Saudi Arabia has said it has stepped up preparations for the stock market debut of state energy giant Aramco. Government officials said Wednesday's media reports about the IPO having been halted were not true.
Saudi Arabia on Thursday rejected reports that Aramco's planned initial public offering had been scrapped.
"The government remains committed to the IPO of Saudi Aramco at a time of its own choosing when conditions are perfect," Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement.
Fresh speculation about the listing increased late Wednesday after a media report saying the kingdom had halted the plan and a group of financial advisers working on it had been disbanded.
Falih, however, insisted that Saudi Arabia had undertaken a number of major preparatory measures including issuing a new income tax law related to hydrocarbon activities.
Biggest stock sale ever?
The plan to float around 5 percent of Aramco — expected to be the world's largest stock sale — is a cornerstone of a reform program envisaged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to wean the economy off its heavy reliance on oil revenues.
Falih did not specify a possible timing for the IPO, saying it depended on factors such as favorable market conditions and an acquisition that the company would pursue in the next few months.
Aramco executives have repeatedly cited market conditions to push back the IPO, with many observers skeptical whether the listing will happen at all.
London, New York and Hong Kong have all vied for a slice of the much-touted IPO. But so far, Aramco's inability to generate a $2 trillion (€1.73 trillion) valuation sought by the crown prince and legal concerns that the IPO may invite unprecedented scrutiny have prompted indecision and delays.
hg/jd (AFP, Reuters)