Saudi Aramco IPO may be delayed until 2019 at earliest, says report

Saudi Aramco IPO faces delay until 2019

UK and Saudi Arabia to together boost economies in developing countries

Princes, tycoons and ministers were held in early November at Riyadh's luxury Ritz-Carlton as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman looked to consolidate his grip on power.

King Salman's decision was announced Sunday in a report on the state-run Saudi Press Agency, and it comes as a New York Times report suggests the royal family's crackdown was far from the moral crusade it purports to be. British government officials met with their Saudi counterparts during Crown Prince Mohammed's visit to Britain last week.

While London is preferred over NY, the requirement by both for greater disclosure of sensitive information on Aramco than the Hong Kong exchange is viewed as a drawback by some Saudi officials and advisers, the sources said.

The state-run oil company is expected to sell about 5 per cent of Aramco in what would likely be the world's biggest IPO. Hong Kong has also been cited as an option for the company. Saudi Arabia had laid out plans for Aramco's dual listing on the Saudi stock market and an worldwide exchange, with markets in New York, London and Hong Kong vying for the offering.

A public offering overseas was meant, in part, to send a signal that the country was changing. Bankers and analysts said an Aramco float risked drowning out other shares listed on Tadawul, given daily turnover now is about $1.6 billion. Princes who led military forces and appeared in glossy magazines are monitored by guards they do not command.

Cities including London and NY have for months been vying to be awarded the deal, but Saudi Arabia's energy minister, Khalid al-Falih, last week said that the company was too important to risk a transaction in the USA, because of litigation concerns that could stem from existing lawsuits against other oil firms for their role in climate change.

Officials and advisers involved in the process have also explored the possibility of not taking Aramco public at all.

Representatives for Aramco did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Allan Hogarth, head of policy and government affairs at Amnesty International U.K., also voiced concern over the deal.

David D. Kirkpatrick and Stanley Reed contributed reporting from London and Andrew Ross Sorkin from NY.

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