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Saudi Aramco eyes Tokyo for two-stage IPO — report

By AFP - Aug 29,2019 - Last updated at Aug 29,2019

Investors stand in front of the logo of Saudi state oil giant Aramco during a January 2016 forum in Riyadh (AFP file photo)

RIYADH — Saudi oil giant Aramco is considering a two-stage initial public offering (IPO) with a domestic debut and a subsequent international listing possibly in Tokyo, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Aramco has said it plans to float around 5 per cent of the state-owned company in 2020 or 2021 in what could potentially be the world's biggest stock sale.

The oil giant is now considering a plan to raise as much as $50 billion in a domestic listing, the Journal said citing unnamed sources.

It added that the world's biggest energy firm favours Tokyo as a possible venue for the second phase of the proposed plan.

If confirmed, that would be a setback for London, New York and Hong Kong, which have all vied for a slice of the much-touted IPO.

Political uncertainty in Britain over its plan to exit the European Union and public protests in Hong Kong had diminished their prospects, the Journal cited Saudi officials and advisers as saying.

Aramco did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment.

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

It aims to raise up to $100 billion based on a $2 trillion valuation of the company, but investors have long debated whether Aramco is really worth that much.

Failure to reach a $2 trillion valuation as desired by Saudi rulers is widely considered the reason the IPO — earlier scheduled for 2018 — has been delayed.

Earlier this month, Aramco said its first half net income for 2019 slipped nearly 12 per cent to $46.9 billion 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.

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