision has been taken yet on the listing venue, beyond the Saudi exchange Tadawul. The company also said all options are still being held under consideration, and there is no timetable requirement for an immediate definitive decision.

Several advisers have recommended London for the main listing outside Saudi Arabia, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last month, partly due to concerns that a US flotation would require greater disclosure of sensitive information on Aramco.

One senior industry source, however, said New York is likely to be the favored option for the Saudi government and Prince Mohammad.